In our news wrap Thursday, bombings in Baghdad that targeted Shiites on a major religious holiday killed at least 41 and wounded more than 100 others. Also, a U.S. counterterrorism official warned that al-Qaida in Iraq is stronger than it has been since 2006 and other affiliates are spreading.
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More aid trickled in to the Central Philippines today, six days after a catastrophic typhoon hit. The pace was expected to increase greatly now that the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington has arrived. Meanwhile, the stricken city of Tacloban carried out its first mass burial. We will have reports from the Philippines in a few minutes.
President Obama is urging Congress to hold off imposing new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. He said today that if Iran shows bad faith, the sanctions can be ramped back up. Margaret Warner will have much more on this later in the program.
In Iraq, new bombings targeted Shiites during a major religious holiday, killing at least 41 and wounding more than 100 others. The worst was in a town northeast of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber blew himself up amidst a group of worshipers. No one claimed responsibility, but al-Qaida in Iraq has launched many similar attacks.
A top U.S. counterterror official warned today that al-Qaida in Iraq is stronger than it's been since 2006. Matthew Olsen is director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He told a Senate hearing that the militants are exploiting increasingly permissive security environments in Iraq, and he warned, other al-Qaida affiliates are spreading.
MATTHEW OLSEN, National Counterterrorism Center:
The threat level, as we look at the threat, is more dispersed. Geographically, the threat is — has moved out from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to broad swathes of areas that are largely ungoverned across North Africa and the Middle East.
So, in some ways, it has — it has become more significant from a geographic perspective and more complicated from an intelligence perspective.
Still, Olsen said the threat of another 9/11-style attack on the U.S. is lower than it was in 2001.
The nominee to chair the Federal Reserve is defending the Central Bank's stimulus efforts. Janet Yellen faced her Senate confirmation hearing today. She said the economy still needs help, and she gave no indication of when the Fed might curtail its bond-buying program. There will be more on the Yellen hearing a little later.
The former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger was sentenced today to two life terms in prison. He'd been found guilty of 11 murders during the 1970s and '80s, as well as extortion and money laundering. Bulger said nothing at all as the judge pronounced the sentence, and he left the court without looking at his supporters.
Afterward, prosecutors and defense lawyers spoke outside the courthouse.
CARMEN ORTIZ, U.S. district attorney: James Bulger deserves nothing less than to spend the rest of his life in jail for the harm, the pain and the suffering that he has caused to so many in this town.
HANK BRENNAN, attorney for James "Whitey" Bulger: There are a number of important issues that he still thinks need to be told. There's evidence and witnesses that he thinks should be made public. And in pursuit of that goal, he will appeal his case.
Bulger is 84 years old. He went into hiding in 1994 and was captured in California two years ago.
An Ohio man has been convicted in a $100 million charity fraud case. A Cleveland jury found John Donald Cody, who also goes by Bobby Thompson, defrauded donors in 41 states. He'd been charged with looting his Florida charity, named the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. Cody faces up to 67 years in prison.
Two Secret Service agents are no longer on President Obama's security detail over alleged sexual misconduct. The Washington Post reported today the supervisors sent sexually suggestive e-mails to a female subordinate. And one allegedly tried to force his way into a woman's hotel room. It all comes a year after the agency dealt with a prostitution scandal.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 54 points to close at 15,876. The Nasdaq rose seven points to close at 3,972.