December 7, 2008

Iowa Supreme Court to hear same-sex couples' lawsuit

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear arguments in a challenge to the state’s ban on same sex marriages this week, MSNBC reported Sunday. If the high court rules in favor of the gay couples that filed the lawsuit it would become the fourth state to uphold the right for same-sex couples to legally marry. California, Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only three states that have done so thus far, although voters who amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage negated the California court’s ruling.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Iowa case has been moving through the courts for three years before finally making it to the Supreme Court. However, after hearing the arguments on Tuesday, the court could take a year or more to make a ruling. Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization, is representing the Iowa couples in the case.,0,2028158.story

November 30, 2008

8-year-old charged in murder case gets new plea.

Prosecutors have offered a plea deal to an 8-year-old boy who is charged with the murder of his father and another man in Eastern Arizona, ABC News reported Sunday.

County Attorney, Criss Candelaria, said that the plea would allow for the charges to be resolved in juvenile court, contingent on the results of a mental evaluation. The boy is facing two first-degree murder charges for the deaths of his father, 27-year-old Vincent Romero and 39-year-old Timothy Romans.

The Daily Press reported that the boy’s defense attorney said that the filing was an attempt by the prosecution to dismiss the charges so they could refile it when the boy was older and hear the case in adult court. Brewer said the new deal he has proposed would resolve the case without having it moved to adult court. The prosecutor said he was not trying to obtain an unfair advantage but indicated that the judicial system was not equipped to handle an 8-year-old charged with murder.,0,2933399.story

November 23, 2008

Verizon workers fired over Obama cell phone leak.

Verizon wireless has fired employees based on their connection to a breach of cell phone records for Barack Obama, CNN reported Friday.

A source for Verizon would not indicate how many employees were fired but said that the company now considered the case closed. A spokesman for Obama’s transition team said they had been notified on Wednesday and that the President elect no longer used that phone. Verizon indicated that employees wouldn’t be able to read text messages he sent or received from the record data.

ABC reported that Obama’s phone on the Verizon account was a simple flip phone and that employees would have been unable to access anything like Obama’s email records. Verizon has announced that it has launched an internal investigation to find out whether Obama’s information was leaked only internally or also outside the company.

November 16, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama absent from multi-national forum.

President-elect Barack Obama was absent from a multi-national summit in Washington, D.C. dealing with the lagging global economy, MSNBC reported Sunday. Obama cited that he was cautious to let President George W. Bush represent the nation. Obama seems intent on not to overtly wielding his political power until being sworn into office Jan. 20.
Obama did note in his Democratic radio address that he was pleased Bush has taken the initial steps in looking to solve the economic crisis.

ABC news reported that Obama was much more direct with congress, urging them to at least approve a down payment on a new economic bail–out package that would address increasing rates of unemployment and the failing auto industry. While Obama has initially suggested $175 billion, some experts believe a figure closer to $300 billion is in order. Obama has indicated that he would be flexible to further outside suggestions.

November 9, 2008

Small city in Oregon elects first transgender mayor.

The small Oregon city of Silverton elected the nation’s first openly transgender mayor, Fox News reported Saturday.

The mayor elect is Stu Rasmussen, who has been a main stay in Silverton politics for over 20 years. Since his initial terms in office Rasmussen has gotten breast implants and began wearing dresses and high heals openly in public. Rasmussen’s campaign indicated that it skirted the issues of Rasmussen’s gender identity by focusing on the issues at hand.

“Stu never sought this recognition out,? reporter from JustOut, a publication for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Portland, told MSNBC. “ He’s interested in doing a great job for the community that he loves. The gender identity thing is a backseat thing.?

Rasmussen identified himself as a heterosexual male who simply appears to be a female. He has lived with his girlfriend, Victoria Sage, for 35 years.,2933,449111,00.html

November 2, 2008

Cruise ship may be used to house Hurricane Ike victims.

An old cruise ship anchored in Texas could become temporary housing for Hurricane Ike refugees, ABC news reported Friday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said they had not received a formal request for funds from Texas officials. A Texas state agency did email FEMA, but this request did not follow protocol. The ship, the 1950’s-era Regal Empress, has 1,200 available beds and left port in Galveston on Thursday. The ship will wait 10-miles off the coast until Monday when the crew will be notified whether to make the trip to Port Orange or to the Bahamas where it will resume round-trip cruises from Florida in December.

MSNBC reports that about 3,000 currently shelterless victims of the hurricane are seeking refuge in southeast Texas where the cruise ship would most likely be put to use. Michael Gerber, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs executive director, said only 262 mobile homes or park model units have been received for displaced Ike victims I the area

October 26, 2008

4 cheerleaders killed in Tennessee car crash.

Four high school cheerleaders were killed in a car accident in eastern Tennessee, CNN reported Saturday. The sport utility vehicle carrying the cheerleaders collided with an oncoming car after cheering at their high school football team’s game Friday night. The cheerleaders were from Scott high school. The crash took place in foggy and wet conditions on a highway near Knoxville.

According to MSNBC, investigators believe passengers were still trapped in side the second vehicle that collided with the cheerleader’s vehicle when the SUV caught fire. A passing driver uses their all-terrain vehicle to pull the Taurus away from the burning SUV. Investigators believe foggy and wet conditions contributed to the crash and that none of the cheerleaders were wearing seatbelts. Several other passengers, including the SUV’s 22-year-old driver and a 10-month-old passenger were taken to the hospital with injuries.

October 19, 2008

Soldiers suspected in five killings in US.

Soldiers originally stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado and now back from deployment in Iraq are suspects in at least five slayings, CNN reported Sunday. Cmdr. Maj. Gen. Mark Graham announced that a task force would examine the five killings that have all been allegedly committed by soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team in the past 14 months. In addition, Fort Carson plans to do rescreenings on about 1,200 soldiers from the brigade for potential physical and mental health problems.

The most recent allegation is one directed at 21-year-old Spc. Robert Hull Marko, who on Monday led investigators to the body of a girl he claimed he killed outside of Colorado Springs. ABC reported two-other brigade members were earlier named in the attempted murder of a fellow brigade captain and in the slayings of two people setting up signs for a garage sale.

October 12, 2008

Palin denies wrongdoing in abuse of power investigation

Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin denied any wrong doing despite a legislative investigation that found she violated state ethics law by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from his state trooper position. The committee that released the report Friday calls for no criminal investigation and has no authority to place sanctions on Palin.

According to CBS, the investigation looks into the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who claims he lost his job because of his refusal to fire a state trooper who was involved in a divorce and custody battle with Palin’s sister. Palin says Monegan was fired because of a legitimate budget dispute. The prosecutor hired to conduct the investigation says Monegan’s firing was lawful but the pressure place on him by Palin and her husband was not. Though the report found that Monegan’s firing was legal it did note that bipartisanship played a role.

October 5, 2008

Fannie Mae forgives loan of woman who shot herself.

Fannie Mae decided to forgive the loan of woman who shot herself while sheriff deputies tried to evict her from her foreclosed home on Wedesday, CNN reported.

Addie Polk, 90, from Akron, Ohio was hospitalized after shooting herself at least twice in the upper body Wedesday afternoon. The story has brought a more personal view of the nation’s current mortgage crisis. Polk was listed in critical condition Friday, according to City Council president Marco Sommerville.

Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith indicated they would forgive any outstanding balance on the loan and sign the house “outright? to her given the circumstances.

Polk’s neighbor used a ladder to enter the home when he and the deputies heard loud noises comin from inside. They found Polk inside, lying on her bed, bleeding, with a hand gun next to her. Her car keys, pocketbook and life insurance policy were laid out where the could be found, suggesting that Polk did in fact intend to kill herself.

According to MSNBC, Polk took out a 30-year, 6.375 percent mortgage from $45, 620 with a Countrywide Home Loan office in 2004. Polk missed payments on the loan over the next few years and in 2007 Fannie Mae assumed the mortgage and filed for foreclosure.

Polk bought the 101-year-old home in 1970.

Deputies said they had tried to serve the eviction notice more than 30 times before Wednesday but Polk never answered the door. They knew she was inside because the notices they left were always gone once they returned.

September 28, 2008

Obama edges McCain in debates, according to viewers' poll.

A national poll of those who watched the first presidential debates indicates that Obama came out the winner in the eyes of viewers, CNN reported Saturday.

CNN noted a possible bias in the numbers, citing that only those who watched the debates were polled and more Democrats tuned in than did Republicans. The poll showed 51 percent thought Obama did a better job in Friday night’s debate, while 38 percent felt McCain came out the victor.

Among men McCain held a slight edge of 46 percent to Obama’s 43 percent but among women Obama won significantly, 59 percent to McCain’s 31 percent. Despite personal preferences, 2/3 of viewers agreed both McCain and Obama were capable of running the country.

The candidates’ ratings in the debate also came down to specific issues. Substantially more viewers felt Obama was better equipped to handle the lagging economy and the impending financial crisis than McCain. At the same time, viewers gave McCain a slight edge in matters of national security and defense.

The New York Times reports that both men did not indicate any major changes in their respective policy proposals in light of the country’s recent economic woes.

Throughout the debate, according to the New York Times. Obama did his best to link McCain to President Bush and, in his opinion, the perceived failings of the current president. At the same time, McCain did his best to paint Obama as an inexperienced greenhorn, insinuating that a vote for Obama is a risky one in these trying times

September 21, 2008

Children placed in custody after raid of Evangelical compound.

Six children were placed in temporary custody after an Evangelical compound in Arkansas was raided by authorities on Saturday, CNN reports.

The compound, located near Texarkana, belongs to Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. The children are to be interviewed in an ongoing investigation into allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the ministry center. According to CNN, 100 agents from the FBI, Arkansas state police, and officials from the state Department of Human Services took part in the raid. The children are currently in the custody of the DHS.

Church leader Tony Alamo vehemently denied the allegations.

“It’s a hoax,? Alamo told CNN. “ They just want to make our church look evil… by saying I’m a pornographer. Saying that I rape little children…I love children. I don’t abuse them. Never have. Never will.?

State police department spokesman, Bill Sadler, addressed the near future of the children taken into custody.

“ Should there be any long-term separation of the children from the Alamo property, a local court will make the determination as to the status of those children," Sadler said in a statement reported by MSNBC.

According to MSNBC, in an email accidentally sent to media members by the police, 12, 13 and 14-year-old girls were mentioned in the investigation. The raid ended shortly after midnight without resistance and Sadler indicated there were no plans to search the complex again.

The 74-year-old Alamo was convicted of tax-related charges in 1994 and served four years in prison. MSNBC reports that prosecutors in that case claimed Alamo was a polygamist who preyed on married women and girls in his congregation.