Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Military resistance: A U.S. Marine drew the attention of the Pentagon after he launched a Facebook group for “Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots” that vows to “defend our Constitution that is threatened by a tyrannical government.” Sgt. Gary Stein, 24, said on the page that “I won’t ‘just follow orders’” and suggested he would disobey presidential commands he believed to be unconstitutional. But Stein overhauled the group’s Facebook page after his superiors stopped him from doing an interview with MSNBC and ordered him to review regulations limiting political activities by military personnel. A Marine official said Stein would not face any discipline.
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Smoke, no fire: A diplomat from Qatar sparked a massive security scare last week when he sarcastically said he was trying to ignite his shoe after he was caught smoking aboard a United Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., to Denver. Air marshals handcuffed Muhammed al-Madadi when he emerged from a smoky first-class lavatory, and two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled. But it turned out that al-Madadi was making a joking reference to Richard Reid, who in 2001 attempted to detonate explosives in his shoe during a trans-Atlantic flight. Al-Madadi will not be charged with a crime, though Qatar has reassigned him to another country. Al-Madadi, an employee of the Qatar embassy in Washington, was flying to Denver to meet Ali al-Marri, a Qatari serving eight years on terrorism-related charges.
Boy Scouts found negligent: The national organization of the Boy Scouts and a regional affiliate were ordered to pay more than $1 million to a former Scout after a civil jury found the organization negligently allowed a known abuser to work with children. The jury found that the Boy Scouts of America and its Cascade Pacific Council let Timur Dykes continue working with Scouts in the 1980s, after learning that he had abused at least one boy. The organization claimed it did not know that Dykes was a child abuser when it made him a Scout leader, and stressed that it cooperated with authorities as soon as the information came to light. An appeal is planned.
Tough abortion law: The Nebraska legislature has passed a law barring most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, based on the claim that fetuses can feel pain after that point. Previous state limits on abortions were based on estimates of the age at which the fetus can survive outside the womb—usually after the 22nd or 24th week of pregnancy. The Nebraska law is the first to cite the potential for fetal pain as a rationale for limiting the procedure. Supporters say the statute conforms with current scientific understanding of fetal development, while opponents say there is no hard evidence that fetuses can feel pain. The Center for Reproductive Rights, a national abortion-rights group, said it might sue to overturn the statute.
Prisoner’s release blocked: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo this week moved to block the release of a man who has finished serving his sentence for knowingly infecting two women with the AIDS virus. Nushawn Williams, 33, remains behind bars while a state court is considering Cuomo’s petition to keep him locked up, under a three-year-old state law that permits the civil confinement of some sex offenders. Williams was imprisoned in 1998 and served 12 years for infecting the two women after learning he was HIV-positive. The next year he boasted in an interview that he’d had sex with 200 to 300 women in New York, North Carolina, and Virginia. A fellow inmate has testified that Williams planned to infect more women upon his release.
Jobless benefits extended: The Senate this week moved closer to a 30-day extension of unemployment benefits, after four Republicans crossed party lines to end a GOP filibuster. The vote came a week after jobless benefits ran out for millions of Americans. Democrats had attempted to pass the extension in late March, before Congress recessed for two weeks, but Republicans blocked them. Republicans criticized the $9 billion bill for adding to the deficit. “Those who continue to use the taxpayer credit card with reckless abandon threaten not only our chances of a quick recovery and the jobs it would create,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, “but also the nation’s long-term fiscal security.”
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