Judge strikes down NYC’s sugary-drinks size rule; enforcement had been set to start Tuesday
NEW YORK (AP) -- A judge struck down New York City’s ban on big sugary drinks Monday just hours before it was supposed to take effect, ruling that the first-in-the-nation measure arbitrarily applies to only some sweet beverages and some places that sell them.
"The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of this rule," state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling wrote in a defeat for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a victory for the beverage industry and others who challenged the 16-ounce limit on sodas and other high-calorie drinks.
Further, the city Board of Health intruded on City Council’s authority in approving the size limit, the judge said. The restriction was supposed to start Tuesday.
The city said it will appeal the ruling as soon as possible. Supreme Court is New York’s trial-level court.
"We are confident the Board of Health’s decision will ultimately be upheld," said Michael A. Cardozo, the city’s corporation counsel. This measure is part of the city’s multi-pronged effort to combat the growing obesity epidemic, which takes the lives of more than 5,000 New Yorkers every year, and we believe the Board of Health has the legal authority - and responsibility - to tackle its leading causes."
Who’s up, who’s down: Cardinals hold
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday to elect the next pope amid more upheaval and uncertainty than the Catholic Church has seen in decades: There’s no front-runner, no indication how long voting will last and no sense that a single man has what it takes to fix the church’s many problems.
On the eve of the vote, cardinals offered wildly different assessments of what they’re looking for in a pope and how close they are to a decision. It was evidence that Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation has continued to destabilize the church leadership and that his final appeal for unity may go unheeded, at least in the early rounds of voting.
Still, the buzz in the papal stakes swirled around Cardinal Angelo Scola, an Italian seen as favored by cardinals hoping to shake up the powerful Vatican bureaucracy, and Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer, a favorite of Vatican-based insiders intent on preserving the status quo.
Cardinals held their final closed-door debate Monday over whether the church needs more of a manager to clean up the Vatican’s bureaucratic mess or a pastor to inspire the 1.2 billion faithful in times of crisis. The fact that not everyone got a chance to speak was a clear indication that there’s still unfinished business going into the first round of voting.
"This is a great historical moment but we have got to do it properly, and I think that’s why there isn’t a real rush to get into things," Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier from South Africa said as he left the session Monday.
Far from the front lines, combat stress troubles Air Force intelligence units
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AP) -- They may never come face to face with a Taliban insurgent, never dodge a roadside bomb or take fire, but they still may be responsible for taking lives or putting their own colleagues in mortal danger. And now the military has begun to grapple with the mental and emotional strains endured by these Air Force personnel.
While they are thousands of miles from the gritty combat in Afghanistan, the analysts in the cavernous room at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia relive the explosions, the carnage and the vivid after-battle assessments of the bombings over and over again. The repeated exposure to death and destruction rolling across their computer screens is taking its own special toll on their lives.
Now, for the first time, an Air Force chaplain and a psychologist are walking the floor of the operations center at Langley, offering counseling and stress relief to the airmen who scrutinize the war from afar.
Sitting at computer banks lining the expansive room, the Air Force analysts watch the video feeds streaming from surveillance drones and other military assets monitoring U.S. forces around the globe. Photos, radar data, full-motion video and electronically gathered intelligence flows across multiple screens. In 15- to 20-minute shifts, the airmen watch and interpret the information.
Through chat windows, they exchange data, update intelligence reports and talk in real time with commanders on the ground, including troops whose lives may depend on the constant and rapid flow of information they get from Langley.
Angry over detentions, Afghan villagers threaten uprising if U.S. special forces don’t leave
MAIDAN SHAHR, Afghanistan (AP) -- An Afghan policeman gunned down two U.S. special forces on Monday in Wardak province, less than 24 hours after President Hamid Karzai’s deadline expired for them to leave the area where residents have grown increasingly hostile toward the Americans.
Despite Karzai’s orders, the American special operations forces remain in the province where dozens of villagers accuse them and their Afghan partners of intimidation through unprovoked beatings, mass arrests and forced detentions. The shootout, which also killed two Afghan policemen, only deepens the distrust.
The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan says it has found no evidence to support the claims of abuse. But infuriated by the villagers’ allegations, Karzai two weeks ago ordered U.S. special operations forces to withdraw by midnight Sunday from Wardak province, 45 kilometers (27 miles) south of the capital, Kabul.
Most international forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Wardak, like the rest of the country, is slated to be eventually handed over to Afghan forces, but U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, indicated on Sunday that the troops were not leaving Wardak province just yet.
"The only issue is the timeline and the methodology, and we’re still working on that," Dunford said.
U.S.-Afghan alliance hits new low with Karzai outbursts about Taliban tie
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The troubled U.S. alliance with Afghan President Hamid Karzai hit a new low with his startling accusation that America is colluding with Taliban insurgents to keep Afghanistan weak. But with President Barack Obama committed to two more years of U.S.combat, Karzai appears to believe he can have it both ways -- gain favor at home with anti-American rhetoric and still enjoy foreign military protection.
And he is probably right.
The Obama administration believes that it must stay the course, gradually handing off security responsibility to Afghan forces and then ending the combat mission in December 2014. Departing sooner would risk a collapse of the government, a return to power for the Taliban and perhaps a boost for al-Qaida.
Just last month, Obama announced that he would bring home 34,000 U.S. troops in the coming year, leaving about 32,000 for a final withdrawal in 2014. He is expected to announce soon a post-2014 military mission for several thousand American troops, even though he has said that by then "our war in Afghanistan will be over."
"Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure," he said Feb. 12, though the nature of that commitment will shift to training Afghan forces and pursuing remnants of al-Qaida and its affiliates.
Jury convicts ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
of corruption; sent to jail until sentence
DETROIT (AP) -- Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted Monday of corruption charges and then sent to jail to await his prison sentence in yet another dramatic setback for a man who once was among the nation’s youngest big-city leaders.
Jurors convicted Kilpatrick of a raft of crimes, including racketeering conspiracy, which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years behind bars. He was portrayed during a five-month trial as an unscrupulous politician who took bribes, rigged contracts and lived far beyond his means while in office until fall 2008.
Kilpatrick wore a surprised, puzzled look at times as U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds read the jury’s verdict: guilty of 24 charges, not guilty on three and no consensus on three more. Kilpatrick declined to speak to reporters as he left the courthouse.
Four hours later, he was handcuffed and led to jail after prosecutors asked the judge to revoke his bond. Edmunds said it was a "close call" but agreed that the scale under federal law tipped in favor of the government.
Prosecutors said Kilpatrick ran a "private profit machine" out of Detroit’s City Hall. The government presented evidence to show he got a share of the spoils after ensuring that Bobby Ferguson’s excavating company was awarded millions in work from the water department.
Police investigating deaths of 6 teens in Ohio crash
say SUV was being used without permission
WARREN, Ohio (AP) -- Investigators spent Monday trying to piece together why eight teenagers were crammed into a speeding SUV without the owner’s permission when it flipped over into a pond, killing six of them.
Authorities gave no details on where the group of friends had been and why they were out around daybreak Sunday. But the father of one of the dead said they were coming home from a sleepover at a friend’s house.
No one in the group had asked to take the vehicle, and its owner was not related to any of the teens, said State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Holt. It was registered to someone from Youngstown, about 20 miles away.
"That’s all we know right now," Holt said.
State police said the SUV hit a guardrail on a two-lane road in an industrial section of town and landed upside down in about 5 feet of water, filling up in a matter of minutes, Holt said. Five boys and a young woman, ages 14 to 19, were killed.