Official rips faulty tests on Boeing 787 — The nation’s top transportation safety official said Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration accepted test results from Boeing in 2007 that failed to properly assess the risks of smoke or fire leaking from the batteries on Boeing’s new 787 jets. Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters that the problems seemed to have originated in the battery, when one of the eight cells had a short circuit and the fire spread to the rest of the cells. But she said Boeing’s tests showed no indication that the new lithium-ion batteries on its 787 planes could erupt in flame. Late Thursday, the FAA said it would allow Boeing to conduct test flights with its 787 to collect data on the batteries and the plane’s electrical system. The agency said the flights “will be an important part of our efforts to ensure the safety of passengers and return these aircraft to service."
Student pleads guilty in terror bomb plot — Bangladeshi student and al-Qaida aspirant Quazi Mohammed Nafis pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn to attempting to bomb the Federal Reserve bank in Manhattan last year. Nafis came to the United States on a student visa. He allegedly sought partners on the Internet to join in a terrorist act and then began planning an attack with an undercover FBI agent, eventually driving a truck he believed was filled with a live, 1,000-pound bomb into Manhattan and trying to detonate it remotely with a cellphone. Nafis faces a prison term of 30 years to life.
Tunisian political crisis deepens — Tunisia’s governing Islamist-led party on Thursday rejected a proposal by the prime minister to form a government of national unity, deepening the country’s political crisis a day after a leading opposition politician was assassinated outside his home. The announcement by the party, Ennahda, revealed growing strains within a movement that has promoted its blend of Islamist politics and pluralism as a model for the region. As it rejected the proposal by the prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, a member of Ennahda, the group also publicly rebuked one of its most senior leaders.
Cellphone betrays burglar — Authorities in Sidney, Ohio, say a pocket-dialing prowler got himself arrested after his cellphone turned informant. Twice. Investigators say an emergency operator traced an accidental 911 call on Tuesday night to a home in Sidney, about 60 miles northwest of Columbus. Shelby County sheriff’s deputies dispatched to check on the house found a window forced open. They arrested Douglas Wolaver, of Piqua, inside. The sheriff’s office says Wolaver was found in a bathroom after his phone’s low-battery alert led deputies to his hiding place. Wolaver is charged with breaking and entering. A phone listing for him was disconnected.
Accused witch burned alive — A mob stripped, tortured and bound a woman accused of witchcraft, then burned her alive in front of hundreds of witnesses in a Papua New Guinea town, police said today in the latest sorcery-related murder in this South Pacific island nation. Hundreds of horrified bystanders, including many children, watched and some took photographs of Wednesday’s brutal slaying. Grisly pictures were published on the front pages of the country’s biggest circulating newspapers, The National and Post-Courier, while the prime minister, police and diplomats condemned the killing. In rural Papua New Guinea, witchcraft is often blamed for unexplained misfortunes. Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother, had been accused of sorcery by relatives of a 6-year-old boy who died in the hospital the day before.
Islamic summit backs Syrian dialogue — Leaders at an Islamic summit on Thursday urged a dialogue between the Syrian opposition and regime just as a new initiative for talks proposed by an anti-government leader appeared to be unraveling. Like previous diplomatic initiatives on Syria, opposition chief Mouaz al-Khatib’s call for talks made less than a week ago appeared doomed to failure. And with troops and rebels clashing for a second day around Damascus, frustrated Syrians dismissed the calls for dialogue as empty talk.
California seeks nation’s toughest gun laws — Weeks after New York enacted the nation’s toughest gun laws, California lawmakers said Thursday they want their state to do even more in response to recent mass shootings, particularly the Connecticut school massacre. Democrats who control the state Legislature revealed 10 proposals that they said would make California the most restrictive state for possessing firearms. They were joined at a Capitol news conference by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, along with several police chiefs.