Patriot Act set for Senate vote

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday moved toward approval of a four-year extension of a contentious anti-terrorism law after Senate leaders cut off efforts by both conservatives and liberals to change aspects of the law they said were a threat to civil and privacy rights.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used a procedural tactic to deny any amendments after failing to reach a deal with opponents of the bill on what amendments should be allowed. "I have to get this done," Reid said. "We can't let this expire."

Reid said he had reached an agreement with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio on how to assure that the Senate could come to a final vote on the legislation by Thursday and the House could vote immediately after that. The legislation covers three provisions — two from the Patriot Act that was enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — that are due to expire at midnight Thursday without congressional action.

Pilot takes some blame in deadly Alaska crash

JUNEAU, Alaska — The National Transportation Safety Board released its findings Tuesday into the plane crash that killed former Sen. Ted Stevens, placing some blame with the pilot and raising questions about whether he should have been cleared to fly after suffering a stroke.

The report found no definitive cause for the crash that killed Stevens, the pilot and three others after the plane slammed into a mountainside. But the board pointed blame in the direction of the pilot and took the Federal Aviation Administration to task over its guidelines for clearing pilots to fly after strokes.

The board, at a hearing in Washington, determined the probable cause of the crash to be the "temporary unresponsiveness" of 62-year-old pilot Theron "Terry" Smith "for reasons that could not be established."