By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday made it easier for people to sue the federal government by ruling in favor of plaintiffs in two separate cases including one involving a Hong Kong woman who was strip-searched while in immigration detention in Oregon. President Barack Obama's administration had asked the court to impose a strict deadline for such lawsuits under a law called the Federal Tort Claims Act. The court's four liberals were joined in the majority by conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the deciding vote in close cases. One case involved Kwai Fun Wong, who was strip-searched while held in an Oregon immigration detention center in 1999.
By Ian Simpson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge begins hearings on Wednesday on whether would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. could get more time outside the mental hospital where he has lived since shooting Ronald Reagan in 1981. Hinckley, 59, has been allowed since December 2013 to leave Washington's St. Elizabeths Hospital for 17 days a month to stay with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia. Hinckley shot Reagan and three others, including White House press secretary James Brady, in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed. The hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman will determine whether the terms of Hinckley's confinement should be changed, and could last months before a decision is made.
The jury that will determine whether to sentence convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death or life in prison is due to face another day of emotional testimony on Wednesday. Tsarnaev, a 21-year-old ethnic Chechen, early this month was found guilty of killing three people and injuring 264 in the April 15, 2013, attack, as well as fatally shooting a police officer three days later as he and his brother prepared to flee the city. In the first day of the sentencing phase of Tsarnaev's trial, the jury heard from three people badly injured by the bombs and from the father and brother of Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager who was one of the three people killed by the blasts. Prosecutors told jurors they would be hearing more about the lives of the other fatal victims, 8-year-old Martin Richard, 23-year-old Chinese graduate student Lingzi Lu and 26-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier.
An IT student allegedly planning a church attack in France has been arrested, the country's interior minister said Wednesday, just over three months after Paris was hit by a jihadist killing spree. In a baffling series of events, the 24-year-old Franco-Algerian -- known to intelligence services for wanting to fight in Syria alongside jihadists -- was detained Sunday in Paris after he himself called police over a bullet injury to his leg. "Several war weapons, hand guns, ammunition, bullet-proof vests and computer and telephone hardware" were subsequently found at his home and in his car, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters. His DNA was later found in the car of a young mother from northern France who died in mysterious circumstances over the weekend near Paris.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's capital, Sanaa, was calm overnight and into Wednesday morning after Saudi Arabia declared an end to its month-long airstrikes targeting Yemen's Iran-backed Shiite rebels and their allies, a campaign that has claimed hundreds of lives and pushed the impoverished Arab country deeper into chaos.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to fulfill a campaign promise and use the politically fraught term on the 100th anniversary of the killings this week. Officials decided against it after opposition from some at the State Department and the Pentagon.
By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Beverly Hills, the southern California city whose name evokes Hollywood-tinged glamour and luxury, is considering banning the refilling of swimming pools and fining residents $1,000 for water violations. Faced with an order from the governor to cut water use dramatically as the state reels from a three-year drought, city council members were expected to meet most of Tuesday afternoon before voting on which restrictions to impose on their well-heeled residents. Beverly Hills is one of the nation's most affluent cities, with palm tree-lined avenues and mansions surrounded by emerald-green lawns, fountains and pools. California's upscale communities have been criticized for using more water than working-class cities and towns as the state grapples with a devastating drought that has already forced tough new conservation measures and badly depleted reservoirs.
By Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Armed with once-confidential documents, a U.S. congressional committee will investigate whether agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration divulged secrets at sex parties that drug lords in Colombia may have staged to elicit sensitive information. A spokeswoman for the Republican majority at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said the leaks inquiry would also examine the bureaucratic culture and leadership at the DEA and other Justice Department investigative agencies. On Tuesday, the DEA declined to comment about reports by CBS and CNN that Michele Leonhart, who has run the agency since 2007, was expected to resign soon after testifying to the committee last week. The events with prostitutes took place between 2001 and 2005, but U.S. officials said the DEA did not investigate them until years later.
Baltimore police on Tuesday identified six officers suspended over the death of a black man in police custody, a case that has renewed concern about U.S. law enforcement's treatment of minorities. Freddie Gray, 27, was arrested by white officers on April 12 and died on Sunday after slipping into a coma.