GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 10, 2013

Around the World & Nation


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Jury to decide if Arias should live or die for killing lover

PHOENIX (AP) — The jury has rendered its verdict — Jodi Arias is guilty of first-degree murder — but the trial is far from finished.

The same jury now returns to the courtroom Thursday to decide whether she deserves to die for killing her one-time boyfriend on June 4, 2008 at his suburban Phoenix home.

The sheer brutality of the attack and previous testimony from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner that Travis Alexander did not die a quick death will be at the heart of the prosecution’s argument that Jodi should receive the ultimate punishment for her crime.

Alexander was stabbed and slashed nearly 30 times, shot in the forehead and had slit his throat from ear to ear, leaving the motivational speaker and businessman nearly decapitated. His decomposing body was found in his shower about five days later by friends.

Arias spoke out about the verdict minutes after her conviction Wednesday, telling a TV station that she would “prefer to die sooner than later.”

Boston commissioner OK with cameras but not ‘police state,’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boston’s police commissioner told lawmakers conducting the first congressional hearing on the Marathon bombings that government should tighten security around celebratory public events and consider using more undercover officers, special police units and technology, including surveillance cameras — but only in ways that don’t run afoul of civil liberties.

“I do not endorse actions that move Boston and our nation into a police state mentality, with surveillance cameras attached to every light pole in the city,” Commissioner Edward Davis said in prepared remarks for the House Homeland Security Committee. “We do not and cannot live in a protective enclosure because of the actions of extremists who seek to disrupt our way of life.”

Investigators used surveillance video from a restaurant near one of the explosions to help identify Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a police shootout, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, who survived, as the bombing suspects.

“Images from cameras do not lie. They do not forget,” Davis said. “They can be viewed by a jury as evidence of what occurred. These efforts are not intended to chill or stifle free speech, but rather to protect the integrity and freedom of that speech and to protect the rights of victims and suspects alike.”

Immigration makes for dangerous politics at home for some

FALLS CITY, Neb. (AP) — Rodney Vandenberg was the first to greet Republican Sen. Deb Fischer when she dropped by the Falls City’s Chamber of Commerce office last week. He wasted no time bracing her about immigration, an issue that a Senate committee takes up Thursday in the form of sweeping overhaul legislation.

“There can be no shortcuts to citizenship for anyone,” the retired banker and former mayor said, gripping Fischer’s hand with both of his.

“My views have not changed,” she replied, assuring him of her opposition.

That’s what Vandenberg wanted to hear, but it’s an ominous message for Republican leaders who believe that making the party dominant nationally hinges on accepting a more welcoming immigration policy, one that would attract more Hispanic voters. A bill that would make it easier for people living in the country illegally to obtain legal status is being debated by a Senate committee.

Calif. lawmakers granted unusual secrecy in records

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California law that created an agency to oversee national health care reforms granted it sweeping authority to conceal spending on the contractors that will perform most of its functions, creating a barrier from public disclosure that stands out nationwide.

The degree of secrecy afforded Covered California appears unique among states attempting to establish their own health insurance exchanges under President Barack Obama’s signature health law.

An Associated Press review of the 16 other states that have opted for state-run marketplaces shows the California agency was given powers that are the most restrictive in what information is required to be made public.

In Massachusetts, the state that served as the model for Obama’s health overhaul, its Health Connector program is specifically covered by open-records laws, rather than providing exemptions from them, as is the case for contracting in California.

In Idaho, where its exchange was established as a private, nonprofit corporation, and in New Mexico, agencies specifically must comply with open-records laws. The Maryland Legislature subjected its exchange to the state’s public information act, but protected some types of commercial and financial information.

New fire in Bangladesh garment factory kills 8

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A fire in an 11-story garment factory in Bangladesh killed eight people, including a ruling party politician and a top official in the country’s powerful clothing manufacturers’ trade group, as the death toll from the collapse of another garment factory building passed 900 on Thursday.

The fire Wednesday night engulfed the lower floors of the Tung Hai Sweater Ltd. factory — which had closed for the day — said Mamun Mahmud, deputy director of the fire service. The blaze, fed by huge piles of acrylic products used to make sweaters, produced immense amounts of smoke, he said.

The victims died of suffocation as they ran down the stairs, Mahmud said.

“Apparently they tried to flee the building through the stairwell in fear that the fire had engulfed the whole building,” he said.

Had they stayed on the upper floors they would likely have survived the slow spreading fire, he said.

Robots, which help paralyzed, get lighter and more portable

CHICAGO (AP) — When Michael Gore stands, it’s a triumph of science and engineering. Eleven years ago, Gore was paralyzed from the waist down in a workplace accident, yet he rises from his wheelchair to his full 6-foot-2-inches and walks across the room with help from a lightweight wearable robot.

The technology has many nicknames. Besides “wearable robot,” the inventions also are called “electronic legs” or “powered exoskeletons.” This version, called Indego, is among several competing products being used and tested in U.S. rehab hospitals that hold promise not only for people such as Gore with spinal injuries, but also those recovering from strokes or afflicted with multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

Still at least a year away from the market, the 27-pound Indego is the lightest of the powered exoskeletons. It snaps together from pieces that fit into a backpack. The goal is for the user to be able to carry it on a wheelchair, put it together, strap it on and walk independently. None of the productsare yet approved by federal regulators for personal use.

GOP sees huge trouble for Clinton in Benghazi affair, but Democrats say claims are crumbling

WASHINGTON (AP) — Politicians love few things better than a scandal to trip up their opponents, and Republicans hope last year’s fatal attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya will do exactly that to Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democrats.

History suggests it might be a tough lift. The issue is complex, the next presidential election is more than three years away, and a number of reports and officials have disputed criticisms of Clinton’s role when she was secretary of state.

Still, Republicans and conservative talk hosts are hammering away at Clinton’s and the Obama administration’s handling of the 8-month-old tragedy. A daylong House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday starred three State Department officials invited by Republicans. Security was poorly handled in Benghazi, Libya, they said, and administration officials later tried to obscure what happened.

But the three men offered little that has not been aired in previous congressional hearings. Afterward, Republicans all but acknowledged they’re still seeking a knockout punch.

“This hearing is now over, but this investigation is not,” said Darrell Issa of California, the hard-charging Republican chairman of the House committee. He urged “whistle-blowers” and “witnesses who have been afraid to come forward” to step up and “tell us your story, and we will make sure it gets public.”