Loughner's attorneys appeal for end to his forced medication
The Tucson shooting suspect's public defenders say the government is violating his constitutional right to refuse potentially dangerous antipsychotic drugs.
By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times 9:54 PM PDT, July 28, 2011
Attorneys for Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner asked a federal appeals court to order an end to his forced medication at a prison hospital, arguing in papers filed Thursday that the government is violating his constitutional right to refuse potentially dangerous antipsychotic drugs.
The appeal of U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns' decision last month, that prison doctors are in a better position to prescribe treatment for the diagnosed schizophrenic than are the courts, is the latest legal volley between Loughner's public defenders and the U.S. attorney's office in Tucson over how to restore his mental competency to stand trial.
Loughner is charged with 49 felony counts stemming from the Jan. 8 rampage that killed six people and injured 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. In May, Burns deemed Loughner incompetent to stand trial and sent him to the mental hospital prison in Springfield, Mo., for treatment.
Loughner's San Diego-based lawyers sought and won an injunction July 12 from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals against his forced medication, but prison doctors have continued to administer psychotropics.
Government lawyers told the appeals court that prison doctors said Loughner's condition has deteriorated sharply and that he needs the drugs to prevent him from harming himself or others.
A further appeal by Loughner's lawyers for the 9th Circuit to enforce the order against involuntary medication was rejected by the appeals court last Friday in a ruling that left it to prison doctors to decide what constitutes a medical emergency.
Thursday's filing by chief defense lawyer Judy Clarke argued that the government could use less intrusive means to alleviate any danger Loughner presents to the prison staff or himself.
The appeal brief said the government was seeking to treat Loughner's mental illness with "unwanted brain-altering chemicals" — which as a pretrial detainee he should have the right to refuse — rather than simply pacify him with mild tranquilizers.
A U.S. soldier who was accused Thursday of planning to attack troops near Fort Hood, Tex., has told investigators that he was acting in support of Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who has been charged in the killing of 13 people at the base in 2009, according to congressional and federal officials.
Pfc. Naser Abdo, 21, was arrested in Killeen, Tex., after authorities said they discovered bombmaking materials in his motel room, as well as a copy of an article from the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, which is produced by the terrorist group’s Yemen affiliate.
The officials said Abdo was planning to set off bombs at locations outside the base where soldiers gather and to follow the explosions with gunfire.
“I would classify this as a terror plot,” Police Chief Dennis Baldwin told reporters in Killeen. Law enforcement officials said Abdo would be charged in federal court with possession of bombmaking materials, among other offenses.
It could not be learned Thursday whether Abdo has retained a criminal lawyer.
The emergence of another alleged plot to attack troops at the same base where Hasan is accused of striking may intensify fears that there is a growing terrorist threat from self-radicalized Americans and raise questions about whether the military can adequately identify internal threats. Hasan was arraigned in military court this month on capital murder charges but has not entered a plea.
A U.S. counterterrorism official said authorities have not discovered any direct communication between Abdo and foreign Islamist extremists.
Abdo, attached to the the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., recently sought conscientious objector status because he felt that as a Muslim he could not be deployed to fight in a war zone.
In May, on the same day his status was granted, he was charged with possession of child pornography on a computer he used. Abdo then left Fort Campbell without permission on about the July Fourth holiday and returned to Texas. His home town is listed as Garland.
James Branum, an Oklahoma City lawyer who represented Abdo in his conscientious objector and child pornography cases, described Abdo as gracious, hospitable and “very devoutly religious,” saying he prayed five times a day.
Abdo denied the pornography allegations and said he thought the military was retaliating against him for trying to leave the service.
In a 2010 interview with CNN about his efforts to be discharged, he said he had spoken with a Muslim chaplain in the military in an attempt to reconcile his faith with a possible deployment but could not do so.
“I was under the impression that I could serve both the U.S. Army and my God simultaneously,” Abdo said, explaining why he enlisted in the first place.
Attempts to reach Abdo’s family were unsuccessful. His mother lives in the United States, Branum said, but his father lives in the Middle East. His wife is Canadian.
Branum said Abdo’s legal name is Jason Naser Abdo.
Officials said that after he was charged with child pornography, Abdo hitchhiked, paid for rides and caught buses from Kentucky to Killeen. After checking into an Americas Best Value Inn there, he went to the same gun store where Hasan bought a high-powered semiautomatic pistol two years ago.
David Cheadle, store manager of Guns Galore, said Abdo, dressed in street clothes, grabbed six cans of smokeless gunpowder but asked what smokeless gunpowder was — a question that prompted suspicion. He also purchased three boxes of 12-gauge shotgun shells and a .40-caliber magazine for a semiautomatic handgun. It is not clear what kind of guns, if any, he had in his possession.
Abdo arrived in a taxi, paid $250 in cash and on the way out the door said, “I hope your day goes better than mine,” Cheadle said.
“It just didn’t sit right,” he said, adding that Greg Ebert, an employee who spoke with Abdo, then called the police.
After tracing the taxi, investigators discovered where Abdo was staying and that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. The taxi driver told investigators that Abdo also went to a military surplus store, where they later learned that he had purchased military uniforms with Fort Hood markings, according to Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.) and a federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
“This could have been tragic, but the good news is that the gun store operator did a very good job,” said Carter, whose district includes Killeen and who was briefed on the investigation.
Carter said that Abdo, who was arrested Wednesday, was apparently scouting locations in Killeen, including restaurants, to carry out an attack. After the bombs exploded, he intended to exploit the chaos to shoot any survivors, according to Carter and the federal official.
Baldwin, the Killeen police chief, described Abdo as “a very dangerous individual.”
“We would probably have been giving a different briefing here if he had not been stopped,” Baldwin said.
Staff writers David Fallis, Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, South Carolina | Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:31pm EDT
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - The police chief of a small South Carolina town will ask a jury to decide if a woman broke the state's obscenity laws by driving a pickup truck with plastic testicles hanging from the back.
Bonneau Police Chief Franco Fuda ticketed Virginia Tice, 65, in early July at a local convenience store after spying the adornment dangling from her truck.
South Carolina law considers a bumper sticker, decal or device indecent when it describes, in an offensive way as determined by contemporary community standards, "sexual acts, excretory functions, or parts of the human body."
The offense carries a maximum fine of $445 but no jail time, Fuda said.
"This is certainly not a staple of my ticket writing in Bonneau," the police chief told Reuters on Wednesday.
The Charleston law firm Savage & Savage will represent Tice for free, attorney Scott Bischoff said. The trial had been scheduled for next week but was delayed because the defendant will be out of town.
"She's such a sweet lady and she just says 'I don't want to pay the fine.' We'll let a jury decide whether this is really criminal behavior. I don't want to take away from the importance of free speech, but it's really comical," he said.
Lawmakers in some states have sought to ban the colorful plastic or rubber devices that go by brand names such as Bulls Balls and Truck Nutz.
Fuda said if the fake testicles were a free speech issue, "I don't know what they would be trying to express."
"I went to (a) few websites that said, excuse the expression, 'show your nuts,'" he said. "I didn't see anywhere it said support your local proctologist or farmer."
What were those strange lights over Simon Reynolds’ home? Were they UFOs?
Reynolds and a few of his young neighbours believe so.
“It’s the most extraordinary thing I’ve experienced,” said Reynolds, a Mountain car salesman and TV and movie actor.
“This was a total shock … I don’t know what they were. I know there is nothing I’ve seen on earth that can explain what they were.”
The sighting occurred Saturday, July 16 at about 9 p.m. The lights were noticed by three girls — Christina Crow, 9, and Molly Mitchison and Emily Wass, both 11 — playing on Roseland Avenue, a small dead-end street off Blake Street near Gage Park.
“We were riding our bikes around the street and, like, doing nothing,” recalled Molly, who is going into Grade 5 at Adelaide Hoodless Elementary School. One of her friends suddenly pointed into the sky at something above Reynolds’ house.
“I figured it was nothing, but she said it looks like a spaceship,” said Molly. “I thought she was crazy or something, but then it came really close … It was, like, red, but it had yellow lights all over it. It made no noise at all. It was completely quiet. It was, like, hovering.”
They counted three objects and ran to get Reynolds, 42, and his wife Rose, 48. Reynolds filmed the objects on his iPhone and in that footage, he and the girls can be heard expressing their amazement. Reynolds can also be heard hollering to the neighbourhood: “UFO! UFO! UFO!” He estimates the objects — which he described as “red fireballs” — were a few hundred feet in the air and travelling north across the sky.
They are not alone in seeing the objects. Bob Schofield, 70, was at a dinner party on St. Clair Boulevard the same evening, and at about the same time, when he and his friends saw three “yellowy-orange” lights in the sky.
The following Saturday, July 23, at about 9:30 p.m. Scott Watson, 35, estimates he was one of about 30 people at a back yard barbecue who saw four “glowing orange” lights moving across the sky above Cochrane Road. He also videoed the sight, and posted it on YouTube.
“Everybody was abuzz,” said Watson, a government worker. “All four of them didn’t make a peep. It was the craziest thing we’d ever seen.”
Schofield, owner of Canadian Safe on Chatham Street, first thought the lights were linked to a “fireworks display.” But, he said, they moved in sync and made no sounds. Both Watson and Schofield said planes flew over later and there was a clear difference between them and the glowing objects.
“I don’t believe in UFOs or any of that, but I am puzzled,” said Schofield. “I don’t have any explanation on what it was.”
The authorities don’t have any ideas, either. Jonathan Bagg of NavCanada, which operates the control tower at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, says it was a regular Saturday night for air traffic over the region.
“There were no reports of anything unusual,” said Bagg.
Reynolds, an actor who has appeared in productions during a 30-year career as varied as Flash of Genius and Saw IV to Traders, Street Legal and Flashpoint, can’t fathom that the lights were man-made.
“There’s no way these were planes or anything mechanical, unless there’s completely silent helicopters,” he says. “It was like a red-orange … The whole casing of the ship was the light … This wasn’t a projection in the sky. This was an actual solid thing. They were like suns.”
He was so intrigued, he jumped into his car with his wife and the three girls and tried to follow the lights north to Lake Ontario, but could not see anything once they reached the QEW.
“Every time I go out, I look up in the sky,” Reynolds said. “I can’t help it.”
Camp Pendleton beach at center of fight over nudism
Nudists say park rangers have followed them onto the U.S. property from the adjacent state beach in a bid to cite them for violating California's coverup laws. A parks official denies the allegation.
By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times 8:53 PM PDT, July 29, 2011
Reporting from San Diego -- Gold Beach, where generations of Marines have trained for amphibious assaults, is now the scene of another kind of battle.
The strip of sand on Camp Pendleton is the latest flash point between nudists and state park rangers — with Marines caught in the crossfire.
The nudists say zealous state park rangers have followed them onto the federal property in an effort to cite them for violating the state's coverup laws.
A spokesman for the state park system denies the allegation and says the nudists do protest far too much.
Gold Beach is directly south of San Onofre State Beach, which for several years was the object of legal skirmishing between nudists and officialdom. Two years ago a court ruled that the state had the authority to ban nudity at so-called Trail 6, long a spot favored by nudists.
The problem is proximity. Trail 6 is only a short walk from Gold Beach.
The Marine Corps says it does not want any civilians — naked or clothed — on its beach. Signs warn sunbathers to stay away.
But in an effort to avoid park rangers at San Onofre State Beach, nudists have ventured south. An apparent confrontation a week ago, details of which are in dispute, between a nudist, rangers and military police has brought the issue to a head.
John Squicciarini of San Clemente says a friend of his, Andy Pollock, had his camera grabbed by a Marine who was apparently working in tandem with park rangers. The Marine Corps says it has no record of such an occurrence.
Squicciarini says park rangers have been provoking the nudists by hiding behind bushes and up on the bluff, spying on them with binoculars and cameras.
"The state park rangers are creating their own problem," he said. "It's very childish."
Roy Stearns, a spokesman for the California Department of Parks and Recreation, disputes this version of events.
"I'm told that we are not harassing them or chasing them," Stearns said. "I think they're exaggerating their plight."
Both sides invoke the specter of the state's financial distress, which has led to the planned closure of 70 state parks.
The nudists wonder why a cash-strapped parks system can afford to spend time and money on enforcing a prohibition on what they see as the victimless crime of going au naturel. The Trail 6 beach, Squicciarini said, is kept tidy and self-policed by hundreds of people who prefer their recreation, including use of a volleyball court, in the buff.
"We've gone to great efforts to keep the beach pristine," he said.
Stearns said if the nudists are that dedicated to their recreation style, they should consider renting one of the closed parks.
All the beach property in question is owned by the Marine Corps, which leases the property that is San Onofre State Beach to the state.
A Marine spokesman said state park rangers are allowed to cross onto Gold Beach to tell beachgoers they are trespassing. The Marine Corps also does periodic patrols, said 2nd Lt. Ryan K. Welsh.
"Civilians without Department of Defense authorization may not cross onto the Camp Pendleton side of the beach, regardless of their beach use intention," Welsh said.
The issue of nudity at San Onofre State Beach, as it has in the past, appears destined for court.
A handful of misdemeanor citations are pending in San Diego County Superior Court.
One of the lawyers is Allen Baylis of Huntington Beach. He fought the losing fight to keep Trail 6 clothing optional. He represents nudists facing charges; one tactic is to request jury trials in hopes prosecutors will decide it is too costly and time-consuming for such a minor matter to go to trial.
Baylis said his group, the Naturist Action Committee, does not recommend that nudists trespass onto Gold Beach. But he said he understands the impulse to defy authority. The group's promise to nudists: "We've got your back."
Baylis likens the nudists of Gold Beach to other Americans who have engaged in civil disobedience to protect their rights: blacks, women, gays.
"When the government does something we don't like, we have a duty to push back," he said, "and we have."
Rio Ferdinand sparks security alert by posting pictures of White House on Twitter
Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand sparked a Washington security alert after he posted a picture of White House security staff on his Twitter site
9:23AM BST 30 Jul 2011
The own goal by the England international was picked up by President Barack Obama's security staff who immediately removed the offending image from the social networking site.
Bemused and baffled Rio was left flummoxed and told how he felt like he was being watched by a Jack Bauer-type character from the hit spy series 24.
The 32-year-old £30million centre back was visiting the White House along with his team mates as part of their pre-season tour of America but a planned meeting with the President had to be called off at the last minute because he had important matters of state to attend to.
But the father-three told his army of over 1million followers how much he was enjoying the tour of the White House before posting some pictures showing him in the state dinning room and then with security staff and cheekily tweeting: the security needs beefing up here at the White House....!!
But just seconds later the picture had mysteriously vanished.
Rattled Rio tweeted: Whoa....some1 has got into my phone + taken down my pics off twitter....this is deep...is jack Bauer in Washington?!
What an experience having the opportunity to go into the White House, thank you.....now where are my pics? My pic of the security was £removed quick, rapido, sharpish, fast....they don't play here in DC...I feel like I'm on 24 right now £baffled.
Training just done in DC....feels kinda weird...feel like I'm being watched by some undercover jack Bauer type dudes...phone hacked into etc.
Earlier he had joked that Obama had been tweeting him about their impending metting.
He tweeted: Just landed in Washington, kinda hot still! A guy of huge importance has just DM'd me + asked me to visit him...just checking my schedule!!
Yes boss I got 1/2hrs so I'll pass through in a bit, will be good to catch up + put the world to rights! Do you have tetleys tea bags?!
Sorry, my last tweet was a DM to my man Obama....my bad!! Looking forward to seeing the White House.
Obama just DM'd me that some real big things are going on so he couldn't break off from the meeting £debt... £blanked!
Pictures of himself posing in the state dining room and one of the team tucking into homemade White House biscuits had not been taken down.
Michael Owen added: Had a tour around the White House. Unfortunately never met The President as he was locked in meetings but a great experience all the same.
Spy Babe Turns Copyright Troll in New Lawsuit By Adam Rawnsley July 29, 2011 | 2:00 pm Categories: Russia
As a covert infiltrator in the United States, stealing information was Anna Chapman’s job. Back home in Russia, however, it turns out she’s not terribly fond of the practice.
Chapman, America’s favorite counterintelligence threat, is now suing Russia’s News Media Group for using her image without permission, the country’s state-funded RIA Novosti reported Thursday. Specifically, she’s accusing of the company of “violating the rights restrictions” on “a 56-second video clip taken from her website of her photo shoot with Zhara (Heat) magazine,” according to RIA Novosti. For this violation of her “honor and dignity,” she’s asking a Russian court to grant her a fairly hefty 10 million rubles ($362,000) in compensation and bar the company from future use of her work.
Chapman formed part of a network of bumbling spies sent by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service to infiltrate the United States in search of secrets. After a lengthy and unproductive stay, Anna and her pals were rounded up, swapped back to Russia and treated to a hero’s welcome.
The subsequent pop star status helped her to start a growing Chapman™ empire. Her brand, however, is increasingly at risk from people trying to cash in on her celebrity, hence the lawsuit.
Chapman’s namesake appears on everything from vodka, to perfume to a high-end clothes line, which she trademarked to prevent knockoff products. Trademarks are about more than just stopping someone from pirating your gear. They’re also about protecting your image. These days, Chapman’s trying to branch out into being more than just a sultry femme fatale former spy. She’s trying to reinvent herself as a venture capitalist. That can be a little challenging when jokers in the U.S. are trying to make blow-up dolls in your likeness.
She’s also got a potential political career to think of. That, too, requires some public image management. Just ask her pal and fellow United Russia party member Vladimir Putin. Vlad also has an active fan club and is occasionally beset by people trying to make a ruble or two off his name, but he’s keen to set limits on the image appropriation. Just a few weeks ago, someone plastered Putin’s face on a James Bond poster in Moscow to advertise a web game. Authorities then vowed to “find and punish” Putin’s image vandals.
Chapman, however, will have to rely on her lawyers to defend her brand. Take that as a warning, folks. You may be a fan of her website and her myriad photo shoots and videos. Just don’t try and post them without permission, lest you face her legal wrath.
UFO sightings in Wild West? Well, pilgrim... One 'Cowboys and Aliens' report was the talk of the town in Dallas in 1897
By Benjamin Radford updated 7/29/2011 6:37:32 PM ET
The new film "Cowboys and Aliens," starring Harrison "Indiana Jones" Ford and Daniel "James Bond" Craig, opens today and is likely to snatch the top spot at the box office this weekend. The anachronistic sci-fi thriller tells the story of extraterrestrials who attack a small New Mexico town in search of — well, I won't give away any spoilers.
Cowboys and aliens? Why not? Many people believe that alien contact is nothing new, and that Earth has been visited for millennia. Some, such as best-selling Swiss author Erich von Däniken, have suggested (based on flawed evidence and logic) that aliens built the pyramids in Egypt. Others believe that the giant drawings in the Nazca desert of Peru, in South America, were created by (or for) extraterrestrials in space ships. In fact, there's good evidence that the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca Indians, probably as part of ceremonial rituals.
But what about sightings and reports of aliens in the Old West? Surprisingly, there actually are a few reports of extraterrestrial encounters in the 1800s. In those days folks didn't use terms like "UFO" or "flying saucer" (that phrase didn't appear until 1947), but instead referred to spacecraft as "airships."
By far the most detailed (and most dramatic) encounter between cowboys and aliens occurred in 1897 Texas. This account ran in the April 19 Dallas Morning News: "About 6 o'clock this morning the early risers of Aurora (Texas) were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing throughout the country. It was traveling due north and sailed over the public square and when it reached the northern part of town it collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill and went to pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground."
This is remarkable enough, but the account takes on an even more modern twist: "The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard, and while his remains were disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world. Mr. T.J. Weems (of) the U.S. Army ... gives his opinion that the pilot was a native of the planet Mars. Papers found on his person — evidently the records of his travels — are written in some unknown hieroglyphics, and cannot be deciphered. ... The ship was built of an unknown metal, resembling somewhat a mixture of aluminum and silver, and must have weighed several tons. The town today is full of people who are viewing the wreckage and gathering specimens of strange metal from the debris."
This amazing UFO encounter, complete with a crashed spacecraft, dozens of witnesses, a recovered dead Martian and metallic wreckage came not from a novelist but instead a credible witness and respected reporter for the newspaper, a Mr. E.E. Haydon. Fifty years later, a nearly identical story would circulate about another, very similar UFO crash in a neighboring state: Roswell, N.M.
The late UFO investigator Phil Klass researched this encounter between cowboys and aliens for his book “UFOs Explained." The accounts by witnesses fell apart under close scrutiny. No follow-up newspaper stories appeared about this amazing incident; no witnesses could be found to support Haydon's story, and nothing of the alien nor his "several tons" of mysterious metallic spacecraft wreckage was ever found. Plus, it was later revealed that Judge Proctor didn't even have a windmill for the alien to crash into! It turned out that Haydon had made the whole thing up as a publicity stunt to get people to come to the dying Texas town. Once a lively and bustling frontier town frequented by prospectors on their way to the Gold Rush, Aurora had fallen on hard times and needed a tourism boost.
It was a cracking good yarn while it lasted. Stories of cowboys and aliens have entertained us for well over a century, though hard evidence of extraterrestrials remains as elusive as ever.
Swedish explorer reports circular anomaly, but is it a 'flying saucer'?
By Benjamin Radford updated 7/29/2011 1:14:08 PM ET
An ocean exploration team led by Swedish researcher Peter Lindberg has found what some are suggesting is a crashed flying saucer.
Lindberg's team, which has had success in the past recovering sunken ships and cargo, was using sonar to look for the century-old wreck of a ship that went down carrying several cases of a super-rare champagne. Instead, the team discovered what it claims is a mysterious round object that might (or might not) be extraterrestrial.
Lindberg explained to local media that his crew discovered, on the 300-foot-deep ocean floor between Finland and Sweden, "a large circle, about 60 feet in diameter. You see a lot of weird stuff in this job, but during my 18 years as a professional I have never seen anything like this. The shape is completely round."
Adding to the mystery at the bottom of the Gulf of Bothnia, Lindberg said he saw evidence of scars or marks disturbing the environment nearby, suggesting the object somehow moved across the ocean floor to where his team found it.
It's not clear what to make of this report, or the video of the sonar scan that shows the object, but Swedish tabloids and Internet UFO buffs have had a field day. Some suggest the object is a flying saucer of extraterrestrial origin (and the seafloor scars were dug up when it crashed), though of all the things that might create a round sonar signature, that seems to be among the more outlandish. It might be a natural feature formation, or possibly a sunken, round human-made object.
Lindberg's claim that the object "is perfectly round" may or may not be accurate; while it looks round from the information so far, the resolution of the sonar image was not high enough to verify that it is indeed round. And while the lines that appear to be leading to (or from) the feature may suggest some sort of movement, it's also possible they have nothing to do with the object.
Lindberg himself did not suggest that it was of extraterrestrial origin, though he did speculate that it might be a "new Stonehenge."
Lindberg said his team has neither the interest nor the resources for further investigation of the anomaly. Deep ocean research is time-consuming and expensive. If the object were indeed a flying saucer, recovering it could be worth millions or billions of dollars. If it's a natural formation, on the other hand, it would probably be a waste of time and money.
Ex-La. gov, 83, marries 32-year-old prison pen pal
NEW ORLEANS (AP) —
Colorful former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who turns 84 next month, on Friday married a 32-year-old woman who befriended him during his federal prison sentence for bribery and extortion.
Edwards, a Democrat who served four terms as governor in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, did most of the talking after he and bride Trina Grimes Scott emerged from an elevator at the Monteleone Hotel in the French Quarter.
"People who don't know me don't know what a wonderful, pleasant, modest fellow I am," Edwards said when asked how a man his age managed to land a much-younger wife.
He also told reporters how Grimes, who started writing him letters while he was in prison, visited him there regularly on weekends and holidays in recent years.
"The prison was in love with her — they used to watch her walk across the parking lot," Edwards said, laughing. "They made me the camp hero."
The two have not talked about what prompted her to choose him as a pen pal.
Edwards spent eight years in federal prison for his role in a bribery and extortion scheme to rig riverboat casino licenses during his fourth term in the early 1990s. In July, he completed six months of home detention and regular reporting to a Baton Rouge halfway.
Grimes became Edwards' third wife in what the governor said was a small, private ceremony earlier Friday at the hotel, with a few friends and family in attendance.
"It's great, I'm very happy," the bride told reporters. She has posted wedding updates on her Facebook page, which does not list an occupation.
Edwards wore a blue suit, while his new wife wore a cream-colored, knee-length, strapless dress.
A reporter asked what the dress was made of and she said she didn't know. Edwards, born and raised in Louisiana's Cajun country, quipped: "It's Italian silk, with a Cajun twist."
After posing for pictures, the couple walked around the block to Galatoire's Restaurant on Bourbon Street, to smatterings of applause from tourists and workers in taxi cabs and delivery trucks.
They were followed by a small parade of reporters, photographers, and an entourage that included state Supreme Court Justice Catherine Kimball, who performed the wedding ceremony, and her husband, former state Rep. Clyde Kimball.
Edwards, who also served in Congress, brought charisma and power to state politics that rivaled that of Louisiana's other favorite populist sons, Huey and Earl Long.
Though frequently criticized in the press for his link to a Korean rice scandal early in his congressional career, his strong hand in deal-making with legislators as governor and his leadership in the push to legalize gambling in the '90s, Edwards built a reputation for being able to broker coalitions of urban and rural constituencies.
He was last elected governor in 1991, when he faced former Ku Klux Klan wizard David Duke, who ran as a Republican. Business leaders feared Duke's election would be devastating for the state's convention business because of his extremist views.
Around New Orleans, bumper stickers began popping up on vehicles, stop signs and park benches that forever immortalized Louisiana's often stormy romance with Edwards. The stickers read, "Vote for the Crook: It's Important."
Edwards won in a landslide. Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Security forces use tanks in a bid to crush a growing pro-democracy movement on the eve of Ramadan. Activists say at least 70 have been killed around the country, about 50 of them in Hama.
By Borzou Daragahi and Alexandra Sandels Los Angeles Times 5:17 AM PDT, July 31, 2011 Reporting from Beirut
Syrian security forces loyal to the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad launched a major military assault on opposition strongholds Sunday, using tanks and gunfire in authorities' latest attempt to crush a pro-democracy movement that appears to be gathering momentum ahead of the emotionally and religiously charged holy month of Ramadan.
According to sketchy accounts by activists and residents reached by telephone, Syrian security forces violently attacked several of the country's opposition hotspots, including the southern city of Dara and the far eastern city of Dair Alzour, with the most intense attacks centered on Hama, the country's fourth largest city as well as the site of a 1982 massacre by Assad's father.
Syrian security forces also moved to violently crush solidarity protests that broke out all over the country, especially in neighborhoods in Homs, the country's third largest city, and Idleb, in the country's northwest as well as the restive suburbs of Damascus.
At least 70 people were reportedly killed around the country, about 50 of them in Hama, according to activists who warned that the casualty figures were sure to rise.
There were unconfirmed reports of army defections, relatively rare instances where soldiers faltered in their apparently unwavering loyalty to Assad. Unverified video footage showed small groups of soldiers on tanks embraced by activists in Hama.
But much of the news coming out of Syria was far grimmer, underscoring the determination of the Assad regime and its Allawite Muslim minority loyalists to retain absolute control over the country regardless of the human toll and despite the demands of a vast opposition movement that has come to represent the aspirations of the country's Sunni majority.
"The regime wanted to crush the demos before Ramadan so it's playing its last card," said one activist reached in Dair Alzour, near the Iraqi border. "That's why they attacked us and the other governorates in such an ugly, inhumane manner. The city has witnessed a massacre today."
Sunday's offensive carried ugly sectarian overtones. Assad's secrurity forces, dominated by his Shiite Allawite minority, repeatedly attacked Sunni mosque minarets, according to witnesses and video footage. The timing of the attack, on the eve of the Muslim holy month of dawn-to-dusk fasting and religious contemplation, is sure to provoke the passions of the largely pious rural and provincial Sunnis leading the uprising.
According to one activist, one of the country's major Bedouin tribes, the Odwan, who straddle Jordan and Syria, were prompted to turn against the regime following the attack, erupting in protest against Assad for the first time in the four-and-a-half month uprising.
Amateur videos posted to the Internet showed a column of black smoke rising from Hama. Witnesses described indiscriminate barrages of gunfire in the center of the city.
Military forces loyal to Assad also stormed into Euphrates River provincial capital of Dair Alzour, which has been open revolt against the regime for weeks. Activists said security forces armed with truck-mounted machine guns fired into crowds of people chanting ant-government slogans and residential neighborhoods. Tanks fired on and destroyed a mosque minaret.
"There are a lot of snipers," said another resident of Dair Alzour reached by telephone. He asked that his name not be published for fear of retribution. "They are on the rooftops of government buildings. People started chanting for the army's support but they opened fire in a merciless manner. There is a big lack of medicine and our martyrs and injuries are in the mosques because it's hard to move around from area to area because of the tanks."
Activists appeared to be working tirelessly to document the violence. One video clip from Hama showed the bloodied, lifeless body of a dead man described as Faez Mohammad Azy. Another showed volunteers rushing a badly wounded man on a stretcher into a hospital in Hama.
"There are tanks and armored vehicles at the entrances of the city. There are many deaths," said an activist reached by telephone in Hama, where he said tanks had yet to penetrate the city center. "We don't know how many yet."
Assad's late father, Hafez Assad, and now exiled uncle, Rifaat Assad, all but flattened large sections of the Hama and killed tens of thousands during a similar 1982 uprising.
Videos posted to the Internet by activists showed tanks perched outside the city. Panicked residents could be seen crouching for cover as gunfire rang out. Residents said water and electricity had been cut to sections of the city of 700,000. The doctor who spoke to Reuters said many uncollected bodies lay on the streets of the city, which has been in open revolt against Assad.
The protest rally in the city center Friday was among the largest so far in the country, according to video footage posted online. Protesters defiantly unfurled the green, white and black pre-Baath Party flag of Syria, provocatively questioning the nation's entire trajectory over the last half century.
Protesters also gathered in Hama on Saturday night, waving banners and spiritedly chanting anti-government slogans while beating drums, video posted to the Internet showed.
Activists, analysts and diplomats expected the confrontation to escalate as Ramadan begins. The Muslim lunar holy month is set to begin in the next day or two.
Syrian security forces have besieged Hama for weeks. U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert S. Ford and his French colleague, Eric Chevallier, provoked a diplomatic firestorm by visiting the city July 7, a trip that underscored the peaceful nature of a movement that Assad and his adjutants have described as an uprising by unspecified "armed groups" with extreme Islamic agendas.
Assad's father in 1982 also described the rebellion against his Baath Party rule as a revolt by Islamists.
Reid postpones debt vote, citing progress in White House talks By Alexander Bolton - 07/30/11 10:19 PM ET
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) delayed a vote on his plan to raise the debt ceiling late Saturday to give President Obama and GOP leaders more time to strike an agreement.
But the delay could imperil the chances of passing legislation to raise the debt limit by Aug. 2, a deadline set by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for avoiding a federal default.
A senior Senate GOP aide estimated Friday that leaders would have to reach a deal by 1 a.m. Sunday morning in order to push it through the upper chamber and get it to the House by Tuesday.
Leaders will have to rely on the goodwill of every member of the upper chamber to agree to unanimous consent to speed legislation through the Senate in time to make the deadline.
The senior GOP aide said members of the Tea Party Caucus who have been resistant to raising the debt ceiling would not drag out the floor procedure to delay a deal sanctioned by Democratic and Republican leaders.
A congressional source said Saturday night that Obama and GOP leaders had reached a tentative deal that would raise the debt limit by between $2.4 trillion and $2.8 trillion.
It would include spending cuts of about $1 trillion and set up a select bicameral committee to recommend a second deficit-reduction package worth between $1.4 trillion and $1.8 trillion by Thanksgiving.
If Congress fails to approve the committee’s recommendations, cuts to Defense and Medicare would go into effect automatically, giving both parties incentive to reach a later agreement.
The Medicare reforms would not include cuts to beneficiaries. Instead, the tentative deal would trim payments to healthcare providers and insurance companies, according to an aide familiar with the talks.
Senate Republicans would likely be given a vote on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution as part of the final deal.
Reid said White House officials asked him to postpone a vote on legislation he crafted to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion and cut spending by an equal amount.
Many details of the tentative bipartisan deal remain unresolved, according to Reid.
“There are many elements to be finalized and there is still a distance to go before any arrangement can be completed,” Reid said.
“I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work,” he said. “I spoke to the White House quite a few times this evening, and they’ve asked me to give everyone as much time as possible to reach an agreement, if one can be reached.”
Reid postponed a vote to end a GOP filibuster of his plan until 1:00 pm Sunday. The Senate adjourned at 10:13 p.m. Saturday and will reconvene at noon Sunday.
Senate Republicans had accused Reid of forcing a vote early Sunday morning in a deliberate attempt to run out the clock on bipartisan leadership negotiations. They saw it as a part of an effort to pressure moderate Republicans to go along with his own plan to raise the debt limit.
“Democrats are running out the clock. They want to delay the hard work of negotiation until the Aug. 2 deadline they’ve been warning us about all summer,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
Reid took to the floor Saturday afternoon to announce that Obama was not close to reaching a deal with House GOP leaders.
“The Speaker and the [Senate] Republican leader held a press conference to announce they’re in talks with the president and that a bargain to raise the debt limit is in the works and is close,” Reid said. “Members of the Senate, that is not true.”
Reid reported that he had spent two hours with Obama and Vice President Biden and asserted that Republicans “still refuse to negotiate in good faith” because they refuse to allow potential tax increases.
McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered a bullish assessment earlier in the day, surprising some senior Democrats who did not realize there was any substantial progress.
Democrats took to the Senate floor Saturday night to urge Obama to use unilateral executive authority to increase the debt limit.
As the deadline approaches, they have become increasingly anxious over the partisan deadlock on an agreement.
“If we fail this, I hope the president will invoke the 14th Amendment and everyone should read it. It says the debt of the United States shall not be questioned. And if we can’t get together, the president will have to take that responsibility,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said.
But McConnell seemed confident Saturday that he and Boehner would be able to reach agreement with Obama.
“Our country is not going to default for the first time in our history — that is not going to happen — we now have a level of seriousness and the right people at the table that we needed and thought we had, as the Speaker indicated last week,” McConnell said at a Saturday press conference.
McConnell’s announcement sparked alarm among some rank-and-file Democrats who were surprised by media reports nine days ago that Obama and Boehner were close to a deal that would have cut entitlements.
White House budget director Jack Lew insisted to Democrats at a private meeting on July 21 that there was no deal, but the next day senior administration officials told reporters that they were in fact very close to hatching an agreement.
One liberal Democratic senator said he hoped that House Democrats would act as a backstop and derail an agreement which would cut Medicare substantially without offering the possibility of raising taxes.
If Obama and GOP leaders cannot finalize an agreement, Reid will move ahead with his own plan, which would not touch entitlement programs. He has reached out to moderate Republicans in hope of persuading at least seven of them to support his plan.
So far, Sen. Scott Brown (R), who is facing reelection next year in Massachusetts, has signaled he would vote for Reid’s proposal.
Forty-three Senate Republicans signed a letter to Reid on Saturday declaring their opposition to his debt-ceiling legislation. That opposition left Democrats short of the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster, virtually assuring the defeat of Reid’s plan when it came up for a scheduled vote.
Earlier Saturday, House Republicans resoundingly rejected a version of Reid’s debt plan in a 173-246 vote. Every Republican in the chamber voted against it, while all but 11 Democrats voted in favor.
However, Reid says there are more GOP lawmakers in play in the Senate than indicated by McConnell’s letter.
“One of the people who signed that letter has met with one of my Democratic senators,” Reid said. “A number of them have already agreed to work with us.”
Mutual UFO Network symposium teaches fundamentals — keep an open mind, take copious notes, get proper paperwork. Attendees also discuss alien-human hybrids, time travel and anti-gravity propulsion.
By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times July 31, 2011
It's the first rule of thumb for any aspiring UFO investigator: Keep an open mind.
"We all want to believe, we all want to believe bad," said David MacDonald, a certified investigator with the Mutual UFO Network. "But you've got to look at the evidence. You've got to come at this like a scientific researcher."
On Friday, MacDonald and dozens of like-minded individuals filled an Irvine hotel conference room to discuss the finer points of investigating the inexplicable — or at least that which cannot be explained in terrestrial terms. As part of the network's annual symposium, attendees were given a crash course on what it takes to become a certified field investigator.
Approach all alleged sightings objectively, they were told, and with the precision of a scientist. Pack recording devices, a Geiger counter and a respirator.
The would-be UFO investigators were also urged to follow protocol: Always have the "percipient," or witness, sign proper paperwork. Ask thorough questions. Document everything. Always carry the Mutual UFO Network badge — a laminated identification card. And, most important, always be professional.
Many of the unidentified flying objects reported to the network can be easily explained — satellites traveling through the night sky, atmospheric reflections, or even a paraglider with a peculiar parachute. But there are occasions when no answers can be found. That's when it just might be a visitor from beyond.
Of course, one of the occupational hazards UFO investigators face is a certain lack of respect.
The common lament among many symposium attendees was that they were viewed as being on the fringe. "We do have what we consider evidence, but the scientific community doesn't want to consider that as evidence," said Barbara Lamb, a psychotherapist who works with "experiencers" — those who say they've been abducted. "There's a kind of booga-booga about ETs and UFOs."
Richard Dolan, a leading UFO researcher and author of several books, added: "Just below that level of snicker, snicker is fear."
The question of what happens if and when extraterrestrials visit Earth was the symposium's main topic of conversation, but other lectures included "Secrets of Antigravity Propulsion," "Time Travel Is a Fact" and "Mars, the Living Planet."
Many of the few hundred attendees were baby boomers, children of the space race who grew up casting an eye to the heavens and never stopped questioning what could be out there. Others came with a more spiritual outlook. They view extraterrestrials as omnipotent protectors who often beckon them in the night.
Cynthia Crawford, 61, an artist who sold sculptures of aliens, said there was no reason to fear contact by extraterrestrials. She said she has a spiritual connection to her alien guides, who have made medical ailments disappear and once manifested a crisp $20 bill.
She told others they could experience the same.
"Send the light and the unconditional love, and they will come to you," she told one young man. "When you start seeing your star family — oh my God — you'll love it."
Another topic discussed at the convention was human-extraterrestrial hybrids. Crawford, who lives near the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, said that she is one of them.
The hybrids, she said, often have high foreheads and thin faces with long, skinny noses. Crawford, however, has a round face framed by thick blond hair.
"I think I look human," she said. She turned her head and widened her eyes. "Do you think I look human?"