In brief: Mexican nationals held in death at sea
SAN DIEGO – Two Mexican men have been charged in the killing of a U.S. Coast Guardsman whose crew was chasing a vessel suspected of being laden with drugs off the California coast.
Jose Meija Leyva and Manuel Beltran Higuera were charged Monday in Los Angeles with killing a federal officer while the officer was on duty.
The men are in custody and are charged in the killing of 34-year-old Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne, who died Sunday after he was struck in the head by the suspects’ vessel near the Channel Islands, west of Los Angeles.
Beard ruling leads to new Fort Hood judge
The man accused in the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings may get to keep his beard.
A military judge’s “duel of wills” with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan over whether Hasan would have to shave made the judge appear biased, requiring his removal from the case, a military appeals court ruled Monday.
Hasan, who is Muslim, said he grew the beard for religious reasons and that it was protected under freedom of religious expression.
Military prosecutors disagreed, as did the judge, Col. Gregory Gross, who ruled that the beard violated the military dress code. Gross held Hasan in contempt of court for refusing to shave, ordered him removed from the courtroom, and later ordered that his beard be forcibly shaved.
Hasan appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The appeals court ruled that military command, not a military judge, has responsibility for grooming standards, and that Gross could no longer convincingly appear to be unbiased in handling Hasan’s case.
Gross’ order to shave Hasan’s beard – and the six counts of contempt he issued to Hasan – were wiped out by the appellate court’s ruling.
Hasan is charged with killing 13 people in November 2009 at the Army post in Texas.
Carbon monoxide sickens 49 at school
ATLANTA – Potentially lethal carbon monoxide levels at an Atlanta elementary school with no detectors sent at least 42 students and seven adults to hospitals Monday and forced 500 more to evacuate, authorities said.
Young children with oxygen masks over their faces were strapped to gurneys and others carried to ambulances by emergency officials at Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta. Four kids reported passing out at the school, according to hospital officials.
Firefighters found unsafe levels of carbon monoxide near a furnace at the school with a reading at 1,700 parts per million, Atlanta fire Capt. Marian McDaniel said.
Anchorage shaken by strong quake
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A strong earthquake Monday was felt over a 175-mile swath of Alaska, including the state’s largest city, but there were no immediate reports of damage beyond items knocked off shelves.
The Alaska and West Coast Tsunami Warning Center said the magnitude-5.8 earthquake occurred at about 4:45 p.m. and was centered about 30 miles northwest of Anchorage.
Guy Urban, a geophysicist at the tsunami warning center, said the quake wasn’t expected to generate a tsunami.
Obama asks chief of DNC to stay on
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Monday asked Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida – who led the Democratic Party in a triumphant election year but also was criticized for a platform snafu during the party’s convention – to serve another term as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
“I’ve asked Debbie Wasserman Schultz to continue her excellent work as chair of the DNC. Thanks for all you do, Debbie,” the president tweeted.
The Democratic National Committee is all but certain to ratify Obama’s decision in January.
Romney to return to Marriott board
NEW YORK – Former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is rejoining Marriott International’s board of directors. He’s held the post with the hotel chain twice before.
It’s the first job announcement Romney has made since he lost the November election.