Homelessness down but seen rising anew: report
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. homelessness fell 1 percent nationwide from 2009 to 2011 despite the sluggish economy but the figure threatens to rise as the federal government cuts spending, according to a study released on Wednesday. The number of homeless people in the United States fell to 636,017 last year from 643,067 in 2009, the National Alliance to End Homelessness said in its report.
Snowfall totals scaled back in Seattle, up for other areas
(Reuters) - Seattle residents bracing for an epic storm on Wednesday may now only see up to 6 inches of snowfall while towns in the southwest interior of Washington were likely to be slammed with more than a foot of snow, forecasters said. In the greater Seattle area about 1 to 2 inches of snow dusted the ground in the early morning hours with about 3 to 6 inches expected, down from forecasts of up to 10 inches, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Dustin Guy.
More arrests in insider trading probe
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Authorities arrested four people and will announce charges against several more on Wednesday as part of the government's sweeping probe into insider trading at hedge funds, an FBI spokesman said. The charges are part of the government's long-running investigation into the alleged sharing of confidential information on publicly traded corporations with hedge fund managers and analysts. In the biggest case so far, onetime billionaire and hedge fund tycoon Raj Rajaratnam was convicted of insider trading and is now serving an 11-year prison term.
Death row inmate wins missed deadline case
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a new hearing for a convicted murderer on death row in Alabama who missed a deadline to appeal because his New York lawyers went to other jobs and critical court notices were returned unopened by the law firm's mailroom. By a 7-2 vote, the justices ruled that a U.S. appeals court had been wrong in refusing to consider the inadequate legal representation claims by the inmate, Cory Maples, who was convicted of two murders in 1995 and sentenced to death.
Hikers find severed head in bag under Hollywood sign
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hikers found a severed human head in a bag below the iconic Hollywood sign in the hills above Los Angeles on Tuesday, prompting a search in the area for an accompanying body, police said. Two female hikers were walking nine dogs when they found what police said appears to be the head of a man. It was located off a trail near the Griffith Observatory in Hollywood Hills, a popular recreation and tourist area that is home to a 53-mile network of trails, equestrian paths and fire roads.
Wisconsin city's mayor survives first round of recall
SHEBOYGAN, Wis (Reuters) - The first-term mayor of a Wisconsin town, a self-described alcoholic who has come under pressure to step down, survived the first round of a recall election on Tuesday by getting more votes than any other candidate. Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan, 48, took about 33 percent of the vote in the eight-way contest, the city's first mayoral recall election, and former state representative Terry Van Akkeren finished second with 26 percent, the city clerk's office said.
Judge denies new trial in Connecticut home invasion case
NEW HAVEN, Conn (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday rejected convicted killer Joshua Komisarjevsky's requests for a new trial in a home invasion case that resulted in a jury sentencing him to death. A week before he will be formally sentenced, a state superior court judge denied Komisarjevsky's motion for a new trial in the murder of a mother and her two daughters during the 2007 break-in at their Cheshire, Connecticut home.
Science panel backs government probe of Toyota
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The government conducted a thorough review and was justified last year in concluding that software systems played no role in unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, an independent scientific panel said on Wednesday. The finding by the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board represents the final piece of the federal investigation into recalls of 8 million Toyota and Lexus cars and trucks in 2009 and 2010.
White House briefly locked down for smoke bomb
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House was locked down for more than an hour on Tuesday night as authorities investigated what appeared to be a smoke bomb tossed over the fence of the executive compound, a Secret Service spokesman said. The device was thrown over the fence at one point when about 1,000 to 1,500 "Occupy DC" protesters were demonstrating outside the White House, Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said.
Occupy protesters rally against Congress at Capitol
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Demonstrators from the Occupy movement rallied at the Capitol and congressional office buildings on Tuesday to protest against the influence of money on lawmakers. In a sign of renewed vigor for the Occupy movement, which staged protests in many cities last fall, several hundred demonstrators staged rallies and attempts to meet lawmakers as they returned from a holiday break.