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California cites 'credible threat' against bridges

U.S. House passes GOP's airport security bill

California Gov. Gray Davis  

SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- California officials said Thursday they are beefing up security at the state's suspension bridges after receiving a threat to destroy one of them.

"We believe there is a credible threat that there will be an effort made between November 2nd and November 7th to destroy one of those bridges," Gov. Gray Davis said. The National Guard has been authorized to assign troops to protect the bridges, he said. (Full story)

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives late Thursday broke an impasse over airport security legislation, 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 passed unanimously by the Senate last month. House-Senate conferees will now meet to iron out differences between the bills and then send the measure on to President Bush for approval. (Full story)

The Arabic-language TV network Al Jazeera reported Thursday it had received a letter from Osama bin Laden. The letter condemned Pakistan's role in the U.S.-led military campaign, and called on Pakistani Muslims to defend Islam against what he called a "Christian crusade." There was no way to confirm the letter's authenticity, although Al Jazeera said the letter appeared authentic. (Full story)

In Afghanistan, the opposition Northern Alliance said that continued U.S. airstrikes were paving the way for a breakthrough against Taliban forces. On the front lines of Afghanistan's civil war, U.S. warplanes bombed Taliban troop positions near the strategic city of Mazar-e Sharif.

The Taliban claimed Thursday to have beaten back a Northern Alliance offensive. The Northern Alliance said it had not launched any advance. (Full story)

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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Latest developments

• President Bush believes that "tremendous progress" is being made in the war on terrorism and that the United States "can't afford to have a pause," even during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins later this month, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Thursday. (Full story)

• Japan is considering sending warships as logistical support for the U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan, a Japanese official said Thursday. (Full story)

• The United States is changing the color of food ration packets it is dropping in Afghanistan because they are the same color -- yellow -- as unexploded cluster bombs. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States will change the color of the food packets to blue. (Full story)

• The Afghan village of Chowkar-Karez was attacked October 22 because it had been identified as a "Taliban encampment" that provided support to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, Pentagon officials told CNN Thursday. One official speaking on the condition of anonymity called the town a "fully legitimate target," saying "we hit what we wanted to hit." The humanitarian group Human Rights Watch had said civilians were killed in the village. (Full story)

• Pentagon sources say the United States is sending two high-tech warplanes to Afghanistan to increase the effectiveness of the bombing campaign. One, the Global Hawk, is a high-flying experimental, unmanned spy plane; the other, the J-STARS, is a radar plane that was used in the Gulf War and tracks troop movements.

• Turkish officials told CNN Thursday that Turkey will send a 90-member troop contingent to northern Afghanistan to help train Northern Alliance troops. (Full story)

• France's parliament has adopted tougher anti-terrorism measures that give police the right to search cars and access private phone calls and e-mail. (Full story)

• Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri called for a ceasefire in Afghanistan Thursday and warned that the longer the conflict continues the more likely the global coalition against terrorism would crumble. She said military action should be halted during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Christmas. (Full story)

• In Pakistan, the government ordered new measures Wednesday night that ban rallies and restricts freedom of assembly. A complete ban on any kind of rally is now in effect nationwide, Interior Ministry sources told CNN. (Full story)

• U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on Wednesday announced the formation of a task force to track terrorism in the United States. Ashcroft said the task force would help coordinate efforts to prevent terrorists from entering the country, and to deport those convicted of being members of or supporting terrorist groups.

• Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem, a Pentagon spokesman, said U.S. forces have severely disrupted the Taliban's lines of communications to the point that military leaders in Afghanistan probably don't even know how many troops they have lost.

• U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld plans to travel to Moscow on Friday and then to Central Asia to discuss the war on terrorism, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

• Armored cars at the World Trade Center site on Wednesday hauled away gold belonging to the Bank of Nova Scotia, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said. About $200 million in gold was reported to be buried in the rubble. "I think we have most of it," Giuliani said.


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