WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Monday accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of making “wild assertions” about U.S. persecution to deflect attention from sex allegations he faces questioning for in Sweden.
The State Department said Assange’s case has nothing to do with the United States or WikiLeaks publication of secret U.S. documents and is a matter for Britain, where he is now holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy, as well as Sweden and Ecuador.
Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also berated Ecuador for granting Assange asylum from possible U.S. persecution at its embassy in London. And, she said Ecuador’s attempt to have the Organization of American States take up the matter was a “sideshow.”
Obama spending exceeds donations
WASHINGTON – Facing strong fundraising from his Republican challenger, President Barack Obama and Democrats have spent more than they brought in last month as the president expanded his campaign operations and purchased millions of dollars in television advertising to compete with rival Mitt Romney.
New campaign finance reports out Monday show Obama’s campaign spent about $59 million in July, much of it on advertising and paid staff. That’s compared with about $49.2 million in total receipts during the same period, Federal Election Commission data show.
Obama’s re-election effort has so far been losing the money race to Romney and the Republicans, who have out-raised the president in May, June and July. Romney and the GOP reported a combined $101 million in fundraising last month, while Obama and the Democrats together said they raised $75 million.
Mississippi River closed for 11 miles
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Nearly 100 boats and barges were waiting for passage Monday along an 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that has been closed due to low water levels, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
New Orleans-based Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Tippets said the stretch of river near Greenville, Miss., has been closed intermittently since Aug. 11, when a vessel ran aground.
Tippets said the area is being surveyed for dredging and a Coast Guard boat is replacing eight navigation markers.
Tippets said it is not immediately clear when the river will reopen. A stretch of river near Greenville was also closed in 1988 due to low water levels caused by severe drought.
Alaska boat hit rock for view of bears
JUNEAU, Alaska – The captain of a sightseeing vessel that apparently struck a rock at Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve had been trying to get the vessel nearer shore to see brown bears, an official with the boat’s owner said Monday.
John Dunlap, a vice president with Allen Marine Tours, said the captain, after trying to maneuver closer to shore so passengers could see the one or more bears that had been spotted, at some point realized he was in shallower water and started to back up. But Dunlap said it was along a different track than the boat came in on, and the Baranof Wind apparently hit a rock.
The Coast Guard said 72 passengers were rescued in Sunday’s incident. They were removed as a precaution as the Baranof Wind took on some water.
A cruise ship in the area, Holland America’s Volendam, used tenders to help remove most of the passengers; two, including one passenger who had been injured, were taken aboard a National Park Service vessel. Officials said the crew remained on board.
Man indicted in likely mercy killing
AKRON, Ohio – A grand jury has indicted a man in the suspected mercy killing of his wife at a northeastern Ohio hospital.
John Wise faces one count each of aggravated murder, murder and felonious assault in the Aug. 4 shooting of his wife in the intensive care unit of Akron General Medical Center.
The 66-year-old’s indictment was released Monday. He is next due in court on Friday, when he is expected to enter a plea.
Wise previously had been charged with murder in municipal court, but Monday’s indictment from a Summit County grand jury supersedes that charge.
A friend says Wise’s wife, Barbara, had been disabled by a stroke when he shot her.