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World briefly for Oct. 1

POSTED: October 1, 2012 9:41 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is starting a new term that is shaping up to be as important as the last one, with the prospect of major rulings about affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights.

Three months after the court upheld President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, the same lineup of justices returns to the bench Monday morning.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's liberals in sustaining the health care law, drawing liberals' plaudits and conservatives' anger.

This term's big cases seem likely to have Roberts in his more accustomed role of voting with his fellow conservatives and leave Justice Anthony Kennedy with his typically decisive vote in cases that otherwise split the court's liberals and conservatives.

But Roberts will be watched closely for additional signs that he is becoming less ideologically predictable.

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Boy Scouts to go through so-called perversion files and report pedophiles to authorities

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America plan to begin doing what critics argue they should have done decades ago — bring suspected abusers named in the organization's so-called perversion files to the attention of police departments and sheriff's offices across the country.

The Scouts have, until now, argued they did all they could to prevent sex abuse within their ranks by spending a century tracking pedophiles and using those records to keep known sex offenders out of their organization. But a court-ordered release of the perversion files from 1965 to 1985, expected sometime in October, has prompted Scouts spokesman Deron Smith to say the organization will go back into the files and report any offenders who may have fallen through the cracks.

Smith said Mike Johnson, the group's youth protection director and a former police detective, will lead the review.

That could prompt a new round of criminal prosecutions for offenders who have so far escaped justice, said Clatsop County, Ore., District Attorney Josh Marquis. But investigations may require more than what most Scout files provide, including victims willing to cooperate.

"Let's even assume the suspect confessed," he said. "An uncorroborated confession is not sufficient for a conviction."

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Economists shoot down talk of bacon shortage, but predict rising prices due to drought

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Bacon lovers can relax. They'll find all they want on supermarket shelves in the coming months, though their pocketbooks may take a hit.

The economics of the current drought are likely to nose up prices for bacon and other pork products next year, by as much as 10 percent. But U.S. agricultural economists are dismissing reports of a global bacon shortage that lent sizzle to headlines and Twitter feeds last week. Simply put, the talk of scarcity is hogwash.

"Use of the word 'shortage' caused visions of (1970s-style) gasoline lines in a lot of people's heads, and that's not the case," said Steve Meyer, president of Iowa-based Paragon Economics and a consultant to the National Pork Producers Council and National Pork Board.

"If the definition of shortage is that you can't find it on the shelves, then no, the concern is not valid. If the concern is higher cost for it, then yes."

Fears about a scarcity of bacon swept across social and mainstream media last week after a trade group in Europe said a bacon shortage was "unavoidable," citing a sharp decline in the continent's pig herd and drought-inflated feed costs. The report caused much consternation over a product that used to be merely a breakfast staple, but nowadays flavors everything from brownies to vodka.

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Obama and Romney hunker down for debate prep ahead of first face-off

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Nearing their first face-off, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are hunkering down for intense preparations ahead of Wednesday's presidential debate, where the GOP nominee hopes to change the trajectory of the White House race.

Obama was huddling Monday with top advisers at a desert resort in Nevada. Romney had practice planned in Massachusetts, where he also spent most of the weekend working with his debate team. The Republican challenger was then headed to Denver, the site of the first debate, later Monday for a rally and more preparation for the high-stakes event.

Five weeks from Election Day, polls show Romney trailing Obama in many of the nine states that will determine the outcome of the White House race. The three October debates give Romney one of his best opportunities to stem Obama's momentum and convince the public to back his vision for the nation's future.

"What I'm most concerned about is having a serious discussion about what we need to do to keep the country growing and restore security to hardworking Americans," Obama said during a rally in Las Vegas Sunday night. "That is what people are going to be listening for. That's the debate you deserve."

As the candidates prepped for a debate focused on domestic issues, Republicans were keeping up the pressure on Obama on international issues, namely his administration's handling of the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya that led to the death of the American ambassador and three others.

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Russian court postpones jailed Pussy Riot appeal hearing to Oct. 10 after member fires lawyers

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court on Monday postponed the appeal of three members of jailed rock band Pussy Riot until Oct. 10 after one group member fired her lawyers.

The three performers were sentenced in August to two years in prison for hooliganism for performing a "punk prayer" against President Vladimir Putin at Moscow's main cathedral.

Band member Yekaterina Samutsevich announced at the opening of the hearing that she has fired her three lawyers over an unspecified disagreement. Samutsevich said she found another lawyer but had failed to sign a contract.

Prosecutors condemned the move as a delaying tactic.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and 30-year-old Samutsevich were arrested in March after dancing and high-kicking at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral as they pleaded with the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin, who was elected to a third presidential term two weeks later. They said during their trial in August that they were protesting the Russian Orthodox Church's support for Putin and didn't intend to offend religious believers.

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Motorcycle bomber in east Afghanistan kills 14 people, including 3 NATO troops, officials say

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber driving a motorcycle packed with explosives rammed his bike into a patrol of Afghan and international forces on Monday morning in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 14 people, including three NATO service members and their translator, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast, which came a day after the U.S. death toll in the war in Afghanistan reached 2,000 troops and as relations between international forces and their Afghan partners have been pushed to the breaking point by a surge in insider attacks by Afghan allies.

The bomber struck a group of Afghan police and international troops shortly after they got out of their vehicles to walk through a market area in Khost city, the capital of Khost province, said provincial government spokesman Baryalai Wakman.

Six civilians and four police officers were killed in the blast, Wakman said. He said the police officers were part of a specialized quick-reaction force.

Blood could be seen on the market road as Afghan police and soldiers tried to clean up the area after the blast. Slippers and bicycle parts were strewn about.

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Activists say at least 12 people killed in regime bombing of northern Syrian town

BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say Syrian troops have bombed a northern town near the Turkish border, killing at least 12 people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the victims of Monday's bombardment of the town of Salqin included five children. The town is 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the border with Turkey.

The Observatory says the death toll is expected to rise because many people were critically wounded. The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, put the death toll at 30.

Footage posted online by activists shows several mutilated bodies in a pickup truck as a man shouts that his son was killed. The video's authenticity could not be independently verified.

Salqin is in the northwestern province of Idlib that has seen intense clashes between troops and rebels in recent months.

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50 years later, Meredith says state never acknowledged 'war' over his integration of Ole Miss

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — James Meredith is a civil-rights icon who hates the term "civil rights."

It's as if civil rights were somehow set apart from — well, rights.

"When it comes to my rights as an American citizen, and yours, I am a triumphalist and an absolutist. Anything less is an insult," said the black man who 50 years ago inflamed the anger of white Mississippi by quietly demanding admission to the state's segregated flagship university.

Now 79 and living in Jackson, Meredith sees himself as a messenger of God — a warrior who crippled the beast of white supremacy by integrating the University of Mississippi.

These days, he frequently wears an Ole Miss baseball hat in public. When the university's football team recently played the University of Texas in Oxford, Meredith was a guest in the chancellor's stadium skybox, and the crowd applauded when that was announced over the loudspeakers.

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An October free-for-fall: 3 days to go, baseball's playoff picture still totally scrambled

The Texas Rangers are totally set for the playoffs, eager to break out the bats, balls and gloves for really big games.

Maybe they should log on to MapQuest, Hotels.com and Travelocity, too.

Because with three days left on the schedule, the postseason picture is still impossibly scrambled. An October free-for-fall, with not a single team yet certain of when, who and where it will play later this week.

"If you had asked me before the season started, I would have expected that something would have been settled," New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Sunday. "It's really hard to believe and I think it's what baseball was kind of looking for. They love to see these races. It's good for the game."

Not easy on the stomach, though.

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Believing in themselves when no one else did, Europeans pull off improbable Ryder Cup comeback

MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) — The scoreboard said 10-6 and just about everyone figured the Ryder Cup was over.

Everyone, that is, but the Europeans.

There was so much energy and excitement in Europe's team room Saturday night that Ian Poulter just knew they were on the verge of something special.

"The atmosphere was like we had a two-point lead," Poulter said. "We're four points down. You're not going to turn around and say you're going to win, but we knew we had a little chance."

A chance, and a belief in themselves, was all they needed.

 

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