Keystone XL pipeline supporters tout report
WASHINGTON – A new State Department report is the latest evidence that the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada should be approved, supporters say.
The draft report, issued Friday, finds there would be no significant environmental impact to most resources along the proposed route from western Canada to refineries in Texas. The report also said other options to get the oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries are worse for climate change.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the report shows it is time for President Obama “to stand up for middle-class jobs and energy security and approve the Keystone pipeline.”
Gov't freed 2,000-plus immigrant inmates
WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security Department released from its jails more than 2,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation in recent weeks due to looming budget cuts and planned to release 3,000 more during March, The Associated Press has learned.
The newly disclosed figures, cited in internal budget documents reviewed by the AP, are significantly higher than the “few hundred” illegal immigrants the Obama administration acknowledged this week had been released under the budget-savings process.
The government documents show that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released roughly 1,000 illegal immigrants from its jails around the U.S. each week since at least Feb. 15.
Montana jury acquits former star QB of rape
MISSOULA, Mont. – Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before acquitting a former University of Montana quarterback in a rape trial that has played out amid NCAA and federal investigations into how the city and school respond to rape allegations on campus.
Jordan Johnson and his attorney David Paoli both cried after the verdict was announced Friday, and cheers erupted from the area where the defendant's family was sitting in the packed courtroom.
The accusations against Johnson, 20, have drawn much attention in Montana, where UM football is the top sports attraction. Johnson led the school to a successful 2011 season as starting quarterback before being accused of assaulting a woman while watching a movie with her at her home last year.
Samsung's $1B bill in Apple case cut $450M
SAN FRANCISCO – The two biggest – and bitterest – rivals in the smartphone market will have to endure another bruising trial after a federal judge ruled that jurors miscalculated nearly half the $1 billion in damages it found Samsung Electronics owed Apple for patent infringement.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh wiped out $450 million from the verdict and ordered a new trial to reconsider damages related to 14 Samsung products including some products in its hot-selling Galaxy lineup jurors in August found were using Apple's technology without permission. Koh said jurors in the three-week trial had not properly followed her instruction in calculating some of the damages.
She also concluded that mistakes had been made in determining when Apple had first notified Samsung about the alleged violations of patents for its trend-setting iPhone and iPad.
Koh didn't toss out the jurors underlying finding that two dozen Samsung products infringed patents Apple used to develop its iPad and iPhone products. The new jury will be tasked with only determining what Samsung owes Apple.
Chavez in 'battle for life,' gov't says
CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez has been receiving chemotherapy since recovering from a severe respiratory infection in mid-January and “continues his battle for life,” his vice president said late Friday.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro suggested the chemotherapy was continuing in the government's first mention of it as among treatments that Venezuela's cancer-stricken president has received since his Dec. 11 cancer surgery in Cuba.
Maduro made the disclosure after a Mass for Chavez in a new chapel outside the military hospital where authorities say the socialist leader has been since being flown back to Caracas on Feb. 18.
Maduro's offering of the most detailed rundown to date of Chavez's post-operative struggle came hours after an accusation by opposition leader Henrique Capriles that the government has repeatedly lied about Chavez's condition.
Moscow skeptical about US autopsy of Russian boy
MOSCOW – Russia voiced strong skepticism today about the U.S. autopsy on a 3-year-old adopted Russian boy in Texas and demanded further investigation as thousands rallied in Moscow to support the Kremlin ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children.
Max Shatto’s death, ruled accidental, came a month after Moscow passed a ban on international adoptions in retaliation for a new U.S. law targeting alleged Russian human rights violators. Russian officials have pointed at Max’s case to defend the controversial ban, which has drawn strong public criticism.
The boy, born Maxim Kuzmin, died Jan. 21 after his adopted mother, Laura Shatto, told authorities she found him unresponsive outside their home where he had been playing with his younger brother.
Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson and District Attorney Bobby Bland said Friday that four doctors reviewed the autopsy report and agreed that the boy’s death was not intentional. Preliminary autopsy results had indicated Max had bruises on several parts of his body, but Bland said Friday that those bruises appeared to be self-inflicted. He also said no drugs were found in Max’s system.