Nation & World Briefs 04-16-14 Boston police safely blow up backpacksfollowing ceremony

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BOSTON -- Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city's resilience in the face of a terror attack.

"This day will always be hard, but this place will always be strong," former Mayor Thomas Menino told an invitation-only audience of about 2,500 people at the Hynes Convention Center, not far from the finish line, where two pressure cooker bombs hidden in backpacks killed three people and injured more than 260 others a year ago.

Vice President Joe Biden, who attended the ceremony, said the courage shown by survivors and those who lost loved ones is an inspiration for other Americans dealing with loss and tragedy.

"You have become the face of America's resolve," he said.

Biden also praised the 36,000 runners who plan to run the marathon next week, saying they will send a message to terrorists.

"America will never, ever, ever stand down," he said, to loud applause. He added, "We own the finish line."

In the evening, after the tributes were over and most people had left, a man behaving suspiciously near the finish line dropped a backpack containing a rice cooker, police said. The man, who walked barefoot in a street in pouring rain, was taken into custody and was being charged with possession of a hoax device and disturbing the peace, Police Superintendent Randall Halstead said.

The backpack was blown up by the bomb squad as a precaution as was a second unattended backpack found nearby, police said, and no injuries were reported. Halstead didn't release the identity of the man in custody and wouldn't say what was in the second backpack or who owned it.

Investigators seek answers: Investigators are reconstructing a mysterious decade from Megan Huntsman's life as they try to figure out how she concealed seven pregnancies before allegedly strangling or suffocating her newborns. Utah investigators are examining DNA from the babies to determine who the parents are, studying the bones to find out how long ago the babies died and interrogating family members and talking to neighbors in pursuit of clues about how she did it. They are trying to determine why she did it and who else, if anybody, knew about it or was involved. During the timeline she's given, she lived in the house with her now estranged husband and their three daughters.

Supremacist faces murder charges: White supremacist Frazier Glenn Cross, charged in shootings that left three people dead at two Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City, was brought into a video conference room in a wheelchair Tuesday to make his first court appearance. Wearing a dark, sleeveless anti-suicide smock, Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, stood under his own power to face the camera, crossing his arms and speaking only when answering routine questions from the judge in a Johnson County courtroom several miles away. He requested a court-appointed lawyer. A Johnson County Sheriff's Office spokesman declined to say why Cross was in a wheelchair. Prosecutors declined to answer questions about Cross' health Monday. He is being held on $10 million bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 24.

Death toll in mudslide rises to 37: The death toll from the mudslide that hit the Washington town of Oso has risen to 37. The Snohomish County medical examiner's office said Tuesday it has received one more victim. The person's name has not been released. The sheriff's office said seven other people are still listed as missing. A search for bodies continues in the debris left when the March 22 landslide raced across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River and buried dozens of homes in the riverfront community.

To receive Medal of Honor: President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to former Army Sergeant Kyle J. White, who put his own life at risk in an hours-long effort to save fellow service members during a 2007 ambush in Afghanistan. White, a 27-year-old Seattle native, will be the seventh living recipient of the nation's highest military honor for actions in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He will receive the medal in a ceremony at the White House on May 13.

Tobacco companies make payments: The nation's top cigarette makers said Tuesday they have made about $6 billion in annual payments as part of a longstanding settlement in which some companies are paying states for smoking-related health care costs. Under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, participating tobacco companies agreed to make billions in payments to 46 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the District of Columbia over more than two decades. States first received full payments under the settlement in 1999. It was estimated that the companies would pay up to $246 billion over 25 years. Future annual payments will continue in perpetuity.

Ukraine bares teeth: In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an "anti-terrorist operation" to try to restore authority over the restive region. The central government has so far been unable to rein in the insurgents, who it says are being stirred up by paid operatives from Russia and have seized numerous government facilities in at least nine eastern cities to press their demands for broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia. Complicating the political landscape, many local security forces have switched to their side. The precise sequence of events was mired in confusion amid contradictory official claims.

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