PHOENIX — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is mentally incompetent to stand trial, putting the criminal case against him on hold indefinitely.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns means Jared Lee Loughner, 21, will be sent to a federal facility for up to four months in a bid to restore his competency.
Loughner, dressed in a khaki prison suit and sporting bushy, reddish sideburns, was removed from the hearing after an outburst and had to watch part of the proceeding on a TV screen in another room. Burns had Loughner escorted from the courtroom after Loughner lowered his head and said what sounded like: “Thank you for the freak show. She died in front of me.”
AP source: Edwards could be indicted within days
RALEIGH, North Carolina — The Justice Department plans to bring criminal charges against John Edwards after a two-year investigation into whether the former presidential candidate illegally used money from some of his political backers to cover up his extramarital affair, a person familiar with the case said Wednesday.
An indictment could come within days unless the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee reaches an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a negotiated charge, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the case’s sensitivity.
It was not immediately clear what charges prosecutors planned to bring.
Federal authorities have been investigating the former North Carolina senator’s campaign finances, focusing heavily on money from wealthy supporters that allegedly went to keep mistress Rielle Hunter and her out-of-wedlock baby in hiding in 2007 and 2008 to protect Edwards’ White House campaign from a career-ending scandal.
Texas middle-schooler wins National Geographic Bee
WASHINGTON — Tine Valencic, a seventh-grader from Colleyville, Texas, won the 2011 National Geographic Bee on Wednesday.
He beat 53 other contestants — one from each state, the District of Columbia, Defense Department schools and Atlantic and Pacific U.S. territories — to win the grand prize: a $25,000 scholarship, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
“It’s great,” the soft-spoken chap said after the moderator, “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, declared him the winner and handed him a giant mock-up of a $25,000 check. “I don’t know how to describe it.”
Tine, 13, whose family is from Slovenia, knew what to do when he won: He called his father in Texas. “He was excited,” the youngster said.
Eleven-year-old Nilai Sarda of Atlanta came in second, while 13-year-old Stefan Petrovic of Lawrence, Kan., came in third. They’ll receive $15,000 and $10,000 college scholarships, respectively.
Yemen’s president vows no retreat as battles rage
SANAA, Yemen — Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh vowed Wednesday he would not step down or allow his impoverished nation to become a “failed state” even as urban combat between government troops and armed tribesmen engulfed parts of the capital.
Both sides raised the specter of civil war as the three-day death toll rose to at least 69. The latest violence comes just days after a failed Arab mediation effort to end the three-month uprising and ease Saleh from power.
After nightfall, residents reported heavy shelling that appeared to come from outside the city, targeting residential areas. The crackle of heavy gunfire could be heard in different parts of the city.
In the Arhab region about 20 miles northwest of Sanaa, a brigade of Saleh’s presidential guard clashed with local tribesmen — showing that the fighting was spreading outside the capital. Six government soldiers were killed and 21 injured in that fight, an army official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under military rules. It was unclear if any tribesmen were killed.
So far, 20 government troops and 46 of al-Ahmar’s fighters have been killed — bringing the death toll since Monday to at least 69. Scores more were injured.