Tuesday March 19, 2013

Supreme Court justices
split over whether states can ask for proof of citizenship to register

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court justices disagreed Monday over whether states can require would-be voters to prove they are U.S. citizens before using a federal registration system designed to make signing up easier.

Arizona and other states told the justices the precaution is needed to keep illegal immigrants and other noncitizens from voting. But some justices asked whether states have the right to force people to document their citizenship when Congress ordered the states to accept and use federal "motor voter" registration cards that only ask registrants to swear on paper that they are U.S. citizens.

"I have a real big disconnect with how you can be saying you’re accepting and using, when you’re not registering people when they use it the way the federal law permits them to," Justice Sonia Sotomayor said to Arizona Attorney General Thomas C. Horne.

Said Horne: "It is the burden of the states to determine the eligibility of the voters."

This is the second voting eligibility issue the high court is tackling this session. Last month, several justices voiced deep skepticism about whether a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a law that has helped millions of minorities exercise their right to vote, especially in areas of the Deep South, was still needed.

Pope’s diplomacy put to test as Argentine president seeks intervention in Falklands dispute

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis’ diplomatic skills were put to the test Monday during his inaugural audience with a visiting head of state as he met with his political nemesis, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, and was asked to intervene in the dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

It was a baptism by fire, given that the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires has been on record as saying Britain "usurped" the remote islands from Argentina and last year paid homage to the Argentines who were killed trying "to reclaim what is theirs for the fatherland."

Argentina and Britain fought a 1982 war over the islands, which Argentina calls Malvinas. Earlier this month, the islanders voted overwhelmingly to remain a British Overseas Territory.

There was no indication that Francis, now pope, would take up the request from Fernandez, with whom he has clashed for years over her populist policies on gay marriage and other hot-button issues like birth control that will soon confront Francis on a global scale as leader of the world’s 1.2-billion Catholics.

Francis may well map out some of his own priorities in his installation Mass on Tuesday, which some 130 government delegations and scores of Jewish, Orthodox and other Christian representatives will attend. Italian news reports say civil protection officials are gearing up for as many as 1 million people to flock to the event.

UCF spokesman: Material found in dorm makes it appear that attack on campus was planned

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A University of Central Florida student planned an attack on campus but committed suicide in a dorm before carrying it out, authorities said Monday.

Materials found in his dorm room made it appear that 30-year-old James Oliver Seevakumaran planned a wider attack, authorities said a news conference.

Seevakumaran pulled a gun on another student, who then called police, said University of Central Florida Police Chief Richard Beary. He then killed himself with a shot to the head moments later as police officers were responding to the call.

"His timeline got off," Beary said. "We think the rapid response of law enforcement may have changed his ability to think quickly on his feet."

UCF spokesman Grant Heston said the university was in the process of removing Seevakumaran from the dorm before Monday. Four makeshift explosive devices were found in a back pack, and Beary said he believes that Seevakumaran pulled a fire alarm in the dorm to get other students out in the open for an attack.

Case against Michigan woman who shot and killed grandson goes to jury

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- A woman "hunted down" her teenage grandson in her suburban Detroit home and shot at him 10 times over a six-minute span, ignoring his desperate pleas for help to a 911 dispatcher, a prosecutor told jurors Monday, urging them to convict her of first-degree murder.

Summing up his case against 75-year-old Sandra Layne, prosecutor Paul Walton again played Jonathan Hoffman’s 911 call last May in which he said his grandmother had just shot him. "I’m going to die," the 17-year-old said before he was shot again with the dispatcher on the line.

There is no dispute that Layne, then 74, fired the shots in her West Bloomfield Township home, striking her grandson six times. The question for jurors: Should she be held criminally responsible for Hoffman’s death and, if so, how?

Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before going home. They could acquit Layne based on her self-defense argument or convict her of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.

Layne testified that she was afraid of her grandson and acted in self-defense. She said she shot him after he struck her during an argument over money that he had demanded from her so he could flee Michigan. A drug test earlier that day had detected so-called synthetic marijuana, which could have triggered a parole violation.

Bankruptcy trustee wants to sell Casey Anthony’s life story so she can pay debts

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The trustee overseeing Casey Anthony’s bankruptcy case has filed a motion to sell the rights to her story so she can pay her debts.

In a motion filed Friday in federal court in Tampa, trustee Stephen Meininger asked Judge K. Rodney May for permission to sell the "exclusive worldwide rights" of Anthony’s life story.

Anthony, who is now 26, was acquitted of murder in the death her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Anthony has never told her side of the story, despite intense media scrutiny of the case.

During a meeting with creditors in her bankruptcy case in Tampa on March 4, Anthony said she was unemployed and hasn’t received any money to tell her story. She said that she is living with friends and that those friends -- and strangers who send her gift cards and cash -- help her survive.

Lohan accepts plea deal in misdemeanor car crash case that includes 90 days in rehab

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Lindsay Lohan accepted a plea deal on Monday in a misdemeanor car crash case that includes 90 days in a locked-down rehabilitation facility that she won’t be able to leave.

The 26-year-old actress, who has struggled for years with legal problems, pleaded no contest to reckless driving, lying to police and obstructing officers who were investigating the accident involving the actress in June.

She was also found in violation of her probation in a 2011 necklace theft and sentenced to 180 days in jail. However, she will be able to avoid jail time if she complies with the conditions of her plea deal that also includes 30 days of community labor and 18 months of psychological therapy.

Before the "Mean Girls" actress left the courtroom, Superior Judge Superior Court Judge James R. Dabney offered her a suggestion.

"Don’t drive," he said.

’Bible’ producers call Internet chatter that Satan actor resembles Obama ‘utter nonsense’

NEW YORK (AP) -- The producers of the cable TV miniseries on the Bible say Internet chatter that their Satan character resembles President Barack Obama is "utter nonsense."

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey said Monday the Moroccan actor who played Satan in the History channel series, Mehdi Ouzaani, has played Satanic characters in other Biblical programs long before Obama was elected president.

The connection got widespread attention after talk show host Glenn Beck last week tweeted: "Does Satan look EXACTLY like Obama? Yes!"

History said in a statement that the network has "the highest respect" for Obama, and that "it’s unfortunate that anyone made this false connection."

"Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our president, who is a fellow Christian," said Downey, the "Touched By an Angel" actress who is married to Burnett. "False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of the Bible."

Family of former Oklahoma QB who died in Ind. plane crash said Davis loved to fly, had license

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- People who knew former Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis say his passion for flying began before he arrived at the school and led the Sooners to back-to-back national championships in the 1970s.

"He absolutely loved getting in the air," said Deron Spoo, pastor at First Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla., where Davis went to church.

Davis, 60, and his friend Wesley Caves, 58, died Sunday when Caves’ small aircraft smashed into three homes in northern Indiana, St. Joseph County Coroner Randy Magdalinski said Monday. Davis’ parents, Jim and Patsy Davis of Sallisaw, Okla., confirmed his death. Three others were injured, including two passengers.

Caves, of Tulsa, owned the Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet. He had a pilot’s license, but it was not immediately clear if he was at the controls when it crashed.

Patsy Davis said she believed it was possible her son would have been in the co-pilot’s seat.