“Pirates seize two Americans off Nigeria’s coast”


By Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube,

F. Brinley Bruton and Jason Cumming, NBC News


Two Americans were kidnapped by pirates after their ship was attacked off Nigeria‘s coast, U.S. officials said Thursday.

The U.S.-flagged oil supply vessel C-Retriever was targeted in the Gulf of Guinea early Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Maritime news website gCaptain reported that the ship’s captain and its chief engineer had been abducted.

U.S. officials said the working assumption was that the pair had been kidnapped for ransom.

Nigerian military officials, who deployed army and navy units in the hunt to find the kidnappers, as of late Thursday had no “hard information” on the whereabouts of them or the two American sailors taken hostage, a Nigerian Navy spokesman told NBC News.

The spokesman attributed the abductions to “criminals in the delta,” emphasizing they were common criminals and pirates, not militants. Creeks and swamps leading to the Nigerian coast were being searched for the hostages.

The seized vessel is owned by Louisiana-based Edison Chouest Offshore, according to Reuters. The company was not immediately available for comment.

Sources told NBC News that there were no U.S. warships in the region and no immediate plans for a hostage rescue attempt. However, there is a contingent of U.S. Marines aboard a Dutch warship in the area as part of a military exchange program.



Meet the Press Update on the Economy


“Analysis: Senate vote shows gun-control advocates the scale of challenge”

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) speaks alongside with Vice President Joe Biden and family members of Newtown victims on commonsense measures to reduce gun violence in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington April 17, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) speaks alongside with Vice President Joe Biden and family members of Newtown victims on commonsense measures to reduce gun violence in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington April 17, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

By Samuel P. Jacobs

NEW YORK | Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:35am EDT

(Reuters) – In the end, nothing could persuade enough U.S. senators to approve the most significant gun legislation in two decades:

Not the carnage from Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were massacred by a gunman in December, igniting a national debate on gun control.

Not the impassioned pleas of Newtown survivors’ families, whose calls for expanded background checks for gun buyers so moved a pro-gun senator from West Virginia that he became their advocate.

And not the support of President Barack Obama, who was inspired by Newtown to make gun control the first major initiative of his second term.

The U.S. Senate‘s key vote on Wednesday wasn’t exactly a rejection of expanded background checks, gun-control advocates were careful to point out.

Most senators – 54 – approved the measure, which polls indicated was backed by more than 80 percent of Americans. But because Republicans threatened to use a filibuster to block any gun proposal that did not get 60 votes in the 100-member Senate, the plan to expand background checks to sales made online and at gun shows fell short.

And just like that, the most aggressive push for gun control in a generation did, too.



For those who mourn in Newtown, Connecticut…

We can console ourselves that there are 20 new souls in Heaven.

We can console ourselves that there are 20 new souls in Heaven.

“Opponents reject Morsi’s calls for dialogue after deadly Cairo clashes”

By NBC News staff and wire reports.
Updated at 7 p.m. ET: CAIROPresident Mohamed Morsi on Thursday invited political groups and legal figures to meet for a national dialogue on solutions to Egypt’s political crisis after clashes between his supporters and his foes left seven dead and hundreds wounded.

Morsi did not, however, rescind decrees granting him wide powers that his opponents had demanded, and his overtures on talks were immediately rejected by opposition leaders.

The main office of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was set ablaze late Thursday, the group’s political party said, and another office used by the party was torched in a suburb south of the city, the state news agency reported.

In a nationally televised address to the nation, Morsi said he would bring together a number of groups at a Saturday meeting at the presidential palace.

“Such painful events happened because of political differences that should be resolved through dialogue,” the Islamist president said after two days of violence during protests.
The discussions would center on a political roadmap after a referendum on a new constitution, Reuters reported. Morsi said they would discuss the fate of the upper house of parliament after the lower house was dissolved in June, the election law and other issues. He said plans for the referendum on December 15 were on track.



CNN slammed for report on ambassador’s diary

al-Jazeera News

CNN responded that the public had the “right” to know about security fears before Stevens was killed [Gallo/Getty]

“A US government spokesperson sharply criticized CNN, saying the network had reported on the diary of ambassador Christopher Stevens after his death at the US consulate in Libyadespite the objections of his family.

State Department spokesperson Philippe Reines said on Saturday that CNN took Stevens’ personal journal from the site where he and three other Americans were killed in an armed attack in Benghazi on September 11 and used it in reporting on the story despite the express wishes of his family members.

“Whose first instinct is to remove from a crime scene the diary of a man killed along with three other Americans serving our country, read it, transcribe it, email it around your newsroom for others to read, and only when their curiosity is fully satisfied thinks to call the family or notify the authorities?” Reines said in a statement.

CNN responded that it did not initially report on the existence of the journal out of respect for the family, but ultimately “felt there were issues raised in the journal which required full reporting.”

“We think the public had a right to know what CNN had learned from multiple sources about the fears and warnings of a terror threat before the Benghazi attack which are now raising questions about why the State Department didn’t do more to protect Ambassador Stevens and other US personnel,” CNN said in a written statement emailed to the Reuters news agency.

“Perhaps the real question here is why the State Department is now attacking the messenger,” CNN said in the statement.”



Pro and anti-Proposition 8 protesters rally in...

Pro and anti-Proposition 8 protesters rally in front of the San Francisco City Hall as the California Supreme Court holds a session in the to determine the definition of marriage (Strauss v. Horton cases). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A federal court declined an appeal to revisit California’s gay marriage ban on Tuesday, clearing the way for the Supreme Court to consider whether the ban violates the U.S. Constitution.

Supporters of the ban, Proposition 8, have lost two rounds in federal court. Tuesday’s decision now passes the issue into the hands of the top U.S. court, which, while conservative-leaning, has been sympathetic towards gay rights.

The Supreme Court could agree to hear the matter in a session beginning in October, ahead of the November 6 U.S. presidential election, and putting it on track to decide the case within a year.

President Barack Obama last month turned gay marriage into a 2012 campaign issue, saying he believed same-sex couples should be able to marry. His Republican opponent Mitt Romney disagrees.

The Supreme Court could turn its next session into a gay-rights blockbuster, with two major cases coming at the same time. In addition to the California decision on Proposition 8 by the 9th U.S. Circuit, a Boston federal appeals court recently struck down part of the federal law rejecting same-sex marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act.

“The timing is too perfect,” said Thomas Goldstein, aWashington-based attorney who practices before the Supreme Court, adding that the argument would resemble this year’s proceedings on legal challenges to Obama’s health care plan.  FULL ARTICLE