Nation roundup for April 4


Torture report may be released

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Thursday to release parts of a hotly contested, secret report that harshly criticizes CIA terror interrogations after 9/11, and the White House said it would instruct intelligence officials to cooperate fully.

The result sets the stage for what could be the fullest public accounting of the Bush administration’s record when it comes to waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The panel voted 11-3 to order the declassification of almost 500 pages of the 6,300-page review, which concludes the harsh methods employed at CIA-run prisons overseas were excessively cruel and ineffective in producing valuable intelligence.

Even some Republicans who agree with the spy agency that the findings are inaccurate voted in favor of declassification, saying it was important for the country to move on.

“The purpose of this review was to uncover the facts behind the secret program and the results, I think, were shocking,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the committee chairwoman, said. “The report exposes brutality that stands in sharp contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never be allowed to happen again. This is not what Americans do.”

The intelligence committee and the CIA are embroiled in a bitter dispute related to the three-year study. Senators accuse the agency of spying on their investigation and deleting files. The CIA says Senate staffers illegally accessed information. The Justice Department is reviewing competing criminal referrals.

Killer is executed with new drugs

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A serial killer was put to death Thursday in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his lawyers’ demand that the state release information about where it gets its lethal injection drug.

Tommy Lynn Sells, 49, was the first inmate to be injected with a dose of newly replenished pentobarbital that Texas prison officials obtained to replace an expired supply of the powerful sedative.

Sells declined to give a statement. As the drug began flowing into his arms inside the death chamber in Huntsville, Sells took a few breaths, his eyes closed and he began to snore.

After less than a minute, he stopped moving. He was pronounced dead at 6:27 p.m. CDT — 13 minutes after being given the pentobarbital.

Terry Harris, whose 13-year-old daughter, Kaylene Harris, was fatally stabbed by Sells in 1999 in South Texas, watched as Sells was executed, saying the injection was “way more gentle than what he gave out.”

“What a great day!” the father said as witnesses left the death house.

Sells’ lawyers had made a plea to the Supreme Court earlier in the day after a federal appeals court on Wednesday allowed the execution to remain on schedule.

Applications for jobless aid rise

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 16,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 326,000. Despite the increase, the number remains close to pre-recession levels and points to stable hiring.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, inched up 250 to 319,500.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen back to roughly pre-recession levels, an indication that companies are letting go of fewer workers and expect solid economic growth in the months ahead.

The low level of applications for benefits has boosted optimism about how many jobs employers added in March.

Weekly claims for unemployment aid have reached a level that is typically consistent with monthly job gains of more than 200,000.

The Labor Department releases its March employment report today. Economists project that employers added 191,000 workers last month, according to a survey by FactSet.

That would be an improvement from February, when employers added 175,000 positions. And hiring in February accelerated after winter weather slowed job growth in the previous two months.

shut down factories, kept shoppers away from stores and reduced home buying.

That cut into growth and hiring. Employers added 129,000 jobs in January and only 84,000 in December.

The unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent last month. But the tenth of a percentage point increase happened, in part, for a positive reason: More people entered the job market to look for work. Employers didn’t immediately hire most of them, causing the unemployment rate to increase. But the fact that they started job hunting suggests that Americans are growing more optimistic.

More jobs and higher incomes will be needed to spur better overall economic growth. For now, economists estimate that the bad weather contributed to weak growth of 1.5 percent to 2 percent at an annual rate in the January-March quarter. But as the weather improves, most analysts expect growth to rebound to near 3 percent.

 

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