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Report: Marines' deaths caused by training misstep
Written by ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press MICHAEL BIESECKER, Associated Press   
Thursday, 23 January 2014 07:29

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An explosion that killed seven Camp Lejeune Marines during a nighttime training exercise was the result of human error and insufficient training, according to the results of a military investigation.

Lt. Adam Flores, a spokesman for the Lejeune-based 2nd Marine Division, said Wednesday that the investigation found the deadly March 18 explosion was triggered when a Marine dropped a second round into an already loaded mortar tube during a live-fire exercise. Two officers and a noncommissioned officer were relieved of command following the explosion at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada.

Those killed ranged in age from 19 to 26. Seven additional Marines and a Navy sailor were also wounded in the blast.

The investigation determined that the 60 mm mortar functioned properly and that the weapon system is safe when used as designed by properly trained Marines. Marine officials said last year that the explosion was the result of "human error," but did not provide details of what caused the blast.

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South Carolina judge gets case of new trial for executed teen
Written by JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press   
Thursday, 23 January 2014 07:19

SUMTER, S.C. (AP) — Lawyers finally got the chance to argue on behalf of George Stinney, 70 years after the 14-year-old black boy was sent to the electric chair for killing two white girls in South Carolina.

Whether his conviction from that segregation-era court is tossed out is now up to Judge Carmen Mullen after a two-day hearing concluded Wednesday. She gave both sides at least 10 more days to consult witnesses and make more arguments.

The hearing at least gave Stinney something he was denied in 1944 — his day in court. His white lawyer back then called no witnesses and did no cross-examination. He normally handled civil cases and was running to be a legislator at a time when almost all voters were white. The boy was likely the only black face in the courthouse.

At this week's hearing, Stinney's two sisters and brother testified, remembering a young man who liked to draw and walked the family cow to a field near the railroad tracks. They also recalled their fear of white men in uniforms and strange looking cars who came and took the teen and his brother away. Stinney's older brother, Johnny, was let go after George confessed. But he almost never talked about it again. The rest of the family didn't see the teen again until his funeral, when Stinney's body, burned from the electric chair, was put in an open casket.

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Government panel urges end to phone data spying
Written by STEPHEN BRAUN, Associated Press   
Thursday, 23 January 2014 07:12

WASHINGTON (AP) — A sharply divided government task force that reviewed the National Security Agency's surveillance program for four months has urged President Barack Obama to shut down the agency's bulk collection of phone data and purge its massive inventory of millions of Americans' calling records, The Associated Press has learned.

The recommendation from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to abandon the NSA's phone surveillance was even more sweeping than a similar proposal from another panel of experts. That panel, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, advised Obama in December to restrict phone surveillance to limited court-ordered sweeps.

The oversight board's new 234-page report — a copy of which was obtained by the AP — contained several strong dissents from two members of the five-member board — former Bush administration national security lawyers who recommended that the government retain its broad phone surveillance authority. The board disclosed key parts of its report to Obama earlier this month before he unveiled his plans during a speech last week to the nation.

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Texas executes man despite opposition from Mexico
Written by MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press   
Thursday, 23 January 2014 07:13

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Mexican national was executed Wednesday night in Texas for killing a Houston police officer, despite pleas and diplomatic pressure from the Mexican government and the U.S. State Department to halt the punishment.

Edgar Tamayo, 46, received a lethal injection for the January 1994 fatal shooting of Officer Guy Gaddis, 24.

Asked by a warden if he had a final statement, he mumbled "no" and shook his head. As the lethal dose of pentobarbital began taking effect, he took a few breaths and then made one slightly audible snore before all movement stopped. He was pronounced dead 17 minutes after the drug was administered, at 9:32 p.m. CST.

The execution, the first this year in the nation's most active death penalty state, was delayed more than three hours while the U.S. Supreme Court considered last-ditch appeals.

Tamayo never looked toward Gaddis' mother, two brothers and two other relatives who watched through a window.

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States weighing labels on genetically altered food
Written by DAVID KLEPPER, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 16:08

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — States from Rhode Island to Hawaii are considering requiring labels on food items containing genetically modified ingredients, which account for two-thirds of the processed foods on American grocery shelves.

Currently, only Connecticut and Maine have laws requiring labels for food containing altered ingredients, known as GMOs. But those requirements won't start until other states follow suit.

Lawmakers in other New England states are pushing to join them. Efforts are also underway in dozens of other states including California and Washington, where voters rejected a labeling proposal last year.

Biotech and agricultural companies oppose the proposals and say there's no scientific evidence that GMO foods are unsafe.

Rhode Island state Rep. Dennis Canario (cah-NAYR'-ee-oh) supports requiring labels. He says that without federal rules states should let consumers to know what they're eating.


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