In brief: Obama inaugural will encroach on protest space
WASHINGTON – A protest group planning to stage a demonstration about unemployment at President Barack Obama’s inauguration says it’s being forced to scale down plans because it won’t have much space on Washington’s Freedom Plaza.
The ANSWER Coalition said Friday that the Presidential Inaugural Committee is taking over the plaza where protests have been held. Protesters will have a 10-yard-wide strip of sidewalk below the plaza.
ANSWER had expected to have bleachers with thousands of demonstrators. National Coordinator Brian Becker says there’s a long history of reserving Freedom Plaza as a place for dissent.
In 2009, the group shared the space with inauguration organizers.
A National Park Service spokeswoman said the protest group applied for the space first but that the inaugural committee has preference under regulations that took effect in 2008.
U.S. preparing search for WWII MIAs in Myanmar
WASHINGTON – The U.S. military is preparing its first search in eight years for remains of American soldiers lost in Myanmar during World War II.
The resumption of the search is a product of the revived U.S. ties with Myanmar after it initiated democratic reforms.
The Hawaii-based Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command said Friday that a coordination team will head to Myanmar on Jan. 21 to prepare for a visit by investigators a month later.
About 730 Americans are missing, mostly U.S. air crews that went down in the rugged northern mountains while flying supplies from India to China.
Spokeswoman Michelle Thomas said investigators will spend three weeks in Yangon Division and Mandalay Division, pursuing leads. Another mission is planned for the summer, hopefully to gather enough information to send in recovery teams later.
Federal judge rejects plan for polar bear habitat
JUNEAU, Alaska – A federal judge in Alaska has set aside a plan designating more than 187,000 square miles as habitat for threatened polar bears.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline said in a written order that the purpose behind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designation was admirable, because it is important to protect the polar bear. But he said such protection must be done correctly, and found the current designation went too far and was “too extensive.”
Beistline sent the matter back to the agency to correct what he called “substantive and procedural deficiencies.”
A coalition of Alaska Native groups, the state and oil and gas interests sued over the rule, which they saw as an overreach. The federal government argued, in part, that the designation provided conservation benefits for the species.
Stabbing suspect mistook sign language for gang signs
BURLINGTON, N.C. – Police in North Carolina say a deaf man was stabbed several times after his sign language was mistaken for gang signs by another man.
Burlington police Sgt. Mark Yancey said 45-year-old Terrance Ervin Daniels was using sign language with another deaf man. He said a third person saw them, thought they were flashing gang signs and stabbed Daniels with a kitchen knife. A neighbor saw the victim and called emergency personnel.
Daniels is in stable condition at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill after Wednesday’s incident.
Police arrested 22-year-old Robert Jarell Neal and charged him with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury and felony assault on a handicapped person. He’s being held in the Alamance County jail.
Prison sentence for man who burned woman to death
NEW YORK – A handyman who burned a 73-year-old woman to death in a New York City elevator has been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors say 48-year-old Jerome Isaac was sentenced Friday for killing Deloris Gillespie inside her Brooklyn apartment building days before Christmas in 2011.
Authorities say Isaac surprised Gillespie when the elevator doors opened, doused her with gasoline and set her on fire before throwing a firebomb in with her. He turned himself in a day later. The attack was captured on a security camera.
Police say Isaac told them he attacked Gillespie because he believed she owed him money.
Isaac pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in November. Prosecutors say he told probation officials conducting a mental health evaluation that he got orders from the devil.