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April 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM
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Campaign funding disclosure bill in works

WASHINGTON, April 13 (UPI) -- The White House and Democratic U.S. congressional leaders are closing in on proposing a bill that would require corporate campaign disclosure, officials said.

The legislation is being developed in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in January that determined the government can't ban corporations from spending in political campaigns.

Among other things, the proposed legislation would force private companies and groups to reveal financial involvement in political campaigns and advertising that normally is out of public view, as well as require the head of a company or group that the main backer of a campaign advertisement to appear personally in the spot to acknowledge sponsorship, The New York Times reported.

Leading the effort in the U.S. Senate is Charles Schumer of New York. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland spearheads the House effort. Officials said they were trying to get a Republican in each chamber to sign on as a co-sponsor, but indicated they would proceed even without bipartisan sponsorship, possibly revealing the bill's contents as soon as this week.

"What we're trying to do first is make sure everything we do is within the constitutional mandate set by the court," Schumer told the Times. "And second, we're trying to make it a bill that can get broad bipartisan support."

Lawyers for the administration and congressional Democrats said a review of the opinion indicated an outright ban of corporate dollars likely wasn't possible, so the legislation is focusing on public disclosure of political backers to bring about transparency and possibly discourage excessive corporate contributions, officials said.

"What we've been trying to do," one congressional official who has worked on the plan told the Times, "is to set up a really robust disclosure mechanism."

Russians kill 26 train bombing suspects

MOSCOW, April 13 (UPI) -- Twenty-six members of terrorist groups believed involved in November's bombing of a Moscow to St. Petersburg train have been killed, a Russian official says.

Alexander Bornikov, head of Russia's Federal Security Service, says authorities have arrested another 14 suspects in addition to eliminating the 26 terrorists, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Tuesday.

On Nov. 27, a bomb equivalent to 15 pounds of TNT derailed a high-speed express train enroute from Moscow to St. Petersburg, killing 27 people and injuring 92 others.

Bortnikov said the bombing suspects are believed to have taken part in more than 50 other terrorist acts against law enforcement officers and federal troops.

Attack in southern Philippines kills 15

ISABELA, Philippines, April 13 (UPI) -- At least 15 people were killed Tuesday when gunmen detonated bombs on a southern Philippine island and then ambushed civilians and security forces, police said.

The militant Islamic group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the attacks that took place in the capital city of Isabela on the island of Basilan, Radio France Internationale reports.

Authorities say the first bomb went off outside an education department building, killing two people.

Minutes later, a motorcycle rigged with a bomb exploded at a nearby Catholic church but no one was injured in the blast.

The attackers then opened fire on civilians who were running for cover.

A three-hour gun battle took place between security forces and the attackers on the outskirts of the capital, police say.

Three Philippine marines and a police officer were killed along with five of the gunmen.

Crash site combed for 4th jet occupant

ATLANTA, April 13 (UPI) -- Searchers resumed their hunt Tuesday for the fourth person aboard a U.S. Navy jet that crashed in Georgia, killing at least three people, officials said.

The plane went down in thick woods in northern Georgia Monday, narrowly missing a home, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Access to the crash site was hampered by thick vegetation, officials said.

A cause has not been determined, officials said.

Searchers Monday found three bodies quickly, but as of early Tuesday hadn't located the fourth person aboard the plane, Fanning County Sheriff's Department Maj. Keith Bosen told the newspaper.

While the reason why the aircraft was flying in the area remained unclear, Bosen said Blue Ridge is in the flight path for military training exercises. He said he received several reports of the aircraft flying noticeably low earlier in the day.

The crash left the aircraft in pieces and ignited a fire that burned up to 15 acres before it was contained, officials said.

Fumes prompt plane's emergency landing

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, April 13 (UPI) -- An American Airlines plane made an emergency landing safely in Iceland Tuesday following complaints about fumes in the cabin, an airline spokesman said.

Airline spokesman Tim Smith said American Airlines Flight 49 was bound for Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, from the Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport when passengers complained about the fumes, CNN reported.

The plane, a Boeing 767-300, had 133 passengers and 12 crew on board, Smith said.

He said it was standard procedure for aircraft to be examined after reports of cabin fumes are made. Paramedics were available on the ground to treat anyone feeling ill, Smith said.

American Airlines is based in Dallas.

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