Posted: Jun 30, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Jul 1, 2012 4:01 AM
John Roberts is hearing it from both sides as he finishes 7th year as chief justice
WASHINGTON (AP) Chief Justice John Roberts could have taken down President Barack Obama's entire, massive health care law. He could have prevented the Supreme Court decision that largely disabled the most disputed aspects of Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants.
He didn't do either, and in the process surprised (or dismayed) longtime court observers of every political stripe.
Those two outcomes in the finals days of his seventh year on the court offer some clues for reassessing what kind of chief justice Roberts is and intends to be. Is he no longer the rock-ribbed conservative loved by supporters and jeered by opponents? Has he become a pragmatic leader mindful of the court's place in history? Is he more canny, but still solidly conservative?
The measure of a justice is best taken after decades of service, rather than a few years. At age 57, Roberts could lead the court for another quarter-century.
But at the very least, the end of the Roberts Court's most consequential term already is leading to revised, and in some cases more nuanced, appraisals of his leadership.
Storms: Power outage for millions in mid-Atlantic could last days as sweltering heat persists
WASHINGTON (AP) It could be several more days before electricity is restored to areas hit by vicious storms that killed at least 13 people and left 3 million power customers to negotiate sweltering temperatures without air conditioning.
Across a swath from Indiana to New Jersey and south to Virginia, officials warned the heat wave could take a toll on the elderly, young or sick. Problems from the storms that began Friday ranged from a damaged prison in Illinois to tree-strewn train tracks that stranded 232 Amtrak passengers for more than 20 hours in West Virginia.
Emergencies have been declared in Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, the District of Columbia and Virginia, where Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state had its largest non-hurricane outage in history, as more storms threatened. "This is a very dangerous situation," the governor said.
Power officials said the outages wouldn't be repaired for several days to a week.
The storm did damage from Indiana to New Jersey, although the bulk of it was in West Virginia, Washington and the capital's Virginia and Maryland suburbs. At least six of the dead were killed in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in her bed when a tree slammed into her home. Two young cousins in New Jersey were killed when a tree fell on their tent while camping. Two were killed in Maryland, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky and one in Washington.
Residents to tour neighborhoods most devastated by Colo. Springs wildfire
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) People who fled the most destructive fire in Colorado's history are being allowed temporary visits to the most devastated neighborhoods, and many will find that their homes were among the nearly 350 burned to the ground.
About 10,000 people remain evacuated, down from more than 30,000 at the peak of the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs.
On Sunday people whose homes were burned will be allowed to tour the affected areas. Authorities said some residences would be cordoned off with police tape, and people would not be allowed beyond that point.
The home of Janine Herbertson and her 15-year-old daughter, Tessa Konik, remained unburned amid 150 others that were destroyed, said Herbertson as they ate lunch Saturday outside a Red Cross shelter.
Even so, "I'm afraid to go on the tour tomorrow and see our neighborhood in ruins," she said.
Penny Palfrey ends quest to complete unaided swim from Cuba to Fla., stymied by ocean current
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) A 49-year-old grandmother and veteran endurance swimmer scuttled her quest early Sunday to become the first woman to swim unaided from Cuba to the Florida Keys, unable to close the gap on the last 26 miles of a more than 100-mile ocean odyssey.
Penny Palfrey had fended off painful jellyfish stings while keeping an eye on hammerhead sharks as she attempted the crossing without a shark cage. But her support team said the tricky currents of the Florida Straits proved to be her biggest obstacle, thwarting her achingly close to her goal.
All told, the British-born Australian athlete had been swimming nearly 41 hours since plunging into balmy waters near Havana, Cuba, on Friday to start out. She was about three-quarters of the way into her swim when she gave up the effort about midnight, just 26 miles south of Florida's Key West.
Her crew tweeted few details early Sunday of the end of her quest but said: "Penny Palfrey had to be pulled out of the water ... due to a strong southeast current that made it impossible for her to continue her swim. Penny is presently on her escort boat being taken care of by her crew."
"She is fine," Andrea Woodburn, one of the team members, confirmed by telephone from Key West.
Mexican voters poised to bring back party that ruled nation for 71 years
MEXICO CITY (AP) A single party dominated Mexico for most of the past century, and its loss 12 years ago proved to many that the country was finally a democracy. Now the nation's voters seem ready to bring it back to power in Sunday's presidential election.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party, led by telegenic former Mexico State Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto, has held a strong lead throughout the campaign, and also seems poised to retake at least a plurality in Congress.
The party has been bolstered by voter fatigue with a sluggish economy and the sharp escalation of a drug war that has killed roughly 50,000 Mexicans over the past six years. The desire for change suddenly works to benefit the party known as the PRI that ran Mexico from 1929 to 2000.
Hoping for a shocking upset are leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose narrow loss in Mexico's last election led to charges of voter fraud and weeks of massive protests, and the candidate of the ruling National Action Party, Josefina Vazquez Mota, the first woman ever nominated for the presidency by a major party in Mexico.
It would be a once-unthinkable comeback for the PRI, which many believed was doomed after its 2000 loss and which was still reeling in the last presidential election, when it finished a weak third.
New Hong Kong leader takes office amid swirling discontent, unease over China's influence
HONG KONG (AP) A pro-democracy heckler interrupted a speech by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the swearing-in of Hong Kong's new leader Sunday and tens of thousands of residents marched to protest Chinese rule on the 15th anniversary of the Asian financial hub's return to Beijing's control.
The outpouring of discontent underscored rising tensions between the Communist mainland and the vibrant city of 7 million that was returned to China in 1997 after more than a century of British colonial rule. While much of the discontent revolves around growing economic inequality and stunted democratic development, Hong Kongers are also upset over what they see as arrogant Chinese behavior wealthy mainlanders taking over retail outlets during flashy Hong Kong shopping trips, for example, or even the choice of language during Sunday's swearing-in ceremony, Beijing-accented Mandarin instead of the Cantonese dialect spoken locally.
In the ceremony, self-made millionaire Leung Chun-ying, 57, became Hong Kong's third chief executive after Donald Tsang and Tung Chee-hwa. He has promised to address Hong Kongers' economic needs, including skyrocketing housing prices, which many blame on deep-pocketed mainland apartment buyers.
A demonstrator who tried to interrupt Hu as he began an address was bundled away by security officials. The man, one of the guests invited to the inauguration, waved a small flag and yelled slogans calling for China's leaders to condemn the brutal June 4, 1989, crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. He also called for an end to one-party rule in China before security agents swiftly pounced. Hu took no notice and continued to read his speech, but the incident marred what was supposed to be a carefully orchestrated visit emphasizing strengthening ties between Hong Kong and mainland China.
Leung, a police officer's son, replaces career bureaucrat Tsang, who took office in 2005 and is barred from another term.
Israel's national Holocaust memorial softens portrayal of wartime Pope Pius
JERUSALEM (AP) Israel's national Holocaust memorial has toned down its account of Pope Pius XII's controversial conduct during World War II, following a diplomatic flap with the Vatican.
A wall panel at the Yad Vashem memorial inaugurated Sunday still says the wartime pontiff did not do enough on behalf of Europe's Jews. But it also offers the views of defenders who say that the church's "neutrality" helped save lives.
It takes a veiled barb at the Vatican for not opening its secret archives for historians to review the pontiff's wartime actions.
The papal nuncio to Israel had threatened to skip the annual Holocaust remembrance day ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem 2007 because of the panel. He eventually relented, but the spat frayed delicate ties between Israel and the Vatican.
Sex grooming cases with British Pakistani men and white girls spark racial tensions in England
ROCHDALE, England (AP) She was lonely in the way only an adolescent girl can be: No friends, no boyfriend, not much of a relationship with her parents. So she felt special when a man decades older paid attention to her, bought her trinkets, gave her free booze.
Then he took her to a dingy room above a kebab shop and said she had to give something back in return. His demands grew: Not just sex with him, but with his friends. It went on for years, until police charged nine men with running a sex ring with underage girls.
The story of Girl A, as she became known in court, is tragic by any measure, but it has also become explosive. Because there is no getting around it: The girls are white, and the men who used them as sex toys are Asian Muslims, mostly Pakistanis raised in Britain. And it's not just Rochdale -- roughly a dozen other cases of Asian Muslim men accused of grooming young white girls for sex are slowly moving to trial across northern England, involving up to several hundred girls in all.
In today's Britain, which prides itself on being a tolerant and integrated society, the case has stripped away the skin to expose the racial sores festering beneath. It is also feeding an already raw anger against the country's Asian Muslim minority, in a movement led by far right groups at a time when the economy is stalled.
"You can't get away from the race element," says prosecutor Nazir Afzal, a British Muslim with family roots in Pakistan who ended several years of official indifference to the girls' plight and finally brought the perpetrators to trial. "It's the elephant in the room."
Alec Baldwin marries yoga instructor Hilaria Thomas in New York City ceremony
NEW YORK (AP) Alec Baldwin and his yoga instructor fiancee tied the knot Saturday in a New York City church, with a guest list that included family and famous Hollywood pals.
Baldwin, 54, and Hilaria Thomas, 28, married at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in a Catholic ceremony performed by the Rev. George Deas. His "30 Rock" co-star Tina Fey, actress Mariska Hargitay, director Woody Allen, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Baldwin's actor-brother, Stephen, were among those in attendance.
Thomas wore a silk magnolia Amsale gown with cap sleeves and a keyhole back neckline accented with crystal buttons. Baldwin's suit was designed by Tom Ford.
The two began dating last year and became in engaged in April. Baldwin was previously married to actress Kim Basinger; they have a daughter, Ireland, who attended the wedding Saturday in a slate silk chiffon gown also designed by Amsale.
The reception was being held at New York University's Kimmel Center.
Vilma sues NFL in federal court, seeking a quick bounty appeal ruling and injunction if needed
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is suing the NFL in federal court, claiming Commissioner Roger Goodell failed to make a timely appeal ruling regarding Vilma's season-long suspension in connection with the league's bounty investigation.
The lawsuit filed Saturday night in U.S. District Court in New Orleans also asks for a temporary restraining order to allow Vilma to continue working if Goodell upholds the suspension.
The suit contends Goodell has undermined "the integrity of the NFL and the Commissioner's office" by handing down punishments to Vilma and others based on evidence that is either flawed or cannot be substantiated.
It is the second lawsuit Vilma has filed in the matter. The first, filed in May and also in federal court in New Orleans, seeks unspecified damages from Goodell for defamation of character.
In his latest filing, Vilma claims that the NFL's collective bargaining agreement required Goodell to rule as soon as was practical following a June 18 appeal hearing. Because players, in protest, declined to present new evidence or argue their case in the hearing, Goodell should have been able to rule by June 25, the first business day after the record was closed in the matter, the lawsuit argues.