Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to taking money from Hezbollah

NEW YORK
Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty

The son of the president of Suriname pleaded guilty Friday to charges he sought to offer a home base in his South American country to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Dino Bouterse, once picked by his father to lead a counter-terrorism unit in Suriname, told a judge in federal court in Manhattan that as part of the scheme he provided a false Surinamese passport to a person he believed was a Hezbollah operative. He also pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and firearms charges.

The guilty plea came a year after Bouterse’s arrest in Panama on charges he conspired to smuggle cocaine into the United States. He had already been extradited and jailed in the United States when authorities added terrorism charges to his case. Those charges accused him of agreeing to accept a multimillion-dollar payoff in exchange for allowing large numbers of Hezbollah fighters to use Suriname as a base for attacking American targets.

— Associated Press

WASHINGTON STATE
Judge: Marijuana retailers can face ban

A state judge said Friday that a small city can continue to ban state-licensed marijuana businesses — a case with big implications for Washington’s experiment in legal pot.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper issued the ruling after extensive arguments over whether Initiative 502, the voter-approved state law that legalizes adults’ recreational use of marijuana, left room for such local bans.

The case concerned a ban in the Tacoma suburb of Fife. Would-be pot proprietor Tedd Wetherbee sued, saying he was entitled to do business but the the city wasn’t letting him. Culpepper disagreed.

Twenty-eight cities and two counties have banned pot shops, and scores more have issued long-running moratoriums preventing the stores from opening while officials review zoning and other issues.

— Associated Press

MISSISSIPPI
Challenge to Cochran election thrown out

A Mississippi judge on Friday dismissed an election challenge brought by tea party-backed Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, who claims incumbent Thad Cochran stole the Republican primary by encouraging voter fraud.

Special Judge Hollis McGehee found that McDaniel waited too long to file an initial complaint with the state Republican Party.

The McDaniel campaign over the weekend will evaluate an option to appeal, campaign spokesman Noel Fritsch said.

McDaniel, a state senator, lost the Republican nomination in a June 24 runoff election by roughly 7,700 votes. He refused to concede, saying that thousands of ballots had been improperly cast or mishandled by county election officials.

— Reuters

MASSACHUSETTS
Delay sought in Boston bombing trial

Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are asking to delay his trial until at least September 2015.

In a court filing Friday, the attorneys said his Nov. 3 trial date would give them about half the preparation time federal courts have allowed other defendants facing a death sentence over the past decade.

Tsarnaev is charged in the April 2013 attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others. He has pleaded not guilty to charges including terrorism.

The lawyers said they need more time to evaluate the “massive amount” of evidence, and to explore what they say are mitigating factors that could lessen his sentence if convicted.

The attorneys said at a hearing earlier this month they likely could not be ready for a November trial.

—Associated Press

ALS group drops plan to trademark “ice bucket challenge”: In the wake of criticism over its attempt to trademark the words “ice bucket challenge,” the ALS Association said it is withdrawing its applications from the Patent and Trademark Office. The association’s spokeswoman, Carrie Munk, said in an e-mailed statement to Reuters on Friday that the association had filed for the trademarks “in good faith as a measure to protect the Ice Bucket Challenge from misuse.” The ALS Association fights amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

— Reuters

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