Suspect Confesses to Murdering Pakistani Politician
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KWAME HOLMAN: The man accused of murdering a Pakistani politician confessed to the crime in court today. Mumtaz Qadri appeared a day early, before a crowd of supporters could gather.
Qadri admitted shooting to death Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province, last week. Taseer had criticized laws that carry the death penalty for insulting Islam. Meanwhile, in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI urged Pakistan to reverse its blasphemy laws. He said they trigger violence against non-Muslims.
Across the border, in Afghanistan, Vice President Biden arrived in Kabul for a surprise visit. He arrived amid tight security and planned to assess the progress of Afghan forces. A U.S. pullout is set to begin in July. Meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. troops also were on Biden’s schedule.
Iran announced today a series of arrests in the murder of a nuclear scientist. He was killed by a bomb outside his home last January. State TV said agents rounded up a network of Israeli spies involved in the attack.
And, in Abu Dhabi today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said nuclear sanctions against Iran are making an impact.
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: The most recent
analysis is that the sanctions have been working. They have made it much more difficult for Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions.
KWAME HOLMAN: Diplomats from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany are scheduled to meet with Iranian officials later this month for a second round of nuclear talks.
A massive snow and ice storm has brought large parts of the Southern U.S. to a standstill and left at least five people dead. Sleet, ice, and snow blanketed states from Louisiana to the Carolinas today. More than 2,000 flights were canceled across the region, the bulk at Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the world. Parts of Atlanta got up to seven inches of snow, but the city has just eight snow plows.
Flash floods in Australia killed eight people today. More than 70 others were missing. The city of Toowoomba in Queensland state was hit hard. It was part of widespread flooding that’s plagued the region for weeks. Heavy rain triggered today’s deluge and sent a 26-foot wall of water into low-lying areas. It trapped some people in cars, and left others clinging to trees. From there, the torrent headed east toward the capital of Brisbane.
The former majority leader of the U.S. House Tom DeLay now faces three years in a Texas prison. The Houston Republican was sentenced today in state court. He’d been convicted of money-laundering to funnel corporate funds to Republicans running for the state legislature. DeLay said in court today he still doesn’t believe he broke any law. He will remain free, pending his appeal.
Wall Street struggled to make any headway today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 37 points to close at 11637. The Nasdaq rose four points to close above 2707.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.