Woman May Have Been Killed By Pit Bullls

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 31 (UPI) — A woman found dead in her home Tuesday in Philadelphia may have been killed by the five pit bulls she and her husband owned, police said.

Chief Inspector Scott Small said an autopsy would be done to determine the cause of death, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. He said the 50-year-old woman was evidently killed by “severe head and face injuries,” but it was not immediately obvious whether they were caused by the dogs or a human agent.

The husband, who reported finding his wife’s body on the living room floor when he returned home at about 6:30 p.m., was taken in for questioning.

Several neighbors said the dogs had a reputation for viciousness. Gus Castro, 25, who lives across the street, said he was bitten Friday when the five dogs got out.

The dogs have been removed from the house.

New Bilateral Communique Sought

BEIJING, Aug. 31 (UPI) — A fourth U.S.-China communique is needed to make Washington stop selling arms to Taiwan, an opinion piece in the China Daily said Wednesday.

The piece — by Pang Guoping, professor of international laws at Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing in southwest China — said current bilateral relations are based on Three Communique, which, while recognizing there is one China, and Taiwan is a part of it, have made no “definitive conclusions … on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.”

The three documents include the Feb. 28, 1972, Shanghai document establishing diplomatic relations between the countries; the April 10, 1979, Taiwan Relations Act signed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; and the Aug. 17, 1982, document on the Taiwan issue.

The article argued there have been dramatic global changes in the past 30 years, noting the “Soviet Union has disintegrated … the United States’ national strength is in decline, especially after the 2008 global financial crisis and the recent downgrading of its credit rating, and China has become the world’s second-largest economy.”

It said there have been great changes both inside Taiwan and in cross-Straits relations resulting in the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.

“As a result, the Three Joint Communiques do not reflect the present cross-Straits relations. They do not reflect the changing strategic balance between China and the U.S.,” the article said.

Referring to U.S. congressional approval of the Taiwan Relations Act, which allows the Pentagon to sell arms, the China Daily article said “a country cannot use the differences in stipulations of its domestic law as an excuse not to fulfill its international obligations.”

Insisting the Taiwan question is China’s internal affair, the article reminded that in the Aug. 17, 1982, agreement, the United States had said it would not interfere in China’s internal affairs.

However, the article said, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have increased year after year, ending with the approval of the $6 billion deal in January of last year.

“Therefore, it has become necessary for China and the U.S. to sign a fourth joint communique to make it binding on the U.S. to comply with the one-China policy, abolish the Taiwan Relations Act and stop selling arms to Taiwan, as well as to reinforce the previous three communiqués,” the article said.

N.E. Corridor Rail Service Resumes

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Rail service on the busy northeast corridor line between Washington and Boston resumed Wednesday, four days after Hurricane Irene hit the region.

Trains were halted after the storm by flooding that covered the tracks in Trenton, N.J. The station is built over a tributary to the Delaware River and the creek is next to the tracks.

The flooding in Trenton also brought New Jersey Transit commuter service to New York to a halt, while commuter trains from Philadelphia terminated Tuesday in Levittown, Pa.

Amtrak said rail service between Richmond and Newport News, Va., remained suspended late Tuesday, although full service was set to resume on trains to Florida and New Orleans. Trains will not be running in Vermont, the state hardest hit by the storm, on the line between Albany and Buffalo, N.Y., and the lines to Chicago via Buffalo and West Virginia.

Most mass transit in the northeast was halted before the storm, including an unprecedented shutdown of the New York City subway system.

Most commuter trains into and out of New York City were back in business, The Wall Street Journal reported. Trains to resorts on the East End of Long Island were expected to be running in time for the Labor Day weekend.

A few other outlying lines in Connecticut and the Hudson Valley were still having problems.

The Metro North line Suffern and Port Jervis in New York, which runs along river valleys in Orange County, was heavily damaged by washouts. Marjorie Anders, a Metro North spokeswoman, said repairs will take months with an “astronomical” price tag. The 2,300 commuters who use the service every day are currently being bussed to the New Jersey Transit terminus in Suffern.

China To Step Up Internet Crime Fighting

BEIJING, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Public security departments across China should conduct deeper research into crimes committed through the Internet, the country’s top police officer said.

Speaking at a meeting in Beijing Tuesday on an operation conducted jointly with the FBI, Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu said, “Although China and the United States have different judicial systems and cultural values, the two sides share a common view in crime-fighting,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Meng said the joint effort in June led to the arrests of several individuals distributing online child pornography in the two countries.

Official Chinese media reported this month the cooperative effort included the arrest of the ringleader of the largest Chinese child porn Web site and the wiping out of the site, had about 100 million users in various countries. Others arrested included those involved in money laundering.

Meng said the case was developed in close cooperation with the FBI through an international police cooperation platform.

Under Chinese law, those convicted of producing, copying, publishing, selling or distributing pornography face 10 years to life in prison, Xinhua reported.

Meng said China will continue to strengthen its law enforcement cooperation with foreign countries and vigorously fight transnational illegal activities, especially crimes committed through the Internet.

Key Part Of Texas Abortion Law Thrown Out

AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Texas doctors cannot be compelled to display sonogram images and describe fetuses to women seeking abortions, a federal judge said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin ruled that parts of the state’s new abortion law are unconstitutional, the Houston Chronicle reported. Sparks said the law — which also requires doctors to make the fetal heartbeat audible for women — violates the free speech rights of both doctors and patients.

“It is difficult to avoid the troubling conclusion the Texas Legislature either wants to permanently brand women who choose to get abortions or views these certifications as potential evidence to be used against physicians and women,” Sparks said.

Doctors who violated the law could have been fined as much as $10,000 and would have been stripped of their licenses to practice. Sparks suggested the law would have the effect of encouraging competent doctors stop providing abortions.

Gov. Rick Perry, who signed the bill in May and classified it as “emergency” legislation, said he believes Sparks will be reversed. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he appealed immediately.

Sparks let stand the part of the bill that requires women to have sonograms at least 24 hours before an abortion, reduced to 2 hours if they live more than 100 miles from the provider.

China Warns Of Mail-order Bride Ads

SHANGHAI, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Chinese authorities are warning men to be wary of marriage agency advertisements to find them wives from Southeast Asian nations.

Global Times, part of the Chinese Communist Party paper People’s Daily, reported in Shanghai officials have found several cases involving young Southeast Asian women in the city this year. There has been a surge of mail-order advertisements in Shanghai promising to find wives from Southeast Asia.

“Also, men should really think twice before getting married, especially if they don’t know the bride well,” said an announcement Monday from the Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration, the report said.

Officials with the administration said they have received complaints from a number of men saying such women, for whom they paid a high price, had disappeared a few months after marriage.

“One victim told us that he was unable to reach his … wife after she went back home for a visit,” administration spokesman Li Feng told the Global Times. “We suspect that there are many more like him in the city.”

The man is reported to have paid $7,400 in agency fees and an additional $5,500 to the woman’s family.

An agent at a marriage agency told the newspaper such wives usually run away within the first two months of marriage if things don’t go as expected.

An agent from a different marriage agency said women who work for human traffickers under the guise of agencies have been known to run soon after marriage.

“The problem is that it’s tough to prove that the agency is an organized gang working to deceive men for money instead of introducing them to available partners,” a lawyer told Global Times.

He said once deception is established, the marriage is no longer recognized by or protected under Chinese law.

The head of the Chinese government agency fighting human trafficking problem said this month smuggling of women and children from neighboring nations into China is increasing despite efforts to fight it.

Chen Shiqu said cross-border human traffickers remain a serious scourge, and urged greater international cooperation to stop them.

“Great demand from buyers as well as traditional preference for boys (among Chinese families) are the main culprits fueling trafficking,” Chen told China Daily.

Partisan Overtones In VA Cemetery Lawsuit

HOUSTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) — A conservative group says its lawsuit over rules restricting religious references at veteran funerals in Houston is not meant to needle President Barack Obama.

The Liberty Institute went to court this summer to defend a practice in which volunteer honor guards at the national cemetery in Houston read a tribute to the deceased during funeral services that refers repeatedly to God. Some veterans’ advocates contend the tiff has been overblown in an attempt to embarrass the Obama administration because the cemetery rules, which originated in the George W. Bush administration, by no means ban prayer at national cemetery, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The Liberty Institute denied the suggestion and argued that the religious references date back to World War I and are not objectionable.

“In all these years, we’ve not had one complaint,” Inge Conley, a commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, told the Times.

Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs say they are following regulations that were implemented due to complaints from families about religious references being inserted into services without their consent.

“We do what the families wish,” said Steve Muro, undersecretary for memorial affairs. “I always tell my employees we have just one chance to get it right.”

John Gingrich, the VA chief of staff, suggested funeral directors inform families about the honor-guard recitations well before the actual funeral to give them time to make their wishes known.

Judge Denies New Trial For Serial Killer

CLEVELAND, Aug. 30 (UPI) — An Ohio judge has rejected a request for a new trial for convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell, whose lawyers claim a juror was biased against him.

The claim Tuesday that juror misconduct led to Sowell’s death sentence this month failed to convince Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

Ambrose also denied the attorneys’ request for more money and time to interview each juror about impartiality in the case.

Sowell was convicted July 22 of killing 11 women whose remains were found in and around his Cleveland home.

Sowell’s attorneys, John Parker and Rufus Sims, based their motion for a new trial on comments the jury forewoman made during a news conference after the jury recommended the death penalty. The forewoman said she was offended by Sowell’s eye contact and that he winked at her, leading her to believe he didn’t take the case seriously or was trying to win her over.

Parker and Sims said her comments suggested she believed Sowell was trying to influence her during the trial and she was therefore prejudiced against him.

The attorneys said the juror had a bias against Sowell before testimony began because she told reporters during a tour of his house she had a sense of what happened inside and had to stop to regain her composure.

Chechnya Explosions Kill 7, Injure 18

GROZNY, Russia, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Two explosions in Grozny, Chechnya, killed at least seven people and injured 18 others Tuesday evening, the head of the Russian North Caucasus republic said.

Ramzan Kadyrov said five police officers, an Emergencies Ministry official and a civilian died in the explosions in the Chechnyan capital, and the injured victims included law enforcement officials and civilians, RIA Novosti reported.

The first explosion came as police officers tried to detain a suspected militant in the city’s Leninsky district. The second occurred about 30 minutes later when police and passersby gathered at the site, RIA Novosti said.

The Russian news agency said an earlier report indicated four people died and five people suffered injuries in explosions apparently set off by suicide bombers.

Chechnya, the site of two separatist wars in the 1990s and early 2000s, has been comparatively calm in recent years, while neighboring Dagestan and Ingushetia have experienced most of the North Caucasus militant violence, RIA Novosti said.

Drug, Gun Sting Leads To Indictments Of 60

MANSFIELD, Ohio, Aug. 30 (UPI) — A yearlong storefront sting operation in Ohio targeting firearms and illegal drugs led to the indictment of 60 people, authorities said Tuesday.

Undercover agents working in a Mansfield, Ohio, store that sold sneakers, jerseys and other athletic apparel expressed interest in firearms and narcotics, Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said in a news release.

The sting led to the indictment of 26 people in federal court on firearms and drug-trafficking charges and 34 people on state drug-trafficking charges in Richland County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court, officials said.

The investigation led to the seizure of 70 firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, more than 2,000 grams of cocaine (including crack), 1,099 Oxycodone pills, 215 ecstasy pills, 199 Vicodin pills, five grams of heroin and 36 pills of Aprazolam, officials said.

“This undercover operation was strategically targeted at felons and violent criminals who flooded Mansfield with prescription drugs, illegal narcotics and illegal firearms,” Dettelbach said in the news release. “This investigation will shut off a significant pipeline of illegal firearms and drugs.”

The indictments, which included 121 separate criminal charges, were returned Aug. 24 but were kept sealed until Tuesday, when federal and local agents arrested suspects.