Somali pirates drown after getting ransom
MOGADISHU, Somalia : Five of the pirates who hijacked a Saudi supertanker drowned with their share of a $3 million ransom, a relative said yesterday, a day after the bundle of cash was apparently dropped by parachute onto the deck of the ship. The Sirius Star and its 25 crew sailed safely away Friday at the end of a two-month standoff in the Gulf of Aden, where pirates attacked over 100 ships last year. The drowned pirates' boat overturned in rough seas, and family members were still looking for four missing bodies, said Daud Nure, a pirate who knew the men involved.
Bush visits aircraft carrier named for father
NORFOLK, Va. : President George W. Bush landed yesterday on the USS George H.W. Bush, a new aircraft carrier named after his father - the ultimate honor for a decorated Navy pilot from World War II. "So what do you give a guy who has been blessed and has just about everything he has ever needed?" the president asked the estimated 20,000 gathered for the commissioning at Naval Station Norfolk. "Well, an aircraft carrier." The steel-gray vessel, more than three football fields long, is in the Nimitz class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers that are the largest warships in the world. Its price tag is just as hefty: $6.2 billion. The elder Bush, 84, told the ship's crew, his voice quavering at times with emotion, that they will form "an unbroken line of patriots protecting this special piece of American territory." The Nimitz class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers was first launched in 1972.
Senate considers vast land-protection bill
WASHINGTON : In an early showdown for the new Congress, senators are considering setting aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as wilderness. The largest expansion of wilderness protection in 25 years would include California's Sierra Nevada mountain range, Oregon's Mount Hood and parts of Jefferson National Forest in Virginia. The bill has bipartisan support, yet it is causing friction that threatens to spoil pledges by Senate leaders to work cooperatively. Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, has pledged to filibuster. He says that the spending in the bill is excessive - nearly $4 billion over five years - and that the measure calls for removing millions of acres of federal property from oil and gas development.
Morgan Stanley, Citi near brokerage deal
NEW YORK: A deal to combine the brokerages of Citigroup and Morgan Stanley - which would give Citi more cash and Morgan Stanley more manpower - appears to be just days away. Morgan Stanley is likely to pay Citigroup between $2 billion and $3 billion for a 51 percent stake in the brokerage Smith Barney, a source close to the negotiations said. Morgan Stanley would then have the option of buying Smith Barney over the next three to five years, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the talks. An announcement could come as early as tomorrow, the source said. Aite Group analyst Alois Pirker speculated that a deal might lead to a full-fledged merger of the two banks.