A federal judge has denied the request of Terri Schiavo’s parents to order the reinsertion of a feeding tube for the severely brain-damaged woman. The decision was first reported early this morning. According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge James Whittemore wrote that Schiavo’s “life and liberty interests” had been protected by Florida courts. He wrote that despite “these difficult and time strained circumstances,” this court is “constrained to apply the law to the issues before it.” Attorneys for Schiavo’s parents said they will now file an appeal at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia. Schiavo’s case has been the center of a national debate on euthanasia. On Friday doctors — at the direction of a state court — disconnected the feeding tube to Schiavo, who has been in a vegetative state for 15 years. The move was supported by her husband but not her parents. The Congress took the extraordinary move of signing special legislation to order a federal judge to review the case. We’ll have more on this story in a few minutes.
10 people are dead in Minnesota after a high school student went on a shooting rampage Monday on the Red Lake Native American reservation. Police say a 17-year-old student killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend at their home. He then traveled to his high school where he shot dead five students, a teacher and a security guard. Another 12 people were injured. One student described being inside, “Boom, boom, boom, couple more shots went off and they told us to get down.” After the shooting, police say the student then shot himself. It is the nation’s worst school shooting since the Columbine High School massacre that left 15 people dead in 1999. Monday’s shooting took place on the reservation of the Red Lake Chippewa Tribe. It is located in a remote area about 240 miles north of Minneapolis and about 75 miles south of the Canadian border. The Associated Press reports that the tribe is one of the poorest in the states. About 40 percent of the reservation’s residents are unemployed and live below the poverty line. Red Lake High School has 300 students and is one of the worst performing schools in the state. The school scored second-lowest out of all Minnesota schools last year on tests for 11th-grade math and third-lowest for 10th-grade reading.
Floyd Jourdain, Red Lake’s tribal chairman, said Monday was “without doubt, the darkest day in the history of our tribe.” Jourdain said, “Our community is in shock. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims’ families. We’re a small town, and everybody is stunned.”
Monday’s killing marks the nation’s third high-profile shooting in the past two weeks. In Georgia–on March 10 — a man appearing in court on rape charges managed to shoot dead the presiding judge in his case and three others. On the next day — in Wisconsin — a gunman opened fire at a church service killing seven including the church’s minister.
An attorney in Australia has claimed that the U.S. government holds 500 hours of video footage recorded at Guantanamo Bay. He said the footage–if it is ever made public — would prove to be as “explosive as anything from Abu Ghraib.” The attorney–Steve Kenny–once represented the Australian detainee David Hicks.
Meanwhile a newly released FBI memo shows U.S. officials had grave doubts on the effectiveness of the coercive interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo Bay. One FBI agent concluded that the interrogations produced intelligence that was “suspect at best.” The memo containing this conclusion was originally released by the Justice Department last year. But at the time the department blacked out the agent’s conclusion that the intelligence was suspect. FBI agents and officials have complained about numerous interrogation techniques used including the shackling of detainees to the floor for periods exceeding 24 hours, without food and water. The agents also complained about detainees being draped in Israeli flags and the use of growling dogs to scare detainees.
The Boston Globe has determined the jet leased out by the government to secretly carry detainees around the world has a tie to the city’s baseball team. The Gulfstram Jet is owned by a part owner of the Red Sox. He leases the plane out to the government when it is not being used by the team. One time the plane was spotted was in Cairo on Feb. 18, 2003 — shortly after an Egyptian cleric disappeared from the streets of Milan Italy. The Italian government is investigating whether the CIA illegally kidnapped the cleric from Italian soil. The Chicago Tribune has reported the plane has made at least 51 trips to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba as well as trips to Afghanistan, Morocco, Dubai, Jordan and Azerbaijan.
At the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan proposed a series of sweeping reforms to the world body. Annan called for four main changes:–increasing the size of the Security Council–setting out rules on when the United Nations can authorize military force–having UN member nations agree on a common definition of terrorism–and reforming the UN Human Rights Commission “I urge member states to make the Security Council more broadly representative of the international community as a whole as well as of the geographic realities of today,” said Kofi Annan. “This important issue has been discussed for too long, I believe member states should agree to take a decision on it, preferably by consensus, but in any case before the summit.”
In military news, the U.S. Army announced Monday it is raising the maximum age for new recruits to join the part-time Army Reserve and National Guard from the age of 35 to 39. The moves come as the Reserves are falling short of recruiting goals.
And the Orange County Register of California is believed to have become the first major market daily newspaper to call for the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. This according to Editor & Publisher. The paper–which has a circulation of 300,000–ran an editorial for U.S. withdrawal on Sunday to mark the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion.