WASHINGTON

Democrats giving up on bill aimed at carbon dioxide cap

Senate Democrats are giving up on plans to pass an energy bill that caps emissions of carbon dioxide, saying Republicans refuse to support the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said no Republican was willing to back a comprehensive energy bill, a development he called “terribly disappointing.”

Democrats have been trying for more than a year to pass a plan that charges utilities and other major polluters for their carbon emissions. A compromise plan to limit emissions only from utilities also failed to attract the 60 votes needed to advance it in the 100-member chamber.

Reid and other Democrats said they would focus on a narrower bill that responds to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and improves energy efficiency.

WASHINGTON

U.S. to use sanctions against Taliban’s Afghan leaders

The Obama administration is slapping sanctions on key leaders of Afghanistan’s Taliban, a week after a top military commander urged the move.

The Treasury Department sanctioned three insurgent leaders, including a financial kingpin of the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network. The group directs operations against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Pakistan.

The move will freeze their assets, ban travel and trigger an arms embargo. It comes amid efforts by the Afghan government to reconcile with insurgents in a bid to end the eight-year war.

RAFAH, Gaza Strip

Palestinian with blowtorch cuts hole in barrier to Egypt

A Palestinian tunnel smuggler with a blowtorch sliced through an underground steel wall early Thursday, the latest of what officials say are hundreds of holes cut into the Egyptian barrier meant to stop smuggling of goods, cash and weapons to the blockaded, Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Smugglers say the wall was never a serious obstacle, and are far more worried about competition from consumer goods being brought to Gaza legally, now that Israel has eased its closure of the Palestinian territory.

Rare Associated Press Television News footage showed the smuggler breaching the wall.

“Look at what they call the best iron in the world,” he said. “We melt it like cheese.”