Nation briefs

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Police question two men in Florida house slaying

DELTONA, Fla. -- Police investigating the slayings of six people whose bodies were found in a blood-spattered Florida house questioned two men Saturday. Investigators described the two men as "persons of interest" but not suspects in the deaths of four men and two women whose remains were found in different rooms of a home in Deltona, about 25 miles north of Orlando. Sheriff Ben Johnson said one man being held on a probation violation "had some knowledge of some of the victims." The other man agreed to accompany detectives. The sheriff described the two as "somewhat" cooperative.

Troops defend Abu Ghraib unit in midst of scandal

PETERSBURG, Va. -- They trained Iraqi police officers and set up a police academy, and helped rebuild courts and schools. Three of them received Purple Hearts and six earned Bronze Stars. But members of the military police unit at the heart of the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison said Saturday that they fear the good they did for the people of Iraq will be overlooked because of the abuse allegations. Sgt. Stephen Pierson, who helped establish a police academy in the town of Al Hillah, said he didn't want the prison abuse scandal to diminish the work of the MP unit. "I'm pretty proud of what we accomplished over there."

Dems call La. rep 'coward' for switching to GOP

NEW ORLEANS -- In 48 hours, Rep. Rodney Alexander went from Democrat to Republican, friend to foe -- or foe to friend, depending on your political persuasion, announcing his new affiliation Friday afternoon. Democrats reacted to the news by calling the first-term congressman a turncoat and a coward. They must now gain another seat, 12 in all, to win back the House this fall. Alexander's about-face came about in two days, but had really been in the works for two years.

Miss Teen USA crown goes to Louisiana native

PALM SPRINGS, Calf. -- A 17-year-old poet from Louisiana has been crowned Miss Teen USA 2004. Shelley Catherine Hennig of Destrehan, La., defeated 50 other contestants Friday night to take the title. She succeeds Tami Nichole Farrell of Phoenix, Ore. Hennig won a year of rent-free living in New York City, a tiara valued at $17,500 and several other prizes. She will spend the next year traveling and speaking to teens. The honor roll student had a poem published in the "Young Authors Book of Poetry" and hopes to attend New York University. Sonya Balmores of Hawaii was first runner-up.

-- From wire reports

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