Pirates hijack oil tanker
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — In a dramatic escalation of high-seas crime, Somali pirates hijacked a Saudi supertanker loaded with crude hundreds of miles off the coast of East Africa — defeating the security web of warships trying to protect vital shipping lanes.
The takeover demonstrates the bandits’ heightened ambitions and capabilities: Never before have they seized such a giant ship so far out to sea. Maritime experts warned the broad daylight attack, reported by the U.S. Navy on Monday, was an alarming sign of the difficulty of patrolling a vast stretch of ocean key to oil and other cargo traffic.
Revisiting safe-haven law
LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska legislators opened a public hearing Monday on adding an age limit to a safe-haven law that has allowed nearly three dozen children — some close to adulthood — to be abandoned at hospitals.
Lawmakers are in a special session called by Gov. Dave Heineman, who has proposed allowing parents and guardians to drop off only infants no older than 3 days at hospitals without fear of prosecution for the abandonment.
Some legislators want a higher limit; Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler said Monday it should be 30 days.
Nebraska’s safe-haven law currently has no age limit. That has led to the drop-off of 34 children since September — many of them preteens and teenagers as old as 17, and some even from out of state.
Call for ‘don’t ask’ repeal
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — More than 100 retired generals and admirals called Monday for repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays so they can serve openly, according to a statement obtained by The Associated Press.
The move by the military veterans confronts the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama with a thorny political and cultural issue that dogged former President Bill Clinton early in his administration.
Though Obama has expressed support for repeal, he said during the presidential campaign that he would not do so on his own.
Sentencing in ricin case
LAS VEGAS — A man who made enough ricin to kill hundreds of people — and kept it with him for a decade as he moved to various Western states — was sentenced Monday to 31‚Ñ2 years in federal prison for possessing the deadly toxin.
Roger Bergendorff said at his sentencing in Las Vegas that he never intended to hurt anyone.
Authorities have characterized the 57-year-old Bergendorff as a troubled man, but no terrorist. Their concern had been heightened in February, when the ricin was found in the unemployed graphic designer’s Las Vegas motel room while he lay unconscious in a hospital bed.
Taliban: No peace talks
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Taliban militants rejected an offer of peace talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, saying Monday there would be no negotiations until foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
Karzai offered Sunday to provide security for reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar if he enters negotiations and said the U.S. and other Western nations could leave Afghanistan or oust him if they disagree.
But Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said there could be no talks while foreign troops are in the country.
Bomb kills Israeli mobster
TEL AVIV, Israel — A bomb exploded in a car carrying one of Israel’s top mafia kingpins on Monday, killing him and threatening to unleash an all-out war in Israel’s increasingly violent underworld.
Israeli police officials identified the dead man as Yaakov Alperon — known informally as “Don Alperon” — the head of one of the country’s most powerful crime families.
Medics said three bystanders were also lightly wounded in the explosion, including a 13-year-old boy.
Israelis are accustomed to violence with their Palestinian neighbors but have traditionally felt relatively safe from violent crime. In recent years, however, mob wars also have plagued Israeli towns and cities.
Rival underworld gangs have waged bloody battles for control of gambling and protection rackets, including one involving bottle recycling.