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Added May 27, 2010 with 10 photos
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WEST POINT, N.Y., May 22 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama told West Point's graduating class Saturday the country must play a leading role in building international alliances.

"The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times," Obama said, including countering violent extremism and insurgency, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials, preventing conflict, helping poor countries feed themselves and care for their sick and fighting global warming.

"If we are successful in these tasks, that will lessen conflicts around the world," the president told about 20,000 people at the academy, on the Hudson River north of New York City. "It will be supportive of our efforts by our military to secure our country. We must pursue a strategy of national renewal and global leadership."

Noting this is the ninth straight wartime West Point graduation, Obama said the threat of global terrorism "is no less important today than it was in those days after 9/11."

He said the war against international terrorism differs from other wars in one key respect: "There will be no simple moment of surrender to mark the journey's end -- no armistice, no banner headline. Though we have had more success in eliminating al-Qaida leaders in recent months than in recent years, they will continue to recruit, and plot, and exploit our open society."

Obama said failed terror plots like the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner and the failed Times Square car-bombing "show that pressure on networks like al-Qaida is forcing them to rely on terrorists with less time and space to train" them.

Added May 22, 2010 with 8 photos
MANGALORE, India, May 22 (UPI) -- Indian authorities said Saturday they have begun an inquiry into what caused an airliner crash that killed at least 159 and injured seven, three seriously.

The inquiry by the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation will be assisted by an Air India team, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said, the Press Trust of India reported.

Patel told reporters an initial investigation show there was no problem with the 4-year-old runway at Mangalore or the Air India Express jet. The aircraft overshot the runway by about 2000 feet.

The pilot, a British national of Serbian origin, and the Indian co-pilot had made several landings at the same airport, he said.

Patel said the aircraft's black box, an instrument that records what went on in the cockpit, has not yet been recovered, PTI reported.

The plane arriving at Bajpe airport on a flight from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates apparently touched down late and skidded off the runway into the valley, where it burned, The Hindu reported. Mangalore's airport is described as a "tabletop," set on a hill with steep cliffs not far from the runway.

The accident occurred on the longer of the two runways at the airport, which is 8,000 feet long. The shorter runway is 6,000 feet long, PTI reported.

Earlier, authorities said they believed cloudy conditions and reduced visibility may have contributed to India's worst air disaster in 14 years, The Times reported in London.

Mohammad Umer Farooqi, a young Mangalore man returning from a job-hunting trip in Dubai, said from a hospital that he jumped from the plane when he saw a hole in the fuselage, landing on the hillside.

"Then the plane veered off toward some trees on the side and then the cabin filled with smoke," he said. "I got caught in some cables but managed to scramble out."

He covered his face with his hands while he plunged through the hole to avoid the flames.

Police said the bodies of 120 passengers have been recovered.

Added May 22, 2010 with 13 photos
GRAND ISLE, La., May 22 (UPI) -- The mayor of Grand Isle, the only inhabited island on Louisiana's Gulf Coast, closed the beach to the public Friday after oil from the BP spill washed ashore.

Mayor David Camardelle closed the 8-mile-long island's beach to its 1,500 residents and the thousands more tourists who normally flock to the vacation spot to fish and swim, The Miami Herald reported Friday.

Lisa Rhobus, who runs the Cajun Holiday Motel, told the Herald all her rooms were booked before the disaster, but now every reservation has been canceled.

"The only paying people I have at Cajun Holiday are workers helping with the cleanup. This could just about kill Grand Isle," Rhobus said.

A giant oil slick 7 miles from Grand Isle was spotted from helicopters Friday.

"It's coming our way. All that oil you're seeing on Grand Isle beach now -- that's nothing compared to what's coming," one deputy sheriff told the Herald.

Added May 21, 2010 with 17 photos
Added May 20, 2010 with 25 photos
Added May 20, 2010 with 31 photos
Mothers of three U.S. hikers jailed in Iran on spy charges met with their children at a Tehran Hotel Thursday, Iranian media reported.

Nora Shourd, Laura Fattal and Cindy Hickey arrived in Tehran Wednesday after the Iranian government granted them visas to visit their children, jailed since July 2009 after straying into the country from Iraq and arrested on espionage charges, Iran's government-backed Press TV reported.

The families said Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal strayed accidentally into Iran from Iraq at an unmarked border.

Iran's Intelligence Ministry said the three Americans have been treated well in prison despite the seriousness of the charges against them.

"We have treated the U.S. nationals according to our religious principles and on humanitarian grounds, even though these individuals committed an act of espionage by illegally crossing the (western) border into Iran," Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi told reporters Wednesday.

Added May 20, 2010 with 34 photos
Added May 20, 2010 with 35 photos
WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday night toasted what he called U.S.-Mexico deep friendship at a state dinner he hosted for Mexico's first couple.

Obama elicited laughter from the assembled guests on more than one occasion, including when he opened his comments by welcoming Mexican President Felipe Calderon and first lady Margarita Zavala to the White House -- "tonight, la Casa Blanca."

The U.S. president noted Mexico is marking the bicentennial of its independence and the centennial of its revolution and said the evening was a celebration of "the bonds we share, as neighbors and as friends."

Getting around to his toast to the guests of honor, Obama said he remembered the enthusiastic children he and his wife met on their visit to Mexico.

"Each of those children has a dream. And yet we know that in life it's not enough to want your dream," Obama said. 'As the extraordinary writer Octavio Paz wrote in one of his poems, you must 'deserve your dream.'

"And so, Mr. President, I propose a toast -- to the dreams of our children. Together, may we realize those dreams. And together, may we deserve them -- by going forward in partnership and respect."

Speaking through an interpreter, Calderon thanked the Obamas and the people of the United States "for your invitation and the generous hospitality with which we have been welcomed during this visit." He went on to speak of the interdependence of the two nations.

"I have said this, and allow me to repeat it: We work with a certainty of what is good for the United States of America is good for Mexico, and if we understand this, at the same time, what is good for Mexico is good for the United States," the Mexican president said.

Continuing in English, Calderon told Obama he liked the quote about dreams.

"I don't know if you and me deserve our dreams, but I know that both of you -- both of us have dreams; those dreams are related with our people and we fight every day in order to deserve those dreams," he said. "And we will reach them."

Added May 19, 2010 with 8 photos
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Added May 18, 2010 with 27 photos
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