- - Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CALIFORNIA

SeaWorld accused of enslaving orcas

SAN DIEGO — A federal court is being asked to grant constitutional rights to five killer whales who perform at marine parks, an unprecedented and perhaps quixotic legal action that is nonetheless likely to stoke an ongoing, intense debate at America’s law schools over expansion of animal rights.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is accusing the SeaWorld parks of keeping five star-performer whales in conditions that violate the 13th Amendment ban on slavery. SeaWorld depicted the lawsuit as baseless.

Chances that the lawsuit will succeed are slim, according to legal analysts.

FLORIDA

Jurors ID’d in trial of Casey Anthony

ST. PETERSBURG — A judge released the names of the jurors in the Casey Anthony trial, but they were either unavailable or unwilling to talk to the media Tuesday and went into hiding much like the mother they acquitted of murder.

It has been three months since the jurors found Ms. Anthony not guilty in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. After threats were made against jurors, Judge Belvin Perry delayed releasing the names of the 12 jurors and three alternates, saying he wanted a “cooling-off period.”

HAWAII

Japan tsunami debris floats toward islands

HONOLULU — Up to 20 million tons of tsunami debris floating from Japan could arrive on Hawaii’s shores by early 2013, before reaching the West Coast.

A Russian ship spotted the debris in an area of the Pacific Ocean where scientists at the University of Hawaii predicted it would be. The massive amount of rubble, which includes a refrigerator, a TV set and other appliances, is expected to reach the West Coast in 2014.

NEW YORK

5 officers arrested in smuggling sting

NEW YORK — A sting operation resulted in the arrests Tuesday of five New York Police Department officers on charges that they smuggled firearms, cigarettes and slot machines that they thought were stolen, federal authorities said.

The officers were among 12 people charged in a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Manhattan. Three retired NYPD officers and a New Jersey corrections officer are among the other defendants.

OHIO

‘Joe the Plumber’ plans run for Congress

TOLEDO — “Joe the Plumber,” the Ohio man who became a household name after questioning Barack Obama about his economic policies during the 2008 presidential campaign, is poised to run for Congress in Ohio.

Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher already has filed the paperwork to run for Congress and has set up a campaign website to raise money.

Mr. Wurzelbacher’s statement of candidacy filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this month says he plans to run as a Republican in Ohio’s 9th U.S. House district, a seat now held by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the longest-serving Democratic woman in the House.

TENNESSEE

Man convicted in plot to seize courthouse

KNOXVILLE — A jury convicted a Georgia man Tuesday of a federal firearms charge in what authorities said was a plot to take over a Tennessee courthouse and force President Obama out of office.

Darren Wesley Huff, 41, was found guilty of carrying a firearm in interstate commerce with the intent to use it in a civil disorder. He was acquitted of using a firearm in relation to another felony. He faces up to five years in prison.

Huff was stopped by Tennessee officers in April 2010 and told them he was bringing guns into the state from Dallas, Ga., to support efforts to arrest Monroe County officials who refused to indict Mr. Obama.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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