Steve Martin takes top honor at Bluegrass Awards

NASHVILLE, TENN. (AP) - Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers turned the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards into funny business Thursday night.

Martin and his group of crack bluegrassers took entertainer of the year, the night’s top award at The Ryman Auditorium, while super group The Boxcarstook home a leading four awards.
“I want to thank all the other nominees … for losing,”Martin joked after accepting the award.
Martin, the Grammy and Emmy award winner best known as a comedian and writer, is also an accomplished banjo picker who has taken the medium to a wider audience with two albums of mostly original music and a high-profile series of performances. Entertainer of the year goes to the act that does the best job representing the genre.
“It really means a lot, sort of like winning two Oscars,” Martin said afterward. “It’s something we work very hard at and I kind of started from scratch. I mean I’ve been playing banjo for 50 years, but performing in a band I’ve never done. I’ve done it for about two years … You know, the hardest part was talking and tuning.”
It is the first IBMA award for Martin and the second for the Rangers, winners of the 2006 emerging artist of the year award. They snap Dailey & Vincent’s three-year winning streak in the entertainer category.
The Boxcars took home four awards. Three other acts, Michael Cleveland, The Gibson Brothers and a collaborative effort among J.D. CroweDoyle Lawsonand Paul Williams, each won two awards.
The Boxcars are made up of former Dan Tyminskiband members Adam Steffey and Ron Stewart, who enlisted John R. BowmanKeith Garrett and Harold Nixon to form the new group. They were the night’s lead nominees with 10.
The quintet won emerging artist and instrumental group of the year, while Steffey won mandolin player of the year and Stewart shared banjo player of the year with Kristin Scott Benson of the Grascals, who has won that trophy four years in a row.
“We’re grizzled veterans, heavy on the gristle,”Steffey joked after the group won instrumental group of the year.
The IBMA honored Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductees Del McCoury and George Shuffler and host Sam Bush paid tribute to the late Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, who would have turned 100 this month.
The Gibson Brothers won album of the year for “Help My Brother” and the vocal group of the year award, crediting Ricky Skaggs “for teaching us how it’s done.”
Cleveland, which his band Flamekeeper, won instrumental recorded performance of the year for “Goin’ Up Dry Branch” and won Cleveland won his sixth straight fiddle player of the year award and ninth overall.
CroweLawson and Williams won recorded event of the year and gospel recorded event of the year for their “Prayer Bells of Heaven.” Russell Moore won his second straight male vocalist of the year award and Dale Ann Bradley won female vocalist of the year. Both have won those categories four times apiece.
Martin fell in love with the banjo as a child listening to legends like Earl Scruggs, Pete Seeger and Doug Dillard. He often incorporated a banjo into his humor but gave little public hint for his love of bluegrass until later in life. He released his first album with the Rangers in 2009 called “The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo.” That album won a Grammy Award. They released “Rare Bird Alert” earlier this year.Martin previously won a Grammy for his 2001 “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” collaboration with Scruggs.
The 66-year-old and the Rangers have taken bluegrass to “The Ellen Show,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and the Capital Mall over the last year.

“And when I play a concert hall somewhere I know half the audience isn’t even familiar with bluegrass,”Martin said before the awards. “That way we really reach a really wide audience for this music I love and that I love listening to.”

Dennis Miller endorses Herman Cain

Comedian and radio host Dennis Miller announced Monday that he will endorse Herman Cain for the 2012 presidential nomination, a spokesman confirmed to Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody.
Cain, who won an upset victory in Saturday’s Florida straw poll, thanked the former Saturday Night Live star over Twitter. “I’d like to thank [Miller] for his support,” Cain wrote. “I look forward to working with him as we continue our journey to the White House!” 
Miller had suggested a bumper sticker for Cain earlier in the day: “Cain Versus Not Able.”
Dennis Miller has been a Cain supporter for several months, and directed his listeners to the former Godfather CEO’s campaign website in July. He plans to headline a fundraiser for Cain in Los Angeles later this year.

Libya: 20,000 surface to air missles missing!


U.S. officials had once thought there was little chance that terrorists could get their hands on many of the portable surface-to-air missiles that can bring down a commercial jet liner.
But now that calculation is out the window, with officials at a recent secret White House meeting reporting that thousands of them have gone missing in Libya.
"Matching up a terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile, that's our worst nightmare," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D.-California, a member of the Senate's Commerce, Energy and Transportation Committee.
The nightmare has been made real with the discovery in Libya that an estimated 20,000 portable, heat-seeking missiles have gone missing from unguarded Army weapons warehouses.
The missiles, four to six-feet long and Russian-made, can weigh just 55 pounds with launcher. They lock on to the heat generated by the engines of aircraft, can be fired from a vehicle or from a combatant's shoulder, and are accurate and deadly at a range of more than two miles.
Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch first warned about the problem after a trip to Libya six months ago. He took pictures of pickup truckloads of the missiles being carted off during another trip just a few weeks ago.
"I myself could have removed several hundred if I wanted to, and people can literally drive up with pickup trucks or even 18 wheelers and take away whatever they want," said Bouckaert, HRW's emergencies director. "Every time I arrive at one of these weapons facilities, the first thing we notice going missing is the surface-to-air missiles."
The ease with which rebels and other unknown parties have snatched thousands of the missiles has raised alarms that the weapons could end up in the hands of al Qaeda, which is active in Libya.
"There certainly are dangerous groups operating in the region, and we're very concerned that some of these weapons could end up in the wrong hands," said Bouckaert.
"I think the probability of al Qaeda being able to smuggle some of the stinger-like missiles out of Libya is probably pretty high," said Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism advisor and now a consultant to ABC News.
Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, which advises President Obama, says that a State Department expert "is on the ground in Libya working with the [Transitional National Council]," the rebels' interim government, to develop a "control and destruction program" for the missiles. Vietor also said the administration has sent five specialists to help the TNC "secure, recover and destroy" weapons, including surface-to-air missiles. Said Vietor, "Since the beginning of the crisis, we have been actively engaged with our allies and partners to support Libya's efforts to secure all conventional weapons stockpiles, including recover, control, and disposal of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles."

Craig Morgan: A real life dude!

Sunday marked the tenth anniversary of the attack on our nation as well as the 26th birthday of country radio station B-100. Award winning performers Craig Morgan & Jo Dee Messina, helped 30,000 fans celebrate it.

Gates opened at 10:00am and the music started flowing at noon.

He was born Craig Morgan Greer on July 17, 1965 in the rural community of Kingston Springs, Tennessee.

When Craig Morgan was ten years old and on a school field trip to Nashville, he sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" well enough to catch the ear of a distinctive older lady in the crowd. "She walked up to me and said, ‘Son, someday you’re gonna be a famous singer,’" Morgan remembers. Two-plus decades later, he’d be looking at a picture of the woman—Minnie Pearl—in the Ryman Auditorium dressing room that bears her name, getting ready for his first performance on the Grand Ole Opry.

He has spent much of his life in the service of others. Morgan would be an EMT, a contractor, a sheriff’s deputy and a Wal-Mart assistant dairy manager. He’d also spend ten years serving his country in the U.S. Army where he became part of "Operation Just Cause".  During his tenure with the army, he served ten years of active duty as a Fire Support Specialist, serving both the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions.  He holds "Airborne", "Jumpmaster" and "Air Assault" credentials. 
While stationed in Korea, Craig began songwriting and performing.  He secured a number of military accolades for his efforts.  Today, he frequently performs on military bases both at home and abroad; individually and as part of USO shows.

After his stint in the armed services, Craig returned home to Tennessee where he found himself perfoming various jobs to support his family.  He has spent time in the fields of construction, security and law enforcement. But That's Why Morgan is one of country music’s most beloved performers. It doesn’t matter if he’s jumping out of airplanes, putting gallon jugs on a refrigerated shelf or singing hits like "Redneck Yacht Club," "Almost Home" and "Tough"—his honesty, humility and work ethic stand out as strongly as his talent. That’s why I keep swinging this hammer...break my back for a slice of that American pie, Morgan sings on That's Why's stirring title track, his stout voice ringing out with such authority and passion that you know the sentiment is no less true now that the hammer’s been replaced with a guitar. 

Morgan’s father played in country bands (and his grandfather was a farmer), but "I didn’t think music was something that I’d ever do for a living," he says. As it turns out, selling records, being on the radio and playing some 200 shows a year has only made him embrace fatherhood and family more firmly. Morgan has four children with his wife, Karen, as well as a daughter from a previous marriage; they live just a few miles from the farmland in Dickson, Tennessee, where his mother and father went on their first date. "Family truly is the thing that’s most important," Morgan says. "I love the music; I love singing and writing songs and producing records. But ultimately, I do what I have to do to take care of my family. Even someone who has the greatest job in the world would rather spend more time at home. I know I would, and I have the best job in the world."

He’s certainly become quite good at it. "That’s What I Love About Sunday," from Morgan’s 2005 album My Kind of Livin’, was the most played country song that year. Three songs off of Little Bit of Life (the title track, "Tough" and "International Harvester"), enjoyed stays in the Top 10, and he was nominated for Top New Male Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music in both 2006 and 2007. Truth is, you can’t tune in to a country station anywhere in the United States without hearing a Craig Morgan song within the hour. But he’s also just a bit like that great actor everybody knows and recognizes from a big successful movie, yet can’t quite place on sight. Oh, that guy! "People know the music," Morgan says. "When they come to my shows, they might know the latest single, or they may know a previous single. But sometimes I can read their lips: they’re going, ‘oh, I didn’t know he sang that one!’ Or, ‘I forgot about that song!’"

Morgan’s gift is for, as he puts it, "real-life stuff." His eye for the everyday, whether he’s trying to make sense of a world where kids want iPods for Christmas instead of BB guns, or describing girls with ponytails tucked in their baseball caps, is so unerring that it’s easy to overlook just how much goes into the songwriting. On the aching, piano-and-steel tinged ballad "Lookin’ Back with You," Morgan spins today’s most precious moments into tomorrow’s cherished memories—nearly every line is ripped right from his life, but every line is also the work of an exquisite craftsman, whether he’s going for humor, pathos or a mundane detail. When my new truck is my old truck/and I take off these big old tires/and it’s our turn to slow down traffic everywhere, he sings. Elsewhere, "Sticks," with its bluegrass bar band vibe, seems destined to supplant John Mellencamp’s "Small Town" as an American classic of both rock’n’roll and country. I was raised in the sticks/that’s where I get my kicks ... tailgatin’ with my buddies/boots and dog and tires all muddy. And if Morgan keeps writing songs like "Planet Her" for Karen, he may not ever need to get her birthday presents. "Ah, she’s not much for the music," he jokes. "She’d still rather have a Corvette."

Needless to say, Morgan’s full-on personality made him well-suited for the military. He spent 10 years on active duty in the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and continued his service for nine years in the Reserves. He was stationed in Panama from 1989-90 and was part of the military operation that removed dictator Manuel Noriega from power.

Craig goes overseas to perform USO shows every chance he gets. "Sometimes you walk away feeling regret: that I should be there with them still," he says. "But I’m starting to appreciate what I can do now for those men and women outside of being a soldier. Doing stuff for the USO will always be a priority for me." Morgan received the 2006 USO Merit Award for his involvement, joining the likes of Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, and Bob Hope as a recipient.

After his ninth tour of Iraq Morgan was heralded as a hero after rescuing two children from a burning house in Charlotte, Tenn.

“My 14-year-old son Jerry looked up and saw a house on fire, so we pulled into a gas station and ran up there,” Morgan told FOX411’s Pop Tarts. “The lady who owned the home came out with a fire extinguisher. I tried to put it out but it didn’t work. One thing led to another and in a matter of just a minute, the side of the house was engulfed by flames.”

It was then that the homeowner informed Morgan that her children were inside.

Using his skills and training as a former EMT, Army paratrooper and sheriff's deputy, Morgan took immediate action.

“I opened the door and the house was filled with smoke. There was a little two-year-old over in the corner with his face in the couch and when he saw me come in he got scared and took off running," Morgan said. "But I snatched him up, then the older child, about six or seven, came out of the bedroom. I grabbed him and took them out to their mom."

Music Row’s Bob Oermann wrote, "Craig Morgan is country music’s champion of the Everyman—a loyal husband and father, unblushingly sentimental, tough enough to kick your butt if you cross him, and the kind of friend everyone would like to have."

His entertainment honors from his milltary days would also pay off as he landed a job singing demos for other songwriters and publishing companies.  It wasn't long before his talent would secure him a recording contract with Atlantic Records.

Success continued for Craig as he signed with BNA Records in 2008.  October of the year saw the release of the album "That's Why" with a lead single of "Love Remembers".  The single peaked at #9.  During this same time Craig was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted on October 25, 2008.  John Conlee surprised Craig with the invitation onstage during his performance of "Rose Colored Glasses", which was popularized by Conlee in 1978.  The song is often times found on Craig's set list.  His response to the invitation was "Oh, God, yes!"  His Opry guest debut had been eight and a half years earlier on April 21, 2000.

Craigs maintains a busy schedule playing the Grand Ole Opry, military bases and over 200 concerts per year. Being in the military made him value home and family as much as ever. And he still runs his country music operation like an Army unit. "My dad and mom raised me to be grateful and thankful and appreciative," he says. "They always told me, if somebody loans you something, give it back in better shape than what you get it in." Thus, Morgan and the band and road crew sweep the stage before and after shows, and are not likely to ever get an angry phone call from a motel clerk. After most gigs Morgan’s right there with them loading up the truck. "Something in my genes and my blood requires that I work—right or wrong, it makes me feel like a man," Morgan says with a laugh. "People ask me how I stay grounded ... man, I go home and I still mow my own grass. I clean my own pool. I have kids that I get onto and play with and love the same as everybody else. I will always be that same guy. Just like the people who buy our records and listen to our music."

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Pentagon: 10 years later, the same and different

Former President George W. Bush has paid silent tribute to Sept. 11 victims in a wreath-laying at the Pentagon.

Bush was joined by his wife, Laura, as he placed a wreath of white flowers by the 9/11 memorial stone embedded in the wall outside Corridor 4. That's near where hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building, killing 184 people.

Also at the brief ceremony were Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former Pentagon chief Donald H. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

Bush then headed to Shanksville, Pa., for the dedication of the United Flight 93 memorial. He also plans to join President Barack Obama in New York on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

More than 1,000 family members of people who perished at the Pentagon on this date 10 years ago filed slowly into the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial on Sunday.

A flag marks where terrorists flew a plane into the Pentagon as families and guests walk through the memorial to the victims on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

They sat quietly in rows of metal chairs, facing the metal benches — one for each of their loved ones — that make up the memorial next to the Pentagon. To their right a huge flag was draped over the Pentagon wall, marking the section where American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the heart of the nation's defense minutes after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

At 9:37 a.m., the same moment the plane struck the building, there was a moment of silence, followed by a haunting rendition of Amazing Grace by the Navy chorus.

The U.S. Army Band played solemnly as 184 service men and women from the Army, Navy and Marines laid wreaths at each of the memorial benches. Some in the crowd raised their cameras to capture the moment.

On a stage set up next to the military headquarters, Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared that after the attacks, "America reached forth with the outstretched arm and clenched fist of an angry nation …to make sure a day like this never happens again."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta surveyed the peaceful memorial and said, "At this very moment, at this very spot, it's difficult to believe that 10 years ago this was the scene of terrible devastation, smoke and fire. Although 10 years have passed, the wounds are still present. … You'll always carry the memory of that day with you."

The terrorist attacks were "aimed squarely at our values," he said. "They tried to weaken us. Instead, they made us stronger."

The strength of a democracy, he said, is the willingness of its citizens to make sacrifices for the good of others in times of crisis. "Many have sacrificed," he said, citing more than 6,000 who died and thousands more who were wounded in the ensuing wars. "And because of their sacrifice, we're a safer nation."

The men and women armed with machine guns posted along the approaches to the Pentagon, the highways closed for the event, the concrete barriers along the parking lots and security screenings — all made it clear this place has changed.

Douglas Wilson, assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs, remarked before the ceremony, "This Pentagon is both the same and different. … There's a mission, but the mission is more complicated in many ways. It's no longer black and white.

"People understand there's an ongoing nature to the conflict," he said. "There's a quiet determination."

He was working across the street from the White House 10 years ago and recalled seeing smoke rising from the Pentagon across the Potomac, and feeling "scared to death" that his friends had died.

Drake Marshall, 13, was at the ceremony to remember his mother.

He recalled that he was in the Pentagon day care center, building a castle with blocks, when a teacher said something about smoke in the building, grabbed him and carried him out. Drake's mother, Shelley, worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency in the building, but Drake remembers crying for his dad.

"I was looking over my teacher's shoulder as she was giving me a hug when I saw him running over," he said. "It was a scary time. … I didn't know if my parents were OK I didn't have any idea what was happening."

Vice President Biden's words about losing a loved one felt personal, Drake said, "because I lost my mom."

His father, Donn Marshall, 46, credits Drake and his sister Chandler, who was 21 months at the time, with saving his life.

"As a single parent, you have to find strength," he said. "Who knows what I would have done, what would have turned out if the kids hadn't been there."

They even helped him find his second wife, he said, by insisting on going back to the nice lady who sold them an Easter bunny, and the visits became daily.

Donn Marshall, who also worked in military intelligence, said he moved to West Virginia in part because Washington didn't feel safe. He doesn't like all the planes flying overhead, and he thinks another attack is "bound to happen again."

The intelligence community "can't be right 100%," he said, and the enemies "only have to be right once."

Mary Lou Moss, 43, of Saltiillo, Tex., wept thinking about the day 10 years ago when she lost her husband, Brian Moss, who was in the Navy. When she had a daughter four years later, she named her Sailor is his honor.

"Being near the crash site makes it really hard," Moss said.

Moss's son Connor, 15, wants to join the Navy SEALs, Moss said.

Her older daughter, Ashten, 17, said she plans to join the Navy, too. She might finally find closure, she said, "when I go fight."

Memorial moves 9/11 mourners

Vasantha Velamuri, who's husband, Sankara Sastry Velamuri, was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, mourns at the place where his name is inscribed on the Sept. 11 memorial.

Ground Zero is gone — replaced this morning with the grand opening of a beautiful memorial that left the family members of the dead nearly speechless with emotion.

The National September 11 Memorial officially opened its doors a decade after the attack, a moving tribute complete with reflecting pools of water, names etched of the dead in bronze and the only tree that survived the attack.

Family members were first allowed on the site shortly after 9 am, arriving in a steady stream to see the names of their lost loved ones.

Many openly wept, overwhelmed with emotion, and scores were home-made tee shirts emblazoned with the name of the person they were honoring.
August Larsen, 9, makes a crayon rubbing of his father's name, Scott Larsen, who he never got a chance to meet. Larsen, a firefighter at Ladder 15, was killed in 9/11 just days before his son was born.
Getty Images
August Larsen, 9, makes a crayon rubbing of his father's name, Scott Larsen, who he never got a chance to meet. Larsen, a firefighter at Ladder 15, was killed in 9/11 just days before his son was born.

“I found his name and it brought tears to my eyes. I felt like I had a real connection,” said Anthony Ottomanom whose nephew died in the attack.

“I’ve been coming every year and things have gotten so much better. The park is magnificent. The trees, the pools, it’s beautiful.”

Dennis Baxter, 64, lost his brother, Jasper Baxter.

He was so overcome with emotion upon seeing his brother’s name etched in stone that he initially felt confusion.

“I touched it...I didn’t know what to do,” the King of Prussia, PA man said.

Ultimately, he found solace.

“It was really moving,” he said.

Family members have been coming to the site of the attacks since the beginning, but today marked the first time when there was an official place for them to go.

They honored the dead by placing roses next to the names, making etchings to bring home, and silently praying.

Mary Dwyer, wore a t-shirt with images of her sister, Lucy Fishman, who died while at work for Aon, a firm that was in the south tower.

“It’s the closest I’ll ever get to her again,” said Dwyer.

Confederate sub upright for first time since 1864

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship is upright for the first time in almost 150 years, revealing a side of its hull not seen since it sank off the South Carolina coast during the Civil War.
Workers at a conservation lab finished the painstaking, two-day job of rotating the hand-cranked H.L. Hunley upright late Thursday.
The Hunley was resting on its side at a 45-degree angle on the bottom of the Atlantic when it was raised in August 2000 and scientists had kept it in slings in that position in the lab for the past 11 years.
But they needed to turn it upright to continue with the job of conservation.
Scientists hope the hidden side of the sub will provide clues as to why the Hunley sank with its eight-member crew in February, 1864, after sending the Union blockade ship Houstonic to the bottom.
While there was no immediate clue from a first look at the hidden hull but "we are seeing some tantalizing clues on that side," Hunley archaeologist Maria Jacobsen said Friday.
Scientists knew there were large hull breaches on the starboard side that remained out of view all these years. Jacobsen said the area around the holes is smooth, as the sediment that has hardened on the hull was blasted away. It's not clear whether the breaches are manmade — caused by an explosion or the like — or simply caused by nature.
She said it likely could have been scoured away by water and tides.
"We may be dealing with nature here. How can these massive hull breaches occur?" she asked.
"Nothing jumps out at me" from seeing the starboard side, said state Sen. Glenn McConnell, the chairman of the South Carolina Hunley Commission. "But we will be examining it for any clue that might be there to help us solve the mystery."

There are various theories why the sub sank. It could have been damaged by fire from the Housatonic or the sub's crew was knocked out by the concussion from the blast that sank that ship. Or it could have been damaged by another Union vessel rescuing the Housatonic.
Studies show the crew died of a lack of oxygen and didn't drown. The remains of the crew, who were buried in 2004, were found at their stations and there seemed no rush to the escape hatch.
McConnell said seeing the submarine upright brings it alive.
"Instead of looking like an artifact, it now looks like a stealth weapon," he said.
"It's as if you are looking at the submarine for the first time," agreed conservator Paul Mardikian. "Before it was more like a mass of inert metal. Now it looks like something that had a life."

The next step in conserving the Hunley comes next week when it will be lowered onto keel blocks to hold it upright. It will probably be a month before a truss and the slings that suspended the sub from it will be removed, providing an even better view of the submarine.
The delicate process of righting the sub involved rotating it between 800 and 1,000 millimeters. A team of workers adjusted the slings by 2 millimeter increments during the two days the job took.
"It went better than it had any right to do," said Mike Drews, the director of the conservation center. "Knowing there were unknowns, we always erred on the side of caution."

2 terror suspects may be U.S. citizens

U.S. intelligence agencies have found no evidence that al Qaeda has sneaked any terrorists into the country for a strike coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, senior officials said Saturday.
But authorities kept a high alert as investigators looked for proof of a plot possibly timed to disrupt events planned Sunday in Washington or New York.
Since late Wednesday, counterterrorism officials have chased a tip that al Qaeda may have sent three men to the U.S. on a mission to detonate a car bomb in either city. At least two of those men could be U.S. citizens, according to the tip.
No intelligence supported that tip as of Saturday, and officials continued to question the validity of the initial information.
While such tips are common among intelligence agencies, this one received more attention, and government officials chose to speak publicly about it, because of the connection to the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
Al Qaeda long has hoped to strike again on the anniversary.
At the FBI field office in Washington, assistant director James McJunkin described the tip and the response as routine. The U.S. already had bolstered security nationwide before the upcoming anniversary and anticipated an increase in tips.
“We expect we’re going to get an increase in threats and investigative activity around high-profile dates and events,” he said. “This is a routine response for us.”
Intelligence analysts have looked at travel patterns and behaviors of people who recently entered the country. While they have singled out a few people for additional scrutiny, none has shown any involvement in a plot, according to the senior U.S. officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the investigation.
President Barack Obama met with his national security team Saturday, but the White House released no new information about possible threats. A statement said that counterterrorism efforts were working well and would not ease in the weeks and months ahead.
The tip that touched off the most recent investigation came from a CIA informant who has proved reliable in the past, according to U.S. officials. They said the informant approached intelligence officials overseas to say that the men were ordered by new al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 by doing harm on U.S. soil.
Al-Zawahri took over as the group’s leader after the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden during a raid in May at his compound in Pakistan.
The informant said the would-be attackers were of Arab descent and might speak Arabic as well as English. Counterterrorism officials were looking for certain names associated with the threat, but it was unclear whether the names were real or fake.
Some intelligence officials have raised doubts about the threat, given the short turnaround time. Someone who recently arrived in the United States would have just days to plan and obtain materials for a car bomb attack, a difficult feat even with a long lead time.
But they did not dismiss the threat. Extra security was put in place to protect the people in the two cities that took the brunt of the jetliner attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Law enforcement agencies around the country had increased security at airports, nuclear plants, train stations and elsewhere in the weeks leading to Sept. 11. The latest threat made those measures more urgent.
U.S. embassies and consulates also stepped up safeguards in preparation for the anniversary.
While authorities urged people to keep a watchful eye for suspicious activity as usual, they said there was no reason the latest tip should change anyone’s weekend.
“Whatever you have plans for, it’s a beautiful day. It’s going to be a beautiful weekend,” McJunkin said. “It’s college football Saturday. Tomorrow is the start of the NFL (National Football League) season. So we expect the public is going to be out enjoying what it means to be an American.”

9/11 Anniversary: Federal Authorities Probe Possible Terror Threat

By Mike Levine & Jennifer Griffin
Federal authorities have come across what they believe may be a credible threat to the U.S. homeland surrounding the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, several sources tell Fox News.

The threat, said to involve potential car bombs, would target New York City or Washington, D.C., sources said. Authorities have obtained what they believe is information on possible suspects tied to central Al Qaeda, but they have not necessarily determined names of possible suspects.

"As we know from the intelligence gathered from the [bin Laden] raid, Al Qaeda has shown an interest in important dates and anniversaries, such as 9/11," Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler said in a written statement. "In this instance, it's accurate that there is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information."

According to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the threat, "People are aggressively pursuing leads,” and it is "specific enough to elicit worry." Another senior U.S. official stressed the threat is still “unconfirmed” so it is being chased down and investigated. It was identified in intelligence received from overseas.

President Obama has been briefed on the seriousness of this threat, according to a senior administration official

"It feels more than aspirational," one official said.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security were drafting a bulletin Thursday night to send to local law enforcement across the country.

"We have a duty to warn,” the senior U.S. official said.

U.S. officials have been saying for days that there is no known credible threat related to the anniversary. But when asked Thursday by reporters whether that’s still the case, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano seemed to at first hesitate.

Then she said:

"It is still the case that we don't have something that would reach that standard, but we still have lots of chatter out there. And we take every bit of that seriously and track it down. ... The date is important because it's 9/11. But as I said, in the intel world there's lots of chatter and we're taking it all seriously. Should there be something that rises to the level where I have to issue a threat advisory, we will issue a threat advisory."

There were documents found inside Usama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that mentioned aspirations to strike on the 10th anniversary of the 2001 attacks.

Fox News' Ed Henry and Justin Fishel contributed to this report.

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Homeland Security

NYPD honors Sept. 11 victims in medal ceremony

 By COLLEEN LONG, The Associated Press 5:18 PM Thursday, September 8, 2011

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department has honored the officers who were killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks at the World Trade Center and those who worked on the toxic pile of rubble and died later.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the officers were among many brave men and women who helped rescue 25,000 people from the twin towers. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly thanked their families.

The NYPD handed out medals to the families of the 23 officers who died Sept. 11, 2001, and the 49 officers and one civilian employee who died since. It says the more recent deaths were caused by Sept. 11-related illnesses.

Navy veteran John DiStephano collected his nephew Walter Weaver's medal in Thursday's ceremony. He says it's "bittersweet."

Some people collecting medals walked on stage wearing their loved ones' police caps.

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Drunken elk rescued from Swede's apple tree

A drunken elk desperate for just one more mouthful of fermenting apples lost its balance in the attempt, leaving it stuck in an apple tree in western Sweden
When Per Johansson of Särö, south of Gothenburg, returned home from work on Tuesday it was dark outside and the rain was coming down hard. Suddenly Johansson heard a bellowing noise from the garden next door. 
“I thought at first that someone was having a laugh. Then I went over to take a look and spotted an elk stuck in an apple tree with only one leg left on the ground,” Johansson told The Local.

The unfortunate elk was desperately entangled in the tree’s branches and was kicking ferociously as Johansson approached. 

“I thought it looked pretty bad so I called the police who sent out an on-call hunter. But while we were waiting, the neighbours and I started to saw down some of the branches and then the hunter arrived with a saw as well,” said Johansson. 

The group tried to make the elk more comfortable but to no avail. 

It wasn’t until the fire brigade arrived on the scene and managed to bend the tree to the point where the exhausted elk could slide out of the branches that the animal was finally freed. 

According to Johansson, it looked very much like the elk was severely drunk after eating too many fermenting apples. 

Drunken elk are common in Sweden during the autumn season when there are plenty of apples lying around on the ground and hanging from branches in Swedish gardens. 

While the greedy animal was reaching ever higher to reach the delicious but intoxicating fruit, it most likely stumbled into the tree, getting itself hopelessly entangled in the branches. 

And from what Johansson could gather, this particular animal had been on a day-long bender.

“My neighbour recognised it as the animal that almost ran into her car earlier in the day. She was pretty sure the elk was already under the influence,“ said Johansson. 

When the inebriated elk was freed, it lay for a while on the ground, seemingly unconscious. 

After emergency services had ascertained that the animal was still alive, Johansson was told to keep an eye on it and call the hunter straight away if it seemed to be suffering. 

But by the morning the hungover animal had stood up and cautiously moved a few metres away.

After a while it went on its way, although Johansson suspects it is still skulking around the neighbourhood. 

“We often see elk stuffing their faces with apples around here but this is the first time we found one perched in a tree,” he told The Local.

Australia: Search for great white after surfer killed

GEORGIA LONEY, The West Australian
The 21-year-old bodyboarder killed by a shark near Dunsborough yesterday was dead before fellow surfers could drag him ashore.

Police say the man was surfing at Bunker Bay with a mate when he was attacked just after 1pm, about 1km from the Bunkers Beach Cafe.

Dunsborough Sgt Craig Anderson said the Wilyabrup man was among a group of about five men surfing in an area known as The Boneyards.

"Out of nowhere it would appear that the young fellow has been taken by a shark," he said. "No one saw the shark itself but they've observed the young fellow's body in the water in amongst some blood.

"His mate and someone else that was surfing with him have pulled the body ashore, emergency services have been notified, but unfortunately the nature of the injuries mean the young fellow was deceased before he was pulled from the water."

Sgt Anderson described the young man who pulled his fatally injured friend ashore as heroic.

"You have to take your hat off to the young fellow who was surfing with him and his mate for bringing him ashore, the nature of his injuries were significant," he said.

Sgt Anderson said local residents had described yesterday's weather as "perfect shark conditions".

"It was dark and gloomy water, overcast skies, light rain falling, there was whale action in the bay and some seals about," he said.

He said the dead man was from the Eastern States and had been working in various jobs in WA for the past three or four years.

Despite a search, the shark had not been seen and the beach would stay closed.

He said a vessel would sweep the area today.

Onlookers said they believed the shark was a 4.5m great white.

Bunkers Beach Cafe manager Hamish McLeay said the cafe was full when the attack happened.

"We had a restaurant full of people, a beach full of people, great surf, beautiful day, typical South West day, then the word got out that someone had been taken by a shark, it's one of our favourite spots down the beach," he said.

"Everyone is saying you have more risk of being hit by a car or stung by a bee, it's one of those things . . . it's very unusual." It is the second fatal shark attack in the South West in the past year.

Last August, Busselton man Nick Edwards, 31, was taken by a shark while he surfing at Gracetown.

Shark expert Hugh Edwards said the Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin area was a "travel route" for sharks, particularly great whites.
"The risk of being attacked while in the water is very low but there's no doubt that there are far more people in the water in these areas than there were 10, 20 years ago so we are seeing more attacks," Mr Edwards said.

Tropical Storm Lee forms off US Gulf

By JANET MCCONNAUGHEY - Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A large storm system churning in the Gulf Of Mexico grew Friday into Tropical Storm Lee, beginning a holiday weekend-long assault that could bring up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in some spots from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

The storm was expected to make landfall on the central Louisiana coast late Saturday and turn east toward 

New Orleans, where it would provide the biggest test of rebuilt levees since Hurricane Gustav struck during the Labor Day holiday in 2008.

Governors in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as the mayor of New Orleans, declared states of emergency. 

Officials in several coastal Louisiana communities called for voluntary evacuations.

Residents who have survived killer hurricanes such as Katrina in 2005 didn't expect Lee to live up to that legacy.

"It's a lot of rain. It's nothing, nothing to Katrina," said Malcolm James, 59, a federal investigator in New Orleans who lost his home after levees broke during Katrina in August 2005 and had to be airlifted by helicopter.

"This is mild," he said. "Things could be worse."

Lee comes less than a week after Hurricane Irene killed more than 40 people along the East Coast and knocked out power to millions. It was too soon to tell if Hurricane Katia, out in the Atlantic, could endanger the U.S.

By Friday evening, the outer bands of Lee, the 12th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, already began dumping rain over southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and Alabama.

The storm's biggest impact, so far, has been in the Gulf of Mexico oil fields. About half the Gulf's normal daily oil production has been cut as rigs were evacuated, though oil prices were down sharply Friday on sour economic news.

Federal authorities said 169 of the 617 staffed production platforms have been evacuated, along with 16 of the 62 drilling rigs. That's reduced daily production by about 666,000 barrels of oil and 1.7 billion cubic feet of gas.

Tropical storm warning flags were flying from Mississippi to Texas and flash flood warnings extended along the Alabama coast into the Florida Panhandle. Lee had winds of 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour — minimal tropical storm strength.

The National Hurricane Center said the center of Lee was about 185 miles (295 km) southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River on Friday and moving north at just 2 mph (4 kph). Its center was expected to make landfall in Louisiana over the weekend.

Forecasters say that Lee's maximum sustained winds have increased to 45 mph (75 kph), from 40 mph (65 kph), and could increase further.

In New Orleans' central business district, Friday seemed a typical day. Employees at big-box home improvement stores said residents weren't rushing in to stock up on supplies.

Merchants, however, worried the storm would dampen the Southern Decadence festival, an annual gay lifestyle fixture that rings cash registers on Labor Day weekend. Ann Sonnier, shift manager of Jester's bar, said receipts were disappointing so far.

"People are probably scared to death to come here after Katrina," she said.