HOUSTON (AP) — A 25-year-old man has been charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths of three people and the wounding of two others inside a suburban Houston apartment, authorities announced Thursday.
By Richard Weizel STAMFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, who spent 11 years in prison for the 1975 murder of a teenage neighbor in Greenwich, Connecticut, walked free on Thursday after a judge granted him bail ahead of a new trial. Skakel, 53, was convicted in 2002 of murdering neighbor Martha Moxley when they were both 15. Dressed in a dark suit, Skakel stood quietly in court in Stamford, Connecticut, on Thursday as Judge Gary White set his bail at $1.2 million, sparking a round of applause from supporters who had packed the courtroom. "There were two tragedies we are addressing today," his new attorney, Hubert Santos, told reporters after Skakel emerged from court.
By Daniel Lovering BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts grand jury on Thursday indicted a 14-year-old high school student on charges of murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery in the death of a 24-year-old math teacher at his school near Boston last month. Philip Chism, 14, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Colleen Ritzer, whose body was found on October 22 in the woods behind the high school in Danvers, Massachusetts, about 20 miles north of Boston. In indictments handed up on Thursday, an Essex County grand jury said Chism "did kill and murder" Ritzer, but that the exact cause of death remained undetermined, according to a statement from the Essex County District Attorney's Office. "The indictments returned today detail horrific and unspeakable acts," District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in the statement.
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — No longer in handcuffs or leg shackles, Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel walked out of court Thursday into the autumn chill a free man for the first time in more than a decade, released on bail while prosecutors appeal a ruling granting him a new trial in the 1975 slaying of neighbor Martha Moxley.
By Peter Apps LONDON (Reuters) - The United States may be compelled to cut its military spending in Europe next year by as much as a fifth in the latest round of reductions under "sequestration", America's top general in the region said on Thursday. U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, who serves as both head of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), said the reductions will require NATO forces to work more closely together and train "smarter". The Pentagon is facing nearly $1 trillion in cuts to projected spending over the next decade, which leaders say would dramatically reduce Washington's military capability. The U.S. army is already closing and consolidating several garrisons in Germany and says under current plans the number of troops in Europe by 2017 will be some 30,000, a drastic reduction from the days of the Cold War.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Pollution Control Board agreed Thursday to give a Texas company extra time to install pollution controls at five Illinois coal-fired power plants, saying that requiring the upgrades sooner would pose an economic hardship.
By Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, in a historic and bitterly fought rule change, stripped Republicans on Thursday of their ability to block President Barack Obama's judicial and executive branch nominees. The action fundamentally altered the way Congress' upper chamber has worked since the mid-19th century by making it impossible for a minority party, on its own, to block presidential appointments, except those to the U.S. Supreme Court. The change in the so-called "filibuster" rule does not apply to legislation, which can still be held up by a handful of senators. The action will undoubtedly come back to haunt Democrats the next time they lose the Senate and the White House simultaneously.
The United States on Thursday signaled North Korea could improve its strained ties with Washington by releasing U.S. citizens, as former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson became involved in the case of an 85-year-old American held by Pyongyang. North Korea last month detained Merrill Newman, a veteran of the Korean War and a retiree from Palo Alto, California, taking him off a plane as he was about to leave the reclusive Asian country, which he had been visiting on a tourist visa. North Korea has also held Korean-American Christian missionary Kenneth Bae since November 2012, sentencing him to 15 years of hard labor. His detention followed a long series of acrimonious exchanges between North Korea and the United States over Pyongyang's nuclear program.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday set plans to expand the use of cell phones aboard airplanes, considering the possibility of allowing in-flight calls and text messaging. Communications regulators on December 12 will vote on a proposal that would allow airlines to offer passengers an option of making phone calls, sending texts or otherwise using their own wireless data and call services. "Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in announcing that he has circulated the proposal. After the five-member commission votes on the proposal on December 12, the FCC would collect comments on it and eventually finalize it to revise its rules, which currently prohibit using wireless services in-flight for fear of interfering with other networks.
GENEVA (AP) — Iran nuclear talks entered a delicate phase Thursday as negotiators tried to fine-tune a draft agreement that would limit Tehran's atomic program in return for easing some sanctions. Iran's ability to produce nuclear fuel and relief for Iran's oil and banking sectors appeared to be among the sticking points.
WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - U.S. evangelist Billy Graham was released from a North Carolina hospital on Thursday after undergoing tests and observation for respiratory congestion, hospital officials said. "Mr. Graham was alert and in good spirits during his stay," said Dr. William Hathaway, chief medical officer at Mission Hospital in Asheville. "We are pleased with the results of Mr. Graham's evaluation." Graham underwent similar tests during a stay at the hospital last month, the hospital said.
(Reuters) - Nearly 80,000 Californians have enrolled in private health insurance plans through the state's exchange marketplace created under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, the Covered California exchange said on Thursday. California, which is the most populous U.S. state and embraced the Affordable Care Act early on, is considered a crucial region for the administration's enrollment effort. The state is one of 14 operating their own exchanges, as opposed to relying on the federal government. California's enrollment amounted to about one-third of all sign-ups during that period and outnumbered the combined tallies of all 36 states that use the faulty HealthCare.gov website operated by the federal government.