JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska appeals court has affirmed the conviction of an Anchorage woman whom prosecutors said used a videotape of herself punishing her son to get on the “Dr. Phil” show.
Jessica Beagley in 2011 was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse for punishing her adopted Russian son by putting hot sauce into his mouth. She received probation and a suspended jail sentence.
In her appeal, she argued, among other things, that the wording of the ordinance she was prosecuted under was vague.
The Court of Appeals, in a decision distributed Friday, acknowledged potential problems with what constitutes “reasonable parental discipline” under the ordinance. But the court said questions surrounding that are moot here.
The prosecution’s case was premised on the theory that Beagley’s actions weren’t done for any purpose of punishment or discipline but instead to achieve the woman’s goal of appearing on “Dr. Phil,” the opinion states. Jurors weren’t asked to decide if Beagley used unreasonable discipline but whether she engaged in parental discipline at all or mistreated her son as a ploy to get on TV, according to the opinion.
As part of its case, the prosecution conceded that the boy had misbehaved but said that had nothing to do with Beagley’s actions. Beagley wanted to be on the show after seeing a segment on “Angry Moms,” was in contact with producers before making the video and was told by producers that they needed to see something, the prosecution argued. The prosecutor said Beagley used a form of punishment that she knew didn’t work to show she was angry.
Beagley’s attorney had argued that Beagley reached out to the show for help.
Beagley and her husband adopted young brothers from Russia. Behavioral problems, particularly with one of the boys, proved challenging for the couple and Beagley was running out of ideas when she heard hot sauce and cold showers could be effective, her attorney, William Ingaldson, said in Beagley’s appeal.
According to court documents, the video showed Beagley punishing her son by putting hot sauce in his mouth and making him stand under a cold shower.
Ingaldson did not return a call to the AP.
The appeals court rejected other claims raised by Beagley in the appeal, including challenges to evidentiary rulings by the trial judge.
NEW YORK (AP) — The special guests at U2’s concert Thursday night included Paul Simon, Lou Reed’s widow and the woman who called 911 when Bono fell off his bike in New York City last year.
Simon joined U2 onstage at Madison Square Garden to sing some of his song, “Mother and Child Reunion.” Before Bono kicked off the tune, he pointed out that Simon was in the crowd, and the audience roared as Simon entered the stage.
Bono also noted that Reed’s widow, musician Laurie Anderson, was in the audience of 20,000. The band performed Reed’s “Satellite of Love” as a video of the late icon singing the song appeared onscreen.
Bono, who crashed his bike in Central Park and suffered multiple injuries last year, called out the woman who dialed 911 and the firefighters who responded to the call. They sat close to the stage.
“I am here today because some people, when I crashed my bike here in the city, a beautiful girl made a phone call to 911. She’s from Denver, but she’s here tonight. And so is Engine 44, the firefighters that picked me up off the ground,” he said.
Bono then handed the microphone to the responders to recount the story.
“So I have to clarify, it’s Alisa and I’m from D.C., not Denver,” the woman said.
It earned her laughs. But her shine ended shortly after.
“Here’s what happened: I was running in Central Park, there was an accident, obviously I had to stop and help because I’m not from New York, I’m from Virginia, where people are nice,” she said as the audience booed as she tried to finish the story.
Bono, 55, had surgery after suffering fractures to his left eye socket, shoulder blade and left elbow from his fall.
But he was energetic and excited Thursday, working the entire stage at the loud arena alongside guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr.
The North American leg of U2’s Innocence + Experience Tour ends Friday at Madison Square Garden, which will mark the band’s eighth consecutive show at the famed venue since July 18.
The band will tour Europe in September.
WASHINGTON (AP) — As lawmakers head out of the Capitol for a five-week summer recess, they leave behind a pile of unfinished business that all but guarantees a painful fall.
Not long after they return in September, they face a vote on President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, a brutally divisive issue that many expect will dominate voter town halls during their annual August break.
After seeing more videos about fetal tissue collection practices, Republicans also are increasingly focused on cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood, raising the prospect that Congress will spend September tied in knots over how to avoid shutting down the government over that issue.
Later in the fall or winter, Congress will be faced with raising the federal debt limit, another issue ripe for brinkmanship, especially given the presence in the Senate of several presidential candidates adamantly opposed to an increase.
The House wrapped up its summer session by approving a three-month extension of highway and transit spending and authority, kicking negotiations on a longer-term transportation plan into the fall, as well.
Signing the short extension into law at the White House Friday, Obama said, “We can’t keep on funding transportation by the seat of our pants.”
China, Germany and other countries don’t operate that way, he said, chastising lawmakers for delaying budget decisions until the last minute and for letting authorization for the Export-Import Bank expire.
With deadlines also looming to renew authorities for the Federal Aviation Administration, child nutrition standards and pipeline safety, it’s shaping up as a monster of a fall for lawmakers.
“If you take a look at all of the things on the list, it’ll be a lot of traffic going through one toll booth,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Thursday.
Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, who leads a group of 18 conservatives vowing to oppose any spending bill that funds Planned Parenthood, said: “This is one of those line-in-the-sand-type of issues. We have to figure out a way to fund the government without giving any more money to this institution.”
The effort could prevent leaders from extending current spending levels come the new budget year Oct. 1, since Planned Parenthood now receives more than $500 million in government assistance. Yet if Republicans try to use must-pass spending legislation to pull the organization’s funding, they would have trouble getting past Senate Democrats and Obama.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday that a provision added to the bill cut off all funds to Planned Parenthood “is certainly something that would draw a presidential veto.”
That could leave Republicans, who took control of Congress this year promising to avoid shutdowns and “fiscal cliffs,” backed into a very uncomfortable corner.
“Democrats will unite against them,” says Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat. “This is a Republican path to shutdown.”
While the House left town Wednesday, the Senate plans one more week before leaving, with a cybersecurity bill and a largely symbolic vote on defunding Planned Parenthood.
Along with the Iran nuclear deal, the government spending issue tops a long list of thorny disputes that threaten to have Republicans and Democrats at loggerheads for months.
The 12 annual spending bills that fund the government are hung up on a variety of disagreements. That leaves Congress facing the likelihood of temporarily extending current spending levels, which gets lawmakers back to the prospect of a showdown over Planned Parenthood.
On Iran, Republicans are largely united against the nuclear deal, while those Democrats who’ve not yet declared their position are under enormous pressure from both sides. The White House is imploring them to back the president, while groups allied with the Israeli government are warning against the deal in apocalyptic terms. Congress is widely expected to vote down the deal, at which point attention would turn to whether opponents could muster the two-thirds vote in each chamber to override Obama’s certain veto.
Republicans are entering their recess after a nasty spate of intraparty brawls laid bare the ongoing conflict between tea party-backed conservatives and more pragmatic party leaders on Capitol Hill. That fault line promises to aggravate attempts at compromise throughout the fall. Lawmakers of both parties point to a need for high-level budget negotiations to come up with a deal that could resolve some of the major issues, yet for now, nothing like that is underway.
“We’re going to discuss how to fund the government after the August recess,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday.
Republicans are painfully aware that each previous shutdown showdown with Obama and the Democrats has ended in their own defeat. Obama’s health care law and executive actions on immigration survived their attempts to use budget bills to end them. Come September, it remains to be seen whether they will go down the same road.
“I do hope that Republicans will do more than just rest and relax during their 39-day vacation,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “Because when they do finally show up again in September, there won’t be a lot of patience or a lot of sympathy for the claim that they don’t have time to do their job.”
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Matthew Daly and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON (AP) — After billions of dollars spent and more than 10,000 extremist fighters killed, the Islamic State group is fundamentally no weaker than it was when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began a year ago, American intelligence agencies have concluded.
U.S. military commanders on the ground aren’t disputing the assessment, but they point to an upcoming effort to clear the important Sunni city of Ramadi, which fell to the militants in May, as a crucial milestone.
The battle for Ramadi, expected over the next few months, “promises to test the mettle” of Iraq’s security forces, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Killea, who is helping run the U.S.-led coalition effort in Iraq, told reporters at the Pentagon in a video briefing from the region.
The U.S.-led military campaign has put the Islamic State group on defense, Killea said, adding, “There is progress.” Witnesses on the ground say the airstrikes and Kurdish ground actions are squeezing the militants in northern Syria, particularly in their self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa.
But U.S. intelligence agencies see the overall situation as a strategic stalemate: The Islamic State remains a well-funded extremist army able to replenish its ranks with foreign jihadis as quickly as the U.S. can eliminate them. Meanwhile, the group has expanded to other countries, including Libya, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Afghanistan.
The assessments by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and others appear to contradict the optimistic line taken by the Obama administration’s special envoy, retired Gen. John Allen, who told a forum in Aspen, Colorado, last week that “ISIS is losing” in Iraq and Syria. The intelligence was described by officials who would not be named because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
“We’ve seen no meaningful degradation in their numbers,” a defense official said, citing intelligence estimates that put the group’s total strength at between 20,000 and 30,000, the same estimate as last August, when the airstrikes began.
The Islamic State’s staying power raises questions about the administration’s approach to the threat that the group poses to the U.S. and its allies. Although officials do not believe it is planning complex attacks on the West from its territory, the group’s call to Western Muslims to kill at home has become a serious problem, FBI Director James Comey and other officials say.
Yet under the Obama administration’s campaign of bombing and training, which prohibits American troops from accompanying fighters into combat or directing airstrikes from the ground, it could take a decade or more to drive the Islamic State from its safe havens, analysts say. The administration is adamant that it will commit no U.S. ground troops to the fight despite calls from some in Congress to do so.
The U.S.-led coalition and its Syrian and Kurdish allies have made some inroads. The Islamic State has lost 9.4 percent of its territory in the first six months of 2015, according to an analysis by the conflict monitoring group IHS.
A Delta Force raid in Syria that killed Islamic State financier Abu Sayyaf in May also has resulted in a well of intelligence about the group’s structure and finances, U.S. officials say. His wife, held in Iraq, has been cooperating with interrogators.
Syrian Kurdish fighters and their allies have wrested most of the northern Syria border from the Islamic State group, and the plan announced this week for a U.S.-Turkish “safe zone” is expected to cement those gains.
In Raqqa, U.S. coalition bombs pound the group’s positions and target its leaders with increasing regularity. The militants’ movements have been hampered by strikes against bridges, and some fighters are sending their families away to safer ground.
But American intelligence officials and other experts say the Islamic State is in no danger of being defeated any time soon.
“The pressure on Raqqa is significant … but looking at the overall picture, ISIS is mostly in the same place,” said Harleen Gambhir, a counterterrorism analyst at Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank.
Although U.S. officials have said it is crucial that the government in Baghdad win back disaffected Sunnis, there is little sign of that happening. American-led efforts to train Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State have produced a grand total of 60 vetted fighters.
The militants have adjusted their tactics to thwart a U.S. bombing campaign that tries assiduously to avoid civilian casualties, officials say. Fighters no longer move around in easily targeted armored columns; they embed themselves among women and children, and they communicate through couriers to thwart eavesdropping and geolocation, the defense official said.
Oil continues to be a major revenue source. By one estimate, the Islamic State is clearing $500 million per year from oil sales, said Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the Treasury Department. That’s on top of as much as $1 billion in cash the group seized from banks in its territory.
Although the U.S. has been bombing oil infrastructure, the militants have been adept at rebuilding oil refining, drilling and trading capacity, the defense official said.
The stalemate makes the battle for Ramadi all the more important.
Iraqi security forces, including 500 Sunni fighters, have begun preparing to retake the Sunni city, Killea said, and there have been 100 coalition airstrikes designed to support the effort. But he cautioned it will take time.
“Momentum,” he said, “is a better indicator of success than speed.”
Karam and Mroue reported from Beirut.
Follow Ken Dilanian on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kendilanianap . Follow Zeina Karam at https://twitter.com/zkaram?lang=en. Follow Bassem Mroue at https://twitter.com/bmroue
LONG BEACH, N.Y. (AP) — At age 95, Lucille Horn often reflects on her long, full life, with a husband and five children, and how it might not have happened if not for the renegade doctor who put her in a Coney Island sideshow when she was just days old.
Horn is among thousands of former premature babies whose lives were saved in the early 20th century by Dr. Martin Couney, a pioneer in the use of incubators who sought acceptance for the technology by showing it off on carnival midways alongside freak shows and fan dancers.
“Life Begins at the Baby Incubator,” read one of the signs at his displays — essentially a ward with babies in the glass cribs — that drew huge crowds at world’s fairs, on the Atlantic City boardwalk and Coney Island’s Luna Park. Couney invited desperate parents to bring him their preemies, and he paid for their care with the 25 cents he charged for admission.
Couney died in 1950, shortly after incubators finally came into wider use. Horn and others who owe their lives to him want their stories told so the doctor’s curious tale — one that would cause outrage by today’s standards — doesn’t die with them.
Horn was a twin born prematurely in 1920 in Brooklyn. Her sister had died, and doctors told her father to hold off on a funeral because Lucille would not survive the day.
“He said: ‘Well that’s impossible; she’s alive now. We have to do something for her,'” Horn said. “My father wrapped me in a towel and took me in a cab to the incubator; I went to Dr. Couney. I stayed with him quite a few days. Almost five months.”
Couney was well known in the early 1900s for his work in keeping premature babies alive. The German-trained doctor studied in Paris with Dr. Pierre Budin, who had pioneered the theory of enclosed incubators, designed to keep babies warm and protect them from germs.
The incubator was first seen in 1896 at the Berlin Exposition, and for the first time in the U.S. at expositions in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1898, and Buffalo, New York, in 1901.
U.S. hospitals were slow to adopt incubators for a variety of reasons. A 2000 article on the subject in the Journal of Perinatology cited, among other factors, the belief among early 1900s infant care experts that premature babies were weaklings who, if they survived, were likely to pass on that trait to their own children.
Couney opened his first exhibit with “live babies” at Coney Island’s Luna Park in 1903. By the 1920s, the incubators were kept in a Hansel-and-Gretel-like cottage decorated with the image of a stork overlooking a nest of cherubs. And in the 1930s, he took his incubator babies to the world’s fairs in New York and Chicago, where the display was on the midway next to the show of burlesque fan dancer Sally Rand. Couney ended the sideshows in 1943.
“We think this is a spectacle. We could never do this today,” said Dr. Richard Schanler, director of neonatal services at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. “But at the time, he was a leader. And I think we owe a lot of the very basic principles of neonatology to this gentleman.”
In the early 1900s, when most births occurred at home, doctors weren’t always in the picture, and premature babies were often written off. While exact numbers are difficult to determine, medical historians say Couney estimated he saved 7,500 of the 8,500 children that passed through his incubators.
Writer A.J. Liebling noted in a 1939 New Yorker magazine piece that Couney became irate at the suggestion he was merely a showman.
“All my life I have been making propaganda for the proper care of preemies, who in other times were allowed to die,” he quoted the doctor as saying. “Everything I do is strict ethical.”
Beth Allen was born in 1941, and like Mrs. Horn, her twin sister was too small to survive. Her mother, she said, initially rejected putting her child in one of Couney’s incubators, but her father persuaded Couney to talk to his wife, who acquiesced.
“The whole thing is just amazing to me,” Allen, who now lives in Hackensack, New Jersey, told The Associated Press in an interview. “And the older I get, the more appreciative I am of the opportunity that I was given to be here to talk to you, and to live a wonderful life that I had.”
Carol Boyce Heinisch was an incubator baby at Couney’s exhibition in Atlantic City in 1942. Today, the 73-year-old Absecon, New Jersey, woman is a secretary in a law firm. She has a family photograph of Couney’s daughter, Hildegarde, who worked as his nurse in Atlantic City and held Carol days after she was born.
“If it wasn’t for him, maybe I wouldn’t have survived,” Heinisch said. “I’m just very grateful for what he did.”
Barbara Horn recently had her mother record an oral history of her memories, including meeting Couney as a teenager, when she thanked him.
“It’s a story mom has told many times,” the younger Horn said. “Hearing her tell it now, it’s given me a new sense of appreciation for actually how precarious things were for her in the beginning and actually how gutsy Dr. Couney was.”
Associated Press video journalist Joseph Frederick and AP researcher Barbara Sambriski contributed to this report.
NEW YORK (AP) — The myriad of festivals seems to have gotten more dizzying over the last decade: Whether it’s a weekend of music performances, a foodie meet-up or a health-and-wellness gathering, there seems to be a “fest” happening somewhere around the globe at any moment.
It’s almost enough to cause festival overload. But Fest300 — a site officially launched this year after an earlier soft launch by entrepreneur Chip Conley — is seeking to not only enhance, but also curate the festival experience by sifting through them all and pointing out the best from the rest. He likens it to the festival version of the website Trip Advisor, where travelers go when they want to plan the best trip.
“We’re trying to outline what we think are the best festivals because people have more choice, and the more choice you have, the more you want someone to curate your choices for you,” Conley, an executive at AirBnB, said in a recent interview.
The site’s ultimate list of the top 300 festivals in the world contains the familiar — including Coachella, Lollapalooza (which kicks off Friday) and the Cannes Film Festival — and also those that may not be as well known, like the National Cowboy Poetry Festival in Texas (mark your calendars for January) or the Rainforest Music Festival coming up in August in Malaysia.
There’s also a steady stream of articles. A recent check of the site had one that included which festivals had the most germ-ridden wristbands, and another on going to festivals from a woman’s vantage point.
Conley says the site’s advantage, and its biggest challenge, is the broad swath it aims to appeal to.
“Usually when you create something new you actually go after a certain niche of people and you just serve that niche really well and grow from there,” he said. “What we’ve decided to do is the opposite. We said, let’s actually create the most comprehensive festival website ever created and focus on just the cream of the crop across all types of locations and festivals.”
Fest300 enlists festival-goers for their input to give ratings of their experiences, but is also working with festivals like Bonnaroo for behind-the-scenes videos and other exclusive content. The site’s business model includes sponsored content and advertising from tourism bureaus.
Taylor hopes to grow the site to more than 500,000 unique views per month, and given the popularity of festivals, believes it’s an achievable goal.
“Part of the reason why I think festivals have grown so much — they’re just popping up all over — is because people want that in real life experience,” he said. “We spend so much of our time connecting with each other through iPhones and Facebook, but doing it in person makes a big difference. I do think the reason why Fest300 the site is necessary is because there are so many new choices.”