Arizona Holding Woman In Okla. Slaying

PHOENIX, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Arizona authorities say a woman will be extradited back to Oklahoma in the coming days to face charges in the shooting death of her husband last month.

Raelynne Simonin, 23, Sallisaw, Okla., was jailed this week in Pinal County after she called Arizona deputies to report her husband had been killed in a home invasion robbery and had been raped by the same intruders.

A sheriff’s spokesman told The Arizona Republic detectives became suspicious when Oklahoma detectives determined the evidence at the scene did not match up with Simonin’s version of events.

Simonin claimed three men broke into their home July 25, shot her 39-year-old husband Jack Purselley dead and then abducted her and sexually assaulted her.

Purselley, who stood 6-foot-9 and weighed about 600 pounds, was an accused con artist with outstanding warrants for his arrest in Arizona, the Republic said.

Siminon apparently packed some clothing and traveled to Arizona’s San Tan Valley to stay with family members. She reported the alleged break-in July 27.

During subsequent interviews, Siminon admitted to having an affair with 52-year-old David Danylchuk, who was arrested in Oklahoma along with two alleged accomplices. She denied any knowledge of a plot to murder her husband.

Obama To Conduct Bus Tour In August

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — President Obama will tour America’s Midwest during the summer to help buttress political support in battleground states, a White House official said.

While a schedule isn’t set, observers note the tour likely would include states where the economy remains lackluster, including states where Democrats suffered the brunt of the party’s electoral losses in 2010, The Hill reported Wednesday.

The tour later this month will be run by the White House, not Obama’s re-election campaign, a White House official said.

27 Hurt When Hay Wagon Tips In Canada

SHERBROOKE, Quebec, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A hay wagon carrying about 50 people tipped over in Canada Wednesday afternoon, sending 27 people to the hospital, authorities said.

The accident occurred on the outskirts of Sherbrooke, Quebec, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The injured, who included several children, had serious injuries, including broken bones, the CBC said. One person was in intensive care.

The victims, who were riding in an open trailer, were from a day camp for children in nearby Lennoxville.

Skull Shows Early Dog Domestication

NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A 33,000-year-old well-preserved canine skull from a cave in Siberia shows some of the earliest evidence of man’s domestication of the dog, researchers say.

The skull is unlike those of modern dogs or wolves, researchers said; while the snout is similar in size to early, fully domesticated dogs from 1,000 years ago, its large teeth resemble those of 31,000-year-old wild European wolves.

This suggests a dog in very early stages of domestication, research team member Susan Crockford told the BBC.

“The wolves were not deliberately domesticated; the process of making a wolf into a dog was a natural process,” Crockford, an evolutionary biologist, said.

But the domestication process was an outcome of settled human populations, she said.

“At this time, people were hunting animals in large numbers and leaving large piles of bones behind, and that was attracting the wolves,” she said.

And it was attracting the most curious, least fearful wolves — almost always juvenile — with shorter, wider snouts and smaller, more crowded teeth.

These features, over generations, came to define the domesticated dog, Crockford said.

In the last 10,000 years the gradually domesticated dogs became more and more valuable to humans as hunting helpers, another researcher said.

“When you’ve got hunting dogs, all of a sudden it’s a game changer,” Oxford University archaeologist Thomas Higham said. “Hunters with dogs are much better than sole hunters.”

Panetta: Pentagon Can Cut Budget Wisely

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Pentagon workforce any budget reduction would take into account sound strategy and policy.

“One of the key challenges we face as a department [is] how to ensure that our military has everything it needs to protect our national security at a time of considerable fiscal challenge in our country,” Panetta said in his message.

President Obama Tuesday signed into law a bill raising the nation’s debt ceiling and outlining spending reductions.

Spending reductions resulting from the legislation — $350 billion during 10 years — are in line with what Defense Department leaders anticipated, the Pentagon said in a release.

“As a department, we are asking ourselves: What are the essential missions our military must do to protect America and our way of life? What are the risks of the strategic choices we make? And what are the financial costs?” Panetta wrote.

Across-the-board cuts in the past resulted in an undersized and underfunded force, Panetta wrote, pledging he would do everything possible to ensure reductions in defense spending aren’t pursued “in a hasty, ill-conceived way that would undermine the military’s ability to protect America and its vital interests around the globe.”

However, he noted the debt ceiling compromise passed by Congress and signed into law contains a mechanism that would trigger if Congress fails to reduce the deficit further. The potential slash in defense spending is not meant as policy but to spur a balanced approach to deficit reductions, he said.

“If that happens, it could trigger a round of dangerous across-the-board defense cuts that would do real damage to our security, our troops and their families, and our ability to protect the nation,” Panetta wrote.

Senate Confirms Six Pentagon Appointments

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — The U.S. Senate, before taking its August recess, confirmed six Pentagon leadership posts, including the next Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and vice chairman.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta congratulated Gen. Martin Dempsey, who will succeed Adm. Michael Mullen, and Adm. James Winnefeld, who will be Dempsey’s vice chairman, the Pentagon said in a release Wednesday.

“I am thrilled these two great Americans will soon join me in leading the finest military in the world,” Panetta said in a statement. “They bring with them immense intellect, proven leadership and far reaching strategic vision.”

Panetta said he expected he and President Obama would “greatly benefit” from Dempsey’s and Winnefeld’s counsel “as we confront the many security challenges facing our country.”

Panetta called Mullen and outgoing vice chairman, Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, “two of the military’s finest leaders.”

Also on Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Gen. Raymond T. Odierno as Army chief of staff, Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert as chief of naval operations, Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III as commander of U.S. Transportation Command, and Army Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., who will receive his fourth star and serve as commander of U.S. Northern Command.

Seven Dead In Ramadi Blast

RAMADI, Iraq, Aug. 3 (UPI) — An explosion outside a police officer’s house in Ramadi, Iraq, Wednesday killed at least seven people and injured at least another 10, authorities said.

Police attributed the blast in a crowded neighborhood in central Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, to a roadside bomb, CNN reported.

Police said the officer and his father were among the wounded, the U.S. network said.

Ramadi, located about 63 miles, west of Baghdad, had been a stronghold of the Sunni Arab insurgency following the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Lawyer Challenges Banishment In Ga.

ATLANTA, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A Georgia man who fired shots at a home, a convenience store and a water tower should not be banished from his home county, his lawyer says.

“It’s like banishing a child from their family,” attorney McNeill Stokes said after the state Court of Appeals ruled the practice constitutional, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

David N. Thompson, 28, is bipolar, and Stokes has challenged the banishment from DeKalb County for another 15 years in the Georgia Supreme Court.

“Georgia has got to stop banishing its citizens — particularly its mentally challenged citizens — to get rid of them,” he said.

The state’s high court has twice ruled it is legal to limit criminals to as few as one of the state’s 159 counties but not to ban them from the whole state, the Journal-Constitution said.

Thompson fired a shot from a rifle with a scope into the side of a brick house owned by his stepmother in 2004 and shot at a convenience store and water tower the same day. He said he was upset he had been denied his inheritance from his father, who committed suicide — a trash can bearing the University of North Carolina logo.

He is required to avoid all but 50 of the state’s less-populated counties.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison, but the term was later cut to four years, and 12 years of probation, then returned to prison for 18 months in 2009 after allegedly threatening a North Carolina woman he met online.

New Sensor Has An ‘eye’ For Liquids

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 3 (UPI) — Researchers at Harvard University say they have developed a new hand-held device that can quickly and accurately identify any unknown liquid.

Scientists at the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences used the chemical and optical properties of precisely nanostructured materials to identify liquids by their surface tension, a Harvard release said Wednesday.

The sensor changes color when it encounters a liquid with a particular surface tension.

The device does not need a power source and can mean cheap, fast, and portable quality control tests and identification of liquid contaminants in the field, the researchers said.

“Digital encryption and sensors have become extremely sophisticated these days, but this is a tool that will work anywhere, without extra equipment, and with a very wide range of potential applications,” Marko Loncar, a professor of electrical engineering, said.

Example uses of the detector could be verifying the fuel grade of gasoline or testing suspected bootleg liquor for toxic levels of methanol, the Harvard release said.

It could also identify liquids that aren’t what they’re claimed to be.

“If you want to detect forgeries,” researcher Ian Burgess said, “you can tune your sensor to be acutely sensitive to one specific formulation, and then anything that’s different stands out, regardless of the composition.”

Did Earth Once Have Two Moons?

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., Aug. 3 (UPI) — Earth may have once had two moons that collided, leaving an asymmetry in our companion’s shape that has long puzzled scientists, a U.S. researcher says.

In an article published this week in Nature, Erik Asphaug, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggests the two bodies merged in a slow-motion collision lasting many hours that created a mysterious mismatch between the moon’s visible side and its remote far side.

The moon’s visible side is dominated by low-lying lava plains, while its far side is composed of highlands. The differences, however, go below the surface, as the thickness of the moon’s crust and the minerals found below the surface vary between the two regions, Asphaug and co-author Martin Jutzi of the University of Bern said.

Asphaug suggests something squeezed some of the moon’s layers to one side, and that a collision with a smaller moon about 600 miles in diameter is the most likely explanation.

“By definition, a big collision occurs only on one side,” he says, “and unless it globally melts the planet, it creates an asymmetry.”

Following the slow-motion impact, Asphaug says, gravity would have squeezed the material of the smaller body to a relatively thin layer on top of the moon’s existing crust.