News in Brief: Times Square Bomb Attempt May Have Taliban Links and More

The Times Square bombing attempt may have links to the Pakistani Taliban, reported The New York Times. After two days of intensely questioning the bomb suspect, Faisal Shahzad, officials said evidence was mounting that a radical group once thought unable to attack the US was involved in the attempted bombing.

Democracy Now! reported a claim by the Pakistani Taliban that they were responsible for the attempted detonation of a bomb inside a van parked in Times Square. Meanwhile, a top Pakistani official has speculated that the failed attack may have been planned in retaliation for CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. “This is retaliation. Let’s not be naive,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in an interview with CBS News. “They’re not going to sort of sit and welcome you to eliminate them. They’re going to fight back.”

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) said they intend to propose a measure allowing Americans charged with terrorism to be stripped of their US citizenship, according to reports by Democracy Now!. The “Terrorism Expatriation Act,” which could apply to Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen, is expected to be formally unveiled today.

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British Petroleum (BP) engineers will lower a four-story, 98-ton metal chamber over a ruptured undersea oil well in an attempt to contain a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, reported Reuters. Once the box is lowered to the seabed, it is expected to capture and channel leaking oil to a drilling ship on the surface. BP hopes this will contain the catastrophic environmental repercussions from the blow out of a BP-owned well two weeks ago.

Democracy Now! reported newly-released documents showing US government regulators had exempted the BP project that resulted in the oil spill from a comprehensive environmental review. The Minerals Management Service granted a “categorical exclusion” from a full review to BP prior to approving the project. According to the Center for Biological Diversity: “Instead of protecting the public interest by conducting environmental reviews, [the MMS] rubber-stamped BP’s drilling plan, just as it does hundreds of others every year in the Gulf of Mexico.”

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The BBC reported the decision by an Indian court to sentence the only gunman captured alive after the 2008 Mumbai attacks to death. The Pakistani citizen, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab, aged 22, was found guilty on Monday of charges including murder and waging war on India. Though Qasab has the right to appeal, the judge said there was no chance of his rehabilitation. The attacks in Mumbai left 174 people dead, including nine gunmen.

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The British election may be heading toward a stalemate, reported AP, with polls suggesting that no party would win the absolute majority needed to govern effectively. As the electorate headed to vote Thursday, the Labor party seemed likely to be forced to relinquish its 13 years in power. If none of the parties, Labor, the Conservative Party or the Liberal Democrats, are able to secure the 326 seats needed for an absolute majority in the 650-seat Parliament, the next prime minister will not have the uncontested right to choose the next prime minister. The stakes for Britain, struggling under mountains of public debt and mired in an economic crisis, are high.

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The Guardian UK reported the swearing in of Goodluck Jonathan as the Nigerian president Thursday, following the death of his predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua, after a long illness. Jonathan said his priorities as president would be electoral reform, peace in the oil-rich Niger Delta and the fight against corruption. Nigeria is scheduled to hold presidential elections neat year, and there is uncertainty over whether Jonathan will step aside for them. Nigeria has begun seven days of mourning for Yar’Adua, who passed away Wednesday night after a long history of kidney ailments and hospitalization due to heart inflammation. He will be buried Thursday evening in a Muslim ceremony in his home state of Katsina.

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Grass-roots Internet groups have flooded the White House and Federal Communications Commission with requests for the FCC to regulate broadband and ensure neutrality in the way Internet service providers treat all services and applications, The Washington Post reported. Members of “netroots” groups MoveOn and Free Press are pushing the FCC to reclassify broadband and carry out a net neutrality rule. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has said he wants to keep broadband services deregulated, despite the weaknesses exposed by a court decision last month in the agency’s ability to act as a strong watchdog over companies providing web access.