March 1, 2012 in Nation/World

In brief: Grandfather convicted of abuse for hikes

 

Phoenix – A grandfather was found guilty of child abuse Wednesday for forcing his grandsons on grueling hikes in the Grand Canyon in searing August heat, withholding food and water and choking and kicking them during the long treks.

All three of the boys testified during the trial. The oldest described secretly asking a hiker to call 911 toward the end of a 19-mile hike on Aug. 28 after he started throwing up, falling down because of cramping and experiencing changes to his vision.

The Arizona jury found Christopher Alan Carlson of Indianapolis guilty of three of six charges of child abuse stemming from the Aug. 15 and Aug. 28 hikes.

Prosecutors told jurors that he deprived the boys of food and water during the hikes. The boys – 8, 9 and 12 at the time – reported that they did get some water, but not always enough, and ate celery and other snacks during the hike.

Investigators have said that Carlson told them that the boys were overweight and that he thought hiking the Grand Canyon would help get them into shape.

Carlson is scheduled to be sentenced June 1. Because the jury convicted him on the three lesser offenses, it was unclear if he could face up to life in prison.

Graphic images on cigarettes blocked

Richmond, Va. – A judge on Wednesday blocked a federal requirement that would have begun forcing U.S. tobacco companies to put large graphic images on their cigarette packages later this year to show the dangers of smoking and encouraging smokers to quit lighting up.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington ruled that the federal mandate to put the images, which include a sewn-up corpse of a smoker and a picture of diseased lungs, on cigarette packs violates the free speech amendment to the Constitution.

He had temporarily blocked the requirement in November, saying it was likely cigarette makers will succeed in a lawsuit, which could take years to resolve. That decision already is being appealed by the government.

The Food and Drug Administration has said that the public interest in conveying the dangers of smoking outweighs the companies’ free speech rights.

In his ruling Wednesday, Leon wrote that the graphic images “were neither designed to protect the consumer from confusion or deception, nor to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks; rather, they were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking.”

Leon also pointed out alternatives for the federal government to curb tobacco use, such as increasing anti-smoking advertisements, raising tobacco taxes, reducing the size and changing content of the labels, and improving efforts to reduce youth access to tobacco products.


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