Nigerian underwear bomber gets life in prison

Posted Feb. 16, 2012, at 8:54 p.m.

DETROIT — A federal judge ordered life in prison Thursday for a young Nigerian man who tried to blow up a packed international flight with a bomb concealed in his underwear.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who has said he was on a suicide mission for al-Qaida, was the same defiant man who four months ago pleaded guilty to all charges related to the incident on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas 2009.

“Mujahideen are proud to kill in the name of God. And that is exactly what God told us to do in the Quran,” he said in court Thursday. “Today is a day of victory.”

The 25-year-old, European-educated son of a wealthy banker, told the government that he trained in Yemen under the eye of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric and one of the best-known al-Qaida figures.

He tried to detonate a bomb on the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight but the device failed and badly burned him. He quickly confessed after he was hauled off the plane.

NJ Assembly passes gay marriage bill

TRENTON, N.J. — The New Jersey Assembly on Thursday passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriages, setting the stage for an expected veto by Gov. Chris Christie.

The 42-33 vote sends the bill to Christie’s desk. The Republican governor who opposes gay marriage had promised “very swift action” if the bill passed both houses of the Legislature. The Senate approved the bill Monday.

Christie and most state Republican lawmakers want gay marriage put to a popular vote. Democrats say gay marriage is a civil right protected by the Constitution and not subject to referendum.

Six states and Washington, D.C. recognize gay marriages. Washington State’s new gay marriage law is scheduled to take effect in June.

Thirty states have adopted constitutional amendments aimed at preventing gay marriage, most by defining marriage as a union between man and woman.

Feds: Automakers should block texts, tweets and browsing

WASHINGTON — Drivers won’t be able to text, browse, tweet or dial on factory-installed devices if auto manufacturers follow new federal guidelines to disable the gadgets while the wheels are rolling.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the government might next extend the guidelines to cover virtually every portable electronic device that might find its way into a vehicle.

“These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for drivers of all ages,” said LaHood.

Federal statistics show that 5,474 people died and an estimated 448,000 were injured in 2009 in crashes in which distracted driving played a role. Research has shown that drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into a serious crash, and that hands-free cellphones aren’t much safer because just talking on the phone reduces the brain power focused on driving by 37 percent.

The new federal guidelines, published Thursday in the Federal Register and subject to a 60-day period of public comment, recommend that manufacturers make it impossible for drivers to perform many functions while a vehicle is in motion, including: to send or look at text messages; browse the Internet; tweet or use social media such as Facebook; enter information in navigation systems; enter 10-digit phone numbers; or receive any type of text information of more than 30 characters unrelated to driving.

GM made record $7.6 billion in 2011

DETROIT — General Motors made a record $7.6 billion in 2011, driven by a $7.2-billion profit in North America that ensures its highest profit-sharing payments of $7,000 each to the typical U.S. workers.

Revenue for the year increased 11 percent to $150.3 billion and earnings before interest and tax was $8.3 billion compared with $7 billion in 2010

Overall, GM’s 2011 profit rose from last year’s $4.7 billion and broke the previous record annual profit of $6.7 billion in 1997.

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