September 27, 2012
A Texas judge has ordered DNA testing on a man who claims to be the brother of the late “The Jeffersons” star Sherman Hemsley.
Richard Thornton is challenging the validity of Hemsley’s will, which names the actor’s longtime manager, Flora Enchinton of El Paso, as sole beneficiary. Hemsley died of lung cancer July 24.
Judge Patricia Chew rescheduled the El Paso trial on Hemsley’s estate to begin Oct. 31.
Thornton, of Philadelphia, sought the DNA testing and must provide results by Oct. 15. Hemsley was born in Philadelphia but had lived in El Paso for the past 20 years.
Court documents indicate Hemsley’s estate is worth more than $50,000.
September 20, 2012
President Barack Obama’s administration will create a national monument at a dramatic rock formation in southwestern Colorado on a site that was home to the ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians 1,000 years ago, officials confirmed on Wednesday September 19.
The move to preserve 4,726 acres of high desert at Chimney Rock, which holds spiritual significance for some tribes, will be announced September 21. The Denver Post first reported the decision, which was confirmed by Senator Michael Bennet's office.
The monument will be the third created by the Obama administration.
The Republican congressman who represents the area, Scott Tipton, sponsored a bill urging the designation that passed the House of Representatives in May. Bennet proposed a similar bill that never made it through the Senate following partisan squabbling.
“Making Chimney Rock a national monument will be an extraordinary boost for the region by preserving and protecting the site and driving tourism, which would draw more visitors and bring more dollars into the local, regional and state economies,” Bennet said in a statement.
The 1906 Antiquities Act gives the president the power to designate certain historic federal properties as national monuments, to be preserved in perpetuity.
President Clinton’s designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah in 1996 angered many local residents and politicians who had hoped to tap the underground energy deposits there. When Obama took office, some Western conservatives were suspicious his administration would go on a national monument-creating spree.
But Obama has so far only designated two other national monuments: the-14,000 acre Fort Ord National Monument along the California Coast, and Fort Monroe, a former army base in Virginia that was a safe haven for slaves during the Civil War.
Some small business owners in southwest Colorado have said such a designation for Chimney Rock would give people more reasons to visit the region.
September 20, 2012
A riot Wednesday September 19 at a California prison holding many of the state’s most hardened criminals left 11 inmates hospitalized, including one who was shot by correctional officers.
The disturbance inside a yard at the California State Prison, Sacramento in Folsom involved an unknown number of inmates after it broke out shortly after 11 a.m., said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
In addition to the inmate who was shot, at least 10 were either stabbed or slashed during the riot, Thornton said. Their conditions have not been released and no other injuries have been reported.
Prison officials still don’t know how many inmates were involved nor a possible motive, Thornton added.
It is at least the second known incident within a year at the 2,800-inmate maximum-security facility that opened in 1986 commonly known as New Folsom, due to its proximity to the more well-known Folsom State Prison, located 20 miles east of Sacramento.
Eleven inmates were hospitalized, including one shot by officers, after a riot that involved 150 inmates in December. One officer was injured during the confrontation.
The fight occurred in the exercise yard of a housing unit.
The same prison that mostly houses inmates serving long sentences and has a sizable prison gang population was also the scene of a riot in May 2011 that sent six inmates to outside hospitals, two with serious injuries.
It’s also located next to the Folsom State Prison, a medium-security prison that opened in 1880 and is the second-oldest prison in California. It houses more than 3,100 inmates.
September 20, 2012
By SOPHIA TAREEN Associated Press
Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been on a hushed medical leave for more than three months, has put his home in Washington on the market for $2.5 million to help pay for health care costs, an aide said recently.
Jackson’s medical treatment for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues included several weeks of hospitalization at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The Chicago Democrat returned to his family at their Washington home earlier this month, but his staff has given no indication of when he'll return to work.
“Like millions of Americans, Congressman Jackson and Mrs. Jackson are grappling with soaring health care costs and are selling their residence to help defray costs of their obligations,” Jackson spokesman Rick Bryant said in an emailed statement.
Jackson put the Victorian-style town house on the market Sept. 8, a day after his office announced he’d been released from Mayo. Online listings for the home say it was built in 1921, has four bedrooms, five fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen and a rooftop deck with a Jacuzzi. One listing indicates that the sellers “need to find a home of choice.”
It was unclear if the Jacksons are interested in buying or renting another home in Washington. The congressman and his wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, also have a home in Chicago, though their children attend school in Washington.
The home sale prompted questions about the family’s finances, though neither Bryant nor a public relations firm hired by the family returned phone messages from The Associated Press. Jackson makes about $174,000 a year as a congressman.
Jackson, 47, has been on medical leave since June 10, but his office did not publicly disclose the leave until about two weeks later and has released little information since then, which has invited scrutiny. His office first said Jackson was being treated for exhaustion and didn’t reveal his whereabouts. Staff members later said he was being treated for a “mood disorder,” and only later disclosed he was at Mayo treatment.
Members of his prominent family — including his father, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson — also have been mum. The elder Jackson declined to speak about his son.
The timing of the leave also has raised questions, since it comes as Jackson is under a House Ethics Committee investigation for ties to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The committee is looking into allegations that Jackson was involved in discussions about raising money for Blagojevich's campaign in exchange for the then-governor appointing him to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. And the announcement of the leave came just days after a former fundraiser connected to those allegations was arrested on unrelated federal medical fraud charges.
Jackson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Jackson, who first won office in 1995, is on the November ballot with two little-known candidates. He’s widely expected to win re-election.
September 20, 2012
“I’d like to offer my sincere thanks and gratitude to Rev. Jesse Jackson for his extraordinary efforts to free two Americans from harsh imprisonment in Gambia, allowing them to return home to the U.S. to be with their loved ones,” said U.S. representative, Karen Bass (D-Calif.) of the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s recent appeal to President Dr. Alhaji Yahya Jammeh of Gambia for the release of two American citizens.
“Rev. Jackson has a history of serving as an international diplomat in sensitive situations like this one, including the release of Navy Lieutenant Robert Goodman from Syria and 48 Cuban and Cuban-American prisoners from Cuba. His leadership has been invaluable in this situation and I commend his foresight to assure these American citizens are able to be in the safety of their homes with the people they love most.”
Amadou Scattred Janneh and Tamsir Jasseh were serving a life and 20 year sentences, respectively, for treason. Jackson was also instrumental in urging President Jammeh to extend indefinitely a moratorium on the death penalty and execution of 38 death row prisoners.
In August, nine prisoners on Gambia’s death row were executed by a firing squad prior to the exhaustion of their legal appeals, and in September President Jammeh announced that the remaining 37 death row inmates would be executed by the end of the month in order to send a message to Gambians that violent crimes would not be tolerated in the country. After outcry from the international community, Jackson began working with the Gambian government to discuss the reversal of this decision. This visit has been credited as the impetus for President Jammeh’s decision that further executions would be suspended indefinitely.