Texas Republicans pass new abortion bill, Democrats vow court and electoral fight ahead
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Republicans in the Texas Legislature passed an omnibus abortion bill that is one of the most restrictive in the nation, but Democrats vowed Saturday to fight both in the courts and the ballot box as they used the measure to rally their supporters.
More than 2,000 demonstrators filled the Capitol building in Austin to oppose the bill, and state troopers drug six out of the Senate chamber for trying to disrupt the debate. The Republican majority ultimately passed the bill unchanged just before midnight, with all but one Democrat voting against it.
"Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life," said Gov. Rick Perry who will sign the bill into law in the next few days. "This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women's health."
Democrats, though, promised a fight in the courts.
"There will be a lawsuit. I promise you," Dallas Sen. Royce West said on the Senate floor, raising his right hand as if taking an oath.
Jury in George Zimmerman murder trial to begin 2nd day of deliberations
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) The jury in George Zimmerman's murder trial is set to begin a second day of deliberations on Saturday, weighing whether the neighborhood watch volunteer committed a crime almost a year and a half ago when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin.
As the jury began their discussions Friday afternoon, police and civic leaders in this Orlando suburb went on national television to plead for calm in Sanford and across the country, no matter what the verdict.
"There is no party in this case who wants to see any violence," Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said. "We have an expectation upon this announcement that our community will continue to act peacefully."
During closing arguments, the jury heard dueling portraits of the neighborhood watch captain: a cop wannabe who took the law into his own hands or a well-meaning volunteer who shot Martin because he feared for his life.
Zimmerman's lawyers put a concrete slab and two life-size cardboard cutouts in front of the jury box in one last attempt to convince the panel Zimmerman shot the unarmed black 17-year-old in self-defense while his head was being slammed against the pavement.
Third Chinese girl dies from injuries in San Francisco jetliner crash
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) A girl who had been in intensive care since the crash-landing of an Asiana Airlines flight has died, hours after authorities confirmed one of the two Chinese teenagers killed in the disaster was hit by a fire truck speeding to the crash site.
The disclosure about the Chinese teenager raised the tragic possibility that she could have survived the crash only to die in its chaotic aftermath.
No one knows yet whether the two teens lived through the initial impact at the San Francisco airport. But police and fire officials confirmed Friday that Ye Meng Yuan, 16, was hit by a fire truck racing to extinguish the blazing Boeing 777.
"The fire truck did go over the victim at least one time. Now the other question is what was the cause of death?" police spokesman Albie Esparza said. "That's what we are trying to determine right now."
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said the results of his initial inquiry into the deaths would likely be released sometime next week. He would not comment on the police investigation.
Russian official says no asylum application received from Snowden
MOSCOW (AP) Russian immigration officials say they have not received an application from Edward Snowden, the U.S. National Security Agency leaker who wants to get asylum in Russia.
Snowden came to Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport on June 23 from Hong Kong, apparently intending to board a flight to Cuba. But he did not get on that flight and is believed to have spent the last three weeks marooned in the airport's transit zone.
On Friday, he met there with human rights activists and said he would seek Russian asylum, at least as a temporary measure before going to Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua, all of which have offered him asylum.
But the Interfax news agency quoted Russian migration service head Konstantin Romodanovsky as saying no asylum request had been received as of Saturday.
Homeland secretary resignation widens leadership gap; no permanent heads in 1 of 3 senior jobs
WASHINGTON (AP) The leadership vacancy created by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's resignation is the latest and greatest blow to a department where one-third of the heads of key agencies and divisions have been filled with acting officials or remained vacant for months.
Napolitano's departure, slated for September, will create the 15th hole in the department's 45 leadership positions. Napolitano's chief of staff and the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement are leaving this month. The deputy secretary, general counsel, heads of Customs and Border Protection, privacy, legislative affairs, intelligence and analysis and more are filled with acting officials. And other key positions, like the executive secretariat, inspector general and deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity remain vacant.
The pattern of putting acting officials in leadership positions at the Homeland Security Department sometimes replacing acting officials with other acting officials has been going on for months. This swath of vacancies raises questions about how a department depleted of permanent leadership could implement changes, particularly as Congress considers overhauling the nation's immigration system.
"Her departure is a substantial addition to the growing list of unfilled key leadership positions within the department," Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said of Napolitano's resignation. "The administration should move swiftly to fill the gaping holes in its management."
The White House referred a request for comment to the Homeland Security Department, which did not respond.
French train derailment that left 6 dead was not caused by human error, minister says
BRETIGNY-SUR-ORGE, France (AP) Human error did not cause a train derailment that left six people dead outside Paris on the eve of a busy holiday weekend, the French transport minister said Saturday.
The train, which left Paris on Friday night, jumped the track just a few miles (kilometers) into its journey as it traveled through a small town train station. It crashed into the platform and some cars tipped over. Nearly 200 people were injured in the initial crash. But by Saturday morning, Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier said only 30 people were still considered injured.
But Michel Fuzeau, who is the head of local regional government, said that until an overturned train car is lifted, it was impossible to know if there could be more people trapped under it, calling the current death toll preliminary.
"This is only a hypothesis and we hope it's not (the case)," he told reporters.
He said special equipment was expected to arrive later Saturday in order to remove the cars. He added that around nine of the injured were in critical condition.
Suspect in kidnappings of 3 American women missing for years indicted on new charges
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The litany of charges against a Cleveland man outline in numbing detail the crimes his victims allegedly suffered over 10 years of imprisonment: August 2002, kidnapping. September 2004, kidnapping. November 2006, aggravated murder.
Christmas Day 2006, rape.
A new 977-count indictment filed Friday provides a painful look at what prosecutors say was a decade of captivity for three women in suspect Ariel Castro's home in a rough Cleveland, Ohio, neighborhood. Among the most serious charges: that he caused the death of one of his victims' fetuses by punching and starving her.
Among the most haunting: that he assaulted the women throughout their captivity, causing psychological harm to them and to the daughter he fathered with one of them through assault. And in another newly unveiled accusation, the indictment also alleges that on the same day that the child was born, Christmas of 2006, Castro raped one of the other women, who had helped deliver the baby.
"Today's indictment moves us closer to resolution of this gruesome case," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said in a statement.
Obama pledge to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees sparks diplomatic maneuvering for detainees
WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama's renewed push to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorism suspects has given a glimmer of hope to foreign governments that he will fulfill that promise and triggered diplomatic maneuvering from U.S. allies eager to bring home long-held detainees.
Kuwait has hired lobbyists to help bring its two remaining prisoners home. British Prime Minister David Cameron personally pressed Obama at the Group of 8 summit last month to release the United Kingdom's final detainee. And the fate of Afghans being held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba has been at the forefront of peace talks between the U.S., Taliban and Afghanistan.
The indefinite captivity has created tension with some important U.S. allies, particularly in the Arab world, the native home of many of the 166 remaining detainees. Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen are among those countries that have pressed the U.S. to turn over their nationals.
The Obama administration is in the midst of determining which detainees present the lowest risk for terrorist activity if released considering both their personal histories and security in the countries to which they will be returned.
More than 100 of the detainees have participated in a hunger strike to protest their indefinite confinement, with several dozen having been force fed through a nasal tube to keep them from starving, although the military reported Friday that most have resumed eating.
Spitzer appears on Leno, says political comeback bid is to contribute through public service
NEW YORK (AP) Eliot Spitzer, whose 2008 resignation as New York's governor amid a prostitution scandal provided no shortage of fuel for gibes to late-night TV comics, ventured into the lion's den Friday, appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
Spitzer appeared on Leno's show in California less than 24 hours after a four-day flurry of canvassing for 3,750 valid petitions to run for city comptroller submitting over 27,000 petitions to the city Board of Elections late Thursday night ahead of a midnight deadline.
And Leno, who has poked at Spitzer's reentrance to New York City's politics since the former attorney general announced Sunday he was running to be the city's comptroller, asked him straight up: "Why enter at the 11th hour?"
Spitzer said that after all he'd done in the past five years he finally thought, "You know what, there's a position there, which I've written about, thought about, the Controller's position, from which I think I can actually serve," he said. "And I said to myself I want to contribute through public service."
Leno's show has provided a stage before for candidates launching unexpected campaigns: Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his ultimately successful run for California governor on Leno's set in 2003. The program also has been a memorable forum for public figures' atonement moments, as when actor Hugh Grant made his first TV appearance after he was arrested with a prostitute in 1995.
Person familiar with gathering: Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez meets with Major League Baseball
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Alex Rodriguez met with Major League Baseball officials probing the distribution of banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The meeting took place Friday before the New York Yankees third baseman's latest injury rehabilitation game in the minor leagues was rained out.
While A-Rod didn't speak with reporters Friday, the meeting was confirmed by a person who spoke on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
MLB investigators are probing the closed anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. Rodriguez has said he used PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03 but has denied using them since. He was linked to Biogenesis in a report in January by Miami New Times.
It was not known whether Rodriguez refused to answer MLB's questions.