- - Monday, November 5, 2012

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD — The soldier accused of killing 16 villagers in a nighttime rampage in Afghanistan returned to his base wearing a cape and with the blood of his victims on his rifle, belt, shirt and pants, a military prosecutor said Monday.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was incredulous when fellow U.S. soldiers drew their weapons on him when he returned to Camp Belambay in southern Afghanistan in March, prosecutor Lt. Col. Jay Morse said as a preliminary hearing opened at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Sgt. Bales, 39, has been charged with 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder in one of the worst atrocities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Nine of the victims were children. The hearing will help determine whether the case goes to a court martial.

CALIFORNIA

Study: Vitamins help with cancer, not heart disease

LOS ANGELES — Multivitamins might help lower the risk for cancer in healthy older men but do not affect their chances of developing heart disease, new research suggests.

Two other studies found fish oil didn’t work for an irregular heartbeat condition called atrial fibrillation, even though it is thought to help certain people with heart disease or high levels of fats called triglycerides in their blood.

The bottom line: Dietary supplements have varied effects and whether one is right for you may depend on your personal health profile, diet and lifestyle.

The studies were presented Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles.

Fire shuts down stretch of major freeway

SAN BERNARDINO — A wildfire erupted Monday in a Southern California mountain pass, shutting down a major interstate to Las Vegas and forcing the evacuation of a community of ranch homes.

The blaze broke out as the region baked under the influence of a Santa Ana condition producing hot, dry air, winds of 10 mph and gusts of about 25 mph.

Interstate 15, the major route between Southern California and Las Vegas, was shut down in both directions, forcing cars and trucks to divert to narrow side roads to make their way out of Cajon Pass, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

NEW JERSEY

New cold front threatens weather-weary East Coast

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — A week after Superstorm Sandy pummeled the East Coast, wiping out entire communities, residents were bracing for yet another potentially damaging storm.

A nor’easter taking shape Monday in the Gulf of Mexico was expected to begin its march up the coast, eventually passing within 50 to 100 miles of the wounded New Jersey coastline Wednesday. The storm was expected to bring winds of up to 55 mph, coastal flooding, up to 2 inches of rain along the shore, and several inches of snow to Pennsylvania and New York.

One of the biggest fears was that the storm could bring renewed flooding to parts of the shore where Sandy wiped out natural beach defenses and protective dunes.

NEW YORK

Gas pump relief ahead for N.Y. and N.J. drivers

NEW YORK — Drivers in the New York area may soon get relief from long lines and higher gas prices.

A week after Superstorm Sandy hit the area, the price of gas has increased 10 cents per gallon or more in the New York City area and in hard-hit parts of New Jersey. Images of long lines of cars and interviews with frustrated drivers have become staples in news coverage of the storm’s aftermath.

But across the U.S. the price of gasoline is falling — fast. It fell 7 cents this past week and has declined almost 9 percent in a month to $3.47 per gallon.

Prices should fall further in the coming weeks, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. Even people in the Northeast now standing or sitting in long lines for gas should catch a break, he believes, as the “hysteria” in New York and New Jersey subsides.

Gambling-addicted nun accused in $128K theft

BUFFALO — A nun with a gambling addiction was accused of stealing $128,000 from two rural parishes where she worked.

Sister Mary Anne Rapp was treated for a gambling addiction and is in recovery, her order said Monday, but she still faces a criminal charge of grand larceny following the thefts from the St. Mary and St. Mark congregations. She was expected to plead not guilty at an initial appearance in Kendall Town Court on Monday evening.

NEVADA

Judge seeks go-ahead in abortion case

CARSON CITY — A Nevada state judge says he’s got the authority to order an abortion for a pregnant 32-year-old mentally disabled woman, even against the will of her Catholic adoptive parents.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that Washoe County District Court Judge Egan Walker on Monday asked the Nevada Supreme Court to let him go ahead with hearings Tuesday to collect medical evidence about the woman’s case.

The woman’s parents want the state high court to stop the proceedings.

They argue that as their daughter’s legal guardians, they have exclusive authority over her health care decisions.

The parents want the baby to be born and perhaps offered for adoption.

They say their daughter has the mental capacity of a 6-year-old. She was living at a group home when she became pregnant.

GEORGIA

Mayor: Police helicopter refurbished before crash

ATLANTA — Officials say the Atlanta police helicopter that crashed over the weekend and killed two officers onboard had been completely refurbished in recent years. Mayor Kasim Reed said at a news conference Monday the helicopter had been upgraded in 2004 and 2005. He did not say specifically what those upgrades were.

The helicopter crashed late Saturday while it was looking for a boy who had run away. The boy was found later unharmed.

MONTANA

Victim in bear-mauling identified as Pa. man

BILLINGS — Authorities in Montana have identified the victim of a fatal bear mauling at a wildlife casting company as a 24-year-old man originally from Pennsylvania.

The Gallatin County sheriff’s office said Monday that Benjamin Cloutier of York Haven was killed while cleaning the pen of two captive-raised brown bears at Animals of Montana near Bozeman.

One of the bears was shot and killed so Mr. Cloutier’s body could be recovered after the mauling Sunday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports