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Briefs

Bangladeshi pleads guilty in NY terror plot

– A Bangladesh native accused of trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York with what he thought was a 1,000-pound car bomb pleaded guilty Thursday to terrorism charges stemming from an FBI sting.

“I had intentions to commit a violent jihadist act,” Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis said in a soft voice while entering the plea in federal court in Brooklyn.

He told the judge he picked the Federal Reserve as the target, but he also expressed remorse, saying he no longer considers himself a jihadist.

“I deeply and sincerely regret my involvement in this case,” he said.

Nafis, 21, had been charged in October with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida. He faces a sentence of 30 years to life at his next court date May 30.

Nation

Man, woman share cell; assault alleged

A man has been charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate after the two were placed in the same jail cell alone on an Indian reservation in Arizona, federal court documents show.

Emmanuel Burnette was jailed Saturday at the White Mountain Apache Detention Center on tribal charges of assault and being under the influence of alcohol when the incident occurred. He now is charged federally with two counts of sexual assault.

It’s unclear what led correctional officers at the White Mountain Apache jail to have Burnette share a cell with a female. But many tribal jails are decades old and face problems with overcrowding, unsanitary and unsafe conditions, and are plagued by staffing shortages, according to a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of the Interior Inspector General.

Teen found cuffed to pole in basement

A Kansas City teenager who was found handcuffed to a steel pole in his basement will continue to stay with a foster family and plans to start attending classes again next week, a court officer said Thursday.

One of the teen’s neighbors, Crystal Anderson, contacted the Missouri Children’s Division on Monday and said she suspected the boy was being abused. Kansas City police found him in the dark basement curled in a fetal position, shivering on the cold, concrete floor and appearing frail.

Police spokesman Capt. Steve Young said it could be days before any charges are filed against the teen’s father, stepmother or stepbrother.

Pastor admonished over interfaith vigil

A conservative Lutheran group has reprimanded a Newtown, Conn., pastor for participating in an interfaith vigil after the Sandy Hook massacre.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod said the Rev. Rob Morris of Christ the King Lutheran Church inadvertently gave the impression that he condoned joint worship by offering the benediction at a Dec. 16 event with other religious leaders for the elementary school shooting victims.

The church constitution bars clergy from praying with representatives from other religions, including some other Lutheran groups, for fear of giving the appearance that theological differences about salvation and other doctrines aren’t significant.

Bishops want more on birth control

American bishops said Thursday the Obama administration’s latest compromise on birth control coverage and religious employers doesn’t go far enough to answer church concerns.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said a bigger buffer is needed between religious charities and any third party arranging contraceptive coverage. Bishops also want a clearer statement that faith-affiliated hospitals and other nonprofits are religious ministries.

And church leaders continue pressing for an exemption for owners of for-profit business who say the requirement forces them to violate their religious beliefs. The government has given no indication that it is considering a religious opt-out for business owners.

World

Direct nuclear talks pointless, Iran says

U.S. proposals for direct talks with Iran are pointless while Washington is “holding a gun” to the country through sanctions, Iran’s supreme leader said Thursday, quashing a possible breakthrough in contact with the West on the nuclear standoff.

The message from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all major decisions in Iran, was reiterated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a news conference in Cairo later in the day.

Their dismissal of one-on-one dialogue raises the stakes when wider negotiations between Iran and world powers, including the United States, resume this month.

Aftershock in Pacific delays visit, relief

A strong aftershock rattled the Solomon Islands on Friday, hampering relief efforts to tsunami-ravaged villages and forcing the South Pacific nation’s prime minister to forgo a visit to the stricken area where nine deaths have been confirmed.

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo was on a plane to Santa Cruz Island in the eastern Solomons to assess damage when the aftershock hit, said Silas Lilo, a spokesman for his office. The plane was forced to return to the capital Honiara.

China detains 70 in Tibetan crackdown

China’s government says it has detained 70 people in ethnic Tibetan areas in a crackdown on self-immolations aimed at protesting Communist rule.

The detentions came as Beijing stepped up efforts to blame the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, for protests in which nearly 100 Tibetan monks, nuns and lay people have set themselves on fire since 2009.

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