Force-feeding: A federal judge approved a request by California prison officials to allow the force-feeding of more than 100 hunger strikers, even if they have signed “do not resuscitate” orders. State officials argued that some of the 136 inmates involved may have been “coerced” into carrying out the hunger strike and signing the papers. This week, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson authorized officials to involuntarily feed any prisoner they believe has been coerced, as well as inmates who have “become incompetent to give consent or make medical decisions.” The hunger strike, which began in July, is being held to protest the practice of keeping some inmates in solitary confinement for years at a time. So far, 69 inmates have refused food for 43 days, and 67 others have fasted for shorter periods.
Kidnapping twist: The family of a man accused of abducting teenager Hannah Anderson and murdering her mother and brother has requested DNA samples from the girl’s relatives, in order to determine whether she is her kidnapper’s biological child. James DiMaggio’s family made the request this week after it emerged that the 40-year-old—who went on the run with Anderson before being shot dead by an FBI agent in the Idaho wilderness—had named Hannah’s grandmother as the beneficiary of a $110,000 life insurance policy. “We find it very strange that he has left all this money without any explanation,” said a spokesman for the DiMaggio family. A friend of the Andersons, DiMaggio allegedly killed Hannah’s mother and brother in his house, which he then burnt down. According to a search warrant, DiMaggio had taken Hannah on “multiple day trips” before the abduction.
‘Canadian Ted’: Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential ambitions suffered a setback this week when The Dallas Morning News published a copy of the Texas Republican’s birth certificate that apparently proves he is a Canadian citizen. Cruz was born in 1970 in Calgary, Alberta, where his Cuban-born father was working, and automatically became a Canadian at birth, allowing him to vote in Canadian elections and even run for parliament. His mother’s U.S. nationality also secured him American citizenship upon birth. Cruz could run for the White House as a dual citizen, but the news was nevertheless a boon for the senator’s critics, who have mocked the Tea Party firebrand as “Canadian Ted.” Cruz said he would pay the $100 fee to renounce his Canadian citizenship. “Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth, and as a U.S. senator, I believe I should be only an American,” he said.
‘Bored’ killers: Two teenagers were charged this week with first-degree murder in the death of an Australian baseball player, having allegedly admitted to police that they killed the 22-year-old “for the fun of it.” Officers say that Christopher Lane, who was attending East Central University on a baseball scholarship, was out jogging when the 15-year-old and 16-year-old randomly gunned him down. “They saw Christopher go by,” said police Chief Dan Ford, “and one of them said, ‘There’s our target.’” They allegedly followed Lane in a car, before shooting him in the back and driving off. When asked for their motivation for the shooting, one of the boys apparently said, “We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.” A 17-year-old was charged with being an accessory to the murder. “It is heartless,” said Peter Lane, Christopher’s father, to Australian broadcasters. “To try to understand it is a short way to insanity.”
Assault changes: The Pentagon has issued new regulations to combat the military’s sexual assault epidemic, but lawmakers and victims advocates say the new rules do not go far enough. The revamped procedure, announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, includes assigning legal representatives to all sexual assault victims so they have formal support during the investigations and trials. Commanders have also been given the option to reassign or transfer a unit member accused of a sex crime. Several lawmakers and advocacy groups have repeatedly called for more far-reaching changes to the military’s policies. “The Pentagon taking action is a good thing,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a lead sponsor of a bill that would take rape-case investigations out of the chain of command. “But it is not the leap forward required to solve the problem.”
Fort Meade, Md.
Manning sentenced: Pfc. Bradley Manning was stripped of his rank, dishonorably discharged, and sentenced to 35 years in prison this week for his involvement in the biggest leak of classified data in the nation’s history. The former intelligence analyst was convicted last month on 20 counts, including theft, computer fraud, and six violations of the Espionage Act, for providing more than 700,000 classified Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks in 2010. The prosecution had requested 60 years, and the judge, Army Col. Denise R. Lind, could have sentenced Manning to up to 90 years. His defense attorney, David Coombs, argued for leniency, saying that Manning suffered from a gender identity crisis and exhibited signs of deteriorating mental health that the military ignored. Manning apologized, saying, “When I made these decisions, I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.”