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News Wrap: Al-Libi pleads not guilty to planning U.S. embassy bombings in Africa

October 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
In our news wrap Tuesday, Abu Anas al-Libi pleaded not guilty in an arraignment in New York on charges of planning the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 220 people. Also, The Washington Post reported that the NSA has collected millions of contact lists from e-mail and online chats.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In other news, the negative turn of events in Washington put Wall Street back in a selling mood. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 133 points to close at 15,168. The Nasdaq fell 21 points to close at 3,794.

Affirmative action at publicly funded universities was back before the Supreme Court today. The case involved a voter-approved measure in Michigan that blocks the consideration of race in college admissions. We will have much more on this right after the news summary.

A Libyan man pleaded not guilty in New York today to planning the bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa. The 1998 attacks killed more than 220 people. Abu Anas al-Libi was captured earlier this month by Delta Force commandos in a raid in Libya. He was interrogated on a U.S. Navy ship for a week before being brought to Manhattan.

 There’s yet another revelation about surveillance by the National Security Agency. The Washington Post reported today the NSA has collected millions of contact lists from e-mail and online chats, including the records of many Americans. The report cited documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

New negotiations opened today on Iran’s nuclear program. There was guarded optimism about making progress, but no immediate breakthrough.

The NewsHour’s chief foreign correspondent, Margaret Warner, reports.

MARGARET WARNER: Iran offered its long-awaited proposal to end the stalemate over its nuclear program at an hour-long session in Geneva with the U.S. and five other powers. Diplomats said Foreign Minister Javad Zarif used PowerPoint to lay out Iran’s vision of how to assure the West that Tehran’s program is only for peaceful energy use and win relief from crushing international sanctions in return.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, speaking afterwards, gave no details, but suggested Iran wants agreement on the shape of a final deal before taking interim steps.

ABBAS ARAQCHI, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister (through interpreter): We want to see a specific time frame for talks, as well as a specific time frame for from both sides for the implementation of next steps that the parties have to take.

We are looking for an end result and a conclusion. We no longer want to take steps in the dark or deal with uncertainty.

MARGARET WARNER: Up to now, Iran has refused to stop enriching uranium to close to weapons-grade stage or to limit its stockpiles of lower-enriched uranium.

A spokesman for Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said it’s time to see tangible results, including greater access to Iran’s enrichment facilities.

MICHAEL MANN, European Union: We have a proposal on the table specifically on confidence-building measures, but the confidence-building measure has to come from the Iranian side. It is the Iranian side who have — who we believe to be in breach of their international obligations.

MARGARET WARNER: At the U.N. last month and back at home, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has talked of seeking conciliation with the West on the issue.

In Washington today, White House spokesman Jay Carney struck a cautious note.

JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: We certainly want to make clear that no one, despite the positive signs that we have seen, no one should expect a breakthrough overnight.

MARGARET WARNER: But, this evening, U.S. and Iranian negotiating teams did meet one-on-one. The meetings conclude tomorrow.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Afghanistan today, a close confidant of President Hamid Karzai was assassinated in a bombing at a mosque. Arsala Jamal had been governor of Logar Province. The bomb was planted in a microphone stand. It exploded as Jamal was delivering a speech to worshipers to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha.

Around the world, millions of Muslims took part in services and rituals on this holiday. There were special prayers from the Arab world and Africa to Europe and the U.S. Some people also slaughtered livestock as part of the festival of sacrifice to give meat to the poor. And in Saudi Arabia, Muslims taking part in the annual hajj pilgrimage threw stones at walls representing Satan. The ritual symbolizes the rejection of sin.

A powerful earthquake in the central Philippines killed more than 90 people today. It registered a 7.2 magnitude, and was centered on the island of Bohol beneath Carmen City. Many small buildings collapsed and area roads were damaged, hampering rescue operations. The country’s oldest church, a 16th-century basilica in Cebu lost its bell tower.

A top Vatican official widely blamed for not preventing a series of scandals has formally stepped down. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone left his post as secretary of state today. During his tenure, the Vatican struggled with sexual abuse by priests and the leak of Pope Benedict’s papers, among other things. Pope Francis has vowed to overhaul the papal administration.