Obama seeks inmates worthy of commutation power

NEDRA PICKLER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is looking for convicts worthy of his rarely used power to commute sentences.

Obama has directed the Justice Department to improve its clemency recommendation process and recruit more applications from convicts.

White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler says Obama believes it is important to help correct the effects of outdated and overly harsh sentences that Congress and the American people recognize are no longer in the best interests of justice.

Obama recently reduced the prison time for a man facing longer time behind bars because of a typographical error.

Ruemmler says the commutation of Ceasar Cantu’s sentence from 15 to 11½ years demonstrates the importance of clemency as a fail-safe mechanism for those who have run out of other options.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT

KIMBERLY HEFLING
AP Education Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Anxious students - not to mention their parents - can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years.

Sample questions for the new version of the college-entrance test are being released Wednesday by the College Board. The nonprofit association announced last month that the new test will include real-world applications and require more analysis.

One sample question asks test takers to calculate what it would cost an American traveling in India to convert dollars to rupees. Another question requires the test taker to use the findings of a political survey to answer questions.

The College Board says that all the information about the redesigned test being rolled out in 2016 is in draft form and subject to change.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

The Sean Hannity Show: Live Now 95.9 FM / AM 1600 KIVA

Little Charlotte Figi has a rare and severe form of Epilepsy that left her unable to walk. She suffered multiple seizures every day. In desperation, her parents tried a treatment that included medical marijuana in the form of cannabis oil. Since then, she has had virtually no seizures and can now walk and talk again. Her parents, Joel Stanley and Paige Figi, join Sean to tell their story.

Sen. Ted Cruz: Too early to worry about 2016 

BRUCE SMITH
Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Republican Sen. Ted Cruz says it’s too early to be thinking about 2016 and that he’s working right now to make sure his party regains control of the Senate this year.

Cruz is visiting South Carolina, which hosts the first GOP presidential primary in the South. While considered a presidential contender, he won’t say if or when he might make a decision on a race.

Cruz says the challenge in front of the country is a fiscal and economic cliff that he argues is threatening the nation’s future. He says he’s optimistic that Republicans can take control of the Senate after this fall’s elections.

Cruz met with reporters in Charleston on Tuesday before addressing a dinner at the state’s military college, The Citadel.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Human trafficking bill gets nod in Arizona Senate

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Senate has unanimously approved a bill targeting pimps who traffic minors for sex.

House Bill 2454 was championed by the wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain and by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. The House passed it on Feb. 27.

The bill toughens penalties for trafficking adults and targets businesses such as massage parlors and escort services that advertise online. It requires advertisers to post their license number and have written permission of any women they depict and evidence they’re not minors.

Cindy McCain says the bill would put Arizona at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking by imposing harsh penalties for pimps.

The Senate approved the bill on Tuesday. It will now go to Brewer’s desk.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press

CBS wins the week with basketball and hit series

FRAZIER MOORE
AP Television Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - The Nielsen ratings company says basketball and a slate of hit television series have handed CBS another winning week. It was CBS’ sixth straight weekly win in prime-time viewers.

The network had 15 of the top 20 shows, led by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game between UConn and Kentucky, which attracted more than 21 million viewers.

CBS averaged nearly 10 million viewers overall, leaving ABC behind with 6.2 million, followed by NBC and Fox.

USA was the week’s most popular cable network in prime time, averaging about 2.1 million viewers.

NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts, followed by ABC’s “World News” and the “CBS Evening News.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

St. Louis-area man accused of sexual torture

JIM SALTER
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A St. Louis-area man is accused of sexually torturing five women in his apartment over several years.

Authorities on Tuesday announced that 29-year-old Adam Michael Capriglione of south St. Louis County is facing 19 felony charges that include forcible rape, forcible sodomy, felonious restraint and domestic assault. He’s jailed on $500,000 bond.

Police spokesman Brian Schellman says an investigation began after one of the victims contacted police in January. Capriglione is accused of raping, sodomizing and torturing five women dating back to 2006.

He also faces one count of sexual exploitation of a minor for allegedly filming a child having sex in 2007.

Capriglione’s attorney, Joseph Green, says facts will come to light in support of his client as the case moves forward.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Feds re-arrest woman in Hillary Clinton shoe throw

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Authorities have re-arrested a Phoenix woman accused of throwing a shoe at Hillary Rodham Clinton while she gave a convention speech at a Las Vegas Strip resort.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden in Las Vegas said Tuesday that 36-year-old Alison Michelle Ernst was taken into custody Monday evening in Phoenix.

Ernst was due to appear Tuesday before a magistrate in Phoenix on federal misdemeanor trespassing and violence against a person charges. Each count could get her up to a year in federal prison.

Ernst was freed last week with a June 24 court date in Las Vegas after her arrest on a local misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.

The shoe missed Clinton, and Ernst surrendered to authorities Thursday at a ballroom at the Mandalay Bay resort.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Rays LHP Moore out for year; to have elbow surgery

BALTIMORE (AP) - Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Matt Moore will miss the remainder of the season after opting to have elbow-ligament replacement surgery.

The procedure will be performed by Dr. James Andrews, the team announced Tuesday. Moore is the first Rays pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery since Jason Isringhausen in June 2009.

Moore, who made the AL All-Star team last year, hasn’t pitched since walking off the mound with elbow soreness on April 7 in Kansas City. He was placed on the disabled list the following day.

The 24-year-old Moore also experienced elbow soreness last season while going 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA. He’s 0-2 this year despite allowing only three runs in 10 innings.

Moore made his major league debut with Tampa Bay in 2011. His lifetime record is 29-17.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Santa Fe police officer named in claim resigns

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A Santa Fe police officer has resigned after being accused of using excessive force against a taxi driver who was arrested during a traffic stop.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican (http://ow.ly/vRsfH ), Police Department spokeswoman Celina Westervelt says Jose Gutierrez resigned Friday and did not give a reason for his resignation.

A lawyer for 40-year-old Dawn Bourgeois last week filed a claim that is a precursor to a possible lawsuit in connection with the March 30 traffic stop.

Westervelt says the department is conducting an internal review of the incident, which resulted in Bourgeois getting a black eye.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Court revives election challenge against Democrat

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico’s highest court has revived a lawsuit seeking to remove maverick Democratic Rep. Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint from the June 3 primary election ballot.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the case back to a district court in Gallup for a hearing Friday on whether Jeff submitted enough valid voter signatures on nominating petitions to qualify as a candidate.

Jeff has broken party ranks in the House to side with Republicans and Gov. Susana Martinez on high profiles issues, including proposals to stop the state from issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants living illegally in the country.

The justices are temporarily blocking the secretary of state from mailing out ballots to overseas voters while the case is pending.

Two other Democrats are running against Jeff in the primary.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Man agrees to help Albuquerque police find body

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A man has pleaded guilty in one death and no-contest in another under an agreement which calls for him to 28 years in prison and to help Albuquerque police find the body of one victim.

The Albuquerque Journal (http://ow.ly/vRpxK ) reports that 34-year-old Chris Blattner recently pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 62-year—old Kathy Paquin.

He had been charged with second-degree murder of Paquin, who went missing in 2012.

In another case, Blattner pleaded no-contest to second-degree murder of George Orozco in 2007..

U.S. Secret Service agents learned that Blattner and his wife had secretly withdrawn $63,000 from Paquin’s bank account, including $25,000 over five days after Paquin disappeared.

Blattner still faces federal drug charges

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Recordings surface in New Mexico governor race

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Democrats are calling on Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to apologize after a liberal publication released recordings in which she used profanity and offensive names to describe political opponents.

Martinez said the tapes are stolen recordings of private debate prep sessions when she was running for her first term four years ago. She called their release by Mother Jones “the absolute height of desperation” by liberals trying to unseat her. But she does admit having “to fund the cuss jar a few times.”

Martinez responded to the tapes in a letter to supporters. Her campaign spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lawrence Rael has scheduled a news conference Wednesday to demand an apology and the removal of key aides.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Detroit still needs $350M from state lawmakers

DAVID EGGERT
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) - Pressure is building for Michigan lawmakers to commit $350 million to Detroit pensions after the bankrupt city reached tentative agreements with pension funds and a retiree group.

The deals are tied to Detroit getting money from the state over 20 years, along with $466 million in private money, all to shore up pensions.

Retired police and firefighters would see smaller cost-of-living payments. Other city retirees would see a 4.5 percent pension cut. The $816 million vanishes if retirees don’t vote in favor in the weeks ahead.

Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger says deals reached Tuesday are important. But he tells The Associated Press that persuading lawmakers to approve the money soon is difficult because of anti-Detroit sentiment in the Legislature.

Republicans control the House and Senate.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.