Blagojevich takes risk in not testifying
CHICAGO (AP) Rod Blagojevichs surprise decision not to testify after all at his corruption trial is a high-risk gamble that spared the ousted Illinois governor from a possible ordeal on the witness stand but could backfire with the jury.
Blagojevichs defense team rested their case Wednesday without calling a single witness. Trial lawyers said the stunning move may have caught prosecutors off guard and could force them to adjust their strategy, which included cross-examining Blagojevich and potentially offering tough rebuttal witnesses.
Blagojevich will not face embarrassing questions about evidence that he spent $200,000 on suits while going deep in debt, used profanities to describe some of the nations top leaders and hid in the bathroom to avoid meetings. But jurors are unlikely to overlook the fact that defense attorneys promised for months that he would testify to tell his side.
Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to scheming to sell or trade President Barack Obamas former Senate seat for a Cabinet post, an ambassadorship, a high-paying job outside government or a massive campaign contribution. He also pleaded not guilty to plotting to launch a racketeering operation in the governors office.
Judge halts gas drilling off Alaskan coast
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) A federal judge on Wednesday stopped companies from developing oil and gas wells on billions of dollars in leases off Alaskas northwest coast, saying the federal government failed to follow environmental law before it sold the drilling rights.
The lease sale in February 2008 brought in nearly $2.7 billion for the federal government from the sale of 2.76 million acres in the Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea, including $2.1 billion in high bids submitted by Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline said that the Minerals Management Service failed to analyze the environmental effect of natural gas development despite industry interest and specific lease incentives for such development.
FDA issues hold on Avandia study
WASHINGTON (AP) Federal health officials are barring new patients from enrolling in a safety study of GlaxoSmithKlines controversial diabetes pill Avandia, a week after a panel of experts ruled that the drug increases heart risks.
The Food and Drug Administration said it issued a partial clinical hold on the study to update researchers on the latest concerns about Avandia, which has been under scrutiny since 2007.
Last week a panel of experts voted that the drug appears to increase heart risks, but a majority ultimately voted to leave the drug on the market because the evidence was not definitive.
GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement it would halt recruitment for the so-called TIDE trial and update the studys chief investigators on last weeks meeting. Patients already in the study will be permitted to continue participating.
Barefoot Bandit returns to Washington state
SEATTLE (AP) A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney in Seattle says alleged Barefoot Bandit Colton Harris-Moore is back in Washington state.
Spokeswoman Emily Langlie says Harris-Moore arrived Wednesday afternoon and is being held at a federal detention facility in SeaTac.
Langlie says Harris-Moore is scheduled to make his initial court appearance today.
He was arrested in the Bahamas a week after he reportedly crash-landed in a plane stolen July 4 from an Indiana airport. He made initial court appearances in Florida last week and faces a federal charge in Seattle in the crash-landing of a plane stolen from Idaho last year.
Harris-Moore has allegedly committed a series of crimes, including stealing planes and boats, across the nation.