The Nation And World Today

Suspect in Marine murder spotted on bus


Authorities believe a key suspect in the death of a 20-year-old pregnant fellow Marine may have boarded a Greyhound bus in Louisiana heading to Texas.

Witnesses said they saw Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean getting on a bus Saturday night at a depot in Shreveport, La., Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said. Police don't know if the man believed to be Laurean stayed on board or got off somewhere along the route to Texas.

Brown cautioned late Sunday that his detectives were still working to confirm the sightings, backing away from earlier assurances that the witness accounts were genuine. But he was confident Laurean would soon be in custody.

"It will be a short trip &

a short vacation &

for Mr. Laurean," Brown said. "His vacation may be short, his travel may be long, but I hope we'll be there to help him return."

The potential sightings came a day after authorities said they recovered what they believe to be the burned remains of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child from a fire pit in Laurean's backyard, where they suspect he burned and buried her body.

Israeli keeps options open for Iran


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a powerful parliamentary panel today that Israel rejects "no options" to block Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a meeting participant said.

The statement was the Israeli leader's clearest indication yet that he is willing to use military force against Iran.

"Israel clearly will not reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran," the meeting participant quoted Olmert as telling the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "All options that prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities are legitimate within the context of how to grapple with this matter."

The meeting participant spoke on condition of anonymity because the session was closed.

Olmert addressed the panel days after discussing Iran's nuclear ambitions in talks with President Bush in Jerusalem.

U.S. tells Afghans to stop poppy harvest

MUSA QALA, Afghanistan &

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan flew to a town previously held by the Taliban in the heart of the world's largest poppy-growing region and told the ex-militant commander now in charge there that Afghans must stop "producing poison."

Ambassador William Wood on Sunday drank tea and talked with Mullah Abdul Salaam, a former Taliban commander who defected to the government last month and is now the district leader of Musa Qala in the southern province of Helmand.

Wood urged Salaam to tell his people to leave behind "the practice of producing poison," and said poppy production, the key element in the opium and heroin trade, was against the law and Islam.

"In Musa Qala the price of bread has risen dramatically. I won't say why &

you know why," Wood said, alluding to farmers' practice of growing poppies instead of needed food.

Southern Afghanistan was the scene of the heaviest fighting in the country in 2007, the bloodiest year since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 toppled the Taliban militant movement. More than 6,500 people &

mostly militants &

were killed in violence last year, according to an Associated Press count based on official figures.

Mullen favors closing Gitmo


The chief of the U.S. military said he favors closing the prison here as soon as possible because he believes negative publicity worldwide about treatment of terrorist suspects has been "pretty damaging" to the image of the United States.

"I'd like to see it shut down," Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday in an interview with three reporters who toured the detention center with him on his first visit since becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last October.

His visit came two days after the sixth anniversary of the prison's opening in January 2002. He stressed that a closure decision was not his to make and that he understands there are numerous complex legal questions the administration believes would have to be settled first, such as where to move prisoners.

The admiral also noted that some of Guantanamo Bay's prisoners are deemed high security threats. During a tour of Camp Six, which is a high-security facility holding about 100 prisoners, Mullen got a firsthand look at some of the cells; one prisoner glared at Mullen through his narrow cell window as U.S. officers explained to the Joint Chiefs chairman how they maintain almost-constant watch over each prisoner.

Mullen, whose previous visit was in December 2005 as head of the U.S. Navy, noted that President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates also have spoken publicly in favor of closing the prison. But Mullen said he is unaware of any active discussion in the administration about how to do it.

Second body found in search for 4 kids

MOBILE, Ala. &

The body of a 3-year-old boy was recovered Sunday in the search for four children allegedly thrown from a coastal bridge by their father, authorities said.

The body was found near shore, a day after a duck hunter found the body of the boy's infant brother about five miles west of the bridge in a marshy area, Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said.

The 3-year-old's body was spotted near shore in Bayou La Fourche Bay, about three miles west of where the infant was found, authorities said.

Cochran said the remaining two bodies could be in the same area or shifted by current closer to the Alabama-Mississippi line. The search will resume today and is expected to concentrate on the marshes along the shore.

"Everyone should be on the lookout," Cochran said.

First Indian-American elected governor


Republican Bobby Jindal was sworn in today as Louisiana's 55th governor, and moved quickly to make good on a campaign promise to clean up the corrupt image of this hurricane-battered state.

"We have the opportunity &

born of tragedy but embraced still the same &

to make right decades of failure in government," Jindal said in his inaugural speech, referring to hurricanes Katrina and Rita of 2005.

Jindal, a former congressman, became Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction and the nation's first Indian-American chief executive.

He said he will call a special legislative session Feb. 10 to address the state's image as a haven for cronyism and self-serving politicians.

Jindal, 36, a conservative Republican, won more than 50 percent of the vote in October's primary election. He takes over from Democrat Kathleen Blanco, who had defeated him four years earlier. Blanco chose not to run after heavy criticism of her performance after Katrina.

"" The Associated Press

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