Nation Briefs

Alabama hostage suspect a loner

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. – As an Alabama standoff and hostage drama marked a sixth day Sunday, more details emerged about the suspect at the center, with neighbors and officials painting a picture of an isolated man estranged from his family.

Authorities say Jim Lee Dykes, 65 – a decorated Vietnam-era veteran known as Jimmy to neighbors – shot a school-bus driver and abducted a 5-year-old boy from the bus, taking him to an underground bunker on his rural property. The driver, 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland Jr., was buried Sunday.

Dykes, described as a loner who railed against the government, lives up a dirt road outside this tiny hamlet north of Dothan in the southeastern corner of the state. His home is just off the main road north to the state capital of Montgomery, about 80 miles away.

The FBI said in a statement Sunday that authorities continue to have an open line of communication with Dykes. The little boy requested Cheez-Its and a red Hot Wheels car, both of which were delivered to the bunker, a separate statement said. Authorities had said they also were delivering medicine and other comfort items, and that Dykes was making the child as comfortable as possible.

Panetta: Kill decisions not easy

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says decisions to strike potential terrorist targets with unmanned drones don’t “come lightly.”

Panetta says those who authorize the drone strikes make sure they “are focused on somebody who is ... a direct threat to the United States.” In an interview released Sunday by NBC, he describes it an “intricate process” of establishing targets, going through legal requirements and trying to limit collateral damage.

Asked about resentment caused by drone strikes, Panetta says the United States “has to always pay attention to these issues.” But he also says “you’ve got to use everything you can” against the enemy.

Women’s baseball star,

Davis dies at 88

LOS ANGELES – Lavonne “Pepper” Paire-Davis, a star of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s and an inspiration for the movie “A League of Their Own,” has died. She was 88.

Her son William Davis tells The Associated Press that Paire-Davis died of natural causes in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Paire-Davis was a model for the character played by Geena Davis and served as a consultant on the 1992 film.

In 1944, she joined the women’s baseball league, created in fear that World War II would interrupt Major League Baseball, and played for 10 seasons. She was a catcher and shortstop, and helped her teams win five championships. She chronicled her baseball adventures in the 2009 book Dirt in the Skirt.

She’s survived by two sons and a daughter.

Associated Press