Weakening Isaac hovers over Louisiana, forcing more evacuations, rescues
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Isaac hovered over Louisiana for a third day Thursday, shedding more than a foot of additional rain that forced authorities to hurriedly evacuate areas ahead of the storm and rescue hundreds of people who could not escape as the rapidly rising waters swallowed entire neighborhoods.
The huge spiral weather system weakened to a tropical depression as it crawled inland, but it caught many places off guard by following a meandering, unpredictable path. The storm’s excruciatingly slow movement meant that Isaac practically parked over low-lying towns and threw off great sheets of water for hours.
"I was blindsided. Nobody expected this," said Richard Musatchia, who fled his water-filled home in LaPlace, northwest of New Orleans.
Inside the fortified levees that protected New Orleans, bursts of sunshine streamed through the thick clouds, and life began to return to normal. But beyond the city, people got their first good look at Isaac’s damage: Hundreds of homes were underwater. Half the state was without power. Thousands were staying at shelters.
And the damage may not be done. Even more rain was expected in Louisiana before the storm finally drifts into Arkansas and Missouri.
Justice Department decides not to bring charges in CIA interrogations of terrorist suspects
Thursday’s decision in the probes of the deaths of two terrorist suspects marks the end of a wide-ranging criminal investigation by federal prosecutor John Durham into interrogation practices during the presidency of George W. Bush.
In the past three years, Durham has looked into the treatment of 101 detainees in U.S. custody since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Durham’s probe into another episode involving the CIA began in January 2008 when the Justice Department chose him to conduct a criminal investigation into the agency’s destruction of videotapes it had made of its interrogations of terrorist suspects.
In August 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder expanded Durham’s mandate to include a preliminary review of the CIA’s interrogation of specific detainees overseas. In June 2011, Holder approved Durham’s request to move into a full criminal investigation of the two deaths.
Man convicted of repeated sexual assault of Texas girl gets 99 years in prison.
LIBERTY, Texas (AP) -- Jurors on Thursday convicted a man of taking part in the repeated sexual assaulting a Texas middle school student and sentenced him to 99 years in prison.
Eric McGowen wasn’t in court when jurors found him guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child or later when they returned with the sentence, which also included a $10,000 fine. The 20-year-old had been free on bail and he skipped out during a break in proceedings Wednesday, the first day of testimony.
The judge issued an arrest warrant for McGowen Wednesday and allowed testimony to resume Thursday. Jurors returned with the guilty verdict after deliberating for about 20 minutes. Then, after brief court proceedings on his punishment, they decided his sentence in less than 30 minutes.
Prosecutors say the girl, who was 11 years old at the time, was sexually assaulted on at least five occasions from mid-September through early December of 2010 by 20 men and boys from her town, Cleveland, which is about 45 miles northeast of Houston. Police began investigating after one of the girl’s classmates told a teacher he saw video of her being sexually assaulted in an abandoned trailer.
All six of the juveniles and two of the 14 adults charged in the case pleaded guilty. McGowen was the first defendant to stand trial. He faced a minimum sentence of 25 years prison and a maximum of life.
Police find remains
of a Native American woman scalped,
search for clues
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Using the forensic science mimicked on television crime dramas, investigators in Kentucky revealed evidence of a gruesome crime: A woman shot to death and scalped, the only evidence the telltale markings on what remained of her skull.
Detectives in a lab determined she was a tall woman, likely of Native American descent. And she was killed in modern times -- her teeth showed evidence of fillings and other dental work far too advanced for this to be a pioneer-era killing. But that’s where the trail runs cold.
Kentucky State Police Detective Chad Winn isn’t even sure where the woman is from or how she got to a remote area of Barren County, about 95 miles south of Louisville. He speculates she was dumped there.
Such an unusual killing has authorities wondering if the woman was the victim of a hate crime, Winn said. Mexican drug cartels are also known for beheading and scalping people in turf wars south of the border, though that kind of brutality has yet to be seen in rural Kentucky. Without more evidence, those theories remain pure speculation.
"I’m not saying there’s no connection tying violence here to the cartels," said Jim Balcom, the Drug Enforcement Administration agent overseeing Kentucky, who is not involved in the investigation. "I’m just saying we can’t do it at this point."
Harvard investigating possible cheating, including plagiarizing, sharing answers
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- Dozens of Harvard University students are being investigated for cheating after school officials discovered they may have shared answers or plagiarized on a final exam.
Harvard officials aren’t releasing the name of the class, the students’ names or the exact number being investigated.
The undergraduate class had a minimum of 250 students and possible cheating was discovered in roughly half the take-home exams, university officials said Thursday.
"These allegations, if proven, represent totally unacceptable behavior that betrays the trust upon which intellectual inquiry at Harvard depends," President Drew Faust said.
Each student whose work is in question has been called to appear before a subcommittee of the Harvard College Administrative Board, which reviews issues of academic integrity, said Jay M. Harris, dean of undergraduate Education. He emphasized that none of the allegations has been proven and said there’s no evidence of widespread cheating at Harvard.
Police: hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty found dead in his apartment in apparent suicide
NEW YORK (AP) -- A hip-hop mogul who managed Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Mariah Carey was found dead in his New York City apartment Thursday in an apparent suicide, police said.
Chris Lighty, 44, was discovered at his home in the Bronx with a gunshot wound to the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
No note was recovered, but a 9 mm handgun was found at the scene and there was no sign of forced entry, said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department.
The medical examiner’s office will determine a cause of death, but authorities say the shooting appears to be self-inflicted.
Lighty was behind some of rap’s leading figures, helping them not only attain hit records but also lucrative careers outside of music. He had been a part of the scene for decades, working with pioneers like LL Cool J before starting his own management company, Violator. But Lighty had been having recent financial and personal troubles.
Montana wildfires burn homes, cause injuries
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Firefighters are struggling to gain control of major Montana wildfires that have burned houses and caused injuries -- even as crews rush to tamp down new blazes before they spread.
As many as 200 people remained evacuated Thursday from an 8-square-mile fire south of Livingston that destroyed at least five houses and several buildings. Minor injuries were reported.
South of Butte, authorities say a resident who failed to heed an evacuation order was taken away by ambulance after suffering second-degree burns to his hands and arms. At least two houses and seven other structures have burned and officials warn the toll will likely rise.
Authorities say crews are battling new fires south of Ashland and in the Gallatin Canyon.
Wildfires are burning in at least six other western states.