Cycling’s governing body agrees to strip Armstrong of his Tour de France titles
GENEVA (AP) -- Seven lines of blanks. From 1999 to 2005. There will be no Tour de France winner in the record book for those years.
Once the toast of the Champs-Elysees, Lance Armstrong was formally stripped of his seven Tour titles Monday and banned for life for doping.
As far as the Tour is concerned, his victories never happened. He was never on the top step of the podium. The winner’s yellow jersey was never on his back.
The decision by the International Cycling Union marked an end to the saga that brought down the most decorated rider in Tour history and exposed widespread cheating in the sport.
"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," said Pat McQuaid, president of the governing body. "Make no mistake, it’s a catastrophe for him, and he has to face up to that."
Man who shot 7 at Wis. spa bought gun days after court order to turn in firearms
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Wisconsin woman whose husband killed her and two others at the spa where she worked said he threatened to throw acid in her face and jealously terrorized her "every waking moment," according to court documents.
Authorities say Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, killed three women, including his 42-year-old wife, Zina Haughton, and wounded four others Sunday before turning the gun
The Waukesha County medical examiner’s office on Monday identified the dead as Zina Haughton; Cary L. Robuck, 35, of Racine; and Maelyn M. Lind, 38, of Oconomowoc. All were found in the spa.
In a written request for a restraining order filed Oct. 8, Zina Haughton said her husband was convinced she was cheating on him and that aside from the acid threat he also vowed to burn her and her family with gas. He said he would kill her if she ever left him or called the police, according to the court papers obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
"His threats terrorize my every waking moment," she wrote.
Release of extensive sex-abuse files the latest in challenges for Boy Scouts
True to their motto, the Boys Scouts tried to be prepared. For months, they braced for the backlash sure to follow the court-ordered release of voluminous confidential files detailing decades of alleged sex abuse by Scout leaders.
Now the files are public, lawyers are calling for a congressional investigation and the Boy Scouts of America -- as so often in recent years -- finds itself embattled.
The files released last week are old -- dating from 1959 to 1985. Many of the alleged abusers listed in the files may well be dead. And the Scouts, while apologizing for past mistakes, have significantly improved their youth protection program in recent years.
Still, release of 14,500 pages on alleged abusers is an unwelcome development for an organization struggling to halt a decades-long membership drop while incurring relentless criticism for its policy of excluding gays.
"It does pose a challenge for the Scouts, whether they’re going to be able to win back the confidence of the public," said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. "I’m sure for some period of time, there’s going to be a concern."
France to send surveillance drones to West Africa as it talks with U.S. about Mali
PARIS (AP) -- France will move surveillance drones to West Africa and is holding secretive talks with U.S. officials in Paris this week as it seeks to steer international military action to help Mali’s feeble government win back the northern part of the country from al-Qaida-linked rebels, The Associated Press has learned.
France and the United Nations insist any invasion of Mali’s north must be led by African troops. But France, which has six hostages in Mali and has citizens who have joined al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, is playing an increasing role behind the scenes.
Many in the West fear that northeast Mali and the arid Sahel region could become the new Afghanistan, a no-man’s-land where extremists can train, impose hardline Islamic law and plot terror attacks abroad. And France, former colonial ruler to countries across the Sahel, is a prime target.
"This is actually a major threat -- to French interests in the region, and to France itself," said Francois Heisbourg, an expert at the Foundation for Strategic Research, a partially state-funded think tank in Paris. "This is like Afghanistan 1996. This is like when Bin Laden found a place that was larger than France in which he could organize training camps, in which he could provide stable preparations for organizing far-flung terror attacks."
France is turning its attention to the Sahel just as it is accelerating its pullout of combat troops from Afghanistan ahead of other NATO allies.
Study: Male beluga whale mimics human speech
muffled sound of singing in the shower or that sing-songy indecipherable voice from the Muppets’ Swedish Chef.
But scientists say it was a whale imitating people. In fact, the whale song sounded so eerily human that divers initially mistook it for a human voice.
In a study published online Monday in Current Biology, researchers at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego recorded the spontaneous sounds of a captive male Beluga whale, while underwater and when he surfaced.
Scientists think the whale’s close proximity to people allowed him to listen to and mimic human speech. After several years, the whale went back to sounding like a whale, emitting high-pitched noises.
The whale died several years ago.
7 experts convicted of manslaughter in Italy for failing to adequately warn about deadly quake
L’AQUILA, Italy (AP) -- In a verdict that sent shock waves through the scientific community, an Italian court convicted seven experts of manslaughter on Monday for failing to adequately warn residents of the risk before an earthquake struck central Italy in 2009, killing more than 300 people.
The defendants, all prominent scientists or geological and disaster experts, were sentenced to six years in prison.
Earthquake experts worldwide decried the trial as ridiculous, contending there was no way of knowing that a flurry of tremors would lead to a deadly quake.
"It’s a sad day for science," said seismologist Susan Hough, of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif. "It’s unsettling."
That fellow seismic experts in Italy were singled out in the case "hits you in the gut," she said.
Longtime activist Russell Means dies at 72 after years of fighting for American Indian causes
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- Russell Means spent a lifetime as a modern American Indian warrior. He railed against broken treaties, fought for the return of stolen land and even took up arms against the federal government.
A onetime leader of the American Indian Movement, he called national attention to the plight of impoverished tribes and often lamented the waning of Indian culture. After leaving the movement in the 1980s, the handsome, braided activist was still a cultural presence, appearing in several movies.
Means, who died Monday from throat cancer at age 72, helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee -- a bloody confrontation that raised America’s awareness about the struggles of Indians and gave rise to a wider protest movement that lasted for the rest of the decade.
Before AIM, there were few national advocates for American Indians. Means was one of the first to emerge. He sought to restore Indians’ pride in their culture and to challenge a government that had paid little attention to tribes in generations. He was also one of the first to urge sports teams to do away with Indian names and mascots.
"No one except Hollywood stars and very rich Texans wore Indian jewelry," Means said, recalling the early days of the movement. And there were dozens, if not hundreds, of athletic teams "that in essence were insulting us, from grade schools to college. That’s all changed."
Calif.’s first storm of the season brings 2 feet snow
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Fall is looking a lot like winter across Northern California.
The first major storm of the season on Monday brought snow to the Sierra Nevada and rain across the rest of the region.
The National Weather Service issued travel advisories for higher elevations, where up to 2 feet of snow was expected. Snow plows are in operation above 4,500 feet on Interstate 80 and chains are required.
Meanwhile, Highway 20 was closed east of Nevada City after five big-rigs jackknifed in 6 inches of snow.
A winter storm warning will remain in effect for higher elevations until 5 a.m. Tuesday. The heaviest snowfall is expected on Monday, though showers are likely into Tuesday night.
Yosemite National Park was expecting about 8 inches of snow above 6,000 feet.
National Geographic to auction famous photos, art
NEW YORK (AP) -- National Geographic Society has chronicled scientific expeditions, wildlife and world cultures for more than 100 years, amassing 11.5 million photographs and original illustrations.
The Washington-based institution is selling a selection of its archive for the first time. About 240 lots are to be sold at Christie’s auction house in New York on Dec. 6. It’s expected to bring $3 million.
The archive has 12,000 original pieces of fine art. Highlights in the sale include paintings by N.C. Wyeth and a photo of Admiral Robert Peary’s 1908 expedition to the North Pole.
The majority of the works in the sale are by longtime photographers for the magazine.
Proceeds will go for the promotion and preservation of the archive.