In brief | Nation & world | 012314


Israeli security says it foiled al-Qaida plot to hit US Embassy, other targets

JERUSALEM — Israel on Wednesday said it had foiled an “advanced” al-Qaida plan to carry out a suicide bombing on the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and bomb other targets, in what analysts said was the first time the global terror network’s leadership has been directly involved in plotting an attack inside Israel.

The Shin Bet intelligence agency said it had arrested three Palestinians who allegedly plotted bombings, shootings, kidnappings and other attacks. It said the Palestinian men, two from Jerusalem and one from the West Bank, were recruited by an operative based in the Gaza Strip who worked for al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

The State Department said the U.S. was not yet able to corroborate the Israeli claims.

The Shin Bet said the Palestinians planned on attacking a Jerusalem conference center with firearms and then kill rescue workers with a truck bomb. Al-Qaida also planned to send foreign militants to attack the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on the same day using explosives supplied by the Palestinians, it said.

US appeals court won’t halt execution of Mexican man in Texas; lawyers to ask Supreme Court

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Mexican national moved a step closer to lethal injection Wednesday when a federal appeals court rejected a claim that he was mentally impaired and ineligible to be put to death for the fatal shooting of a Houston police officer 20 years ago.

Texas officials opposed appeals to stop the scheduled lethal injection of Edgar Tamayo, 46, for killing Officer Guy Gaddis, 24, despite pleas and diplomatic pressure from the Mexican government and the U.S. State Department.

Tamayo’s lawyers went to the U.S. Supreme Court after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said an appeal this week renewing an earlier contention that Tamayo was mentally impaired and ineligible for execution was filed too late.

Ukrainian opposition calls for 24-hour pause in clashes, gives president ultimatum

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian opposition leaders issued a stark ultimatum to President Viktor Yanukovych on Wednesday to call early elections within 24 hours or face more popular rage, after at least two protesters were killed in confrontations with police in a grim escalation of a two-monthlong political crisis.

The protesters’ deaths, the first since the largely peaceful protests started in November, fueled fears that the daily demonstrations aimed at bringing down the government over its decision to shun the European Union for closer ties to Moscow and over human rights violations could turn more violent.

Space telescope spies water plumes on dwarf planet Ceres, target of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft

LOS ANGELES — The largest object in the asteroid belt just got more attractive: Scientists have confirmed signs of water on the dwarf planet Ceres, one of the few bodies in the solar system to hold that distinction.

Peering through the Herschel Space Observatory, a team led by the European Space Agency detected water plumes spewing from two regions on Ceres.

The observations, published in Thursday’s issue of Nature, come as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is set to arrive at the Texas-sized dwarf planet next year.

It’s long been suspected that Ceres is water-rich, but previous detections have been inconclusive. This is the first definitive evidence of water on Ceres and confirms that it has an icy surface, said lead author Michael Kuppers of the European Space Agency.

By wire sources