In brief | Nation & World, 08-17-14


Couple charged with kidnapping 2 Amish sisters may have planned other abductions

CANTON, N.Y. — A couple accused of kidnapping two young Amish sisters was prowling for easy targets and may have also planned to abduct other children, a sheriff said Saturday.

Stephen Howells Jr. and Nicole Vaisey, both of Hermon, were arrested Friday on charges they snatched the 7-year-old and 12-year-old girls from a roadside farm stand in front of their home near the Canadian border.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said at a news conference Saturday that more charges may be filed and that investigators are looking into whether the pair had plotted or carried out other abductions.

“We felt that there was the definite potential that there was going to be other victims,” Wells said.

The sisters were abducted Wednesday from their family’s farm stand in Oswegatchie and were set free by their captors Thursday.

Perry is third GOP hopeful with troubles, but his indictments may hurt him most

AUSTIN, Texas — As they form exploratory committees, consider the grueling prospect of a national campaign with their families and begin hiring staff in key presidential battleground states, three potential Republican White House candidates also face the distraction of legal troubles back home.

The latest is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who following his indictment on two felony charges, is staring at the most serious accusations of wrongdoing by a prominent Republican governor openly considering a run for president.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie is trying to move beyond the apparent effort of his staff to create traffic chaos on a bridge into Manhattan late last year, while state prosecutors in Wisconsin are examining whether Gov. Scott Walker coordinated too closely during a past campaign with outside conservative groups.

But prosecutors have taken no action against Christie and Walker, and may never do so. Only Perry has suffered the infamy of an actual indictment, handed up by a grand jury in Austin, Texas, that accused the longest-serving governor in the state’s history of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.

The charges came after a special prosecutor spent months presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he carried out a promise to nix funding for the public integrity unit run by the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg unless she resigned. A Democrat, Lehmberg had been convicted of drunken driving.

Homecoming for hemp: Rebirth sprouting in Kentucky in experimental plots

MURRAY, Ky. — Call it a homecoming for hemp: Marijuana’s nonintoxicating cousin is undergoing a rebirth in a state at the forefront of efforts to reclaim it as a mainstream crop.

Researchers and farmers are producing the first legal hemp crop in generations in Kentucky, where hemp has turned into a political cause decades after it was banned by the federal government. Republican U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul advocate for it, as does state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a Republican who is running for governor next year.

The comeback is strictly small scale. Experimental hemp plots more closely resemble the size of large family gardens.

Statewide plantings totaled about 15 acres from the Appalachian foothills in eastern Kentucky to the broad stretches of farmland in the far west, said Adam Watson, the Kentucky Agriculture Department’s hemp program coordinator.

The crop’s reintroduction was delayed in the spring when imported hemp seeds were detained by U.S. customs officials. The state’s Agriculture Department sued the federal government, but dropped the case Friday after reaching an agreement on importing the seeds into Kentucky. The seeds were released after federal drug officials approved a permit.

By wire sources