(Reuters) - Former NFL player Darren Sharper, accused of drugging and raping women in four states, was expected on Friday to change his not-guilty plea on related federal charges in New Orleans. Sharper, 39, already has pleaded guilty or no contest to rape or attempted rape in Arizona, California and Nevada as part of a series of plea agreements with prosecutors that call for his sentences to be served concurrently in federal prison. Court records indicate Sharper, a five-time Pro Bowl National Football League safety who helped lead the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2010, will change his plea on charges that he drugged women in Louisiana and elsewhere with the intent to rape them.
By Barbara Goldberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy SEAL hopeful and his friend, an off-duty lifeguard, were barreling through underwater drills in a pool just 3.5 feet (1 meter) deep. This summer, nearly four years after those deaths in a Staten Island pool raised alarms about a little known hazard called shallow-water blackout or hypoxic blackout, New York City is putting up warning signs at all public pools prohibiting prolonged breath holding. It is part of a movement to raise awareness of the peril that has killed accomplished swimmers and to stop it by banning lengthy breath holding in the nation's estimated 300,000 public pools.
By Jon Herskovitz AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Hundreds of people fled areas near Texas rivers that overflowed their banks on Thursday as the state reeled from severe storms this week that killed at least 17 people, flooded cities and set a record for the wettest month. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch stretching from south of San Antonio to Dallas, through Oklahoma, where severe weather this week killed an additional six people, and into Kansas.
By Mike Collett and Brian Homewood ZURICH (Reuters) - The embattled head of world soccer, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, is expected to be re-elected on Friday despite growing calls for his resignation amid a corruption scandal that has engulfed the sport's governing body. At a meeting in Zurich starting at 0730 GMT, up to 209 FIFA members will choose between Blatter, who is seeking his fifth term as president, and his sole challenger Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan. Anger within Europe's powerful regional soccer body UEFA and other members over the damage allegations of graft are doing to FIFA is unlikely to be enough to topple the 79-year-old Swiss, who is backed by the Asian and African confederations.
(Reuters) - Defense attorneys for six police officers facing criminal charges in the Freddie Gray case are seeking to have the trial moved from Baltimore, saying their clients cannot get a fair trial there, the Baltimore Sun reported on Thursday. The lawyers filed an 85-page document on Wednesday in Baltimore Circuit Court asking for a change of venue, arguing that a "presumption of prejudice" exists in the city, the newspaper said. Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was arrested April 12 and suffered a spinal injury in police custody.
By Ian Simpson OXON HILL, Md. (Reuters) - Eighth-graders Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, Missouri, and Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, were co-winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday. Gokul ended a tense standoff before a packed hotel ballroom and an ESPN television audience by spelling "nunatak," an Inuit word for an exposed ridge in a glacier. Vanya, whose sister Kavya won the Bee in 2009, said she was dedicating the shared win to her grandmother, who died in 2013.
Dennis Hastert was indicted on Thursday on federal charges including making false statements to the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago said. The Illinois Republican, who left office in 2007, was charged with structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000, and lying to the FBI about his withdrawals, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
U.S. President Barack Obama met on Thursday with the family of American journalist Steven Sotloff, who was beheaded last year by Islamic State militants. The White House said Obama met with Sotloff's parents Art and Shirley and his sister, Lauren, while he was in Florida for fundraising and a briefing on the upcoming hurricane season. "The president expressed his and the first lady’s condolences for Steven’s death," White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.
The FBI said on Thursday it had begun looking into the illegal access of the tax-return information of about 100,000 people disclosed by the Internal Revenue Service earlier this week. "The FBI has opened an investigation into the recently reported incident at the Internal Revenue Service and is working with our interagency partners to determine the nature and scope of this matter," a spokesman said. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday cyber criminals had sought to gain access to personal tax information 200,000 times from February to May, and were successful in about half of those attempts.
Nestled away in a northern Chicago suburb, among tree-lined streets, white picket fences and perfectly manicured lawns, is a 31-acre complex known as Misericordia. Misericordia, whose name means “heart of mercy” in Latin , is home to more than 600 children and adults with a wide range of physical and mental disabilities.
Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev late next month will confront people who lost limbs and loved ones in the deadly 2013 attack when he is scheduled to be formally sentenced to death for his crimes, a judge said on Thursday. The same federal jury that found Tsarnaev, 21, guilty of killing three people and injuring 264 in one of the highest-profile attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, last month voted to sentence him to death. Tsarnaev's trial evoked memories of the darkest days in recent memory in Boston as victims testified of being hurled through the air by the twin pressure-cooker bombs, struggling to save the lives of those who had lost limbs amid screams of pain and fears that additional explosions would follow.