PAPERS: FED BOAT BOUGHT WITH FINES USED FOR FUN : BOSTON (AP) — A luxury undercover boat purchased with fines collected from fishermen was used by federal fishery police to visit dockside restaurants with friends and for high-speed "pleasure cruising," according to documents released Friday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration bought the 35-foot boat for about $300,000, so its law enforcement officers could covertly monitor whether whale watch boats in Washington's Puget Sound were harassing the animals.
But the documents indicate the boat was rarely used for official business.
"It was a fishermen-funded party boat for bureaucrats," U.S. Sen. Scott Brown said on the Senate floor Friday.
Brown's office obtained the U.S. Commerce Department's Inspector General's review of the purchase after a Freedom of Information Act request.
The boat's purchase was first disclosed in July 2010, as part of an audit by the inspector general on how the millions in fines paid by fishermen were being spent. The audit uncovered broad mismanagement of the fines, which can
MO. COUPLE CHARGED WITH MURDER IN TODDLER'S DEATH: KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A central Missouri mother and her boyfriend were charged Friday in the fatal beating of a toddler whose injuries initially were blamed on a hit-and-run.
Morgan County online court records show that 21-year-old Thomas Presley and 25-year-old Jamie Ann Litton — both of Stover — face one count of second-degree murder in the death of 3-year-old Blake Litton. Litton also faces two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
"It was bad, bad," said Morgan County Sheriff Jim Petty. "The car never touched him. He was assaulted at the home. He basically beat (Blake) to death is what we are alleging because he pooped in his pants and (Presley) hit him and he got out of control."
Petty said Presley called 911 Thursday morning to report that the boy had been struck by a hit-and-run driver along Missouri 135, about 100 miles southeast of Kansas City. Presley said that he was headed to see his brother in a nearby town and that he and the boy got out of the vehicle to use the bathroom, Petty said.
US AIRWAYS EMPLOYEE DIES IN CONVEYOR ACCIDENT: PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say a US Airways employee has been killed after being caught in a luggage conveyor.
Phoenix police say 60-year-old Robert Demarco apparently became lodged between the upper and lower conveyor belts around noon Friday at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport's Terminal 4.
GINGRICH SLAMS RIVALS FOR BACKING OUT OF DEBATE: PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. (AP) — Newt Gingrich is hammering his Republican presidential rivals for backing out of a nationally televised debate.
CNN was forced to cancel the debate, scheduled to take place in Atlanta on March 1, after Mitt Romney declined to participate. Rick Santorum quickly followed suit.
Gingrich said Friday that he is disappointed in his opponents' decision and that if they are afraid to debate him, then they can't debate President Barack Obama.
Gingrich made his remarks a rally in the Georgia congressional district he represented for 20 years.
Georgia is one of 10 states holding nominating contests on Super Tuesday, March 6. He hopes to win the state as part of a strategy to get his struggling campaign back on track.
NJ GOV. CHRISTIE VETOES GAY MARRIAGE BILL AS VOWED: TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie has followed through on his promise to reject a bill allowing same-sex marriage in New Jersey by quickly vetoing the measure Friday and renewing his call for a ballot question to decide the issue.
The veto came a day after the state Assembly passed the bill. The state Senate had passed it on Monday. Christie, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, had vowed "very swift action" once the measure reached his desk.
In returning the bill to the Legislature, Christie reaffirmed his view that voters should decide whether to change the definition of marriage in New Jersey. His veto also proposed creating an ombudsman to oversee compliance with the state's civil union law, which same-sex couples have said is flawed and promotes discrimination.
JOSH POWELL HAD 400 CARTOON SEX AND INCEST IMAGES: OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Josh Powell had hundreds of images of disturbing cartoon sex and graphic depictions of incest on his home computer, something Utah authorities investigating his wife's disappearance kept private for about two years, according to files released Friday.
A Washington state psychologist who had previously said Powell's strong parenting skills should allow him to continue supervised visits altered his assessment after reviewing the images, calling them a "great concern" and suggesting a more intense evaluation of the father. That conclusion came just six days before he killed himself and two sons in an explosive house fire two weeks ago.
Many of the approximately 400 images described in the state social services included sexual depictions of popular cartoons, including child-focused characters such as Rugrats, Dennis the Menace and SpongeBob SquarePants. Another 15 images showed 3-D depictions of sex involving parents and their children.
Powell had initially told the psychologist that he visited only pornography sites featuring adults.