UNITED NATIONS -- The UN Security Council responded swiftly to North Korea's latest nuclear test by punishing the reclusive regime Thursday with tough, new sanctions targeting its economy and leadership, despite Pyongyang's threat of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States.
The penalties came in a unanimous resolution drafted by the U.S. along with China, which is North Korea's main benefactor. Beijing said the focus now should be to "defuse the tensions" by restarting negotiations.
"Taken together, these sanctions will bite, and bite hard," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said. "They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community."
The new sanctions came in response to North Korea's underground nuclear test on Feb. 12.
Growing protest: Flight attendants, pilots, federal air marshals and even insurance companies are part of a growing backlash to the Transportation Security Administration's new policy allowing passengers to carry small knives and sports equipment like souvenir baseball bats and golf clubs onto planes. The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which representing nearly 90,000 flight attendants, said it is coordinating a nationwide legislative and public education campaign to reverse the policy announced by TSA Administrator John Pistole this week. A petition posted by the flight attendants on the White House's "We the People" website had more than 9,300 signatures early today urging the administration to tell the TSA to keep knives off planes.
Blow to al-Qaida: A senior al-Qaida leader and member of Osama bin Laden's inner circle was due in court to face a charge he plotted against Americans in his role as the terror network's top propagandist who lauded the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and warned there would be more. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was born in Kuwait and was bin Laden's son-in-law, was captured in Jordan over the last week, authorities said. Abu Ghaith was to appear this morning in federal court in Manhattan to enter a plea to one count of conspiracy to kill Americans.
Budget cuts begin: Federal workers could face seven days of furloughs at the Housing and Urban Development Department, but Homeland Security personnel might see twice that number. At the Environmental Protection Agency, workers would get four-day holiday weekends with a catch -- one day would be a furlough day.
Other agencies are avoiding furloughs altogether. Government agencies vary widely in how they are dealing with $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect last week, according to labor unions that represent federal workers.
Let wildfires burn: After coming in $400 million over budget following last year's busy fire season, the Forest Service is altering its approach and may let more fires burn instead of attacking every one. The move, quietly made in a letter late last month by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, brings the agency more in line with the National Parks Service and back to what it had done until last year.