Top officials won't join mayors' event

WASHINGTON - Steering clear of a messy labor dispute, the White House said yesterday that Vice President Biden and members of President Obama's cabinet have scrapped plans to attend a national mayors' conference in Providence, R.I., rather than cross a picket line of local firefighters.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration would redouble its efforts to work with mayors in other ways.

For now, the list of premier guests at the June 12-16 U.S. Conference of Mayors just got a lot shorter. The group's Web site had promoted that its confirmed guests included Biden, senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. None of them now plan to attend.

Those circumstances are a years-long conflict between Providence Mayor David Cicilline and local firefighters over contract matters. - AP

Nominee pulls out over CIA role

WASHINGTON - Philip Mudd, a longtime U.S. intelligence official, withdrew as the nominee to head the Homeland Security Department's intelligence unit amid questions about his role in the CIA interrogations of terror suspects.

"If I continue to move forward, I will become a distraction to the president and his vital agenda," Mudd said in a statement sent to the White House yesterday.

Senators, who would have voted on Mudd's confirmation, were expected to question him about the interrogations. The CIA has been criticized by lawmakers about the methods used. Mudd's 24-year intelligence career has included stints with the CIA and FBI. - Bloomberg News

Ind. pilot admits plane-crash plot

PENSACOLA, Fla. - An Indiana money manager avoided trial in Florida by pleading guilty yesterday to federal charges of intentionally crashing a plane Jan. 11 in a scheme to flee financial ruin by faking his death.

But Marcus Schrenker, 38, still faces millions of dollars in judgments and penalties related to his failed business dealings in Indiana. Officials there are waiting their turn to prosecute him after his Aug. 19 sentencing in Florida.

Schrenker, an amateur daredevil pilot with a high-flying lifestyle, admitted crashing his Piper Malibu and placing false distress calls to aviation authorities. He faces up to 26 years in prison, $500,000 in fines, and at least $38,000 to reimburse the Coast Guard, Air Force, and other agencies. - AP

Elsewhere:

Three Michigan prisons and five minimum-security prison camps will be shut in coming months and their inmates released or moved elsewhere to save money as the state grapples with a deficit, officials said.

Reputed Ku Klux Klansman James Ford Seale, 73, will remain in prison after a U.S. appeals court ruled his 2007 conviction shouldn't have been thrown out in the 1964 kidnappings in Mississippi of two black teens who were slain.