VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
OBAMA REFOCUSES TERROR THREAT TO PRE-9/11 LEVEL
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some call it wishful thinking, but President Barack Obama has all but declared an end to the global war on terror.
Obama is not claiming final victory over extremists who still seek to kill Americans and other Westerners. Instead, he is refocusing the long struggle against terrorism that lies ahead, steering the United States away from what he calls an equally frightening threat - a country in a state of perpetual war. In doing so, Obama recasts the image of the terrorists themselves, from enemy warriors to cowardly thugs and resets the relationship between the U.S. and Islam.
His speech Thursday was designed to move America's mindset away from a war footing and refine and recalibrate his own counterterrorism strategy. Obama asserted that al-Qaida is "on the path to defeat," reducing the scale of terrorism to pre-Sept. 11 levels. That means that with the Afghanistan war winding down, Obama is unlikely to commit troops in large numbers to any conflict - in Syria or other countries struggling with instability in the uncertain aftermath of the Arab Spring - unless, as his critics fear, he tragically has underestimated al-Qaida's staying power.
"Wishing the defeat of terrorists does not make it so," said Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
In Thornberry's view, Obama is pushing the idea that "we can simply declare al-Qaida beaten and go back to the pre-9/11 era."
FRAGMENTS OF BIBLICAL TREASURE ARE UP FOR SALE
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are up for sale - in tiny pieces.
Nearly 70 years after the discovery of the world's oldest biblical manuscripts, the Palestinian family who originally sold them to scholars and institutions is now quietly marketing the leftovers - fragments the family says it has kept in a Swiss safe deposit box all these years.
Most of these scraps are barely postage-stamp-sized, and some are blank. But in the last few years, evangelical Christian collectors and institutions in the U.S. have forked out millions of dollars for a chunk of this archaeological treasure. This angers Israel's government antiquities authority, which holds most of the scrolls, claims that every last scrap should be recognized as Israeli cultural property, and threatens to seize any more pieces that hit the market.
"I told Kando many years ago, as far as I'm concerned, he can die with those scrolls," said Amir Ganor, head of the authority's anti-looting squad, speaking of William Kando, who maintains his family's Dead Sea Scrolls collection. "The scrolls' only address is the State of Israel."
Kando says his family offered its remaining fragments to the antiquities authority and other Israeli institutions, but they could not afford them.
GRADUATES IN TORNADO-RAKED OKLA. TOWN VOW TO STAY
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Seven tornadoes have swept through their town since they were born, but as new graduates donned caps and gowns to say goodbye to their high schools Saturday, they vowed they wouldn't say goodbye to Moore.
"I wouldn't want to be in any other place. It's our roots. Tornadoes are a part of life here," said 18-year-old Brooke Potter, whose current college aspirations take her to two neighboring towns.
Saturday's graduations for Westmoore, Southmoore and Moore high schools are another step toward normalcy for this Oklahoma City suburb ravaged by an extremely strong tornado. Monday's twister killed 24, including seven children at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
"I want to end up back here," Madison Dobbs, 18, said. "I've been here my whole life and can't picture myself anywhere else. Tornadoes happen anywhere."
While that's true, few other places have the amount and severity of tornadoes like Oklahoma - and no other place has had a tornado like Moore. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman says the Oklahoma City area has been struck by more tornadoes than any other U.S. city, citing records that date to 1893.
When the current graduating class was in second grade, Moore experienced an EF4 tornado with winds approaching 200 mph. And three months before they started pre-kindergarten, a twister with the highest winds on record - 302 mph - sliced through their town.
"Crazy storms happen; the goods outweigh the bads," said Potter, who wants to attend Oklahoma City Community College, and then transfer to the University of Oklahoma in neighboring Norman.