(Reuters) - Running back Adrian Peterson, suspended by the National Football League for hitting his 4-year-old son with a switch, was reinstated to the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday after a federal judge ruled in favor of the NFL players union in a lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge David Doty said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acted beyond his authority in November when he suspended Peterson until at least April 15. While Peterson, 29, is no longer suspended, it was unclear if the Vikings would take him - and his $13 million salary for 2015 - back. "This is a victory for the rule of law, due process and fairness," DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said in a statement.
Lawyers for the accused Boston Marathon bomber filed on Thursday a last-gasp request to dismiss the charges against their client or delay the start of the trial next week, contending that court officials had violated their own rules during jury selection. Attorneys for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is accused of carrying out the largest mass-casualty attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, argued in a court filing that after randomly assigning numbers to the more than 1,350 people who reported for initial selection early last month, the court re-ordered the jurors based on arrival time. They also contend that people who live within the Boston city limits and those under 30 and over 70 were disproportionately under-represented. The final phase of jury selection is set to take place on Tuesday, when prosecutors and defense attorneys will whittle down the field of about 70 provisionally qualified jurors to 18 people, including 12 jurors and six alternates.
Nearly all California voters believe the state's water shortage is a serious problem, though they were split on whether environmental protection should be rolled back in response, according to a Field Poll released on Thursday. Winter storms that dropped up to a foot (30 cm) of rain on parts of California have modestly eased the dry conditions, according to U.S. drought experts, but the relief only put a dent in the drought entering its fourth year. Respondents in northern California, the Central Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area were more likely than their southern California counterparts to say the problem was extreme. The poll surveyed 1,241 registered voters in California from late January to mid-February by phone.
By Dana Feldman VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - The driver of a truck that was hit by a California commuter train in a wreck that injured 50 people is set to appear in court on Thursday. Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, was found walking and "in distress" more than a mile (1.5 km) from the crash site in Oxnard on Tuesday and was later taken into custody on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, police said. Sanchez-Ramirez's attorney Ron Bamieh told reporters on Wednesday that the crash was an accident and his client left the scene trying to look for help before eventually finding police. It tore apart the Ford pickup truck Sanchez-Ramirez drove onto the tracks after making a wrong turn before dawn.
By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier who deserted because he thought the Iraq war was illegal could have grounds for seeking asylum in Germany but only if he can show he would have been involved in war crimes, Europe's highest court said on Thursday. The European Court of Justice added that even if Andre Shepherd could prove war crimes were very likely to have been committed, he would still have to show he had no alternative to desertion, such as becoming a conscientious objector. The Luxembourg-based court was asked for guidance by a German court after Shepherd took legal action when German authorities rejected his asylum application.
Thousands of American conservatives will gather just outside Washington beginning Thursday with a thinly-veiled mission: vet the Republican politicians who might soon announce bids for the White House. This week's annual CPAC convention will see the right wing rallying around core principles it hopes will shape the 2016 presidential election. The Conservative Political Action Conference is hard to put a label on. While it appeals to young ideological conservatives converging on Washington in the heart of winter -- the Potomac River, adjacent to the event's National Harbor setting in Maryland, is nearly frozen over -- CPAC attracts seasoned Republican A-listers who are virtually assured of a warm reception.
By Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are poised to impose the toughest rules yet on Internet service providers, aiming to ensure fair treatment of all web traffic through their networks. The Federal Communications Commission is expected Thursday to approve Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposed "net neutrality" rules, regulating broadband providers more heavily than in the past and restricting their power to control download speeds on the web, for instance by potentially giving preference to companies that can afford to pay more. The vote, expected along party lines with Democrats in favor, comes after a year of jostling between cable and telecom companies and net neutrality advocates, which included web startups. It culminated in the FCC receiving a record 4 million comments and a call from President Barack Obama to adopt the strongest rules possible.
By Ian Simpson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Possession of small amounts of marijuana became legal in the District of Columbia on Thursday amid a face-off between local officials and the U.S. Congress over whether the new standards are lawful. Initiative 71, a ballot measure legalizing marijuana possession and approved by 65 percent of District of Columbia voters in November, took effect at 12:01 a.m. EST. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other city officials vowed on Wednesday that legalization would go ahead despite warnings from Republicans on the House of Representatives Oversight Committee that the move was illegal. In a letter to Bowser, committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, head of a committee subpanel, said a December spending bill had barred the District of Columbia from spending any funds to make pot legal or lessen penalties.
By Dana Feldman VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - A lawyer for the driver whose truck was hit by a California commuter train in a wreck that injured 50 people said on Wednesday the crash was an accident and that his client left the scene only to try to find help. Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, was found walking and "in distress" more than a mile (1.6 km) from the accident on Tuesday and was later taken into custody on suspicion of felony hit-and-run for leaving the scene, police said. Ventura County prosecutors said they expected to file formal charges against Sanchez-Ramirez on Thursday before his initial court appearance. Ron Bamieh, an attorney for Sanchez-Ramirez, told a news conference on Wednesday: "What we've found in the time we've had this case is that this was an accident, all this was an accident." Bamieh confirmed his client was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 1998 but said there was no indication he was intoxicated at the time of the rail crash.
By Dana Feldman VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - A lawyer for the driver whose truck was hit by a California commuter train in a wreck that injured 50 people said on Wednesday the crash was an accident and that his client left the scene only to try to find help. Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, was found walking and "in distress" more than a mile from the accident on Tuesday and was later taken into custody on suspicion of felony hit-and-run for leaving the scene. Ventura County prosecutors said they expected to file formal charges against Sanchez-Ramirez on Thursday before his initial court appearance. Ron Bamieh, an attorney for Sanchez-Ramirez, told a news conference on Wednesday: "What we've found in the time we've had this case is that this was an accident, all this was an accident." Bamieh confirmed his client had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 1998 but said there was no indication he was intoxicated at the time of the rail crash.
The largest U.S. refinery strike since 1980 continued through its 25th day on Wednesday with no movement toward renewed talks to end a walkout by 6,550 union workers at 15 plants, including 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of domestic capacity. A spokesman for lead refinery owner representative Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said no face-to-face meetings have been scheduled with the United Steelworkers union (USW) as of Wednesday. Talks for a new three-year contract covering 30,000 USW members at refineries and chemical plants broke off on Friday, after which the USW ordered strikes at three Motiva Enterprises refineries, which are co-owned by Shell. Talks on local issues are set to begin again on Friday between LyondellBasell and the USW local union representing workers at the company's Houston refinery, said sources close to the negotiations.