AUSTIN, Texas | DMN — Texas Governor Rick Perry has been booked at the Travis County Courthouse Complex, where he maintained that he did the right thing despite being accused of abusing his power. The Republican governor made remarks before and after being booked Tuesday afternoon around 5 p.m., but he did not answer media questions. Earlier, Perry was greeted by cheers and chants as he approached the courthouse before heading in to be booked on the felony indictment issued last week.
“I’m here today because I believe in the rule of law. I’m here today because I did the right thing. I’m going to enter this courthouse with my head held high knowing that the actions that I took were not only lawful and legal but right,” Perry said. One in the crowd shouted, “We love you.” The case stems from Perry’s threat last year to veto funding for a public corruption unit overseen by Democratic Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg unless she resigned in the wake of a messy drunken-driving arrest and guilty plea.
Lehmberg stayed in office after serving jail time. The Republican governor vetoed the money for the Public Integrity Unit, saying she had lost the public’s confidence. Texans for Public Justice, a liberal government accountability group, filed a complaint against Perry, saying he was wrong to use his power to try to force out a locally elected official. The veto threat came as the Public Integrity Unit was looking into cases including a scandal at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, whose creation was championed by Perry.
Perry was indicted Friday on one count of abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison, and one count of coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony carrying a punishment of two to 10 years in prison. Perry and his lawyers have called the indictment outrageous, saying he acted properly. His team has spotlighted a video showing Lehmberg behaving belligerently after her arrest and being restrained, both at a news conference by his lawyers and in a video by his political action committee, RickPAC.
News sources in Great Britain are reporting that Julian Assange will ‘soon’ leave the Ecuadorian Embassy. “A lot of the fighting spirit seems to have gone out of him,” said Martin Brunt, a SKY NEWS correspondent. Assange was clearly “quite ill”, said the reporter, and in a recent interview he had sounded “very dispirited”. Plus, he was due to give a press conference at the embassy at 9am, alongside Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño. By 8.30am, reporters, camera crews and a handful of Assange supporters were lining up behind the crowd barriers in the street of smart mansion blocks next to Harrods in Knightsbridge where the embassy sits. At the door, others were doing their best to get inside, to be met by the folded arms of a large man policing the entry. Ecuador’s embassy is not large and the room in which the press conference was to be held would accommodate no more than 15 or so invited journalists, and that at a crush.
When the two men arrived, 20 minutes or so late, they were forced to squeeze past the tightly packed rows of heavy chairs to take their seats next to two translators and an Ecuadorian flag. Behind their heads, the small window opened on to the narrow, dark alleyway that for 26 months has been one of the Australian’s only views. If there had been speculation about the reason for the press conference, the foreign minister was clear. “The situation must come to an end. Two years is simply too long. It is time to free Julian Assange.” Ecuador agreed with Assange that he was “suffering persecution of a political nature due to his activities as a journalist,” said Patiño.
His government had agreed a year ago to set up a working group with the UK to resolve the situation, he said, but the British had insisted that the group have a purely legal, rather than political, character. “And in this sense we would like to thank the London government for their goodwill for wanting to explain to us once again the legal framework in which they were [operating],” said the minister. “However, we have understood it.” He cited recent changes to British extradition law, which (while he stopped short of suggesting they could apply retrospectively to Assange’s case) he hoped could change the context for discussion between the two countries.
Assange has grown a neat beard in recent months – “it’s a helpful point of reference for people to acknowledge the passing of time,” he told the Daily Mail on Sunday – and wore a dark suit and grey shirt without a tie. He is pale, certainly, but not more than one would expect after so long under artificial lights. There was no particular evidence, whatever reports might have suggested, of a diminution in “fighting spirit”. “It has been four years now, almost four years, since I was first detained in this country in solitary confinement without charge,” said Assange. “I have not been charged with an offence here in the UK or in Sweden at any time. Like you.”
His prolonged stay at the embassy, he said, was necessary because of moves in the US to prosecute him over WikiLeaks’ publishing activities, a move that would “put all publishers and journalists at risk”.And would he address the reports that he was planning to surrender imminently to police? Assange pointed to Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks’ spokesperson, who was standing at the rear. “I understand [Hrafnsson] has said that he can confirm that I am leaving the embassy soon” – a broad smile – “but perhaps not for the reasons that the Murdoch press and Sky news are saying at the moment.”
Would he elaborate on that? He would not. He declined also to address specific questions about serious health concerns that have been attributed to him, beyond calling the embassy “an environment in which any healthy person would find themselves soon enough with certain difficulties”. With Patiño rushing to catch a plane, the two men were ushered out after a few questions. It fell to Hrafnsson to explain the Australian’s enigmatic comments. The point Assange had been making was that “he is ready to leave at any moment as soon as the ridiculous siege outside will stop and he is offered safe passage”. So if circumstances were to change he would be ready to leave at the drop of a hat? “His suitcase is packed.”
ST LOUIS, Missouri | DMN — Police in St Louis shot and killed a man they say brandished a knife at them outside a market Tuesday afternoon. The shooting was about 12:30 p.m. (CDT), police said. Witnesses said the man who was shot had been inside Six Star Market at Riverview Boulevard near McLaran Avenue. He left the market, followed by a market employee, witnesses said. Two police officers arrived and the man, 23, brandished a knife at them, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said. The officers drew their weapons. The man acted erratically and refused orders to drop the knife, Dotson said.
The man yelled “Shoot me, kill me now,” Dotson said, then came at one of two officers with a knife. The officers fired at the man, hitting him. He died at the scene. Officers were not hurt, police said. There was a large police presence in the area after the shooting. About 150 bystanders were milling about the area, and some were chanting “hands up, don’t shoot,” a common refrain at the Ferguson shooting protests.
There are few things Jessica Simpson loves more than posting Instagram pics of her cute kids Maxwell and Ace. Sharing a family photo on Aug. 16, 2014, sans husband and babies’ daddy Eric Johnson, Simpson wrote: “Nighty Nite.”
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