'New York City was next': Police say Boston bomb suspects planned to attack Times Square
NEW YORK (AP) — The Boston Marathon bombers were headed for New York's Times Square to blow up the rest of their explosives, authorities said Thursday, in what they portrayed as a chilling, spur-of-the-moment scheme that fell apart when the brothers realized the car they had hijacked was low on gas.
"New York City was next on their list of targets," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told interrogators from his hospital bed that he and his older brother decided on the spot last Thursday night to drive to New York and launch an attack. In their stolen SUV they had five pipe bombs and a pressure-cooker explosive like the ones that blew up at the marathon, Kelly said.
But when the Tsarnaev brothers stopped at a gas station on the outskirts of Boston, the carjacking victim they were holding hostage escaped and called police, Kelly said. Later that night, police intercepted the brothers in a blazing gunbattle that left 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead.
"We don't know if we would have been able to stop the terrorists had they arrived here from Boston," the mayor said. "We're just thankful that we didn't have to find out that answer."
US says Syrian government has twice used chemical weapons, 'red line' Assad told not to cross
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House declared Thursday that U.S. intelligence indicates Syrian President Bashar Assad has twice used deadly chemical weapons in his country's fierce civil war, a provocative action that would cross President Barack Obama's "red line" for a significant military response. But the administration said the revelation won't immediately change its stance on intervening.
The information, which has been known to the administration and some members of Congress for weeks, isn't solid enough to warrant quick U.S. involvement in the 2-year-old conflict, the White House said. Officials said the assessments were made with "varying degrees of confidence" given the difficulty of information gathering in Syria, though there appeared to be little question within the intelligence community.
As recently as Tuesday, when an Israeli general added to the growing chorus that Assad had used chemical weapons, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration was continuing to monitor and investigate but had "not come to the conclusion that there has been that use."
The Syrian civil war has persisted, with an estimated 70,000 dead. Obama has so far resisted pressure, both from Congress and from within his own administration, to arm the Syrian rebels or get involved militarily. He has, however, declared the use of chemical weapons a "game changer" that would have "enormous consequences."
The White House disclosed the new intelligence Thursday in letters to two senators, but had Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announce it to reporters traveling with him in the United Arab Emirates. The letters were sent in response to questions from senators of both parties who are pressing for more U.S. involvement, and it marked the first time the administration has publicly disclosed evidence of chemical weapons use.
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. BOMB SUSPECTS ALLEGEDLY TARGETED TIMES SQUARE
NYC's mayor, top cop say the Boston suspects' plan to visit the Big Apple wasn't just "to party" after all.
Workers trapped inside collapsed building in Bangladesh plead for rescue; death toll hits 275
SAVAR, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladeshi authorities say 275 bodies have been recovered from the rubble of a building that collapsed in the country's worst ever disaster for its notoriously unsafe garment industry.
Brig. Gen. Mohammed Siddiqul Alam Shikder said Friday morning that 61 survivors have been rescued since Thursday afternoon.
Authorities say more than 2,000 people have been rescued from the building since it collapsed Wednesday. Police had ordered it evacuated because the walls were cracking, but authorities allege that factory managers flouted the order.
Shikder said some of the dead were unrecognizable because of decomposition. He's head of the rescue operation.
Venezuela's opposition leader says he will boycott audit of election results
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles announced Thursday that his movement will boycott an audit of election results because the National Electoral Council did not accept his demand for the examination of registers containing voters' signatures and fingerprints.
Capriles said the opposition will challenge the results of the April 14 presidential vote, narrowly won by Hugo Chavez's political heir, in the Supreme Court and pressure authorities to organize a new election.
The decision came after election officials did not respond to his repeated demands for a complete audit of the election won by President Nicolas Maduro.
The council announced last week that it would allow an audit of 46 percent of the vote not already audited. It said it would tell the nation this week when it would start comparing vote tallies from each machine with the individual vote receipts from that machine.
"We consider this to be a joke," said Capriles, who contends that the election was stolen from him.
Fire in Russian psychiatric hospital kills all 38 people inside, including 2 medical workers
MOSCOW (AP) — A fire has raged through a psychiatric hospital outside Moscow, and emergency officials say it killed all 38 people inside, including two medical workers.
The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti cites police as saying it was caused by a short circuit.
The fire broke out in the early hours of Friday in the one-story hospital in the town of Ramenye.
A photograph on the website of the emergency services shows a building consumed by flames.
Senate passes bill to ease FAA furloughs; House vote likely on Friday
WASHINGTON (AP) — With flight delays mounting, the Senate approved hurry-up legislation Thursday night to end air traffic controller furloughs blamed for inconveniencing large numbers of travelers.
A House vote on the measure was expected as early as Friday, with lawmakers eager to embark on a weeklong vacation.
Under the legislation, which the Senate passed without even a roll call vote, the Federal Aviation Administration would gain authority to transfer up to $253 million from accounts that are flush into other programs, to "prevent reduced operations and staffing" through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
In addition to restoring full staffing by controllers, Senate officials said the available funds should be ample enough to prevent the closure of small airport towers around the country. The FAA has said it will shut the facilities as it makes its share of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts — known as the sequester — that took effect last month at numerous government agencies.
The Senate acted as the FAA said there had been at least 863 flights delayed on Wednesday "attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough."
US tourists swim for nearly 14 hours after boat sinks near St. Lucia
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The fishing trip off the rugged north coast of St. Lucia was supposed to last all day, but about four hours into the journey, the boat's electric system crackled and popped.
Dan Suski, a 30-year-old business owner and information technology expert from San Francisco, had been wrestling a 200-pound marlin in rough seas with help from his sister, Kate Suski, a 39-year-old architect from Seattle. It was around noon April 21.
He was still trying to reel in the fish when water rushed into the cabin and flooded the engine room, prompting the captain to radio for help as he yelled out their coordinates.
It would be nearly 14 hours and a long, long swim before what was supposed to be a highlight of their sunny vacation would come to an end.
As the waves pounded the boat they had chartered from the local company "Reel Irie," more water flooded in. The captain threw life jackets to the Suskis.
Chile arrests 4 accused of burning baby in rite for being 'the antichrist'
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chilean police on Thursday arrested four people accused of burning a baby alive in a ritual because the leader of the sect believed that the end of the world was near and that the child was the antichrist.
The 3-day-old baby was taken to a hill in the town of Colliguay near the Chilean port of Valparaiso on Nov. 21 and was thrown into a bonfire. The baby's mother, 25-year-old Natalia Guerra, had allegedly approved the sacrifice and was among those arrested.
"The baby was naked. They strapped tape around her mouth to keep her from screaming. Then they placed her on a board. After calling on the spirits they threw her on the bonfire alive," said Miguel Ampuero, of the Police investigative Unit, Chile's equivalent of the FBI.
Authorities said the 12-member sect was formed in 2005 and was led by Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete, 36, who remains at large.
"Everyone in this sect was a professional," Ampuero said. "We have someone who was a veterinarian and who worked as a flight attendant, we have a filmmaker, a draftsman. Everyone has a university degree. "
Police: Country singer Billy Currington may have recorded himself threatening Ga. boat captain
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Police suspect country singer Billy Currington may have videotaped himself chasing a 70-year-old tour boat captain along a coastal Georgia creek and threatening to "finish him off" in a tirade filled with profanities, according to court documents filed Thursday.
The boat captain, Charles Harvey Ferrelle, and his two passengers told police Currington was holding a camera when he became outraged and made the threats April 15 after they passed him on the dock of a $3.5 million waterfront home near Tybee Island. Ferrelle told police that Currington later got into his own boat and chased them.
"They were in fear of this man and a possible attack against Mr. Ferrelle, and possibly everyone there, as his behavior was 'out of control' as described by all three persons," Savannah-Chatham County Police Detective Alycia Rice wrote in an affidavit filed in Chatham County Superior Court.
Currington, 39, turned himself in Thursday afternoon at the county jail, where he was booked on charges of making terroristic threats and abuse of an elderly person. Currington was free Thursday night after posting $27,700 bond, Sheriff's Cpl. Rhonda Bryant Elleby said. Each of the charges is a felony punishable by one to five years in prison.
Police got a warrant to search Currington's home Tuesday and seized four digital video files, 27 digital photos and a memory card. The affidavit said police believed Currington might have recorded the confrontation.