Crews search Moroccan lake for sheikh after plane crash

Rescuers searched a lake in Morocco on Saturday for the man who oversees one of the world’s largest state-owned wealth funds after he disappeared in an air accident.

A glider carrying Ahmed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the managing director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, crashed Friday into the lake 20 miles southeast of the Moroccan capital, Rabat, state news agencies reported.

The plane’s pilot was rescued and is in good condition, the reports said. But the search for Nahyan, a sheikh whom Forbes named the 27th most powerful person in the world last year, continued.



European landmarks douse lights to mark Earth Hour

Europe’s best-known landmarks — including the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Rome’s Colosseum — fell dark Saturday, following Sydney’s Opera House and Beijing’s Forbidden City in joining a global climate change protest, as lights were switched off across the world to mark the Earth Hour event.

Millions of people were turning off lights and appliances for an hour starting at 8:30 p.m. in a gesture to highlight environmental concerns and to call for a binding pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This year’s was the fourth annual Earth Hour, organized by the World Wildlife Fund.


Anti-government protesters compel soldiers to retreat

Protesters in Thailand claimed a symbolic victory Saturday after forcing soldiers to retreat from parts of Bangkok’s historic district, raising tensions in what so far has been a nonviolent bid to bring down the government.


Riding motorcycles and piled into pickup trucks, more than 60,000 red-shirted protesters clogged traffic and traveled in a noisy parade to the Bangkok zoo, Buddhist temples and a half-dozen other locations being used by soldiers as temporary camps.

Soldiers at several locations packed their duffels and left to avoid clashes, drawing raucous cheers from the protesters. Authorities said the soldiers would regroup at other locations nearby.


Survivor questioned in probe of 1978 arson that killed eight

Investigators are putting new effort into solving a 1978 arson that killed a man and his seven children north of Albany, N.Y.

Detectives investigating the deadly fire in Cohoes traveled to Okanogan, Wash., and spent several hours Wednesday questioning the sole survivor of the blaze, Virginia Utigard.


Utigard was the mother of the seven children. Her husband, John Gratto, also perished.

Retired Albany County District Attorney Sol Greenberg says Utigard’s escape from the fire has long been viewed with suspicion. Six weeks after the blaze, she moved west and married an apple farmer.

Last week, Utigard told KXLY-TV in Spokane, Wash., that she is innocent but was recently pressured into signing a false confession.

No charges have been filed.


County ‘blue laws’ may end in quest to raise tax revenue


If you live in northern New Jersey, in one of the country’s richest, most densely populated counties, you can buy food and liquor on Sundays, but not clothes, furniture or electronics.

That’s because Bergen County, with its five malls and 900,000 residents, still enforces “blue laws” that prohibit Sunday shopping except for essentials.

Bergen’s law is among the last in the country. Now it too could be on its way out to satisfy New Jersey’s hunger for more sales taxes. The budget proposed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie assumes $65 million in new sales tax revenue by jettisoning the law starting July 1.


Cabbie charged with trying to fund terrorist network

Federal prosecutors have charged a Chicago cab driver with trying to provide funds to al-Qaida, saying the man planned to send money to a terrorist leader in Pakistan who had said he needed cash to buy explosives.


Raja Lahrasib Khan, 56, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin, was charged Friday with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

According to the criminal complaint, Khan also discussed a possible bomb attack on an unspecified U.S. stadium this summer. Speaking with a man identified only as Individual B, Khan allegedly said bags containing remote-controlled bombs could be placed in the stadium and then, “boom, boom, boom, boom,” prosecutors said.

Khan appeared before U.S. Magistrate Geraldine Soat Brown on Friday. She ordered him held pending a status hearing set for Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said there was no imminent danger to the Chicago area.


Party honors 50th birthday of zoo’s Bornean orangutan


The Phoenix Zoo is used to hosting birthday parties, but this one’s a little different.

Duchess the orangutan turned 50 on Saturday, and the zoo treated her to gifts, an ice cake filled with fruit and a rendition of “Happy Birthday” by hundreds of zoo visitors.

Zoo officials say Duchess is the nation’s oldest captive Bornean orangutan, and is now 10 years older than the 40-year life expectancy of orangutans in the wild.

Duchess was 2 years old when the zoo opened in 1962 and is one of only a few remaining original animals. She has given birth seven times and lives with one of her daughters, and the daughter’s child and mate.

The birthday party included the groundbreaking of a new $4 million orangutan exhibit.

Her keeper, Bob Keesecker, says Duchess didn’t seem too stressed about the milestone.


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