National & International News

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There's uncertainty over the supposed death of two top al-Qaida-affiliated leaders reportedly killed in West Africa.

Calling them "three outstanding individuals" who will help him tackle some tough problems, President Obama on Monday morning nominated:

-- Gina McCarthy, currently an assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, to lead that agency. She would succeed the departed Lisa Jackson.

-- Ernest Moniz to be the next secretary of energy, replacing Steven Chu, who like Jackson decided not to stay for Obama's second term. Moniz is director of MIT's Energy Initiative and is a former undersecretary at the department.

The phrase "jump the shark" is coming to mind this morning. The "Harlem Shake" craze does seem to be getting to the point where it's getting out of hand.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was just seen leaving London's King Edward VII hospital, where she had been admitted over the weekend to be treated for symptoms of gastroenteritis.

If former NBA star Dennis Rodman's read on Kim Jong Un is correct, the CIA and State Department might be in need of a major overhaul in their assessments of the North Korean leader.

Rodman, the only American to have met and talked with Kim, appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos to talk about his two-day visit to North Korea last week.

As they begin the process that will lead to selection of the next pope, the Roman Catholic Church's cardinals must first decide just when to officially start deciding, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reminds us from Rome this morning.

A young couple head to a hospital because the wife, who is about seven months pregnant, isn't feeling well. Then, tragedy strikes.

It's a heartbreaking story that is making headlines in New York City.

The grim work continues at a home near Tampa, Fla., where a man apparently died last week when a sinkhole opened up under his bedroom.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Dozens of people are dead in the Pakistani port city of Karachi following a blast Sunday near a Shiite mosque.

Update at 3:16 p.m. ET Toll Rises

Authorities now say at least 37 people were killed and another 141 wounded in the blast.

Our original post:

Here's more from The Associated Press:

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is in hospital where she's being treated for symptoms of gastroenteritis.

NPR's Philip Reeves is reporting on the story for out Newscast unit. Here's what he says:

The Dragon has been captured. The SpaceX unmanned craft connected with the International Space Station at 5:31 a.m. ET, NASA tweeted. The spacecraft arrived a day late due to mechanical problems after Friday's launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, in apparent response to Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks last week in support of opposition forces in Syria, says only the Syrian people can tell him to step down.

"Only Syrian people can tell the president stay or leave, come or go. No one else," he said in an interview to Britain's Sunday Times.

It was a rare TV interview for the Syrian president, whose regime has battled rebels as well as calls to step down for nearly two years.

Al-Qaida Leader Reportedly Killed In Mali

Mar 2, 2013

A senior commander for al-Qaida's wing in North Africa has been killed, Chad's military reported on Chadian state television Saturday. NPR could not independently verify the report.

The military said troops attacked an Islamist rebel base in the mountains of northern Mali, killing several militants, including Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

Update at 6:53 p.m. ET Rescuers End Search:

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill says efforts to find Jeffrey Bush, who disappeared in a sinkhole, have been discontinued. He says that the conditions at Bush's home have become too dangerous for rescue workers.

"At this point it's really not possible to recover the body," Merrill said at a news conference on Saturday.

He says workers will begin efforts to demolish the home on Sunday.

Our Original Post Continues:

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year, "largely due to their inherent vulnerability, and an increasing demand, particularly for their fins, in the Asian market," a new report finds.

Tunisia took the lead in the Arab Spring back in 2011. Its revolution was swift and largely peaceful. Within months, an assembly was elected to write a new constitution.

As other Arab countries grew more violent and chaotic, Tunisia seemed to be showing the way for an orderly transition away from authoritarian rule.

President Obama, who has issued few pardons during his time in office, announced on Friday that he had pardoned 17 people convicted of mostly minor offenses.

The AP reports:

"No one well-known was on the list released by the White House. Some of the crimes drew light penalties in the first place — such as a North Carolina woman sentenced to two years' probation and 100 hours of community service for distributing satellite cable decryption devices.

The judge overseeing the Apple/Samsung patent case decided to throw out about half of the $1 billion in damages awarded by the jury in a trial last August.

All Things D explains:

"Judge Lucy Koh ordered a new trial to determine damages for certain of the products in the case, a move that affects $450 million of the jury's $1.05 billion award.

Strange as it may seem, a pierced, tattooed and occasionally cross-dressing former basketball star is now one of the West's leading experts on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, following his improbable visit to Pyongyang this week, has become the only Westerner to have had a one-on-one with the reclusive Kim, who by all accounts enjoys basketball at least as much as testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Update at 4:08 p.m. ET. Report Released:

The State Department, which is ultimately charged with approving or denying TransCanada's plans to build a 1,700 mile pipeline from Canada and through the U.S., has released a draft report that details the potential environmental impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline.

An experiment that used rats to create a "brain-to-brain interface" shows that instructions can be transferred between animals via electronic signals and the Internet, according to scientists who studied how rats can use brain implants to share problem-solving information.

He can't do "a Jedi mind meld" with Republicans and get them to see his way about taxes and spending, President Obama said Friday.

About which CBS News' Mark Knoller immediately tweeted:

"Pres Obama Mixed Metaphor of the Day: The 'mind meld' is not a Jedi tool from Star Wars, but a Vulcan ability from Star Trek."

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski says his agency will investigate whether a federal ban on unlocking cellphones is "harmful to economic competitiveness."

Genachowski made the comments during a event hosted by the technology site TechCrunch.

The question of whodunit remains unanswered in the case of a Chicago lottery winner who died last July with a lethal amount of cyanide in his blood.

Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cina said Friday that tests on the remains of Urooj Khan did not detect cyanide in tissues or what remains of his digestive system.

A wave of violence has rocked Bangladesh after a special war crimes tribunal Thursday imposed the death penalty on an Islamist leader for his role in the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

Demonstrators for and against the convicted leader clashed with security forces, leaving dozens of people dead, including police.

The violence demonstrates the deep sensitivities that remain over the war of independence that played out more than 40 years ago.

Saying it was a "sad day," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a financial emergency in the city of Detroit. He said that while it would not be appropriate to appoint an emergency manager, now, he would think about doing so after March 12. That's the day set aside for a hearing, if the city appeals his decision.

"I do have a top candidate," Snyder said during a press conference.

The Detroit Free Press explains:

"Washington sure isn't making it easy" for the American people and the American economy, President Obama told reporters late Friday morning as he and other lawmakers failed to reach a deal to avert $85 billion worth of automatic "sequester" spending cuts due to start at the end of the day.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has restored the voting rights of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

If you remember Libby was former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. As the AP explains, "he was convicted in 2007 of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements in a case involving leaked information that compromised the covert identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Libby's 2½-year prison sentence was commuted by then-President George W. Bush."

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