Conn. school shooting files: Gunman's mother loving but bewildered; school staff brave
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Thousands of pages of documents from the Newtown shooting investigation help fill out the picture of the gunman's mother as a dedicated and loving, if bewildered, parent who acknowledged her son appeared to be spiraling downward but was not aware to what extent.
Nancy Lanza told a lifelong friend about two weeks before the massacre that her 20-year-old son, who lived with her, was becoming increasingly despondent. Adam Lanza hadn't left his room in three months and was communicating with her only via email. When Hurricane Sandy blew through Connecticut in late October and cut power to the Lanza home, the documents say, it "put Adam over the edge." She couldn't persuade him to stay at a hotel or in an RV.
When Nancy Lanza asked her son whether he would feel bad if something happened to her, he replied no, she told her friend, who was not identified in the documents. Still, "Nancy never expressed any concern about fearing for her safety while alone with Adam," the report said.
About two weeks later, Adam fatally shot his mother in the head while she was in bed, gunned down 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in one of the worst mass shootings in the nation's history, and killed himself with a handgun as police closed in.
Connecticut police released the documents Friday from their investigation into the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre, providing the most detailed and disturbing picture yet of Nancy Lanza's relationship with her son; his fascination with violence; and school employees' brave and clear-headed attempts to protect the children.
Key findings in newly released documents on the 2012 Conn. school shooting
Connecticut State Police on Friday released thousands of pages of documents from the investigation into last year's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Here are some details from the documents, which supplement a summary report that was released earlier:
— Gunman Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy, told a friend two weeks before the massacre that her son was becoming increasingly despondent and was put "over the edge" when their house lost power during Hurricane Sandy.
— Another friend told investigators Nancy Lanza texted him a few days before the shooting to say that Adam had bumped his head and they were "dealing with blood."
— A nurse said that she interviewed gunman Adam Lanza four times in 2006 and 2007 and that he had been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and was "emotionally paralyzed," changing his socks 20 times a day.
— The advanced-practice nurse prescribed an antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication, but mother Nancy Lanza stopped giving it to him after he was unable to raise his arm, which she believed a side effect. The nurse said Adam's mother failed to schedule follow-up visits.
Libya detains, then releases 4 US military personnel after incident at checkpoint
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four U.S. military personnel investigating potential evacuation routes in Libya were taken into custody at a checkpoint and then detained briefly by the Libyan government before being released, U.S. officials said Friday night.
These four military personnel were operating in an area near the coastal city of Sabratha in northwestern Libya as part of security preparedness efforts when they were taken into custody, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. Sabathra, about 40 miles west of Tripoli, is a popular tourist area with its ancient Roman ruins.
No one was injured. The military personnel were taken to the U.S. Embassy after their release, a Defense Department official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the incident by name and requested anonymity.
The four were supporting U.S. Marine security forces protecting the American Embassy, the official said. They were likely U.S. special operations forces, which have been deployed to Libya.
An altercation apparently took place at the checkpoint, the Defense Department official said. Reports of gunfire could not be confirmed.
Obama's boyhood home of Hawaii plays the underdog in campaign to host presidential library
HONOLULU (AP) — On these sun-bathed shores, Barack Obama was born and spent his formative years, soaking in an island sensibility that his wife and friends say is indispensable to understanding who he is as president. Yet in the search for a home for his future presidential library, Hawaii has become the underdog, stuck in Chicago's perpetual shadow.
It's not for lack of trying. A high-level campaign has been underway here since Obama won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 — before it was even clear he'd win his party's nomination, much less the presidency.
From the governor to the state's congressional delegation and local university leaders, Hawaii has spared no effort in laying the groundwork for a potential library, gently pressing Obama's sister and close friends, and setting aside prime oceanfront real estate just in case Hawaii's favorite son chooses Oahu to host the monument to his legacy.
But as the gears start to turn in the Obama machinery that will eventually develop the library, the focus has increasingly turned to Chicago, where Obama was first elected and came into his own as a national political figure. It is a place many of his advisers and staunchest supporters call home.
Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is now Chicago's mayor. Obama's wife, Michelle, was born there, and her former chief of staff, Susan Sher, is leading a behind-the-scenes effort to lure the library to University of Chicago from her post in the university president's office. It's the same university where Obama once taught law and where his longtime senior adviser, David Axelrod, recently established a political institute.
Anti-government protester killed in fresh Thai violence; candidates blocked in 4 provinces
BANGKOK (AP) — Gunmen killed an anti-government activist and wounded two others in the Thai capital on Saturday while protesters elsewhere blocked candidates from registering in upcoming elections, deepening a political crisis that threatens to derail democracy in this Southeast Asian nation.
The registration was suspended in four of the country's 77 constituencies. All are in the south, a sign of the limited national appeal the protest movement seeking to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra enjoys outside of Bangkok.
The events followed comments Friday by the powerful army chief in which he declined to rule out the possibility of a coup in the country, which is a major U.S. ally, Southeast Asia's second largest economy and a popular tourist destination.
The long-running dispute between Thailand's bitterly divided political factions flared anew in November after Yingluck's elected government tried to introduce an amnesty for her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to enable him to return to Thailand and escape a jail term for corruption.
Yingluck called early elections as a way of diffusing the crisis, but the protesters are demanding she resign and hand over power to an unelected council to carry out reforms. They are trying to disrupt the polls, which most people believe will give her a strong mandate thanks to strong support in the north and northeast of the country.
Increase in reported sexual assaults in military may be due to greater confidence in system
WASHINGTON (AP) — Heightened attention to the crime of sexual assault in the U.S. military may be causing more people to come forward and report problems. Defense officials cite the increased awareness as a possible reason the number of reported sexual assaults rose by more than 50 percent this year.
More than 5,000 reports of sexual assault were filed during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, compared to the 3,374 in 2012, according to early data obtained by The Associated Press. About 10 percent of the 2013 reports involved incidents that occurred before the victim got into the military, up from just 4 percent only a year ago.
That increase, officials said, suggests that confidence in the system is growing and that victims are more willing to come forward. While cautious in their conclusions, officials said surveys, focus groups and repeated meetings with service members throughout the year suggest that the number of actual incidents — from unwanted sexual contact and harassment to violent assaults — remained largely steady.
A string of high-profile assaults and arrests triggered outrage in Congress and set off months of debate over how to change the military justice system. Military leaders launched a series of programs intended to beef up accountability and encourage victims to report crimes.
"Given the multiple data points, we assess that this is more reporting," said Col. Alan R. Metzler, deputy director of the Pentagon's sexual assault prevention and response office. He also noted that more victims are agreeing to make official complaints, rather than simply seeking medical care without filing formal accusations.
Police: La. man who killed 3 people and himself was going through difficult divorce
LOCKPORT, La. (AP) — It might have appeared that Ben Freeman was trying to right some wrongs in his life in the months before police say he killed three people and himself.
In June, court records show, he agreed to pay his ex-wife Jeanne (ZHANNE) Gouaux (GO) $22,560 in overdue child support payments dating back two years. A settlement filed the following month showed the couple would sell three adjacent lots near her parents' house and split the $25,000 in proceeds. Freeman also agreed to pay Gouaux $39,000.
But June was also the month that Gouaux and her father filed a complaint against Freeman. And on Oct. 23, he pleaded guilty to one of two criminal telephone-harassment charges based on that complaint, said Lafourche Parish Clerk of Court Vernon H. Rodrigue.
He was given a deferred sentence of a $250 fine or 10 days in jail, put on unsupervised probation for a year, and the second count of criminal harassment was dismissed, Rodrigue said.
On Nov. 27, Freeman was issued a citation for simple battery domestic violence against his current wife, Denise Taylor Freeman, the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office said in a news release. A court date had been scheduled for Jan. 16, 2014.
1.3 million Americans losing jobless benefits as emergency program expires after 5½ years.
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 1 million Americans are bracing for a harrowing, post-Christmas jolt as extended federal unemployment benefits come to a sudden halt this weekend, with potentially significant implications for the recovering U.S. economy. A tense political battle likely looms when Congress reconvenes in the new, midterm election year.
Nudging Congress along, a vacationing President Barack Obama called two senators proposing an extension to offer his support. From Hawaii, Obama pledged Friday to push Congress to move quickly next year to address the "urgent economic priority," the White House said.
For families dependent on cash assistance, the end of the federal government's "emergency unemployment compensation" will mean some difficult belt-tightening as enrollees lose their average monthly stipend of $1,166.
Jobless rates could drop, but analysts say the economy may suffer with less money for consumers to spend on everything from clothes to cars. Having let the "emergency" program expire as part of a budget deal, it's unclear if Congress has the appetite to start it anew.
An estimated 1.3 million people will be cut off when the federally funded unemployment payments end Saturday.
Veiled Egyptian rapper speaks up for suppressed women
CAIRO (AP) — As soon as the beat started, the young veiled woman bobbed her head to the rhythm, raised her hands to get the crowd clapping and then unleashed a flood of rap lyrics that tackled some of the biggest social challenges women face in the Arab world.
With the Middle East's hit TV show "Arabs Got Talent" as her stage, 18-year-old Myam Mahmoud rapped about sexual harassment, second-class treatment of women, and societal expectations of how a young religious woman should behave.
The Egyptian teenager didn't win the program — she crashed out in the semifinals — but she did succeed in throwing the spotlight on something bigger than herself.
"I wanted to tell girls in Egypt and everywhere else that they are not alone, we all have the same problems, but we cannot stay silent, we have to speak up," Mahmoud told The Associated Press.
In Egypt, a country where politics have grabbed most of the headlines for the past three years, little space has been dedicated to addressing social problems. So Mahmoud, who is a first-year student of politics and economics at the October 6 University in a western Cairo suburb, decided to draw attention to women's rights through rap.
A&E reverses decision on 'Duck Dynasty' patriarch, despite gay comments. Will ratings suffer?
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A&E landed in the middle of America's culture wars when "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson sounded off on gays and the Bible. The channel quickly found there was no safe ground.
It was pilloried for allowing a man who equated gays with hell-bound sinners like adulterers to have a national TV stage. Then it was excoriated for giving him the hook.
With A&E's decision Friday to bring Robertson back to its most-watched show, it remains to be seen if it can mend fences with both sides — or at least with those viewers who hold opposing views.
The channel's interest is in ratings and revenue, not refereeing social discord.
Will those who called for an A&E boycott unless Robertson returned be satisfied? Will "Duck Dynasty" fans who enjoy the Louisiana duck call-making family but were offended by Robertson's comments watch again?