Sect leader charged: Polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, already serving time in Utah on sex charges, was indicted this week on new sexual-assault charges as Texas authorities continued their campaign against his Yearning for Zion compound. Jeffs, the self-styled “prophet” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is serving a minimum of 10 years in prison for aiding in the rape of a 14-year-old girl. Prosecutors said they now have evidence that Jeffs “married” and possibly impregnated two 12-year-old girls and one 14-year-old at the Texas compound. Five other men also faced a variety of charges. In April, authorities seized more than 400 children from the complex, but a judge later ordered the children returned, ruling that the state had not demonstrated they were in imminent danger.
Peppers blamed for salmonella: Stores and restaurants around the nation tossed their supplies of raw jalapeño peppers this week, after the federal government reported it had found a pepper bearing the same strain of salmonella that has sickened thousands since April. Food and Drug Administration inspectors traced the salmonella bacteria to a jalapeño at a processing plant in McAllen. But they were still trying to determine whether the pepper was exposed to the bacteria in Texas or at the Mexican farm on which it was grown. The FDA also said it is now safe to eat several varieties of tomatoes that were the subject of an earlier safety warning. Officials said they might never know if tomatoes contributed to the salmonella outbreak.
Gay marriages uncounted: All gays and lesbians who were married in California and Massachusetts will be classified as single in the 2010 census, the Census Bureau said last week. Bureau director Steven Murdock said the bureau is barred from recognizing gay marriage by the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. For the same reason, married same-sex couples will not be classified as “families” unless there are children in the home as well. Gay-rights groups called on the bureau to reconsider the policy. “To completely whitewash us out of existence is hurtful and discriminatory,” said Molly McKay of Marriage Equality USA.
Luxury liner: Top Air Force brass have been lobbying to spend $16.2 million in anti-terror funds to install luxurious “comfort capsules” on military planes, The Washington Post reported last week. The capsules—two sealed rooms that can fit in the fuselage of a military aircraft—are furnished with leather seats, color-coordinated carpeting, couches, and 37-inch flat-panel TVs. They’re intended for use by Air Force VIPs, and are “furnished to reflect the rank of the senior leaders” using the facilities, an Air Force document says. At least four Air Force generals have been closely involved in selecting the capsules’ accoutrements.
New York City
Rangel under scrutiny: Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, one of the most influential Democrats in Congress, was facing new criticism this week after The Washington Post reported he had sought contributions for a college research center being named in his honor. Using a congressional perch to solicit donations is not allowed, since it could be seen as part of a quid pro quo. Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was already feeling heat after The New York Times reported he was paying below-market rent on four apartments in a luxury high-rise in Harlem, including one he was using as an office; guidelines require such dwellings to be used as a primary residence, and Rangel said he would give that one up. Rangel called on the House Ethics Committee to look into the fund-raising allegations, saying he expected to be cleared. But he said his living arrangements are
“a personal issue” and not a matter for the ethics panel.
Snooping anchor indicted: A former Philadelphia TV news anchor was indicted this week for hacking into the personal e-mails of his then co-anchor and sharing the e-mails with a newspaper reporter. Larry Mendte, former anchor of the local CBS affiliate’s evening newscast, is expected to plead guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of six months. Prosecutors said Mendte installed software that secretly monitored the computer of his co-anchor, Alycia Lane. Lane, meanwhile, has had her own legal woes. In an unrelated incident, she was fired from the station last December after she was arrested in New York for allegedly assaulting a policeman. The charges were eventually dropped.