EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 24, 2013

Around the World and Nation


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Merkel complains to Obama that US spies targeted her phone

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel complained to President Barack Obama on Wednesday after learning that U.S. intelligence may have targeted her mobile phone, saying that would be “a serious breach of trust” if confirmed.

For its part, the White House denied that the U.S. is listening in on Merkel’s phone calls now.

“The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges.”

However, Carney did not specifically say that that U.S. had never monitored or obtained Merkel’s communications.

The German government said it responded after receiving “information that the chancellor’s cellphone may be monitored” by U.S. intelligence. It wouldn’t elaborate, but German news magazine Der Spiegel, which has published material from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, said its research triggered the response.

Marathon suspect may try to pin most of blame on brother

BOSTON (AP) — Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers may try to save him from the death penalty in the Boston Marathon bombing by arguing he fell under the murderous influence of his older brother, legal experts say.

The outlines of a possible defense came into focus this week when it was learned that Tsarnaev’s attorneys are trying to get access to investigative records implicating the now-dead brother in a grisly triple slaying committed in 2011.

In court papers Monday, federal prosecutors acknowledged publicly for the first time that a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev told investigators that Tamerlan participated in the unsolved killings of three men who were found in a Waltham apartment with their throats slit, marijuana sprinkled over their bodies.

The younger Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued in court papers that any evidence of Tamerlan’s involvement is “mitigating information” that is critical as they prepare Dzhokhar’s defense. They asked a judge to force prosecutors to turn over the records.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, faces 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction, in the twin bombings April 15 that killed three people and injured more than 260. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died in a gunbattle with police days later.

Tests suggest Mississippi baby born with HIV may be cured; girl, now 3, shows no infection

Doctors now have convincing evidence that they put HIV into remission, hopefully for good, in a Mississippi baby born with the AIDS virus — a medical first that is prompting a new look at how hard and fast such cases should be treated.

The case was reported earlier this year but some doctors were skeptical that the baby was really infected rather than testing positive because of exposure to virus in the mom’s blood.

The new report, published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, makes clear that the girl, now 3, was infected in the womb. She was treated unusually aggressively and shows no active infection despite stopping AIDS medicines 18 months ago.

Doctors won’t call it a cure because they don’t know what proof or how much time is needed to declare someone free of HIV infection, long feared to be permanent.

Kennedy cousin Skakel wins new trial in 1975 killing

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was granted a new trial on Wednesday by a Connecticut judge who ruled his attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was convicted in 2002 of killing his neighbor in 1975.

The ruling by Judge Thomas Bishop marked a dramatic reversal after years of unsuccessful appeals by Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy. Skakel is serving 20 years to life.

Bridgeport State’s Attorney John Smriga said prosecutors will appeal the decision.

Skakel’s current attorney, Hubert Santos, said he expects to file a motion for bail on Thursday. If a judge approves it, Skakel could then post bond and be released from prison.

“We’re very, very thrilled,” Santos said. “I always felt that Michael was innocent.”

Romney’s house will have hidden room that swivels open

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new house Mitt Romney is building in Utah is not only spacious and luxurious, but it’s also a little mysterious.

The home’s study will have a bookcase that swivels open and leads into a hidden room, according to architecture plans obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune. The drawings say the room is for office storage, and show it is 11-feet long with cabinets.

It’s not the first time plans for a Romney home include attention-grabbing features. Drawings for renovations on a waterfront house in La Jolla, Calif., include a split-level garage with a car elevator.

The Tribune reports the 5,900-square-foot house in the Salt Lake City suburb of Holladay will be the fifth home for the former Republican presidential candidate. He recently bought an 8,700-square-foot home that has six bedrooms and eight bathrooms in the Utah mountain resort town of Park City. He also has homes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

The planning documents for the new Utah house show it listed as a home for Romney’s wife, Ann Romney. The home sits on an acre of land next to a home being built by their son, Josh Romney, the Tribune reports.

Oswald wedding ring among items linked to John F. Kennedy going up for auction

DALLAS (AP) — On the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald left his wedding ring in a cup on the dresser and left $170 in one of its drawers before he headed for work at the Texas School Book Depository.

The gold band that belonged to the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy later that day is among nearly 300 items linked to the former president that go up for auction Thursday in Boston.

Bobby Livingston, an executive vice president with the New Hampshire-based auction house, RR Auction, described the ring, which has a tiny hammer and sickle engraved on the inside of the band, as a “very powerful, significant piece of evidence.”

“It gives you such insight into the mind of Lee Harvey Oswald,” said Livingston, who added that the ring could bring $100,000 or more.

It was relatively recently that the seller, Oswald’s widow, Marina Oswald Porter, recovered the ring, which apparently sat forgotten for decades in the files of a Fort Worth lawyer who once did work for her.