Monday: Travel Alert Issued for Europe; NATO Tankers Attacked in Pakistan

BY Tom LeGro  October 4, 2010 at 10:12 AM EDT

French Army soldiers patrol
French Army soldiers patrol the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Sunday. Photo by Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images.

The State Department issued a travel alert Sunday, cautioning Americans visiting Europe of possible terrorist attack by al-Qaida or other groups. The alert did not identify any particular countries and did not urge Americans to avoid particular venues.

“Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions,” according to the statement.

Security officials say terrorists might be plotting attacks in Europe with assault weapons on public places, similar to the deadly 2008 shooting spree in Mumbai, India. European officials have provided no details about specific targets. Added attention is being given to Britain, France and Germany by officials.

The Associated Press reports that last week, “a Pakistani intelligence official said eight Germans and two British brothers were at the heart of an al-Qaida-linked terror plot against European cities, but the plan was still in its early stages, with the suspects calling acquaintances in Europe to plan logistics. The official said the suspects were hiding in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region where militancy is rife and where the U.S. has increased its drone-fired missile strikes in recent weeks.”

NATO Tankers Attacked in Pakistan

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack Monday morning on tankers carrying fuel to Afghanistan for NATO forces. About a dozen militants shot at the vehicles parked at a truck stop on the outskirts of Islamabad, the AP reports. Some 20 trucks went up in flames and four people were killed and seven injured, authorities said.

There have been four such attacks since Pakistan closed its main border crossing last Thursday in reaction to a series of alleged NATO incursions, including a helicopter attack that killed three Pakistani soldiers.

“These attacks are taking place at a time of heightened tension,” writes the BBC’s Orla Guerin:

“Pakistan is determined to register its protest and closing the Khyber Pass is a very effective way of putting the squeeze on NATO because the alliance relies on the Khyber Pass. It is a key lifeline for supplies going into Afghanistan. Up to 80% of NATO’s non-lethal supplies are going through Pakistan so while the pass remains closed it is a critical situation for NATO forces.”

Supreme Court Begins New Term

The Supreme Court starts its new term Monday with a new face, Elena Kagan, and without the longtime justice she replaces, John Paul Stevens.

Marcia Coyle, chief Washington correspondent for the National Law Journal and regular NewsHour analyst, recently briefed The Rundown on what she’ll be watching in the new term:

“This term will be historic. At exactly 10 a.m. on the first Monday when the red velvet curtains behind the justices’ bench part, three women for the first time in history, will step forward to take their seats.”

Slate’s Barry Friedman and Dahlia Lithwick previews the upcoming term:

“Under the stewardship of its boyish chief justice, John Roberts, the court has taken the law for a sharp turn to the ideological right, while at the same time masterfully concealing it.”

Marketplace has a look at the cases touching on technology and talks to legal scholar Jeffrey Rosen “about cases involving video games, privacy, and whether AT&T counts as a person in our conversation. Also in this show, the Senate wants commercials to be quieter.”

NPR talks to Stevens, who for the first time in 35 years will not be taking his seat. Stevens tells “Morning Edition”:

“I’m both happy and sad. I have mixed feelings about it, because I know I’ll miss the work. I really, really love the job. But I’m also looking forward to having not so many deadlines to meet.”

‘One Nation Working Together’ Unites on Mall

A coalition of labor, progressive and civil rights groups gathered at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday and pledged to support Democrats struggling to keep power on Capitol Hill. More than 400 organizations, ranging from labor unions to faith, environmental and gay rights groups, partnered for the event.

The Atlantic’s John Hudson compares attendance at the event to Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally one month ago.

More than anything, writes POLITICO’s Scott Wong, the day was about jobs, “an issue President Barack Obama and other Democrats admittedly have stumbled over in the past year but will need to seize in coming weeks if they hope to fend off big Republican gains in Congress on Nov. 2.”

Writing for the Huffington Post, Earl Ofari Hutchinson says, “The challenge is to keep the troops fired up for November, and beyond. The last thing that’s needed is another big feel-good gathering where thousands blow off steam, and then go home and do nothing.”