Monday April 1, 2013

Texas DA, slain his home, had armed himself after an assistant was gunned down 2 months ago

KAUFMAN, Texas (AP) -- Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland took no chances after one of his assistant prosecutors was gunned down two months ago. McLelland said he carried a gun everywhere he went and took extra care when answering the door at his home.

"I’m ahead of everybody else because, basically, I’m a soldier," the 23-year Army veteran said in an interview less than two weeks ago.

On Saturday, he and his wife were found shot to death in their rural home just outside the town of Forney, about 20 miles from Dallas.

While investigators gave no motive for the killings, Forney Mayor Darren Rozell said: "It appears this was not a random act."

"Everybody’s a little on edge and a little shocked," he said.

Pope Francis celebrates first Easter as pontiff praying for peace before huge Vatican crowd

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis marked Christianity’s most joyous day with a passionate plea for world peace, celebrating his first Easter Sunday as pontiff in the enthusiastic company of more than 250,000 people who overflowed from St. Peter’s Square.

With eloquent words in his Easter message, Francis lamented enduring conflicts in the Middle East, on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere and remembered the world’s neediest people.


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With physical gestures, he illustrated the personal, down-to-earth caring he brings as a pastor to this new papacy -- cradling a disabled child held out to him in the crowd and delightedly accepting a surprise gift thrust at him.

Francis shared in his flock’s exuberance as they celebrated Christianity’s core belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead following crucifixion. After Mass in flower-bedecked St. Peter’s Square, he stepped aboard an open-topped white popemobile for a cheerful spin through pathways in the joyous crowd, kissing babies, smiling constantly and patting children on the head.

One admirer of both the pope and his favorite soccer team from his Argentine homeland, Saints of San Lorenzo, insisted that Francis take a team jersey he was waving at the pontiff -- "take it, go ahead, take it," the man seemed to be telling the pope. Finally, a delighted Francis obliged, briefly holding up the shirt, and the crowd roared in approval. He handed the shirt to an aide in the front seat, and the popemobile continued its whirl through the square.

In a poignant moment, Francis cradled and kissed a physically disabled boy passed to him from the crowd. The child worked hard to make one of his arms hug the pope back, then succeeded, smiling in satisfaction as the pope patiently waited for the boy to give his greeting.

’Obamacare’ Marketing 101: Uninsured? Are you Healthy & Young, or Passive & Unengaged?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- How do you convince millions of average Americans that one of the most complex and controversial programs devised by government may actually be a good deal for them?

With the nation still split over President Barack Obama’s health care law, the administration has turned to the science of mass marketing for help in understanding the lives of uninsured people, hoping to craft winning pitches for a surprisingly varied group in society.

The law’s supporters will have to make the sale in the run-up to an election -- the 2014 midterms. Already Republicans are hoping for an "Obamacare" flop that helps them gain control of the Senate, while Democrats are eager for the public to finally embrace the Affordable Care Act, bringing political deliverance.

It turns out America’s more than 48 million uninsured people are no monolithic mass. A marketing analysis posted online by the federal Health and Human Services Department reveals six distinct groups, three of which appear critical to the success or failure of the program.

They’re the "Healthy & Young," comprising 48 percent of the uninsured, the "Sick, Active & Worried," (29 percent of the uninsured), and the "Passive & Unengaged" (15 percent).

Spokeswoman: LA detectives ‘working around the clock’ to find suspect in kidnapping of girl

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A transient with a long criminal record is being sought in the kidnapping of a 10-year-old girl who was snatched from her San Fernando Valley home before dawn last week and abandoned hours later in front of a hospital.

Police identified Tobias Dustin Summers, 30, as a suspect Saturday, but they couldn’t elaborate on the motive or what led them to him. They also don’t know if the girl was targeted.

"We have no information that the family knew this individual or that the individual knew any members of the family," Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said.

About 40 detectives have been investigating since the girl was abducted from her home at around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

"They’re working around the clock until this guy gets captured," Officer Norma Eisenman, a police spokeswoman, said Sunday. "As of right now, there are no new developments on the case."

3 killed, more than 20 injured in 75-vehicle
pileup along interstate
at Virginia-N.C. border

GALAX, Va. (AP) -- Virginia State Police say three people have been killed and more than 20 are injured following a 75-vehicle pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina border.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says traffic is backed up about 8 miles.

State police say a series of wrecks began around 1:15 p.m. Sunday in the southbound lanes in the area of Fancy Gap Mountain in southwest Virginia. There was heavy fog at the time.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says several vehicles caught fire, but the blazed has been put out.

The interstate is closed in both directions. Northbound lanes are closed so emergency vehicles can get to the southbound lanes.

Palestinian leader clamps down on critics, prosecutes and jails some journalists

HUSSAN, West Bank (AP) -- Mahmoud Abbas’ government in the West Bank is getting tougher with critics, interrogating, prosecuting and even jailing several journalists and bloggers in recent months for allegedly "defaming" the Western-backed Palestinian leader.

Rights activists say the legal hassles are meant to silence dissent and that the campaign is intensifying despite promises to the contrary by Abbas. Targets of the crackdown include supporters of Abbas’ political rival -- the Islamic militant Hamas -- and political independents who have written about alleged nepotism and abuse of power in Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.

Abbas’ aides insist the Palestinian leader opposes any curb on expression. They blame overzealous prosecutors and security officials, but government critics say Abbas could easily halt the clampdown.

"It’s a good cop, bad cop routine. The bad cops are the security services, and the good cop is the benevolent president," said Diana Buttu, a former Palestinian Authority insider. They want to send a chilling message, she said, "and it works."

Abbas’ foreign backers, who view him as key to delivering any future peace deal with Israel and maintaining quiet in the West Bank, have said little in public about the issue. Instead, during a visit to the West Bank in late March, President Barack Obama showered Abbas and his security forces with praise for their efforts to prevent militant attacks on Israel.

’G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ commands No. 1 position at box office with $41.2M

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After a nine-month delay, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" deployed to the top spot at the box office.

The action film starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum marched into the No. 1 position at the weekend box office, earning $41.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The sequel to 2009’s "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra" was postponed last year to convert the film to 3-D.

"Retaliation" opened Wednesday, which helped to bring its domestic total to $51.7 million.

The animated prehistoric comedy "The Croods" slipped to the No. 2 spot with $26.5 million in its second weekend.