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Oct. 26, 2012 at 12:03 PM
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Sandy nears Fla.; could be 'Frankenstorm'

MIAMI, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Hurricane Sandy moved near southeast Florida Friday and may mix with an icy storm as it chugs up the east coast, making what forecasters dubbed "Frankenstorm."

Sandy, weakened to a Category 1 storm after whipping through the Bahamas, moved north-northwest at 6 mph toward the Florida Keys.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Sandy, with sustained winds of 80 mph, was 25 miles north-northeast of Great Abaco Island and 460 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C.

The storm system began whipping up gale-force winds in southeast and east-central Florida early Friday. Some school districts canceled classes. Officials warned residents of dangerous coastal rip currents.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Great Abaco and Grand Bahama islands while Florida's east coast from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach and Lake Okeechobee and the northwest Bahamas were under tropical storm warnings. Tropical storm watches were in effect for the Savannah River to Oregon Inlet in North Carolina, Pamlico Sound, Florida's east coast from Flagler Beach to Fernandina Beach and Bermuda.

White House urged to boost CIA drone fleet

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The CIA has urged the White House to boost the agency's armed drone fleet to fight new North Africa al-Qaida threats, U.S. officials told The Washington Post.

The request by CIA Director David H. Petraeus for up to 10 remotely piloted drones would strengthen Washington's ability to stop the growth of an increasingly aggressive al-Qaida affiliate known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, White House officials said.

The insurgency group, based in the landlocked West Africa country of Mali, seeks to overthrow the neighboring Algerian government and institute an Islamic state.

U.S. spy agencies have linked the group, which has declared its intention to attack U.S. targets, to the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. But officials have not said it was involved in the attack.

The group, which the State Department has labeled a foreign terrorist organization, has also vowed to attack Spanish and French targets.

It has gained weapons and territory following the collapse of regimes in Libya and Mali, officials said.

The regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in October 2011. The Malian government was overthrown in a coup in March.

2 from U.S. among 3 killed in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Two U.S. soldiers were killed in a so-called insider attack and a third coalition member died in an attack by insurgents, officials in Afghanistan said.

The two U.S. Forces-Afghanistan service members were killed when a person wearing an Afghan National Police uniform opened fire on them in Khas Uruzgan in the southern province of Uruzgan, the International Security Assistance Force said in a release.

Attacks on coalition troops by people in Afghan uniforms are often referred to as "insider" attacks.

Another ISAF soldier was killed in an attack by insurgents in western Afghanistan, coalition officials said.

The ISAF did not reveal the identities of the victims or the exact locations of the incidents in keeping with its policy of deferring identification procedures to the relevant authorities.

Khaama Press said at least 278 U.S. troops have been killed in incidents across Afghanistan since the beginning of this year.

Jury hears terror cell leader talk on guns

LONDON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Secretly taped talks revealed British terror cell members bragged about how they could buy weapons, including an M16 rifle, from a criminal, a court heard.

On the tape, cell members indicated they could get the weapons from the criminal, but cell leader Irfan Naseer said he couldn't approach the "gangster" because "he knows what I want to do," The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

The al-Qaida-inspired cell in Birmingham is accused of plotting to use eight suicide bombers to detonate explosives-filled backpacks in crowded places to cause "mass death" and carnage.

Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, all from Birmingham, allegedly are the cell's "senior members" and were among 12 people arrested and charged last year, the Telegraph said. The three said they are innocent of the charges that include planning a bombing campaign, recruiting others for terrorism and terrorism fundraising.

Adelsons donate $10M to Romney-backing PAC

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife gave $10 million to a super PAC backing Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a financial form revealed.

A financial disclosure form filed with the Federal Election Commission Thursday indicated the Adelsons' contribution helped Restore Our Future raised more than $20 million during the first half of October, CNN reported.

As of Oct. 17, Restore Our Future had more than $36 million cash on hand while spending $12 million.

The FEC form indicated donations so far in October nearly matched the amounts the super PAC raised in August and September combined, CNN said.

The Adelsons' $10 million contribution brings the couple's total donation to Restore Our Future to $20 million.

They rank as the top donors to outside political groups, the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics said.

The latest donation means the couple gave at least $61 million this campaign cycle to organizations that are required to disclose donors -- super PACs, campaign committees and candidates.

Adelson, who operates casinos in Nevada and overseas, had backed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's bid during the Republican primaries and was reluctant to support Romney once Gingrich left the race.

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