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News Wrap: Taliban Kill at Least 12 in Afghanistan Attacks

April 5, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The Taliban mounted new attacks in Afghanistan today in a bid to reassert control and undermine U.S. efforts. In the west, gunmen killed 10 members of a pro-government militia. And in the northeast, a suicide bomber killed two people and wounded 16. The injured walked or were stretchered to a hospital for treatment. Officials said the target was a local elder who’s seen as an obstacle to the Taliban.

The U.S. and Great Britain are warning there’s a high risk of a terror attack in Nigeria over the Easter holiday. The warnings were aimed at British and American citizens in the West African nation. They centered primarily on northern regions where a radical Islamist group, Boko Haram, conducts near-daily attacks. An attack last Christmas Day killed 44 people in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

The U.S. attorney general affirmed today that the Obama administration does respect the authority of federal courts to overturn laws. A federal appeals judge in Texas asked for that assurance this week in writing. That’s after the president said it would be unprecedented if the Supreme Court strikes down the health care reform law. Attorney General Eric Holder answered that the government’s view on judicial review has not changed.

President Obama has entered the fray over a ban on women members at Augusta National Golf Club. The issue cropped up again today, as the Masters tournament opened at the famed Georgia course. Women are allowed to play at Augusta as invited guests, but not to join.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked what the president thinks about the ban.

JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: It’s obviously up to the club to decide. But his personal opinion is that women should be admitted to the club. We’re kind of long past the time when women should be excluded from anything.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Republican Mitt Romney agreed. He said, “If I could run Augusta, which isn’t likely to happen of course, I would have women.”

Augusta National’s chairman said this week it’s up to the club’s members to decide on policy changes.

The British satellite news channel Sky News admitted today its reporters hacked emails twice for stories. It was the latest part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire to acknowledge illegal hacking. The company said one case involved a man who faked his own death in a boating accident for insurance money. Sky News maintained it was done in the public interest and that the e-mails were turned over to police.

Greg Mortenson, author of the book “Three Cups of Tea,” will now be forced to pay the charity he founded a million dollars. The Montana attorney general’s office reported today that the author used nearly $4 million of the charity’s funds to buy copies of his book. A “60 Minutes” investigation on CBS also raised questions about whether sections of Mortenson’s story were a lie. The charity’s mission was to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell again last week, but the news did little today to help the mood on Wall Street. Instead, stocks struggled to hold their ground, amid renewed fears that Spain may yet default on its national debt. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 14 points to close at 13,060. The Nasdaq rose 12 points to close at 3,080. The markets will be closed tomorrow for Good Friday.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.