American Scene

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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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ARIZONA

Giffords suspect pleads not guilty

TUCSON | The suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage that critically injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges accusing him of killing six people and wounding 13 others.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns also approved the release of some records of a police search of Jared Lee Loughner’s home.

Mr. Loughner, who smiled as he was led into the courtroom, appeared before Judge Burns in khaki prison clothes, his once-shaved head now featuring short, dark hair and sideburns. He pleaded not guilty to charges that included trying to assassinate Mrs. Giffords, attempting to kill two of her aides and murdering federal Judge John Roll and Giffords staffer Gabe Zimmerman.

Mr. Loughner also is charged with causing the deaths of four others who weren’t federal employees, causing injury and death to participants at a “federally provided activity” and using a gun in a crime of violence.

He also will likely face state charges stemming from the Jan. 8 attack at a Giffords event outside a Tucson grocery store.

FLORIDA

Facebook nixed for debt collectors

ST. PETERSBURG | A Florida judge has ordered a debt collection agency to not use Facebook or any other social media site in an attempt to locate a woman over a $362 unpaid car loan.

Judge W. Douglas Baird also ordered Mark One Financial LLC of Jacksonville, Fla., to refrain from contacting the woman’s family or friends on Facebook.

The order is part of a lawsuit that Melanie Beacham filed in August against the debt collection agency. According to court documents, Ms. Beacham said Mark One sent messages to her and her family on the Facebook networking site to have her call the agency about the debt.

Billy Howard, the woman’s attorney with the Morgan and Morgan law firm in Tampa, said the debt collectors violated Ms. Beacham’s privacy. He said they also violated a provision of Florida’s consumer protection law that prohibits debt collectors from harassing people.

PENNSYLVANIA

7 children killed in farmhouse fire

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