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Top congressional leaders agreed Thursday to a four-year extension of the antiterrorist Patriot Act, the controversial law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks that governs the search for terrorists on American soil. The deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner calls for a vote before May 27. The idea is to pass the extension with as little debate as possible to avoid a protracted and familiar argument over the expanded power the law gives to the government.

GOP blocks Obama judicial pick

President Barack Obama lost his first vote on a judicial nominee Thursday, as Senate Republicans derailed the nomination of Goodwin Liu, a liberal law professor who leveled acerbic attacks against two conservative nominees to the Supreme Court. The vote was 52-43 to end debate, leaving Democrats eight votes short.

Pentagon: Prison death a suicide

An Afghan prisoner who died this week at Guantanamo was found hanging by a bed sheet in a prison camp recreation yard and apparently hanged himself, a military spokeswoman said Thursday. The prisoner, identified as Inayatullah, 37, was one of the last captives brought to Guantanamo by the Bush administration. He arrived in September 2007 and was described as an al-Qaida emir in Iran who planned and directed the group's terror operations.

More than 30 cities to lose grants

The Department of Homeland Security has notified more than 30 cities across the country that they are losing federal antiterror funding. The department said Thursday that money for the Urban Areas Security Initiative grants has been cut by about $170 million as part of a larger budget cut that eliminated more than $780 million in grant money from the federal budget.


Giffords surgery called a success

A day after surgery to repair her skull, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' doctor has dubbed her "gorgeous Gabby," encouraged by how she looks. She is communicating after an operation considered a milestone in her recovery from a gunshot. She's doing so well that doctors are beginning bedside rehabilitation therapy, and say she's on the path to being released, although they won't say when.

west virginia

Owners' negligence led to mine blast

In the first comprehensive state report on the 2010 coal mine disaster in West Virginia, an independent team of investigators put the blame squarely on the owner of the mine, Massey Energy, concluding that it had "made life difficult" for miners who tried to address safety and built "a culture in which wrongdoing became acceptable." The report described a pattern of negligence that led to the deaths of 29 miners on April 5, 2010, in the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years.

new york

Trump University being investigated

A for-profit university operated by real estate mogul Donald Trump is being investigated by the New York Attorney General's Office. According to the Associated Press, the attorney general is looking into claims that Trump exaggerated Trump University's success.

Times wires