Texas couple visits all 50 state capitals

A Texas couple has fulfilled a lifelong dream by visiting Maine to watch the state Legislature at work. Seriously. The Portland Press Herald reports that 86-year-old Marcine Webb and his wife, 81-year-old Nita Lou Webb, were in Augusta last week to complete their quest to visit every state capitol. Maine’s was the last one. When House Speaker Mark Eves announced the reason for their visit, the state representatives stood and cheered. Continue Reading

IL Prison Official Resigns in Face of Harassment Probe

CHICAGO (AP) — A director with the Illinois Department of Corrections has resigned following investigations of sexual harassment.  

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports Ty J. Bates was the deputy director for the department’s southern district and resigned Friday. Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer says Bates was at the center of two recent investigations. He says the investigations showed that Bates violated the department’s sexual harassment policies but it did not amount to the legal definition sexual harassment. Bates resigned after his disciplinary action was announced. Continue Reading

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Family of Abducted, then Murdered, Iowa Teen Speaks Out

The family of an abducted Iowa teenager has released a statement after authorities confirmed the 15-year-old’s death.  

Kathlynn Shepard’s father said Sunday that the teen’s family has “lost part of its soul,” but that Kathylnn is now in a better place and safe from predators. Kathylnn was described as an innocent, caring and fun-loving child. The State Medical Examiner and Department of Criminal Investigation said Sunday that an autopsy had confirmed that a body found Friday night in Boone County was Kathylnn’s. It also confirmed that she died of blunt force trauma. Continue Reading

5 things to note about NSA surveillance programs

Edward Snowden identified himself Sunday as a principal source behind revelations about the National Security Agency’s sweeping phone and Internet surveillance programs. Five things to know about the disclosures: — THE PROGRAMS: The NSA has been collecting the phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans each day, creating a database through which it can learn whether terror suspects have been in contact with people in the U.S. While the NSA program does not listen to actual conversations, the revelation of the program reopened the post-Sept. 11 debate about privacy concerns versus heightened measures to protect against terrorist attacks. Separately, an Internet scouring program, code-named PRISM, allows the NSA and FBI to tap directly into nine U.S. Internet companies to gather all Internet usage — audio, video, photographs, emails and searches. The effort is designed to detect suspicious behavior that begins overseas. — THE LEAKER: A 29-year-old high school dropout who worked for consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton has claimed responsibility for disclosing the programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post. Continue Reading

Source's employer: Reports of NSA leak 'shocking'

The employer of a 29-year-old man who says he is behind the leaks of sensitive National Security Agency programs is calling the disclosure “shocking” and is pledging to work with authorities. Consulting giant Booz Allen on Sunday confirmed Edward Snowden is an employee assigned to a team in Hawaii. The firm says Snowden has been working there less than three months. The Guardian identified Snowden as a source for its reports on intelligence programs after he asked the newspaper to do so. The Washington Post also identified Snowden as a source for its reporting. Continue Reading

No charges expected in fatal shooting by Arizona boy, 4

Authorities aren’t expected to seek charges in the death of an Arizona man who was accidentally shot by his 4-year-old son. Justin Stanfield Thomas was fatally shot Friday after he and his son traveled from Phoenix to a friend’s home 90 miles away in the northern Arizona community of Prescott Valley for a surprise visit. Prescott Valley Police Brandon Bonney says the boy found the loaded gun in the home within minutes of arrival, asked a question about it and pulled the trigger. Thomas later died at a hospital. Bonney says the gun should have been locked away, but that Thomas’ friend, whose identity hasn’t been released, was caught off guard by the unannounced visit. Continue Reading

No charges expected in fatal shooting by Ariz. boy

Authorities aren’t expected to seek charges in the death of an Arizona man who was accidentally shot by his 4-year-old son. Justin Stanfield Thomas was fatally shot Friday after he and his son traveled from Phoenix to a friend’s home 90 miles away in the northern Arizona community of Prescott Valley for a surprise visit. Prescott Valley Police Brandon Bonney says the boy found the loaded gun in the home within minutes of arrival, asked a question about it and pulled the trigger. Thomas later died at a hospital. Bonney says the gun should have been locked away, but that Thomas’ friend, whose identity hasn’t been released, was caught off guard by the unannounced visit. Continue Reading

Erin Brockovich arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia Roberts in a 2000 movie about her fight over the pollution of a California town, has been arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, authorities said Sunday. Brockovich was arrested late Friday night after breath tests showed her blood-alcohol level was just over twice the legal limit of .08, said Edwin Lyngar, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. A game warden noticed she was struggling and needed assistance while trying to moor her motor boat at the Las Vegas Boat Harbor, he said. Brockovich had been out on the boat with a male companion but was alone when she tried to dock it. “She was not sure how to maneuver the boat into the dock,” Lyngar told The Associated Press. Continue Reading

Japanese troops converge on California beach for military exercise with US Marines

Japanese troops will converge on California’s southern coast in the next two weeks as part of a military exercise with U.S. troops aimed at improving that country’s amphibious attack abilities. U.S. and Japanese military officials said the unprecedented training, led by U.S. Marines and sailors, will help Japan’s Self-Defense Force operate in stronger coordination with the United States, its main ally, and better respond to crises such as natural disasters. China may see it differently, however, given the tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over a long-running dispute concerning islands claimed by both in the East China Sea. “It’s another dot that the Chinese will connect to show this significant expanding military cooperation,” said Tai Ming Cheung, an analyst of Chinese and East Asian security affairs and director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California, San Diego. China asked the United States and Japan to cancel the drill, scheduled to begin Tuesday, Japan’s Kyodo News service reported, citing unnamed Japanese government sources. Continue Reading