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Terror alert extended indefinitely; Bush pushes economic plan

Tom Ridge: "The world has changed since September 11."  


(CNN) - As the nation's homeland security czar extended the state of high alert Friday, President Bush urged passage of a GOP-backed stimulus package to get the jolted U.S. economy back on its feet.

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said a state of high alert issued Monday - in response to nonspecific but "credible" terrorist threats on U.S. interests at home and abroad - has been extended indefinitely. (Full story)

Reacting to the largest one-month loss of U.S. jobs in 21 years, Bush called on Congress to pass a bill aimed at expanding unemployment benefits to those affected by the September 11 terrorist attacks and preventing further loss of jobs.

Meanwhile, severe weather caused a U.S. Special Forces search and rescue helicopter to crash-land in Afghanistan on Friday, the Pentagon said. An accompanying U.S. helicopter picked up the crashed chopper's four crew members and flew out of Afghanistan, officials said.

The four crew members from the first helicopter were injured in the crash-landing, the Pentagon said, but none of the injuries were life-threatening. Because the helicopter went down in Afghanistan, U.S. F-14 fighter jets were dispatched and destroyed it to keep it out of enemy hands, officials said. (Full story)

U.S. B-52s continued to target Taliban forces Friday, carpet-bombing frontline positions near the Afghan capital, Kabul. Northern Alliance commanders said more of their troops were moving toward the front, adding that the B-52 attacks may pave the way for an advance on Kabul within days. (Full story)

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CNN's Susan Candiotti reports on public officials' recent threat announcements and the reactions they've caused (November 2)

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Arms-bearing Pakistanis are crossing the border into Afghanistan in support of the Taliban. CNN's Sheila MacVicar reports (November 2)

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Latest developments

• Addressing reporters Friday alongside Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bush said the United States is making progress on "two visible fronts -- one in Afghanistan and one in America." Bush indicated military operations would not slow down during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that begins in mid-November, and said heightened U.S. alerts raise the risks for terrorists. (Full story)

• Concerned that the U.S. Capitol Police force is stretched thin by weeks of heightened security, congressional leaders and the U.S. Capitol Police Board decided Friday that National Guard military police will begin patrolling the Capitol beginning next week, House Administration Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Ney, R-Pennsylvania., told CNN. About 100 uniformed and armed guardsmen, wearing "MP" arm bands, will patrol the perimeter of the Capitol, working three daily shifts of 33 to 35 guardsmen per shift.

• California Gov. Gray Davis on Friday defended his decision to reveal an FBI warning about a terrorist threat to major bridges in the West, dismissing grumbling from some federal officials who appeared to suggest he had over-reacted. (Full story)

• The Federal Aviation Administration is banning flights near the Arizona ballpark where the World Series will be held Saturday night, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The directive, issued Friday evening, prohibits aircraft that are flying according to visual flight rules from being under 18,000 feet within 25 nautical miles of the Phoenix Vortac.

• A rally by New York firefighters protesting the city's scale-back of police and firefighters working on Ground Zero recovery operations amid the rubble of the World Trade Center erupted into a fistfight with police Friday. Authorities said five officers were injured and a dozen demonstrators arrested. (Full story)

• The U.S. House of Representatives broke an impasse over airport security legislation late Thursday, passing a Republican-backed bill that calls for federal oversight of private security screening companies. Passage came after the defeat of a Democratic-supported bid to make airport security screeners federal employees.

The defeated bill was identical to a bill the U.S. Senate passed unanimously last month. House-Senate conferees now will meet to iron out differences between the bills and then send the measure to Bush. (Full story)

• Security will be tighter and bystanders won't be allowed to pass out water to thirsty participants when the New York City Marathon is run on Sunday. Days ahead of the 26-mile race, runners are already having their identifications checked and re-checked.

• The United Nations' nuclear watchdog meets Friday in Vienna, Austria, amid warnings that an act of nuclear terrorism is more likely than previously thought. Experts from many of the member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency are gathering in special session to look at how to protect atomic installations against attack following the September 11 strikes. (Full story)

• U.S.-led forces are not out to destroy Osama bin Laden but instead the Taliban government and its Muslim legal system, a Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan said Friday. Akhtar Mohammad Usmani also denied the Taliban are forcing the conscription of youths. The U.S.-led coalition launched its offensive October 7 after the ruling Taliban refused to hand over members of the al Qaeda terror network, which is suspected of orchestrating the September 11 attacks in the United States that killed nearly 5,000 people.



 
 
 
 



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