Obama chooses a commerce chief

WASHINGTON - President Obama tapped energy executive John Bryson to lead the Commerce Department, putting a businessman at the helm of an agency tasked with boosting U.S. exports and promoting American business around the world.

Obama said Tuesday that Bryson "understands what it takes to innovate, create jobs, and to persevere through tough times."

Bryson, 67, is a former chairman and CEO of Edison International, based in California. He also has an extensive background in environmental issues; he cofounded the Natural Resources Defense Council and served on a U.N. advisory group on energy and climate change.

If confirmed by the Senate, Bryson would succeed Gary Locke, nominated to be ambassador to China. Republicans have threatened to block any commerce nominee until the administration submits proposed free-trade deals with Colombia and Panama to Congress for final approval. - AP

2 Iraqis accused in Ky. in arms plot

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Two Iraqi men living as refugees in Kentucky tried to send sniper rifles, Stinger missiles, and money to al-Qaeda operatives in their home country, and both boasted of using improvised explosives against American troops there before moving to the United States, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, both of Bowling Green, were arrested last week after an investigation that began months after they arrived in this country in 2009. Neither is charged with plotting attacks within the United States, and authorities said their weapons and money didn't make it to Iraq because of a tightly controlled undercover investigation.

The men pleaded not guilty during a preliminary hearing Tuesday and are in federal custody pending a detention hearing. Federal prosecutors and the FBI declined to say how the two men were able to enter the country as refugees, or what they were doing in Bowling Green. - AP

Bus driver jailed in fatal Va. crash

BOWLING GREEN, Va. - State police charged the driver of a bus that overturned in Virginia, killing four people and injuring more than 50.

Spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Sky Express driver Kin Yiu Cheng, 37, was jailed on $3,000 bond, accused of reckless driving. He suffered minor injuries in the crash Tuesday morning on northbound I-95, about 30 miles north of Richmond. The bus was headed from Greensboro, N.C., to New York City.

Four women were killed and 54 passengers were treated for minor to life-threatening injuries, state police said. Authorities said driver fatigue contributed to the crash. Sky Express has been cited for numerous safety violations in the last two years. - AP

Elsewhere:

Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, 74, former chair of a major Egypt bank, faces charges of sexually abusing a maid at the luxury Pierre hotel in Manhattan, just weeks after the arrest of then-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on similar allegations.