Copper wires may also work as batteries, Florida researchers say

A breakthrough in the way energy is stored could lead to smaller class="mandelbrot_refrag">electronics, more trunk space in a hybrid car and eventually clothing that can recharge a cellphone, according to researchers at the University of Central Florida.

Nanotechnology scientist Jayan Thomas said in an interview he believes he has discovered a way to store energy in a thin sheath around an ordinary lightweight copper electrical wire. As a result, the same wire that transmits electricity can also store extra energy.

"We can just convert those wires into batteries so there is no need of a separate battery," Thomas said. "It has applications everywhere."

 
 
 

The work will be the cover story in the June 30 issue of the material science journal Advanced Materials, and is the subject of an article in the current edition of science magazine Nature.

Thomas's Ph.D. student Zenan Yu is co-author.

Thomas said the process is relatively simple. First, he said, he heated the copper wire to create what he described as fuzzy "nano-whiskers," which are naturally insulated by copper oxide. The microscopic nano-whiskers vastly expand the wire's surface area that can store energy.

A second plastic-covered layer of nano-whiskers creates a second electrode, similar to the positive and negative sides of a standard battery, Thomas said.

The technique could be used to lighten airplanes and spacecraft, to store excess energy from solar panels, and to further miniaturize small class="mandelbrot_refrag">electronics, he said.

The technique could also replace high energy-density supercapacitors, sometimes mistaken by hybrid car owners as a second battery, which provide the quick shot of energy that cars and class="mandelbrot_refrag">heavy machinery need to start.

"You open your trunk and you see a lot of space is taken by your batteries. If you can just use some of the cables along the length of your car, you don't need any of that space for batteries," Thomas said.

He plans further research to apply the same technique to fibers woven into clothing along with a flexible solar cell, creating a wearable battery pack.

Thomas is a faculty member at the UCF Nanoscience Technology Center with joint appointments in the College of Optics and Photonics and the College of class="mandelbrot_refrag">Engineering and Computer Science. 

(Editing by Kevin Gray)

Apollo moon rocks hint at other planet that hit young earth

Lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts more than 40 years ago contain evidence of a Mars-sized planet that scientists believe crashed into Earth and created the moon, new research shows.

German scientists using a new technique said they detected a slight chemical difference between Earth rocks and moon rocks. Scientists said more study would be needed to confirm this long-elusive piece of evidence that material from another body besides Earth contributed to the moon’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago.

Scientists believe the moon formed from a cloud of debris launched into space after a Mars-sized body called Theia crashed into young Earth.

Different planets in the solar system have slightly different chemical makeups. Therefore, scientists believed moon rocks might hold telltale chemical fingerprints of whatever body smashed into Earth.

Until now, evidence was elusive.

“We have developed a technique that guarantees perfect separation,” of oxygen isotopes from other trace gases, Daniel Herwartz, with the University of Cologne in class="mandelbrot_refrag">Germany, wrote in an email to Reuters.

"The differences are small and difficult to detect, but they are there,” added Herwartz, lead author of a paper on the discovery published in this week’s issue of the journal Science.

The results indicate that composition of the moon is about 50 percent Thea and 50 percent Earth, the scientists said, although more work is needed to confirm that estimate.

The team analyzed rocks brought back to Earth by NASA astronauts during the Apollo 11, Apollo 12 and Apollo 16 missions to the moon, which took place in 1969 and 1972.

“This work is the first to claim to see such a difference in the isotopes of oxygen,” said Robin Canup, a planetary scientist with the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who was not involved in the research.

“The reported difference between the Earth and moon is extremely small, small enough that I think there will be debate as to whether the difference is real or an artifact of how one interprets the data,” she added.

Meanwhile, other teams of scientists have been looking at titanium, silicon, chromium, tungsten and other chemical elements, but so far the lunar samples show no detectable differences from Earth samples.

(reporting by Irene Klotz)

Researchers to test Gulf Stream energy turbines off Florida's coast

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University plan to anchor turbines in the Gulf Stream's fast-moving waters off the state's east coast to test whether ocean currents can be converted into electricity.

The project will be carried out with the support of the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BEOM), which for the first time has leased out federal waters as a test site.

"The Gulf Stream contains a tremendous amount of energy, and this technology offers exciting potential to expand the nation's renewable energy portfolio," BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank said in a press release this week announcing the deal.

Near the end of the summer, scientists will begin anchoring buoys equipped with a variety of sensors to the ocean floor, in about 900 feet (300 meters) of water some 12 nautical miles off the Florida coast near Fort Lauderdale.

The equipment will monitor the strength of the currents around the clock.

Scientists will then conduct additional testing with a prototype turbine to determine how much electricity could be produced by the currents, said Sue Skemp, executive director of FAU's Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center.

The Gulf Stream is a massive ocean current that runs north from the southern tip of Florida to the Canadian coast before turning east and heading across the ocean as the North Atlantic current.

It comes closest to shore near south Florida, making it an ideal location to test tether turbines to harness the current, which moves at about 5.4 kilometers per hour (3.36 miles per hour) according to a 2012 University of Massachusetts study.

Ocean currents are more reliable than fickle winds, according to the BOEM, and could potentially provide up to 35 percent of Florida's energy needs.

Researchers say the project is still in its early stages but hope the tests will help them understand how and where to place the turbines.

"It's going to depend on the types of devices, the design aspects and the performance levels they can obtain," Skemp said.

(Editing by Kevin Gray)

Knuckle sandwich: did fist fights drive evolution of human face?

Current theory about the shape of the human face just got a big punch in the mouth.

Two University of Utah researchers proposed on Monday that the face of the ancestors of modern humans evolved millions of years ago in a way that would limit injuries from punches during fist fights between males.

Their theory, published in the journal Biological Reviews, is presented as an alternative to a long-standing notion that changes in the shape of the face were driven more by diet - the need for a jaw that could chew hard-to-crush foods such as nuts.

"Studies of injuries resulting from fights show that when modern humans fight, the face is the primary target," biologist David Carrier said. "The bones of the face that suffer the highest rates of fracture from fights are the bones that show the greatest increase in robusticity during the evolution of early bipedal apes, the australopiths."

These are also the bones that show the greatest difference between women and men in early human ancestors and modern humans, Carrier added.

In both apes and humans, males are much more violent than females, and most male violence is directed at other males, Carrier said. The violence underpinning the need for a more robust facial structure may have involved fist fights over females, resources and other disputes.

Australopithecus was a lineage that preceded our genus, Homo, and it emerged more than 4 million years ago in Africa. Australopithecus was bipedal, smaller than modern people and possessed a combination of ape and human characteristics.

"Comparing great apes such as chimps and gorillas to australopiths, what changed in the face was a reduction in the length of the jaws, a great increase in the robustness and strength of the jaws, molar teeth and jaw muscles, a substantial increase in the size and strength of the cheek bones, and an increase in the part of the face that surrounds the eyes," Carrier said.

The proportions of the hand that allowed for the formation of a fist and the great increases in the robustness of the face occurred early in our lineage, 4 million to 5 million years ago, at about the same time as the bipedal posture appeared, Carrier added.

Carrier said anthropologists have thought the new facial traits in the first bipedal apes were the result of a diet that included very hard objects, and the biomechanics of eating such food can explain many of these features. But he said recent analyses of wear patterns in teeth suggest most of these creatures did not eat hard objects.

The study by Carrier and Michael Morgan, a University of Utah physician, builds on their previous research highlighting the role they contend violence played in driving human evolution.

"I think our science is sound and fills some longstanding gaps in the existing theories of why the musculoskeletal structures of our faces developed the way they did," Morgan added.

(Reporting by Will Dunham. Editing by Andre Grenon)

Warm blooded or cold? Dinosaurs were somewhere in between

The hot question of whether dinosaurs were warm-blooded like birds and mammals or cold blooded like reptiles, fish and amphibians finally has a good answer.

Dinosaurs, for eons Earth's dominant land animals until being wiped out by an asteroid 65 million years ago, were in fact somewhere in between.

Scientists said on Thursday they evaluated the metabolism of numerous dinosaurs using a formula based on their body mass as revealed by the bulk of their thigh bones and their growth rates as shown by growth rings in fossil bones akin to those in trees.

The study, published in the journal Science, assessed 21 species of dinosaurs including super predators Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus, long-necked Apatosaurus, duckbilled Tenontosaurus and bird-like Troodon as well as a range of mammals, birds, bony fish, sharks, lizards, snakes and crocodiles.

"Our results showed that dinosaurs had growth and metabolic rates that were actually not characteristic of warm-blooded or even cold-blooded organisms. They did not act like mammals or birds nor did they act like reptiles or fish," said University of Arizona evolutionary biologist and ecologist Brian Enquist.

"Instead, they had growth rates and metabolisms intermediate to warm-blooded and cold-blooded organisms of today. In short, they had physiologies that are not common in today's world."

There has been a long-standing debate about whether dinosaurs were slow, lumbering cold-blooded animals - as scientists first proposed in the 19th century - or had a uniquely advanced, more warm-blooded physiology.

As scientists unearthed remains of more and more fast-looking dinosaurs like Velociraptor, some championed the idea dinosaurs were as active and warm–blooded as mammals and birds. The realization that birds arose from small feathered dinosaurs seemed to support that view.

University of New class="mandelbrot_refrag">Mexico biologist John Grady said the idea that creatures must be either warm-blooded or cold-blooded is too simplistic when looking over the vast expanse of time. Like dinosaurs, some animals alive today like the great white shark, leatherback sea turtle and tuna do not fit easily into either category, Grady added.

"A better answer would be 'in the middle.' By examining animal growth and rates of energy use, we were able to reconstruct a metabolic continuum, and place dinosaurs along that continuum. Somewhat surprisingly, dinosaurs fell right in the middle," Grady said.

The researchers called creatures with this medium-powered metabolism mesotherms, as contrasted to ectotherms (cold–blooded animals with low metabolic rates that do not produce much heat and bask in the sun to warm up) and endotherms (warm–blooded animals that use heat from metabolic reactions to maintain a high, stable body temperature).

Grady said an intermediate metabolism may have allowed dinosaurs to get much bigger than any mammal ever could. Warm–blooded animals need to eat a lot so they are frequently hunting or munching on plants. "It is doubtful that a lion the size of T. rex could eat enough to survive," Grady said.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Not just koala chow: genetic secrets of eucalyptus tree revealed

Eucalyptus leaves are the main food supply for Australia's koalas, but there is a lot more to the tree than that.

It is native to class="mandelbrot_refrag">Australia but has become the world's most widely planted hardwood tree. The eucalyptus tree is a source of timber, fuel, cellulose and medicinal and industrial oils, and scientists are looking to maximize its potential in biofuels.

An international team of researchers this week unveiled the genetic blueprint of the tree species Eucalyptus grandis and identified among its 36,000-plus genes the ones involved in critical biological processes controlling tree growth and wood formation, flowering and other qualities.

 
 
 

"The main interest is understanding how these trees grow so fast and how they are able to produce such large amounts of cellulose," scientist Zander Myburg of the University of Pretoria's Forestry and Agricultural class="mandelbrot_refrag">Biotechnology Institute said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

"There's an interest in cellulose in the context of breaking the cellulose down into sugars, which can be fermented into biofuels. But really these trees are widely used industrially for cellulose-related products and timber, pulp and paper production."

Also called gum trees, eucalyptus trees have grown for tens of millions of years across the Australian landscape, and are closely identified with that continent. The koala, one of Australia's characteristic marsupials, munches its leaves. Its wood also is used in making the Australian aboriginal wind instruments called didgeridoos.

Eucalyptus trees, with their speedy growth rate and exceptional wood and fiber properties, are now grown in about 100 countries on six continents.

Some scientists see great potential in these trees as a biomass energy crop. The study identified genes controlling the final steps for the production of cellulose and "hemi-cellulose", both carbohydrates that can be used for biofuel production.

"We have a keen interest in how wood is formed," added Gerald Tuskan of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, another of the lead researchers.

"A major determinant of industrial processing efficiency lies in the composition and cross-linking of biopolymers in the thick secondary cell walls of woody fibers. Our analysis provides a much more comprehensive understanding of the genetic control of carbon allocation towards cell wall biopolymers in woody plants - a crucial step toward the development of future biomass crops," Tuskan said in a statement.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by James Dalgleish)

'Weedman' congressional candidate faces challenge by N.J. Democrats

A pro-marijuana political candidate in New Jersey could see his U.S. congressional bid go up in smoke after a legal challenge by state Democrats.

_0">

Ed Forchion, who goes by the nickname "Weedman," is running for an open seat in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District as a candidate from the Legalize Marijuana Party.

He said on Thursday that Democrats want to keep his name off the ballot in November because they are concerned he could siphon off votes from constituents who support his platform of legalizing marijuana.

"The Democratic party is attempting to protect its candidate Aimee Belgard," he said in a statement.

Republican Tom MacArthur is also running for the open seat representing a portion of southern New Jersey.

The New Jersey Democratic State Committee said it launched the challenge to Forchion's bid this week because he did not gather the required number of valid signatures on his nominating petition by the June deadline.

"Our initial review of Mr. Forchion's petition for nomination as an Independent candidate indicate that he failed to meet the statutory requirements," said Matt Farrauto, committee spokesman.

Forchion, who has run for a variety of political seats in the state and never won, launched his congressional bid as New Jersey lawmakers consider a bill that would legalize the possession and sale of recreational marijuana.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, has said he would never sign that legislation into law.

Forchion, of Browns Mills, an unincorporated section of Pemberton Township, has appealed to Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, saying he met all required deadlines. He also has accused the Democrats of not following legal protocol when submitting their petition challenging his candidacy.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Eric Beech)

Louisiana governor signs into law new abortion restrictions

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed new restrictions on abortion clinics into law on Thursday, a move his critics have said will force three of the state's five clinics to close.

The measure, one of two abortion-related bills signed by the Republican governor, requires physicians who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km) of the place where the abortion is performed. Abortion rights advocates say some providers will not be able to meet that standard.

“These new laws will give women the health and safety protections they deserve, and continue to make Louisiana a state that values individual human life,” Jindal said in a statement.

Supporters in Louisiana and other states that have adopted similar restrictions say they are aimed at protecting women's health.

Oklahoma's governor signed such a measure last month. Similar laws have taken effect in five states: Kansas, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Texas, where about a third of abortion clinics have closed since that state's law took effect late last year after legal battles. Laws have been blocked in Alabama, Mississippi and Wisconsin pending the outcome of court challenges.

Abortion rights groups say the provision is unnecessary because abortion complications are rare and tend to be similar to those of a miscarriage, which often are treated by emergency room physicians.

“We all want women to be safe, but this law doesn’t protect women’s health,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project.

Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, has predicted that at least three of the state's clinics could close because of the law. The Hope Medical Group for Women, an abortion clinic in the northwestern Louisiana city of Shreveport that expects to stay open despite the new restrictions, has already seen an influx of patients from Texas, said its director, Kathaleen Pittman.

"We're going to accommodate as many patients as we can," Pittman said.

The other bill signed by Jindal on Thursday will bar abortion providers from giving health instruction or materials in public schools or in charter schools that receive state funding. 

(Additional reporting by Lisa McDermott in Texarkana, Arkansas; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, David Gregorio and Peter Cooney)

Lawmakers, LGBT groups urge U.S. trade action on Brunei criminal laws

More than 100 U.S. lawmakers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups on Thursday urged the Obama administration to stop trade talks with Brunei unless the country revokes Islamic criminal laws they say jeopardize human rights.

_0">

Brunei, the first East Asian country to introduce Islamic criminal law, has announced laws that will impose fines or jail terms for offenses such as pregnancy outside marriage and failure to perform Friday prayers. The laws will ultimately punish sodomy and adultery with the death penalty, including by stoning.

One hundred nineteen members of the House of Representatives signed a letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to shun Brunei in talks on a Pacific free trade zone unless the code is repealed.

 
 
 

The United States and Brunei are among 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which aims to set common standards on issues from labor to class="mandelbrot_refrag">intellectual property and cut tariffs on traded goods.

Pride at Work, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality said in a letter to President class="mandelbrot_refrag">Barack Obama that Brunei's new laws placed the country outside the bounds of international standards for human rights.

"It would be inconsistent with U.S. human rights policy to enter into a preferential trade agreement with a nation that so vagrantly violates the human rights of its citizens," they said.

State Department officials have said the United States has "very serious concerns" about the Brunei laws criminalizing freedom of religion and increasingly threatening human rights.

Brunei, a tiny former British protectorate of about 400,000 nestled between two Malaysian states on Borneo island, relies on oil and gas exports for its prosperity, with annual per capita income of nearly $50,000.

(Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Chocolate Co sues Maryland lawmaker Hershey over campaign signs

class="mandelbrot_refrag">The Hershey Company is not sweet on the idea of Maryland lawmaker Stephen Hershey Jr's campaign signs looking a lot like the chocolate maker's own brown-and-white design.

Hershey, the maker of treats such as Mr. Goodbar and Krackel, has filed a federal lawsuit saying the state senator's re-election campaign optics violate trademark law.

The colors and lettering on the Queen Anne's County legislator's signs appear nearly identical in style to the Hershey chocolate bar's distinctive logo.

"Our brand trademarks are among our most important and valuable assets," Hershey Company spokesman Jeff Beckman said in a statement on Thursday.

Misuse of its brand trademarks "may mislead consumers into believing that Steve Hershey is somehow affiliated with or endorsed by class="mandelbrot_refrag">The Hershey Company," Beckman said.

Hershey and the chocolate company have clashed for a number of years. Hershey first used the similar logo style in 2002 while running for a county commissioner seat.

In 2008, Hershey used it again in a bid for election to the House of Delegates. In both cases, Hershey Company sent him cease-and-desist letters.

In documents filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore last Friday, the chocolate maker is asking that Hershey pay all legal costs, recall all campaign material, and not use the word "Hershey" in block letters or on a brown or maroon background.

In a statement, the lawmaker said the complaint was "orchestrated by my opponent" and that in past years "I have used my given birth name, Hershey, on brown background signs with the knowledge and permission of the Hershey Company."

"The Hershey Company’s allegations raise serious questions about infringing on my constitutional rights of freedom of speech," he said.

(Editing by Ian Simpson and Gunna Dickson)

House votes to approve Sea World amendment but prospects dim

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment that would put new restrictions on the way captive orca whales and other animals are treated at theme parks such as Sea World, but the legislation's prospects for becoming law appeared dim.

The amendment, which was attached to a larger appropriations bill currently before Congress, would require the Department of Agriculture to create new rules reducing the amount of noise whales are exposed to, limit programs where the public is allowed to swim with dolphins and regulate the temperature of the water in the tanks where the animals are held.

But the amendment is not expected to gain final approval in Congress because it is attached to a larger appropriations bill to allocate funds to the USDA for other unrelated programs, like food stamps and school nutrition programs, which are more contentious.  

The White House has said that President class="mandelbrot_refrag">Barack Obama would veto the larger bill if it passed Congress.

Representatives from Sea World dismissed the proposal, saying that existing regulations are sufficient.

"We would hope that any effort to revise these regulations is based on science and not the allegations of animal rights extremists," a spokesman for the company said.

Political pressure to regulate the business of holding whales and other marine mammals in captivity for entertainment has increased since the death of a Sea World whale trainer in 2010 and the release of the documentary Blackfish in 2013.

The legislation was drafted by two Democratic representatives from California, Jared Huffman and Adam Schiff, after state legislators in April failed to pass legislation that would have banned the captivity of orca whales at Sea World.

In a move to pressure the USDA in complying, Huffman and Schiff drafted legislation requiring the USDA to conduct scientific research about marine mammal captivity for the purpose of writing new rules. The USDA has not responded to the proposed legislation or the initial letter.

(The story is refiled to add dropped word "amendment" in headline)

(Reporting by Jennifer Chaussee; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler)

Cantor shock stalls offshore corporate tax break in Congress

The defeat of House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor shifted the political ground under U.S. multinational corporations this week, just as they seemed to be gaining traction in their push for a $95 billion tax break on bringing foreign profits home.

With House Republicans in turmoil after their leader's loss, lobbyists and policy analysts said the proposal, known as the offshore corporate income tax holiday, was losing momentum.

The setback underscored the inability of the U.S. Congress to handle difficult tax issues, including renewing dozens of temporary laws that have expired and tackling a long-overdue tax code overhaul.

The offshore income tax holiday had been gathering some support, but Cantor's defeat in the Virginia primary election damaged that, observers said. The proposal, which calls for short-term tax breaks to pay for road repairs, frustrates some conservatives who oppose more government spending and believe tax breaks should be permanent, not a one-time holiday.

Cantor, who was the No. 2 Republican in the House, was defeated on Tuesday by a rival who had the backing of the Tea Party. Republicans now are scurrying for political cover, especially those fearful of angering the conservative wing.

"Any controversial legislation ... is not going to happen in a post-Cantor world because now every single member is afraid of every vote," said Henrietta Treyz, a policy analyst at financial firm Height Analytics.

"Those especially that still have primaries to go through are very, very wary of taking any difficult votes," she said.

At the same time, class="mandelbrot_refrag">eBay Inc's bringing offshore profits home in April might deter lawmakers from endorsing the tax holiday, class="mandelbrot_refrag">Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat, said as he was soliciting feedback for the proposal from colleagues.

“Why have a special tax break when a major American company ... brought (cash) back without a break?” he told reporters.

DEADLOCK ON DISPLAY

The years-long deadlock on tax policy was on display again on Thursday. The Republican-controlled House voted largely along party lines to make permanent three expired, temporary tax laws, including two business tax breaks.

But the Democratic-controlled Senate was expected to reject the proposals because they were not accompanied by offsetting revenue-raising measures and would increase the federal deficit.

Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group, said Cantor's exit made bridging this divide less likely. "Chances of a compromise have diminished,” he said.

The offshore profits tax repatriation holiday addressed an unusual situation. U.S. corporations have piled up about $2 trillion in class="mandelbrot_refrag">earnings offshore. As long as those profits stay abroad, the multinationals do not have to pay U.S. income tax on them. But many would like to repatriate that money, or bring it home.

Corporations have sought for years to convince Congress to allow a holiday for them to bring cash back at less than the 35 percent top corporate income tax rate. This idea of a temporary offshore profits income tax holiday was attempted before in 2004 under former President George W. Bush, a Republican.

_0">

Some U.S. companies are shifting their tax base to other countries, such as the UK, to get lower rates.

_1">

_2">

SUPPORT NOT OVERWHELMING

_3">

This time around, the holiday proposal was expected to resemble the 2004 version - a 12-month, 85 percent deduction for class="mandelbrot_refrag">dividends paid by overseas units to U.S. parent corporations.

_4">

Congress's non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that this structure would generate almost $20 billion in federal revenue as a burst of profits stashed offshore flowed into the class="mandelbrot_refrag">economy.

_5">

But after the holiday is over, the committee said, corporations would hold onto income earned abroad in expectation of another tax holiday later on. It estimated the cost to taxpayers at about $95 billion over 10 years.

_6">

This year's proposal was packaged as a short-term revenue-raiser to help shore up the federal Highway Trust Fund, which covers about 45 percent of the states' spending on roads and bridges. That fund is forecast to go broke by the end of August.

_7">

The package has gained some support, but key interest groups have held back. On Wednesday, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate's tax-writing committee said the repatriation proposal was still being debated, but that they do not support it.

_8">

Even some business groups were shying away. Janet Kavinoky, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's executive director for transportation and infrastructure, said repatriation needed to be part of broader tax reform, not a costly one-time holiday.

_9">

Many Republicans share that idea.

_10">

"I think that we need to have permanent business tax reform that both lowers the rates and addresses the outdated international tax laws that we have," Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, said on Tuesday.

_11">

_12">

(Additional reporting from David Lawder; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Lisa Von Ahn)

_13">

California lawmaker leads race for House No. 2 job

A high-ranking California lawmaker, Kevin McCarthy, emerged on Thursday as the leading contender in the Republican contest to fill one of the top positions in the U.S. Congress, but some of his colleagues complained he was not conservative enough and urged others to jump into the race.

House Majority Whip McCarthy has been asking other lawmakers to support his bid to become House of Representatives majority leader to succeed Eric Cantor, who is stepping down after his shock primary election defeat to a little-known challenger from the populist Tea Party movement.

Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, who chairs the House Rules Committee, has also said he would run in the party's June 19 election for the number two post in the House.

 
 
 

McCarthy, the No. 3 ranking House Republican who is in charge of lining up support for legislation, grabbed early momentum over Sessions by picking up some endorsements. One was from Cantor, who will serve out the rest of his term through the end of the year.

Representative Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, who attended a meeting of Republicans from southern states on Thursday, said he would back McCarthy because of his leadership experience even though he believes a Republican from a southern state should hold one of the party's top House positions.

"I just think that Kevin will do a great job as a leader. He’s kind of battle-tested, being in that Whip's position and that’s what it’s going to take to get us through. He’s a good guy," Westmoreland told reporters.

Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole, also a McCarthy supporter, said the Californian was personally popular. "He tends to be a unifier not a divider," Cole said.

But both McCarthy and Sessions are seen as mainstream conservatives and allies of House Speaker John Boehner, leading to some grumbling from the party's right flank that leaders were moving too quickly to keep one of their candidates from running an effective campaign.

"We don’t have the lineup of conservative, rule-of-law candidates in place. So we’re asking for a delay in this vote, so that there’s time for the conference to come to its senses and evaluate all the opportunities we have going forward,” said Representative Steve King of Iowa, a Tea Party favorite.

IMMIGRATION ISSUE

The election represents a high-wire act for Boehner. He would like to see a new team installed that will help him move legislation and avoid fiscal crises, but one that also will make Tea Party supporters in Congress feel they have a voice.

If House conservatives remain angry over the fight to fill Cantor's post, they could challenge Boehner's bid to remain as speaker later this year.

The Ohio Republican survived a challenge from the right after the 2012 congressional elections.

Boehner said he could work with "whoever gets elected."

A lineup of contenders also emerged for McCarthy's post as majority whip. Lawmakers said Representatives Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Peter Roskam of Illinois have all begun lobbying colleagues for the whip's job. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas opted out of the race on Thursday.

King and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, another Tea Party favorite, both said they would not back any candidate who favored a path to citizenship - which they term "amnesty" - for immigrants who entered the United States illegally.

_0">

In Cantor's Virginia district campaign, Tea Party challenger David Brat, a political novice and economics professor, had portrayed Cantor as too soft on immigration reform and succeeded in toppling the House majority leader.

_1">

Idaho Representative Raul Labrador, prominent among conservatives willing to defy the Republican establishment, was getting support from other members to jump into the majority leader race, according to a source familiar with his thinking.

_2">

Labrador abandoned bipartisan House talks on immigration last year and has said he does not think this year is the right time for the issue either.

_3">

_4">

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Annika McGinnis and Julia Edwards; Writing by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Caren Bohan and Grant McCool)

_5">

Woman charged with throwing shoe at Clinton in Nevada to undergo competency evaluation

A federal judge in Nevada has ordered a competency evaluation for a woman charged with throwing a shoe at former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during an April speaking appearance in Las Vegas, according to court papers released on Thursday.

_0">

Alison Michelle Ernst is accused of getting past security at an event at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Hotel where Clinton was speaking and hurling a soccer shoe and several papers at Clinton from the audience.

A video of the incident posted on the website of CBS News shows Clinton ducking as a shoe flies over her head.

 
 
 

"Is that somebody throwing something at me? Is that part of Cirque de Soleil?" Clinton said. "Thank Goodness she didn't play softball like I did."

The evaluation will consider whether Ernst may have been "legally insane" at the time of the incident as well as whether she is fit to stand trial, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen said in issuing the order.

The evaluation was made at the request of Ernst's lawyer, William Carrico, who questioned whether Ernst understood the proceedings against her and could assist in her own defense.

Ernst is charged with entering a restricted building and committing violence against a person in a restricted building or grounds.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Woman charged with throwing shoe at Clinton in Nevada to undergo competency evaluation

A federal judge in Nevada has ordered a competency evaluation for a woman charged with throwing a shoe at former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during an April speaking appearance in Las Vegas, according to court papers released on Thursday.

_0">

Alison Michelle Ernst is accused of getting past security at an event at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Hotel where Clinton was speaking and hurling a soccer shoe and several papers at Clinton from the audience.

A video of the incident posted on the website of CBS News shows Clinton ducking as a shoe flies over her head.

"Is that somebody throwing something at me? Is that part of Cirque de Soleil?" Clinton said. "Thank Goodness she didn't play softball like I did."

The evaluation will consider whether Ernst may have been "legally insane" at the time of the incident as well as whether she is fit to stand trial, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen said in issuing the order.

The evaluation was made at the request of Ernst's lawyer, William Carrico, who questioned whether Ernst understood the proceedings against her and could assist in her own defense.

Ernst is charged with entering a restricted building and committing violence against a person in a restricted building or grounds.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

U.S. cautions Central American parents against sending children alone to border

The U.S. Homeland Security secretary sought to discourage Central American parents on Thursday from sending their children to join a wave of unaccompanied migrants from the region flooding across the U.S. border.

But officials also said they are deploying the full resources of the U.S. government, including three military bases, to humanely house the young migrants in a response similar to how federal agencies handle class="mandelbrot_refrag">natural disasters.

Between October and May, more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the United States, nearly double the number in the previous 12 months, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told a news conference in Washington.

While U.S. officials attributed the spike to poverty and rising gang violence in Central America, Johnson sought to dispel any notion by parents that their children might qualify to stay in the United States as part of immigration reform efforts before the U.S. Congress.

"Those who cross our borders today, including children, are not eligible for an earned path to citizenship pursuant to that legislation," he said. "I also wish to make clear that those apprehended at our border are priorities for removal. They are priorities for enforcement of our immigration laws regardless of age."

Federal officials under President class="mandelbrot_refrag">Barack Obama have focused on turning back unauthorized immigrants stopped in border regions and deporting others elsewhere who are convicted of serious crimes.

The Obama administration has designated an Oklahoma Army base, the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and Naval Base Ventura County in Southern California as facilities to temporarily house hundreds of unaccompanied children from this wave of border crossers.

SCHOOL AT NAVY BASE

Earlier this week, immigrant rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the government alleging systemic abuse of more than 100 unaccompanied children detained by immigration authorities.

Seeking to demonstrate the care being provided to detained migrants, federal officials on Thursday led a media tour of a former military processing center at Naval Base Ventura County where over 160 unaccompanied migrants between the ages of 13 and 17 are held.

In one room housing dozens of girls, bunk beds were neatly made with a teddy bear or plush animal placed at each pillow. The children are given bedding, T-shirts, a fleece-lined jacket and other clothing, including gray hoodies many wore as they walked around the facility.

In one classroom, boys sketched images from National Geographic magazines, and hand-drawn flags of Central American countries such as Guatemala and Honduras made by the teenagers as art projects lined the facility's hallways.

The Obama administration is working to quickly transfer the children to relatives or sponsor families in the United States who must commit to bringing them to immigration hearings where they could face deportation, officials said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)

Sessions quits race for House majority leader

Republican Representative Pete Sessions said on Thursday night he was dropping out of the race for House majority leader, leaving just one candidate in the contest to replace Eric Cantor.

_0">

"After thoughtful consideration, I made the decision to not continue my run for House Majority Leader," the Texas lawmaker said in a statement. "Today, it became obvious to me that the measures necessary to run a successful campaign would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party.

His decision leaves Representative Kevin McCarthy of California as the only lawmaker known to be lobbying for the No. 2 Republican position in the House of Representatives.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Cooney)

Kevin McCarthy lone contender for U.S. House No. 2 job after rivals quit race

California lawmaker Kevin McCarthy emerged as the sole contender in the Republican contest to fill one of the top positions in the U.S. Congress after two candidates dropped out on Thursday, but some lawmakers said McCarthy was not conservative enough and hoped others would jump in the race.

McCarthy, the House majority whip, has been asking other lawmakers to support his bid to become House of Representatives majority leader to succeed Eric Cantor, who is stepping down after his upset primary election defeat to a little-known challenger from the populist Tea Party movement. [ID:nL2N0OS0ZB]

Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, who chairs the House Rules Committee, dropped out of the race to replace Cantor on Thursday evening, saying that to continue running "would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party."

Sessions' statement came after several lawmakers told reporters they thought McCarthy had the edge in the party's June 19 election for the No. 2 post in the House. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas opted out of the running earlier on Thursday. [ID:L2N0OT0TL]McCarthy, the No. 3 ranking House Republican, who is in charge of lining up support for legislation, grabbed early momentum by picking up some endorsements. One was from Cantor, who will serve out the rest of his congressional term through the end of the year.

Representative Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, who attended a meeting of Republicans from Southern states that was addressed by McCarthy and Sessions on Thursday morning, said he would back McCarthy because of his leadership experience, even though he believes a Southern Republican should hold one of the party's top House positions.

"I just think that Kevin will do a great job as a leader. He’s kind of battle-tested, being in that whip's position and that’s what it’s going to take to get us through. He’s a good guy," Westmoreland told reporters.

Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole, also a McCarthy supporter, said the Californian was personally popular. "He tends to be a unifier not a divider," Cole said.

Both McCarthy and Sessions are seen as mainstream conservatives and allies of House Speaker John Boehner, leading to some grumbling from the party's right flank that leaders were moving too quickly to keep one of their candidates from running an effective campaign.

"We don’t have the lineup of conservative, rule-of-law candidates in place. So we’re asking for a delay in this vote, so that there’s time for the conference to come to its senses and evaluate all the opportunities we have going forward,” said Representative Steve King of Iowa, a conservative Tea Party favorite.

King also said he hoped Representative Jim Jordan from Ohio, also popular with the Tea Party, would get in the race.

IMMIGRATION ISSUE

King and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, another Tea Party favorite, both said they would not back any candidate who favored a path to citizenship - which they term "amnesty" - for immigrants who entered the United States illegally.

In Cantor's Virginia district campaign, Tea Party challenger David Brat, a political novice and economics professor, had portrayed Cantor as too soft on immigration reform and succeeded in toppling the House majority leader.

Idaho Representative Raul Labrador, prominent among conservatives willing to defy the Republican establishment, was getting support from other members to jump into the majority leader race, according to a source familiar with his thinking.

Labrador abandoned bipartisan House talks on immigration last year and has said he does not think this year is the right time for the issue either.

_0">

The election represents a high-wire act for Boehner. He would like to see a new team installed that will help him move legislation and avoid fiscal crises, but one that also will make Tea Party supporters in Congress feel they have a voice.

_1">

If House conservatives remain angry over the fight to fill Cantor's post, they could challenge Boehner's bid to remain as speaker later this year.

_2">

The Ohio Republican survived a challenge from the right after the 2012 congressional elections.

_3">

Boehner said he could work with "whoever gets elected."

_4">

A lineup of contenders also emerged for McCarthy's post as majority whip. Lawmakers said Representatives Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Peter Roskam of Illinois have all begun lobbying colleagues for the whip's job.

_5">

_6">

_7">

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Annika McGinnis and Julia Edwards; Writing by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Caren Bohan, Grant McCool and Peter Cooney)

_8">

Obama to unveil education proposals on American Indian trip

U.S. President class="mandelbrot_refrag">Barack Obama on Friday will make his first visit to an American Indian reservation since entering the White House on a trip to unveil new measures aimed at boosting education and economic opportunities for indigenous people.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, will travel to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to show the administration's commitment to "upholding our strong and crucial nation-to-nation relationship," the White House said.

During the visit, the couple will meet with tribal leaders and young people before attending a ceremony that honors Native American veterans with dance and song.

The trip is unusual for Obama, who has devoted most of his U.S. travel to highlight programs on the broader class="mandelbrot_refrag">economy and other domestic policy priorities. It comes just after Obama announced at the White House that he and his advisers were reviewing options to help class="mandelbrot_refrag">Iraq deal with an insurgency.

Obama courted the American Indian vote as a White House candidate in 2008. He became an honorary member of a tribe in Montana, the Crow Nation, and took on a native name: Black Eagle, which means "one who helps all people of this land."

Similar to other domestic trips where he faces protests, Obama may encounter opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline from leaders at the reservation. His administration is weighing whether to approve the pipeline from Canada, which is opposed by environmentalists and supported by industry.

“President Obama must reject this pipeline and protect our sacred land and water. The United States needs to respect our treaty rights and say no to Keystone XL,” said Bryan Brewer of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, in a statement.

Since entering office Obama has hosted meetings with tribal leaders every year and proposed a budget increase to support tribal communities. His administration has also settled a series of legal disputes and breaches of trust lawsuits by Indian tribes against the United States.

The initiatives Obama will announce include reforms for the Bureau of Indian Education, efforts to bring high-speed Internet to tribal schools, and training for teachers.

He will also propose ways to ease regulatory hurdles for infrastructure and energy development and initiatives to boost small businesses owned by Native Americans.

The trip is part of an administration push to advance rights for Native Americans.

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to North Dakota to meet with a tribal consultation conference where he spoke of increased prosecutions of crimes against American Indians and expanded outreach to tribes.

Holder has proposed requiring voting districts to place at least one polling site on tribal land within their territory and said action was necessary to improve voting access for American Indians. [ID:nL2N0OQ142]

    The agency's No. 3 official Tony West has also spent the past week in Alaska, meeting with the National Congress of American Indians.

(Additional reporting by Aruna Viswanatha and Julia Edwards; Editing by Caren Bohan and Andrew Hay)

Federal judge could give green light to gay marriage in Wisconsin

A federal judge could rule on Friday on whether gay marriages may be officiated in Wisconsin following her ruling last week declaring the state's ban on same-sex weddings unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb heard arguments from lawyers on Friday on how her ruling should be applied and whether it should be temporarily halted pending appeals.

Crabb took the questions under advisement and told lawyers she "probably" would rule on the case on Friday.

County clerks around Wisconsin have issued hundreds of marriage licenses to same-sex couples since Crabb ruled last Friday that the state ban adopted in 2006 violated the U.S. Constitution.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, has asked Crabb to stay her decision pending appeal and has said that in the meantime, marriage licenses should not have been issued and county clerks who approved them could be prosecuted.

Crabb in her ruling last Friday did not say whether county clerks were allowed to issue marriage licenses or prohibited until further rulings, leaving it up to county clerks throughout the state to decide whether to issue licenses or not.

According to Fair Wisconsin, an LGBT advocacy organization, 51 of the state's 72 county clerks have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples since the ruling. A tally by Reuters found that more than 500 gay couples have applied for or have been granted a marriage license.

Van Hollen also has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to halt gay marriages in Wisconsin until appeals are concluded.

Not including Wisconsin, same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states plus the District of Columbia. That number would jump sharply if federal court rulings striking down bans in several states are upheld on appeal.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Sandra Maler)


Angelina Jolie, UK's Hague, vow action against sexual violence in war

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague vowed on Tuesday to ensure the world's first summit on ending sexual violence in conflict resulted in practical action to punish those responsible and help victims.

Up to 1,200 government ministers, military and judicial officials and activists from up to 150 nations are attending the June 10-13 summit that is the result of a two-year partnership between Jolie and Hague to combat rape as a weapon of war.

The summit follows a series of violent incidents against women that was expected to raise pressure for action, including the kidnap of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, the stoning of a pregnant Pakistani woman to death, and the gang-rape and murder of two Indian girls.

Opening the four-day summit in London's docklands, Jolie, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said political will was needed globally to treat sexual violence as a priority and tackle a culture of impunity.

"It is a myth that rape is an inevitable part of conflict. It is a weapon of war aimed at civilians .. done to torture and humiliate people and often to very young children," she said.

"We need to see real commitment and go after the worst perpetrators, to fund proper protection for vulnerable people, and to step in to help the worst-affected countries."

Jolie's involvement in humanitarian issues dates back to 2001 when she traveled to Sierra Leone as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and saw the impact of years of civil war when an estimated 60,000 women were raped.

Her link-up with Hague was sparked by her 2011 directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey" that was set against the backdrop of the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which more than 100,000 people were killed and an estimated 20,000 women believed raped.

Last year the unusual partnership led to the launch of a declaration, now signed by about 150 countries, pledging to end impunity and provide justice and safety for victims but Hague said the summit would take this further.

POWER IN NUMBERS

Hague said the conference, to be attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, would agree a protocol to push for international standards on recording and investigating sex crimes to bring more people to justice.

Other practical steps would include strengthening laws in certain countries, training armies and peacekeepers, and increasing funding to help survivors, some of whose harrowing stories were retold in documentaries on show at a fringe event.

"There is power in numbers and if we unite behind this cause we can create an unstoppable momentum and consign this vile abuse to history," Hague said, unveiling a six million pound ($10 million) fund for victims from the UK government.

Organizations with stands at the meeting and members of the public attending the fringe event of theater and discussions said concrete action was critical and that the public and activists needed to ensure governments stuck to promises made.

"The momentum is with this summit, with Angelina Jolie and Hague and the news agenda - now is the perfect time for action on women's rights. This could be a turning point," said Nick Harvey, spokesman for healthcare charity Doctors Of The World.

_0">

Canadian lawyer Guylaine Grenier, on holiday in London with her niece from Vancouver, said this should be just the start.

_1">

"I hope it does not end here, that it goes further. This kind of event should happen every year so we can see what has really happened in the past year," Grenier, 45, told Reuters.

_2">

_3">

(Editing by Stephen Addison)

_4">

Man pleads not guilty to break-in at Sandra Bullock's home

A man arrested for allegedly breaking into actress Sandra Bullock's Los Angeles home pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of burglary, stalking and possession of a machine gun.

_0">

Joshua Corbett, 39, from Montrose, a Los Angeles suburb in the San Fernando valley, was arrested Sunday morning after allegedly climbing the fence to the Oscar-winner's property and breaking into her home near Beverly Hills at about 1 a.m., prosecutors said.

Bullock, the star of such films as "The Blind Side" and this year's Academy Award-winner "Gravity," was at home during the alleged break-in.

 
 
 

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Corbett, who was arrested at the scene after an emergency call was placed from inside the house, was not in possession of the machine gun at the time of the break-in. A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office declined to say where the gun was found.

Corbett's attorney, Stephen Sitkoff, said Corbett did not intend to harm Bullock.

"My client has some pretty serious mental health issues that we're going to deal with and resolve this matter," Sitkoff said.

Corbett's bail has been set at $185,000. He faces up to seven years and four months in prison if convicted on all felony charges.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; editing by Patricia Reaney and Sofina Mirza-Reid)

Truck driver in Tracy Morgan crash pleads not guilty to charges

A Georgia truck driver accused of triggering a fatal New Jersey car crash that critically injured actor Tracy Morgan pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

_0">

Kevin Roper, 35, had not slept for more than 24 hours before he got behind the wheel of his truck, prosecutors said in a criminal complaint.

(Reporting by David Jones; Writing by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

Celebrity chef Paula Deen to launch digital cooking network

Celebrity chef Paula Deen will launch a subscription-based, online network in September featuring her Southern home cooking, a year after she lost her Food Network show and millions of dollars in product endorsements amid a racial controversy.

The culinary star announced plans on Wednesday for the Paula Deen Network, which she said would offer broadcast-quality shows on demand via computer, smartphone or tablet.

"Guess who's going digital, y'all!" Deen said on her website.

Deen said the Internet network would give her greater creative control and freedom than television programming. In a video interview with the Wall Street Journal, she expressed confidence her fans would be willing to pay for the content.

"I think they're going to be more than happy to join this network," she said, noting that users will be offered a 14-day free trial.

Deen's multimillion-dollar enterprise, built on cookbooks, class="mandelbrot_refrag">restaurants, television shows and class="mandelbrot_refrag">housewares, suffered a major hit last year after she said she had used a racial slur.

The admission came during a deposition in a racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit brought against Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, by a former employee of a restaurant the siblings owned in Savannah, Georgia.

The employee, who is white, claimed she had been the victim of sexual harassment and alleged a pattern of racial discrimination against black employees at Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House.

class="mandelbrot_refrag">Scripps Networks Interactive Inc dropped Deen's cooking show from its cable television channel, the Food Network, in the fallout from the case, and companies including class="mandelbrot_refrag">Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target Corp and Home Depot Inc stopped selling Deen products.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit last summer. The restaurant closed in April after a decade in business.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

British comedian Rik Mayall suffered 'acute cardiac event'

Anarchic British comic actor Rik Mayall, who died suddenly this week aged 56, suffered an "acute cardiac event" at home, his widow said on Thursday.

_0">

Mayall, who revolutionised television sitcoms with "The Young Ones" in the 1980s, died on Monday.

"We now know that our darling Rik suffered an ‘acute cardiac event’ at our home around midday on June 9th," his widow Barbara said in a statement. "He had just returned from his usual run and many people had seen him that morning."

She added: "I ... and the many in our extended family who have received the thousands and thousands of messages of condolence from all over the UK and beyond these shores would like to say thank-you to each and every one of you for your heartfelt love and support."

Earlier a spokeswoman at West London Coroner's court said a post-mortem examination had been inconclusive and that further tests were being carried out.

Famed for his often manically violent style, Mayall co-wrote and starred in the "The Young Ones", played the corrupt but suave politician Alan B'Stard in "The New Statesman" and made notable appearances alongside Rowan Atkinson in "Blackadder".

Mayall had a serious quad bike accident in 1998 which left him in a coma for five days. He later developed epilepsy.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Alison Williams)

Ailing deejay Casey Kasem to stop receiving food, water

The daughter of ailing 82-year-old deejay Casey Kasem has decided to withhold food, hydration and his usual medication from him following a Los Angeles judge's decision on Wednesday to let her do so, her spokesman said.

Kerri Kasem and her brother and sister, the "American Top 40" host's children from his first marriage, chose to transition Kasem back to comfort-oriented, end-of-life care at a Washington state hospital where he has been in hospice care.

Kasem's care has been the subject of a legal tussle between Kerri Kasem and Casey Kasem's current wife, Jean Kasem, who initially won a court order on Monday allowing Kasem food, water and his usual medication. Kasem's wife has opposed withholding food and water from her husband. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel Murphy determined that giving Kasem food and water would be detrimental to his health, agreeing with the deejay's physicians and daughter Kerri Kasem, who is in charge of her father's healthcare.

"Transitioning our father's treatment to comfort-oriented care was one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make," Kasem's children said in a statement.

The statement included part of Kasem's health directive, which stated that he desired no form of "life-sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration."

Kasem, who also voiced the character Shaggy in the "Scooby-Doo" cartoons, had been on comfort-oriented care, which manages pain and withholds food and water that could be harmful to his health, Kerri Kasem's attorney Martha Patterson said.

Patterson said food was running a risk of giving Kasem pneumonia while water was flooding his lungs.

Kasem's court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham, supports putting his client back on comfort-oriented care.

Gregory Young, an attorney for Jean Kasem, said they would pursue all legal options and that Kasem was being "starved and cut off from medicine until he dies." Young also alleges that the healthcare directive presented by Kerri Kasem is out of date.

Kasem - who suffers from Lewy body disease, a form of dementia with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease - is also suffering from an infected bedsore, an ulcer on the skin that is often difficult to treat.

(Editing by Will Dunham and Jim Loney)

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush skydives for 90th birthday

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush marked his 90th birthday by skydiving out of a helicopter above Kennebunkport, Maine, on Thursday, soaring under a red, white and blue parachute with a group of U.S. Army veterans.

_0">

"It's a wonderful day in Maine - in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump," said the 41st U.S. president, who first jumped from an aircraft almost 70 years ago when he was shot down over the Pacific Ocean during World War Two.

Live video showed Bush soaring over a wooded area of coastal Maine, where he has long maintained a home. After landing, a support team returned him to the wheelchair Bush uses to get around.

Bush, the father of 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush, has been celebrating birthdays with occasional skydives for years and marked his 75th and 80th birthdays with jumps.

In 2009, when he jumped to mark his 85th birthday, his son then-President Bush said: "I think he's a nut to jump."

Skies in Maine were heavily overcast with little wind on Thursday.

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Eric Beech)

Comic Tracy Morgan, injured in crash, is improving, publicist says

Comedian Tracy Morgan, badly injured in a weekend highway crash, is showing signs of improvement in a New Jersey hospital where he remains in critical condition, his publicist said on Thursday.

The pileup on the New Jersey Turnpike early on Saturday killed comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair and injured Morgan and three others in their limousine van.

Morgan, 45, best known for roles on "30 Rock" and "Saturday Night Live," suffered injuries including a broken leg, nose and ribs and was hospitalized at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

 
 
 

"Today was a better day. While Tracy remains in critical, but stable, condition, he continues to show signs of improvement," publicist Lewis Kay said in a statement.

"His medical team remains optimistic that his recovery is progressing," Kay said.

Morgan's fiance, Megan Wollover, is with him, Kay said.

A Georgia truck driver pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of vehicular manslaughter and assault by auto in connection with the six-vehicle chain-reaction crash.

Kevin Roper, 35, a delivery driver for class="mandelbrot_refrag">Wal-Mart Stores Inc, is accused of failing to see traffic slowing in front of him and slamming into the back of the limo van carrying Morgan and several of his associates.

Roper had not slept in more than 24 hours when he triggered the fatal crash, according to prosecutors.

Wal-Mart has promised to cooperate in the state and federal investigation into the crash and said its drivers were among the safest on the road.

Roper remains free on $50,000 bail.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

Anonymous donor leaves San Francisco fans searching for hidden cash

Some San Francisco-area residents are flush with cash, thanks to an anonymous donor who has been hiding envelopes full of money in secret spots around the city.

The donor has been conducting the Northern California treasure hunt by posting clues to a Twitter account called HiddenCash, sending followers to uncover envelopes filled with about $100 taped behind stop signs, bulldozers, fire hydrants and dumpsters.

By late Wednesday, more than 190,000 people were following the Twitter account.

The donor describes the five-day-old game as way to give back to society after making millions in the city's real estate market.

"I want the spotlight on what I'm doing and trying to do," he told CNN. "I have no plans to stop anytime soon. I'm planning to continue this indefinitely into the future." 

The donor has encouraged winners to tweet photos of their winnings. So far, the experiment has appeared to be a success.

A local television web producer treated co-workers to pizza, while another donated the cash to San Francisco's St. Anne's church and another to the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, according to postings on Twitter.

Deidre Washington, 35, of Oakland, said in a phone interview that she and her 14-year-old daughter used a Twitter clue to hunt down an envelope taped to a parking meter in San Francisco's Mission district with $60 inside.

Washington said she split the contents with several homeless people at a camp nearby. "We're always trying to give back," she said.

The pair then doubled their winnings after following a second tweet to another $60 envelope at Burger King.

"We split it - she's using it for the summer and I got some gas," Washington said of herself and her daughter. 

"‪Hiddencash is NOT instead of charity," the donor tweeted on Monday. "We support many charities too. This is for fun."

Though the game began in San Francisco, envelopes have begun appearing in Oakland and San Jose.

Alex Doxie found the first envelope in San Jose on Wednesday - $120 attached to a fire hydrant, according to a local media report.

"I’m going to take my wife out to dinner,” he told local news station KTVU.

The donor does not plan to keep the game confined to northern California, saying on Twitter that Los Angeles residents will soon get a chance to treasure hunt their own envelopes of cash.

_0">

_1">

(Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Ken Wills)

_2">

Prankster hits Brad Pitt in the face at "Maleficent" premiere


Maryland man sentenced to 5 years for lengthy dine-and-dash binge

A Baltimore man who police say routinely scammed class="mandelbrot_refrag">restaurants by eating and then faking a seizure to get out of paying his bill was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.

Andrew Palmer, 47, had defrauded dozens of class="mandelbrot_refrag">restaurants, from casual to upscale, according to Baltimore Police. Court papers show that Palmer was arrested 80 times and had 40 convictions since 1985, mostly on theft-of-service counts.

His most recent offense occurred Oct. 26, 2013 at Oliver Speck's Eats and Drinks, where Palmer consumed $90 in food and beverages. When he was presented the bill, he pretended to pass out.

Paramedics responding to the call immediately recognized him, police said. On the way to the hospital, court documents said, Palmer suddenly sat up and said, "I have no money to pay for my food and beers so I was faking."

A warrant was later issued and he was arrested.

Palmer pleaded guilty to theft of less than $1,000 and causing false call for an ambulance. A judge sentenced him to 10 years in jail, and suspended five years.

"He's been more than a nuisance, to say the least," said a spokeswoman for state prosecutors in Baltimore. "Clearly he was not learning his lesson."

(Editing by Scott Malone and Dan Grebler)

New Mexico employee at half-way house charged with licking food

A kitchen employee at a women's halfway house has been charged with three counts of battery on a peace officer for licking sandwich cheese and ice cubes and serving them to probation and parole officers at the center, according to court documents.

Yolanda Arguello, 59, was employed at the South Valley New class="mandelbrot_refrag">Mexico Women's Recovery Academy in Albuquerque as a contract employee, said Alex Tomlin, spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

"The case is still under investigation but she has had her security clearance revoked and no longer works at the facility," Tomlin said.

Other employees at the facility this month reported seeing Arguello lick sandwich cheese and serve it to probation and parole officers, and suck on ice cubes or place them on the floor and then put them in beverages for the officers, according to an investigator's affidavit in the case.

The food was served to probation and parole officers at the center, according to the affidavit, which was provided by the District Attorney's Office for the New class="mandelbrot_refrag">Mexico judicial district that includes Albuquerque.

A representative from Community Education Centers, the group that operates the facility and employed Arguello, could not be reached for comment.

Arguello was charged on Wednesday with three fourth degree felony counts of battery on a peace officer, according to New Mexico court records posted online. She posted bond shortly after her arrest and was released.

Contact information for Arguello could not be found and she could not be reached for comment.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and James Dalgleish)


Connecticut aging commissioner a reluctant retiree at 88

At age 88, Edith Prague brought real-world experience to her job as commissioner of Connecticut's Department on Aging, but when urged by her doctor to consider cutting back her schedule she reluctantly decided to retire.

Prague, one of the state's oldest employees who is believed by state officials to be the nation's oldest commissioner on aging, on Thursday said this week would be her last at an agency she long fought for.

"With the growing senior and aging population, the commissioner's job is full-time," Prague said in a phone interview. She noted she had made a full recovery after suffering a couple of minor strokes this winter, but realized it was time to follow her doctor's advice.

"I guess it was either die or retire, and I chose to retire, however reluctantly," she said. "Now I just have to find something I love to do as much."

Prague was first appointed to the job in 1990 by then-Governor Lowell Weicker but was fired a few years later after she refused to cut her agency's budget and merge it into the larger Department of Social Services during a state financial crisis.

Weicker got his way, but Prague also carried on in politics and won a seat in the state senate which she held for 18 years until a new governor, Dannel Malloy last year re-established the department and brought Prague back to run it.

"She served with honor and compassion, and brought tremendous energy to the job," said Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Malloy. "Her passion for advocacy on behalf of Connecticut's seniors served this administration and the state immeasurably well."

(Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)

Luxury jeweler Fabergé sues Faberge, a Brooklyn restaurant

Luxury jeweler Fabergé filed a copyright lawsuit on Thursday against a New York City restaurant for what it called a "shameless" appropriation of Fabergé's name and distinctive storefront facade of repeated gold and purple diamonds.

_0">

The restaurant, which opened last fall in the heavily Russian neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay, "is an effort to free-ride on the enormous good will" established by Fabergé and "confuse consumers and members of the general public," according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn.

Reached by phone, Vladislav Yusufov, the owner of the New York's Faberge restaurant, said he had no intention of stealing anything from the iconic jeweler.

"We haven't copied nothing from Fabergé. We don't sell jewelry," he said. "We are totally different. Our business is food sale. French and steaks." Unlike the jeweler, the restaurant spells its name without an accent, and has replaced the letter 'A' with the Eiffel Tower in its logo.

The luxury jeweler was founded in 1842 in St Petersburg, class="mandelbrot_refrag">Russia, and made some 50 of its ornate, jewel-encrusted eggs for the Russian Tsars from 1885 to 1916. Forty-two have survived, and can trade hands for tens of millions of dollars.

The restaurant Faberge, which also hosts events, does not sell eggs on its menu, but values its porterhouse at $49.90.

(Reporting By Edith Honan; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Sandra Maler)



Thousands of naked bicyclists stage festive Portland protest ride

Thousands of bicyclists, many of them stark naked, poured into the streets of Portland, Oregon on Saturday night for the 11th annual World Naked Bike Ride, a protest that promotes bike riding as an alternative to driving cars.

Nude cyclists with lights flashing in their tire spokes rang bells as they barreled down avenues lined with cheering spectators, while a naked, apparently pregnant woman rode in a bike trailer.

"This is a party, but it's also a protest," said Carl Larson, a ride spokesman. "It is about oil dependence, cycling vulnerability and body" image.

 
 
 

Cyclists showed up in Normandale Park an hour before the ride, shedding garments according to the ride theme "as bare as you dare".

The rides are held in more than 75 U.S. cities and in more than 20 other countries, but Portland's is believed to be the largest, with more than 8,000 participants last year.

But unlike events in other cities, the Portland ride works with local police, being considered as a protest. Officers direct traffic during what is generally a trouble-free event.

"We've had a few complaints from neighbors but overall not many issues of concern," said police spokesman Sgt. Peter Simpson before the ride, adding "for residents who don't want to see it, the best advice is to just not go outside."

Jennifer Young, 40, who was at the ride with her 16-year-old son and was painted blue head to toe with fairy wings on her back, saw the goal as showing cyclists' vulnerability, saying "I think it's a little more evident when we're naked."

Neighbors looked on as a marching band played and dancers kicked off the start. Later a naked punk band jammed from the sidelines as bikers rolled past.

Fred Tebo, 90, wasn't sure want to think of the hoards of naked people in the park across the street from the house he has lived in since 1971.

"It's entertaining and it's stupid at the same time," he said, sitting on his steps. But a few minutes later he let a young woman and man clad in their underwear use his bathroom.

_0">

_1">

(Editing by Chris Michaud; Editing by Michael Perry)

_2">