1996 Olympic bomber pleads guilty

Right-wing extremist Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty yesterday to carrying out the deadly bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and three other attacks across the South, admitting to one of the crimes with a hint of pride in his voice and a wink at prosecutors.

Rudolph, 38, entered his pleas during back-to-back court appearances — first in Birmingham, Ala., in the morning, then in Atlanta in the afternoon — after working out a plea bargain that will spare him from the death penalty. He will get four consecutive life sentences without parole.

The four blasts killed two people and wounded more than 120 others.

When asked in Atlanta whether he was guilty of all the bombings, Rudolph politely and calmly responded, “I am.”

He offered no apology or explanation in either court appearance, but his lawyers said he would eventually release a written statement explaining how and why he committed the crimes.

The bomb that exploded at the Olympics was hidden in a knapsack and sent nails and screws ripping through a crowd at Centennial Olympic Park during a concert.



U.S. CEO abducted; captors release video

An Indiana man, scared and clutching his passport to his chest, was shown at gunpoint on a videotape aired by Al-Jazeera television yesterday, two days after he was kidnapped from a water treatment plant near Baghdad. The station said he pleaded for his life and urged U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq.

In LaPorte, Ind., a yellow ribbon was tied around a tree outside Jeffrey Ake’s one-story brick house, and an American flag fluttered on a pole from the home. The U.S. Embassy said the man on the video appeared to be Ake, a contract worker who was kidnapped around noon Monday.

The video came on a day of bloody attacks, as insurgents blew up a fuel tanker in Baghdad, killed 12 policemen in Kirkuk, and drove a car carrying a bomb into a U.S. convoy, killing five Iraqis and wounding four U.S. contract workers on the capital’s infamous airport road.

Ake — the 47-year-old president and CEO of Equipment Express, a company that manufacturers bottled water equipment — is the latest of more than 200 foreigners seized in Iraq in the past year.



Silicone breast implants may return to market

In a surprising turnaround, federal health advisers yesterday recommended allowing silicone-gel breast implants to return to the U.S. market after a 13-year ban on most uses of the devices — but only under strict conditions that will limit how easily women can get them.

Mentor Corp. persuaded advisers to the Food and Drug Administration that its newer silicone implants are reasonably safe and more durable than older versions. The 7-2 vote came just one day after a rival manufacturer, Inamed Corp., failed to satisfy lingering concerns about how often the implants break apart and leak inside women’s bodies.

FDA’s advisers said yesterday that Mentor had performed more convincing research that the implants only rarely break shortly after they’re inserted — about 1.4 percent over three years — and showed some evidence that they may last as long as 10 years.


KABUL, Afghanistan

Military may stay in Afghanistan permanantly

President Hamid Karzai said yesterday he is preparing a formal request to President Bush for a long-term security partnership that could include a permanent U.S. military presence.

At a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Karzai said he had consulted many of his country’s citizens in recent weeks about “a strategic security relationship,” with the United States that could help Afghanistan avoid foreign interference and military conflicts.

“The conclusion we have drawn is that the Afghan people want a long-term relationship with the United States,” Karzai said.


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