National Roundup

Gov. restores voting rights for some felons

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The outgoing Democratic governor of Kentucky has signed an executive order to restore the right to vote and hold public office to thousands of non-violent felons who've served out their sentences.

Gov. Steve Beshear signed the order Tuesday. He leaves office next month.

Kentucky was one of four states that did not automatically restore voting rights to felons once they completed all the terms of their sentences. Around 180,000 in Kentucky have served their sentences yet remain banned from casting ballots.

The Kentucky legislature has tried and failed numerous times to pass a bill to restore voting rights to felons. The Republican-controlled Senate would agree only if there was a five-year waiting period, which Democrats refused.

Beshear's order doesn't include those convicted of violent crimes, sex offenses, bribery or treason.

Family of boy police shot want new prosecutor

CLEVELAND (AP) - Family members of a 12-year-old black boy who was carrying a pellet gun when he was fatally shot by a white Cleveland police officer have gathered petitions demanding the county prosecutor's removal from the case.

Activists and family members of Tamir Rice on Monday delivered petitions they said contain thousands of signatures to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty's office. Monday marked a year since Rice's death. He was shot outside a recreation center on Nov. 22, 2014, and died the next day.

A grand jury is hearing testimony to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the rookie patrolman who shot Rice and his training officer. The boy's family, activists and others have repeatedly demanded that McGinty remove himself from the case. They have criticized the prosecutor for releasing outside experts' reports that found the officer justified in shooting.

McGinty has said that he hasn't reached any conclusions about charges in the shooting. He previously has refused to step down.

At a rally on Monday outside the county Justice Center, where McGinty has his office, Rice's cousin said the petitions demand a special prosecutor to replace McGinty on the case.

"Day in and day out, I plan on being down here demanding the recusal of prosecutor McGinty from the case," the boy's cousin, LaTonya Goldsby said, according to

Rice was playing with an airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic pellets but resembles a real firearm, when someone called 911. Footage recorded by a surveillance camera showed patrolman Timothy Loehmann shooting the boy.

New York
Woman killed cousin, reported fake abduction

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A 20-year-old upstate New York woman has admitted strangling a 5-year-old cousin who had been in her parents' care. She discarded his body along a road before calling in a false report that two masked intruders had taken him from their home.

Tiffany VanAlstyne pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder for killing Kenneth White in the rural Albany County town of Berne. She faces 18 years in prison as part of a plea bargain.

A bogus 911 call from VanAlstyne on Dec. 18 touched off a search for the boy that ended when a police dog led investigators to his body in a culvert not far from the home.

Authorities said VanAlstyne covered the boy with snow to conceal the crime.

New York
Man gets 40 years in al-Qaida bombing plot

NEW YORK (AP) - A Pakistani man was sentenced to 40 years in prison Tuesday for a failed al-Qaida bomb plot on the New York City subway.

A federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Abid Naseer in March following a trial that featured spies in disguise, evidence from the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound and the defendant's questioning of an admitted co-conspirator.

Naseer was first arrested in 2009 in Great Britain on charges he was part of a terror cell plotting to blow up a shopping mall in Manchester, England. The charges were dropped after a British court found there wasn't enough evidence, but U.S. prosecutors later named him in an indictment alleging a broader conspiracy that included the subway plot.

He was rearrested and extradited to the United States in 2013 to face charges of conspiracy and providing support to al-Qaida.

The government alleged Naseer had received bomb-making instructions in Pakistan in 2008, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Zainab Ahmed told jurors the arrest of Naseer and other members of his cell averted mass murder.

Naseer acted as his own lawyer as he set about portraying himself as a moderate Muslim who was falsely accused. He was assisted by defense attorney James Neuman but largely spoke for himself - often in the third person.

"Abid is innocent," Naseer said in closing arguments. "He is not a terrorist. He is not an al-Qaida operative."

Naseer's self-representation created the spectacle of the defendant cross-examining an admitted terrorist. Five British secret agents also testified wearing disguises - one wore a fake beard and thick black glasses - and the case marked the first time documents recovered in the 2009 Navy SEAL raid against Osama bin Laden's compound were used as trial evidence.

But most of the case hinged on email exchanges in 2009 between Naseer and a person described by prosecutors as an al-Qaida handler who was directing plots to attack civilians in Manchester, New York City and Copenhagen. Naseer insisted the emails consisted only of harmless banter about looking for a potential bride.

But the prosecutor accused Naseer of lying on the witness stand by claiming the women he wrote about were real. Ahmed said the women's names actually were code for homemade bomb ingredients: Nadia stood for ammonium nitrate and Huma for hydrogen peroxide.

She dismissed Naseer's explanations as "blather" and said, "This man wanted to drive a car bomb into a crowded shopping center and watch people die."

One prosecution witness, Najibullah Zazi, pleaded guilty in the subway plot as part of a cooperation agreement. Zazi testified that after receiving explosives training in Pakistan, he received instructions from the same al-Qaida contact as Naseer and was told to use "marriage" and "wedding" as code for attacks.

Another witness was an FBI legal attache who handled evidence found in the bin Laden raid, including letters written among top al-Qaida officials. One referred to sending "brothers" to New York and Britain and to arrests made there - a passage prosecutors suggested was a reference to Naseer.

Published: Wed, Nov 25, 2015


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