Downward dogma? California judge weighs whether yoga is a religion

Is yoga a religion? That’s what a California judge must decide as a lawsuit regarding teaching yoga in public schools goes to trial. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of parents Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, who contend that yoga is religious in nature and that opting out of the program in public schools would cost their children time that should be devoted to physical education, reports. Ashtanga yoga is currently offered in place of physical education in the Encinitas County school district. “If you asked me what’s the most religious form of yoga, I would pick Ashtanga as my No. Continue Reading

IL Senate Okays Smart-Grid Plan Over Quinn’s Objections

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Senate has again approved a plan to address so-called Smart Grid technology over the objection of Gov. Pat Quinn.  

Senators voted 44-11 Tuesday to override Quinn’s veto earlier this month. Quinn claimed the bill undermined oversight and would force automatic rate hikes. Senate President John Cullerton disputed those claims. A three-fifths majority was needed. Continue Reading

Dubuque Man, “The Bishop,” Sent to Prison

CHICAGO (AP) — An Iowa letter carrier has been sentenced to 37 years in prison for sending dud pipe bombs with threatening letters signed “The Bishop.”  

U.S. District Judge Robert Dow issued the sentence Tuesday afternoon, saying John Tomkins “engaged in a reign of terror.” The 48-year-old Dubuque, Iowa man previously apologized, saying there were “no words to describe” his “shame.” Tomkins was trying to drive up the value of shares he owned. One package was sent to Denver and another to Kansas City, Mo. Continue Reading

IL Congressmen Seek Federal Disaster Relief

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois’ congressional delegation has asked President Obama to add 16 Illinois counties, including Henderson, Warren and McDonough in our area, to the list of those eligible to receive disaster aid after last month’s flooding.  

The letter was sent on Tuesday to support a similar request by Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday. Quinn cited reports from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency of more than 800 flood-damaged homes in the 16 counties, including 14 homes that were destroyed and 202 with major damage. The additional counties are Bureau, Crawford, Henderson, Knox, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford. A disaster declaration allows people and businesses to apply for federal loans and reimbursements to help pay for storm and flood damage repairs. Continue Reading

Battered Moore, Oklahomans Assess Damage…Again

MOORE, Okla. (AP) —Many of the residents of Moore, Okla., have begun the process of assessing what’s left of their homes and possessions and determining what comes next. Some neighborhoods were left flattened by the twister that stretched some 1.3 miles wide at points.  It was the fourth tornado to hit Moore since 1998.  Monday’s twister killed at least 24 people.  

Meanwhile, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says U.S. officials are “going neighborhood to neighborhood” to make sure Oklahoma gets the help it needs. FEMA’s Craig Fugate promises in an interview that officials won’t desert Oklahoma, saying “We don’t leave here when the cameras leave. Continue Reading

Italian Cruise Ship Captain Will Stand Trial

ROME (AP) — A judge in Italy has ordered the captain of the Costa Concordia to stand trial in the shipwreck of the cruise liner, which struck a reef off Tuscany last year, killing 32 people.  

Francesco Schettino will be the only defendant in the trial, which begins on July 9 in the Tuscan town of Grosseto. The indictment was announced on Wednesday. Five other defendants successfully sought plea bargains in their cases, which are now being handled separately. Schettino is charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship while many of the 4,200 passengers and crew were still aboard. Continue Reading

Connecticut Commuters Back on Schedule

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — The trains are running again in Connecticut, where a derailment five days ago disrupted thousands of commuters and Amtrak passengers.  

The damaged section of track on one of the nation’s oldest and most heavily traveled railways has been repaired, but trains have a slower speed limit through the area — a routine precaution. Continue Reading


Suspected Kidnapper Kills Himself; 15-Year Old Still Missing

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a man suspected of abducting two girls near an Iowa bus stop had committed suicide.  

Forty-two-year-old Michael Klunder was found dead Monday night at a rural property northeast of Dayton. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation did not release more details Tuesday about Klunder’s death. Dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement are searching by air, land and water for 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard. She and a 12-year-old girl were taken near a bus stop in Dayton, about 60 miles north of Des Moines, on Monday afternoon after accepting a ride from a stranger. Continue Reading

Pentagon wants $450M for Guantanamo prison

The Pentagon is asking Congress for more than $450 million for maintaining and upgrading the Guantanamo Bay prison that President Barack Obama wants to close. New details on the administration’s budget request emerged on Tuesday and underscored the contradiction of the president waging a political fight to shutter the facility while the military calculates the financial requirements to keep the installation operating. The budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 calls for $79 million for detention operations, the same as the current year, and $20.5 million for the office of military commissions, an increase over the current amount of $12.6 million. The request also includes $40 million for a fiber optic cable and $99 million for operation and maintenance. Continue Reading