There comes a moment in the career of many government bureaucrats when they sit across the table from a high-ranking elected official — the president, even—and think, You know, I’m just as smart as these guys. “You understand they’re just another person,” says Mark Everson, who served in the Reagan administration and as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service under George W. Bush. “You ask yourself, Do you like this? Do you think you qualify?” The answers he arrived at — yes and yes — led him, after a long period of soul-searching, to the Lincoln Dinner of the Linn County (Iowa) Republican Committee on May 1, where he shared a dais with the only other presidential candidate who showed up, an Indiana contractor named Mike Petyo. Because the hard truth about presidential politics is that while you may be just as smart as the guys who win, you almost certainly aren’t as famous, charismatic or rich.
By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Saudi man whom U.S. authorities described as a top Osama bin Laden deputy was sentenced to life in prison on Friday in connection with the deadly 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Khalid al-Fawwaz was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan after being convicted of four conspiracy counts in New York in February. Instead, prosecutors said he was bin Laden's "bridge to the West" in London, disseminating the al Qaeda leader's violent messages to media outlets and sending supplies to the group's members in Africa. "I worship the same God you say you do," said Ellen Karas, an embassy worker left permanently blind by the August 7, 1998, bombing in Nairobi.
Islamic State fighters seized the government compound in the city of Ramadi on Friday and edged closer to what would be their biggest victory in Iraq this year, officials said. The loss of the capital of Anbar province, which Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had said would be the next target of government forces after wresting back Tikrit last month, would be a major setback for Baghdad. IS has threatened to take control of Ramadi for months and the breakthrough came after a wide offensive on several fronts in the province, including an assault using several suicide car bombs in Ramadi on Thursday. The jihadists seized the government complex at around 2:00 pm (1100 GMT) and raised the black flag, a police officer said, giving them nearly full control over Anbar's capital.
The jury in the Boston Marathon bombing trial on Friday began its third day of deliberations over whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be sentenced to death or to life in prison without the possibility of release. Three days later, he and his 26-year-old brother shot a police officer to death, carjacked a Chinese businessman and hurled bombs at police, triggering a day-long lockdown of most of the Boston area as police searched for Tsarnaev. Federal prosecutors say that Tsarnaev, who moved with his family to Cambridge, Massachusetts, from Russia a decade before the attack, was an adherent of al Qaeda's militant Islamist ideology, and wanted to "punish America" with the attack.
By Jarrett Renshaw and Laila Kearney PHILADELPHIA/NEW YORK (Reuters) - A portrait of the engineer at the helm of a speeding Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia began to emerge on Thursday as the man's lawyer said his client could not remember the crash, and rescuers pulled an eighth body from the wreckage. With the engineer facing intense scrutiny over his role in the accident, Philadelphia police said they launched a criminal investigation into Tuesday's crash of the New York-bound train. In the latest revelation of circumstances surrounding the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the train had inexplicably sped up from about 70 mph to 100-plus mph in the last 65 seconds before the crash, according to video from the locomotive's front-facing camera. The NSTB on Wednesday disclosed that the engineer, identified as Brandon Bostian, 32, had fully engaged the train's emergency braking system seconds before the wreck.
The Obama administration is likely to fall far short of the lofty goals it set for itself at Thursday’s summit with Gulf leaders, several experts on the region said. While the White House has framed the seven-nation meeting as an opportunity to deepen and strengthen Gulf nations’ security relationship with the United States in light of a possible nuclear deal with Iran, the six foreign leaders attending have set out bargaining chips that the administration has already shot down, and it’s not exactly clear what else, besides those tangible items, either side wants. “There’s a very real prospect that this exercise could end up looking like the February Countering Violent Extremism summit,” Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress, which is aligned with the Obama administration, said, referring to a 60-plus-country confab that issued a lengthy joint statement with few specifics. The White House has already ruled out a formal mutual defense treaty, which several of the Gulf nations were advocating, and is also unlikely to approve Saudi Arabia’s request for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.
By Jarrett Renshaw PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Federal safety investigators probing the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia were waiting to interview the train's engineer, whose attorney said on Thursday he did not remember the crash that killed seven people and injured more than 200 others. The train bound for New York City from Washington was barreling into a curve at more than 100 miles per hour on Tuesday night, twice the speed limit, when the engineer slammed on the brakes, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said. Investigators said they have not yet interviewed the train's engineer, identified by a city official as Brandon Bostian, to give him time to recover. NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said on Wednesday that data from the black box, or event recorder, recovered at the crash site had not yet been fully analyzed.