Boulder, Colo.

Bomb suspect seized: A former bank robber suspected of planting a bomb at a crowded Denver-area mall was arrested this week in nearby Boulder and charged with arson. Authorities had been hunting for Earl Albert Moore, 65, after they found a pipe bomb and two propane tanks last week while responding to a fire at the Southwest Plaza Mall. The bomb and propane tanks had failed to detonate. Moore—who was released from prison a week before the bomb’s discovery, having served several years for a West Virginia bank robbery—was nabbed after he was recognized by a customer at a Boulder grocery store. Investigators are still puzzled by the motive behind the attempted bombing. Officers last week said they were exploring a link to the massacre at Columbine High School, which is less than two miles from the mall, particularly since the explosives were discovered on the 12th anniversary of the shooting. However, police subsequently declared there was “absolutely no connection” between the two cases.


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Giffords to attend shuttle launch: Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was given the all-clear to travel from her Houston rehabilitation center this week to watch her astronaut husband rocket into space. Giffords and her doctors had set the Cape Canaveral, Fla., trip as a goal early on in her recovery, as she was eager to see husband Mark Kelly command the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour. But while the trip is a sure sign that Giffords has made strong progress after being shot in the head at a January constituent event, she is still in the early stages of a long rehabilitation process. Doctors place her in the top 5 percent of rehabilitating patients with similar brain injuries, but say she currently lacks the full use of her right arm and leg and struggles to speak in full sentences. Aides say she mostly uses single-word statements like “awesome,” which was her reaction to being cleared to attend the liftoff.

South-central states

Storms and floods: At least 11 people were killed this week as tornadoes ripped through Arkansas and torrential rain caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Rainfall in Missouri was so bad that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was considering blowing a levee to ease pressure on the flood-engorged Mississippi River. The plan—opposed by state authorities—would flood more than 130,000 acres of farmland around 140 miles south of St. Louis. The National Weather Service predicts the Mississippi will crest at a record high of 60 feet later this month. Levees along the Black River in Missouri failed, flooding acres of farmland in Butler County, and the Ohio River also swelled out of its banks into parts of western Kentucky.

Jackson, Miss.

Barbour bails: Saying that he didn’t have the “absolute fire in the belly” necessary for the task, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour declared this week that he will not seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Sources close to the governor said his decision was strongly influenced by his wife, Marsha, who recently told ABC News that the thought of a presidential run “horrifies” her. The decision by Barbour, a popular former Republican party chairman, leaves businessman Herman Cain, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and former state governors Gary Johnson, Tim Pawlenty, Buddy Roemer, and Mitt Romney as the GOP contenders who have officially announced their candidacies or formed presidential exploratory committees.

Washington, D.C.

Obama releases birth certificate: Declaring that “we do not have time for this kind of silliness,” President Obama has released a copy of his long-form Hawaiian birth certificate, abruptly reversing his long-standing refusal to make the record public. The president said the controversy over his origins had become a distraction from the nation’s pressing business. Reality-show host and businessman Donald Trump, whose persistent airing of so-called birthers’ doubts had given him a boost in polls about potential Republican presidential nominees, said he was “really honored” to have played a role in the document’s release. The certificate is signed by Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham Obama, then 18; the delivery doctor; and Hawaii’s registrar of births. It states that Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Honolulu at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, and names Barack Hussein Obama, a 25-year-old native of Kenya, as his father. It does not mention religion. (See In-depth briefing)

Washington, D.C.

National security shake-up: President Obama this week was expected to announce a sweeping reorganization of his national-security team, White House sources said. Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be replaced with CIA Director Leon Panetta, whose current job will go to Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Gen. John Allen will succeed Petraeus in Afghanistan, while Ryan Crocker will replace Karl Eikenberry as ambassador to Afghanistan. Panetta, a former California congressman, has extensive experience with agency budgeting and forged numerous contacts while traveling more than 200,000 miles to 30 countries as CIA director. Petraeus, architect of the counterinsurgency strategies employed in Iraq and Afghanistan, would bring an intelligence consumer’s eye to the CIA post. The changes are expected to take effect this summer. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is likely to step down in September; his successor has not yet been announced.

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