Nation roundup for August 27
Jury mulls fate of Ft. Hood shooter
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A soldier left for dead after being shot in the head. A widow whose two sons won’t have their father to take them fishing or teach them how to be gentlemen. A grieving father who includes himself and his unborn grandson in the death toll of the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood.
Survivors of the attack and relatives of those killed testified Monday during the final phase of Maj. Nidal Hasan’s trial. Prosecutors hope the emotional testimony — from sobbing widows, distraught parents and paralyzed soldiers — helps convince jurors to impose a rare military death sentence on Hasan, who was convicted last week of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others at the Texas military base.
The sentencing phase also will be Hasan’s last chance to tell jurors what he’s spent the last four years telling the military, judges and journalists: that the killing of unarmed American soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary to protect Muslim insurgents. But whether he plans to address jurors remains unclear.
Staff Sgt. Patrick Ziegler was among the first to testify, telling jurors how he was shot four times and underwent emergency surgery that removed about 20 percent of his brain. Doctors initially expected him to die or remain in a vegetative state.
Group turns up heat on health law
WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative group is launching a radio ad challenging Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to oppose any money for President Barack Obama’s health care law even if it means triggering a government shutdown.
The Senate Conservatives Fund is spending nearly $50,000 on the 60-second commercial that will begin airing on Tuesday in Kentucky, where McConnell is locked in a tough race for a sixth term. The GOP leader faces both a primary rival, businessman Matt Bevin, and a Democratic foe, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
“Republicans in Congress can stop Obamacare by refusing to fund it, but Senator Mitch McConnell refuses to lead the fight,” says the ad which also makes a reference to a recent campaign embarrassment for McConnell.
“The Obamacare bill stinks, and holding your nose won’t make it any better,” the commercial says.
Earlier this month, audio of a Jan. 9 telephone conversation revealed that Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, said he was “holding my nose” while working for the candidate. Benton later said in a statement that he believes in McConnell and is 100 percent committed to his re-election.
AP obtained a text of the conservative group’s ad in advance.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, which was founded by former South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, is spending close to $200,000 on radio ads in six other states calling on GOP senators to refuse to fund the health care law.
44% of schools banned junk food
ATLANTA (AP) — There’s been a big shift in how many school districts take money from soda companies and ban junk food from vending machines, health officials say.
A government survey found 44 percent of school districts banned junk food from vending machines last year, up from 30 percent in 2006.
It also found drops in how many districts took a cut of soft drink sales, received donations from soda companies, or allowed soda company advertising.
Those are considered positive steps in helping the nation reduce the number of children who are overweight and obese.
But it’s not clear to how much impact the changes are having. The overall proportion of U.S. children who are overweight or obese has been holding steady at around 17 percent, according to government statistics.
Experts say that diet and exercise at home are at least as important as what kids are exposed to in school.
“There are lots and lots of factors that go into obesity rates,” said Nancy Brener, lead author of the government report on the study. She is a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
$2M bail set in WWII vet’s death
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A 16-year-old Spokane boy was ordered held on $2 million bail and will be tried as an adult in connection with last week’s beating death of an 88-year-old veteran of World War II.
Demetrius L. Glenn is charged with first degree murder and first degree robbery in Spokane County District Court.
He made an initial court appearance Monday afternoon. The teen turned himself in last Thursday night, the same day that Army veteran Delbert Belton died of his injuries.
AP does not generally identify minors accused of a crime, but is naming the youth because of the severity of the charges.
A second 16-year-old boy arrested in the case has a court appearance set for today, and will also be tried as an adult.
O.J. home to be sold in auction
MIAMI (AP) — The South Florida home of imprisoned former NFL star O.J. Simpson will be auctioned off in October as part of a bank foreclosure proceeding.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court records show that a judge issued a final order last week for JPMorgan Chase Bank. The 4,233-square-foot home near Miami has been in foreclosure proceedings for about two years. The online auction of the house is set for Oct. 29.
Simpson was convicted in 2008 in Nevada of the kidnapping and armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of killing his ex-wife and her friend.
Court documents show Simpson owes more than $796,000 in principal and interest on the Florida property. There’s also nearly $42,000 in unpaid property taxes and insurance premiums of about $43,000.
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