WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama signed legislation Friday aimed at blocking Iran’s chosen ambassador to the United Nations because of his ties to the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. But the president says he’s treating the legislation only as guidance.
The unusual legislation bars anyone from entering the U.S. as a U.N. representative if the person has engaged in espionage or terrorist activity and still poses a threat to U.S. security. It’s aimed at blocking Hamid Aboutalebi, a member of the Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days during the embassy takeover.
The administration has said Aboutalebi was an unacceptable choice and refused to grant him a visa. But Obama said in a signing statement that he will treat the legislation as advisory out of concern it could unconstitutionally interfere with his discretion to receive ambassadors.
Support pours in for ignored convict
A Missouri man who avoided prison because of a clerical error and led a law-abiding life for 13 years said he is overwhelmed by the support he’s received since the story of his incarceration became public.
Meanwhile, the Missouri attorney general signaled that he would look for a way to take Cornealious Mike Anderson’s many years of clean living into account in attempting to resolve the difficult situation.
Anderson was convicted in 2000 of armed robbery for holding up a restaurant manager in suburban St. Louis. An online petition urging his release has collected nearly 30,000 signatures, and one of Anderson’s attorneys said Friday the office has been flooded with calls from people who feel he has been wronged.
Suspect charged in road shootings
After nearly a month of reports of gunshots being fired at vehicles and more than 100 tips, authorities announced charges Friday against a Kansas City, Mo.-area man suspected in connection with about a dozen highway shootings that wounded three people.
Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at a news conference that 27-year-old Mohammed Whitaker, of Grandview, Mo., has been charged with 18 felony counts and was being held on $1 million cash bail.
NJ faces lawsuit over atheist plate
A New Jersey woman who says she was denied a license plate referencing atheism filed suit this week, claiming her online application was rejected because it was deemed potentially offensive.
Shannon Morgan, of Maurice Township, said in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that the Motor Vehicle Commission violated her First Amendment rights when its website rejected the plate reading 8THEIST. Morgan then filled out the online application using the phrase BAPTIST as a test, which the website accepted.
Sailors return from Mideast mission
Thousands of sailors were greeted Friday by cheerful friends and family who packed a pier at Naval Station Norfolk to welcome them home from a nine-month deployment.
The ships of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group had been deployed to the waters near Europe and the Middle East. The Navy says the strike group includes about 6,000 sailors and Marines.
While deployed, the Navy said the Mason conducted a counterpiracy exercise with the Chinese Navy in the Gulf of Aden last fall. The USS Harry S. Truman also conducted operations with the French Navy on the deployment in the Gulf of Oman.
Supply rocket off to space station
A SpaceX supply ship rocketed toward the International Space Station on Friday, setting the stage for an Easter-morning delivery and urgent spacewalking repairs later in the week.
It’s transporting 2 1/2 tons of goods, including a new spacesuit, spacesuit replacement parts, much-needed food, legs for NASA’s humanoid, Robonaut, a bevy of mating flies, and germs gathered from sports arenas and historic sites across the U.S.
Neither NASA nor SpaceX packed any Easter goodies, but the families of the six astronauts sent private care packages.
In South Sudan, UN camp a killing field
An attack on a U.N. peacekeeping base in South Sudan where 5,000 members of an ethnic minority had sought shelter killed 58 people and injured about 100 others, a U.N. official said Friday.
An angry mob of youths attacked the U.N. peacekeeping mission’s camp in Bor in Jonglei state on Thursday where ethnic Nuers fled after fighting broke out in the country in mid-December.
The U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said most of the 58 people killed were Nuer, but there were deaths on the other side.
IRA sows death on holiday weekend
A senior Irish Republican Army hard-liner was shot to death Friday in Belfast three years after former comrades in the Continuity IRA splinter group threatened to kill him.
The killing of Tommy Crossan, 43, could be timed to two events: the Belfast peace accord of 1998, which was achieved on Good Friday, and Easter, which is the most important event of the year for Irish republicans.
From today to Monday, various factions of the IRA will honor their dead in cemeteries across Ireland and recall the Easter Rising of 1916, the Dublin rebellion that inspired the creation of the first IRA. Each faction’s leaders take the opportunity to proclaim their group the one, true IRA.