March 12, 2013 in Nation/World

In brief: Ex-mayor convicted, jailed

From Wire Reports
 

DETROIT – Jurors in a city buffeted by financial crisis convicted former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on corruption charges Monday, capping a five-month trial that exposed a brazen pay-to-play culture during his years in office while the distressed city lost jobs and people and veered toward insolvency.

Kilpatrick could face more than 10 years in prison for two dozen convictions, from racketeering conspiracy to bribery to tax crimes.

“Kwame Kilpatrick didn’t lead the city. He looted the city,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in victory.

At the government’s urging, Kilpatrick, 42, was ordered to jail to await his sentence, along with Bobby Ferguson, a city contractor who benefited from having a pal as mayor and also was convicted.

Colorado Senate OKs gun bills

DENVER – A gun control package pushed by Colorado Democrats cleared the state Senate on Monday, as sponsors described it as a needed response to Colorado’s blood-soaked history of mass shootings.

One Democrat after another rose Monday to talk about restricting gun rights after last July’s shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater by alleged gunman James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.

The measures approved by the Senate included a limit on the kinds of high-capacity ammunition magazines Holmes is accused of using in the theater shooting. Other measures included expanded background checks on private gun sales and a new ban on gun ownership for people facing domestic violence charges.

Republicans argued in vain that the gun controls would not have prevented the theater shooting, nor the school massacre last December in Newtown, Conn. Some cited the 1999 Columbine High School shootings outside Denver.

Only one of the five bills heads to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper to be signed into law. The remaining four must return to the House for more debate, including the ammunition magazine limit and the domestic violence bill. The House is under Democratic control and will likely approve the measures.

Hickenlooper has said he supports the one bill awaiting his signature, a revived fee for people seeking background checks by gun purchasers. Hickenlooper has also called for expanded background checks and has said he’d sign the magazine limit if lawmakers get it to him.

VA won’t follow NY gun law

ALBANY, N.Y. – The federal Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday its mental health professionals won’t comply with a new gun law in New York that requires reporting the names of patients they believe likely to hurt themselves or others.

That provision is set to take effect Saturday. Several veterans and their advocates warned it would deter many from seeking counseling and medications to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological issues. Veterans fear their rights would be taken away.

Under the law pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the information would be used by state officials to determine whether someone should give up a gun license or weapon.

VA spokesman Mark Ballesteros said Monday that federal protections of veterans’ treatment records take precedence. The agency’s lawyers had been studying the New York statute, which passed in January.

“Federal laws safeguarding the confidentiality of veterans’ treatment records do not authorize VA mental-health professionals to comply with this New York State law,” Ballesteros said in a prepared statement. “Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal laws take precedence over conflicting state and local laws.”

Space launch workers burned

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Two workers for a company that launches spacecraft for the U.S. government were seriously injured in an electrical explosion at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast.

The United Launch Alliance said in a statement that the two employees were transferred Monday to a Los Angeles hospital that specializes in treating burn victims.

The Santa Maria Times reports the two were working Saturday at Space Launch Complex 6, where a Delta IV rocket is being prepared for an August launch, when an “arc flash” occurred.

Officials gave no further details on the cause or circumstances.


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