Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Published:

Man who killed officer executed in Texas despite opposition from Mexico, State Department

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A Mexican national was executed Wednesday night in Texas for killing a Houston police officer, despite pleas and diplomatic pressure from the Mexican government and the U.S. State Department to halt the punishment.

Edgar Tamayo, 46, received a lethal injection for the January 1994 fatal shooting of Officer Guy Gaddis, 24.

Asked by a warden if he had a final statement, he mumbled "no" and shook his head. As the lethal dose of pentobarbital began taking effect, he took a few breaths and then made one slightly audible snore before all movement stopped. He was pronounced dead 17 minutes after the drug was administered, at 9:32 p.m. CST.

Tamayo never looked toward Gaddis' mother, two brothers and two other relatives who watched through a window. He selected no witnesses of his own.

There were several dozen police officers and supporters of the slain patrolman were revving their motorcycles outside of the prison before witnesses were let inside the death chamber.

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Israeli security says it foiled al-Qaida plot to hit US Embassy, other targets

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel on Wednesday said it had foiled an "advanced" al-Qaida plan to carry out a suicide bombing on the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and bomb other targets, in what analysts said was the first time the global terror network's leadership has been directly involved in plotting an attack inside Israel.

The Shin Bet intelligence agency said it had arrested three Palestinians who allegedly plotted bombings, shootings, kidnappings and other attacks. It said the Palestinian men, two from Jerusalem and one from the West Bank, were recruited by an operative based in the Gaza Strip who worked for al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

The State Department said the U.S. was not yet able to corroborate the Israeli claims.

While a number of groups inspired by al-Qaida have carried out attacks against Israel before, this appeared to mark the first time an attack was directly planned by al-Qaida leaders.

The Shin Bet said the Palestinians planned on attacking a Jerusalem conference center with firearms and then kill rescue workers with a truck bomb. Al-Qaida also planned to send foreign militants to attack the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on the same day using explosives supplied by the Palestinians, it said.

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10 Things to Know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. SYRIA TALKS THREATEN TO COLLAPSE

Both sides quickly stake out contrary -- and perhaps irreconcilable -- positions on whether Assad should stay or go.

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Future of Assad is focus of Syria peace talks, which turn into bitter test of wills

MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) -- Furiously divided from the start, representatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the rebellion against him threatened Wednesday to collapse a peace conference intended to lead them out of civil war.

Assad's future in the country devastated by three years of bloodshed was at the heart of the sparring, which took place against a pristine Alpine backdrop as Syrian forces and rebel fighters clashed across a wide area from Aleppo and Idlib in the north to Daraa in the south.

U.S. and U.N. officials said merely getting the two sides in the same room was something of a victory, but U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's claim that the discussions were "harmonious and constructive" was at odds with the testy exchange when he tried to get the podium from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.

"You live in New York. I live in Syria," Moallem angrily told Ban. "I have the right to give the Syrian version here in this forum. After three years of suffering, this is my right."

With little common ground, the two sides were to meet separately Thursday with a U.N. negotiator, Lakhdar Brahimi, who said he still did not know if they were ready to sit at the same table when talks begin in earnest Friday. But, Brahimi said, both sides had shown some willingness to bend on local cease-fires and delivery of humanitarian aid, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said they were also working on possible terms for a prisoner exchange.

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Facing complaints about snow response, NYC mayor says 'more could have been done'

NEW YORK (AP) -- Northeasterners scraped and shoveled Wednesday after a snowstorm grounded flights, shuttered schools and buried roads with a surprising amount of snow, leaving biting cold in its wake. The atmosphere was particularly frosty in New York, where the new mayor acknowledged flaws in the cleanup and some residents complained that schools remained open while children elsewhere in the region stayed home.

The storm stretched from Kentucky to New England but hit hardest along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Boston. As much as 14 inches of snow fell in Philadelphia, with New York City seeing almost as much, and parts of Massachusetts were socked with as many as 18 inches. Temperatures were in the single digits or the teens in many places Wednesday.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, facing one of the first flashpoints of his weeks-old tenure, initially defended what he called a "coordinated, intense, citywide response" to a storm he said caused a worse-than-expected headache when it ramped up at rush hour. And de Blasio, who campaigned on closing gaps between rich and poor city residents, at first rebuffed complaints that the effort had lagged on Manhattan's posh Upper East Side, saying "no one was treated differently."

But he backtracked Wednesday evening, saying he'd determined "more could have been done to serve the Upper East Side."

Thirty more vehicles and nearly 40 more sanitation workers were sent to the area to finish the cleanup, de Blasio said in a statement that noted he still felt the citywide response, overall, "was well-executed."

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Lawyers: Criminal charges against former Va. governor, wife won't be easy to prove

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife are accused of taking at least $165,000 in loans and gifts to help the chief executive of a health supplement company peddle his products. But proving the couple broke the law may be difficult.

Legal experts say the case hinges on whether prosecutors can show that McDonnell agreed to provide specific favors in exchange for the gifts, a tough task given the fine line between what is illegal versus what is unseemly. And prosecutors will need to prove the McDonnells abused their positions and conspired together to sell their influence.

"The indictment, as I read it, points to a lot of smoke, but I don't see any fire," said Peter White, a defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor in Virginia.

If the gifts-for-favors theory doesn't stick, prosecutors can still secure convictions if they prove the McDonnells tried to hide the loans and their relationship and dealings with Jonnie Williams, the former head of Star Scientific.

A 14-court indictment Tuesday accused the couple of accepting gifts such as a Rolex watch, a joy ride in a Ferrari and a spa resort vacation. Prosecutors said the couple in turn promoted Star Scientific's products and gave special treatment to Williams, including arranging for him to meet a state health official. The couple also opened up the Executive Mansion for a launch party for one of the company's signature products.

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Woman, 86, shot while hospitalized in Nevada dies; husband of 63 years charged with murder

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- An 86-year-old Nevada woman shot by her husband while hospitalized died Wednesday and her spouse of more than six decades was charged with murder, authorities said.

Frances Dresser of Douglas County died from injuries suffered when she was shot once in the chest Sunday while at Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center, Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said.

Her husband told officers he planned to "end his wife's suffering" by killing her and then himself, but his gun jammed, police said.

District Attorney Neil Rombardo said William Dresser, 88, was charged Wednesday with "open murder" with use of a deadly weapon.

Rombardo said open murder gives him discretion to amend the charges as more facts about the case emerge. Nevada law does not recognize or make a distinction for so-called mercy killings, he said.

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NY boy who died trying to save grandfather is hailed as hero for rescuing 6 others from fire

PENFIELD, N.Y. (AP) -- An 8-year-old boy who died while trying to rescue his disabled grandfather from a burning mobile home had saved the lives of six relatives after being awoken by a burning blanket, authorities said.

Tyler Doohan was being called a hero by firefighters on Wednesday, two days after the early morning fire tore through the grandfather's home in a trailer park in Penfield, killing the boy, his grandfather and his uncle. Six other relatives -- four adults and children ages 4 and 6 -- were rescued because of Tyler's actions, officials said.

"He saved six people. They all would have died if he hadn't woken up," said Chris Ebmeyer, chief of the volunteer fire company in Penfield, a suburban town of 36,000 residents.

The fire chief said nine people were staying at the 14-foot-by-60-foot trailer when the fire started around 4:45 a.m. Monday. Tyler, spending the night at his grandfather's place because school was off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was awoken when the blanket covering his sleeping 4-year-old cousin caught fire, Ebmeyer said.

Tyler woke up six of his relatives, and they all made it outside. He then ran back to the room where his 57-year-old grandfather, Lewis Beach, was sleeping. Beach used a wheelchair and crutches after having a leg amputated because of health problems, the fire chief said.

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Southern California couple welcomes rare identical triplets

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- A Southern California woman has given birth to identical triplets, instantly doubling the size of her family.

April Dooley's three sons were born in roughly 4-minute intervals on Jan. 13, at a combined weight of 14 pounds, 9 ounces, the Orange County Register reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1msSmXt). She named them Patrick, Owen and Liam.

Dooley, 42, said she burst into tears when she looked at her first ultrasound and learned she was carrying a trio-to-be.

"My husband said, 'Is that three?' I go, 'Three what?' My husband said, 'three babies,'" she said.

She and her husband, Brad, wanted their 5-year-old daughter Kaitlyn to have a companion at their home in Long Beach. They weren't expecting their family to grow so precipitously.

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Yankees add Tanaka for $155M, raising spending spree to nearly $500 million

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Yankees talked frugality, then reverted to their high-spending ways.

New York capped an offseason spending spree by agreeing Wednesday to a $155 million, seven-year contract with prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

Following just the second season in 19 years that didn't include a playoff appearance, the Yankees flexed their economic might and committed $438 million to four free agents.

Tanaka joined catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran on a revamped roster missing long-time All-Stars Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Robinson Cano.

And in addition to the deal with the 25-year-old right-hander, the Yankees must pay a $20 million posting fee to Tanaka's Japanese club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.