By Roberta Rampton and Lindsay Dunsmuir WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday signed into law legislation that gives him "fast-track" power to push ahead on a Pacific Rim trade deal that has been the subject of intense debate in Congress and across the nation. Flanked by some of the lawmakers who supported the bill through a six-week congressional battle, Obama acknowledged that his fight to secure the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was far from over. "We still have some tough negotiations that are going to be taking place," Obama said at a signing ceremony.
Lawyers for Colorado movie massacre gunman James Holmes sought on Monday to build their case he was legally insane, calling a former co-worker at a pill-coating factory who remembered him as quiet, antisocial and acting oddly. Public defenders are seeking to save Holmes' life after the 27-year-old former neuroscience graduate student pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and wounding 70 in the July 2012 shooting rampage. Jose Sanchez worked with the defendant for three or four months beginning in the fall of 2010 at a pill- and capsule-coating factory in San Diego county, California.
Doctors updated the condition of New York prison escapee David Sweat to serious from critical on Monday, a day after he was shot by police after more than three weeks on the run, hospital officials said. Sweat, 35, is being treated in the state capital where a trauma team at Albany Medical Center determined that the convict did not require surgery, the hospital said in a statement.
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a drug used by Oklahoma as part of its lethal injection procedure does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, dealing a setback to opponents of the death penalty. The court, in a 5-4 decision with its conservative justices in the majority, handed a loss to three inmates who objected to the use of a sedative called midazolam, saying it cannot achieve the level of unconsciousness required for surgery, making it unsuitable for executions. Justice Samuel Alito wrote on behalf of the court that the inmates had, among other things, failed to show that there was an alternative method of execution available that would be less painful.
Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon with no experience in the cutthroat world of Washington politics, is riding a surprising wave of support among conservatives that has placed him near the top of contenders for the Republican presidential nominee in 2016. The soft-spoken 63-year-old Carson, an African-American who only officially became a Republican last year, has found an opening in the wide-open race in which 13 candidates are running for the White House. In polls, Carson outperforms most of his fellow candidates, who often have much bigger media profiles, much more political experience and in many cases have track records as governors or senators.
Greece announced early Monday it will shut banks for a week and impose capital controls, pleading for calm after anxious citizens emptied cash machines in a dramatic escalation of the country's debt crisis. Banks will be closed until July 6 -- the day after a referendum on bailout proposals -- with a 60-euro ($65) limit on ATM withdrawals, but foreign tourists, a vital engine of the Greek economy, will be exempt from the restrictions, a decree published in the official government gazette said. The drastic measures to protect Greece's banking system against the threat of mass panic came after the European Central Bank said it would not increase its financial support to Greek lenders, despite early signs of a chaotic bank run.