National news briefs
Some say EPA email aliases a trick to hide info from Congress
Washington • For former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, it was "Richard Windsor." For President George W. Bush's first EPA chief, Christine Todd Whitman, it was "ToWhit." And for former Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock, it was "Tofu."
Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, revealed these secret email aliases at a hearing Thursday to vet Gina McCarthy, President Barack Obama's choice to lead the agency in his second term. Republicans have been outraged at Jackson's use of the secret email alias Richard Windsor, charging that it was a way for EPA to hide information from Congress and the public.
The EPA says it releases emails from alternative addresses when it receives information requests.
But unlike Jackson's, the other aliases follow a standard format in place since the 1990s.
"All of them have used it," Boxer said. "I don't think it is anything nefarious."
Implanted 'bracelet' helps treat severe acid reflux disease
A tiny magnetic bracelet implanted at the base of the throat is greatly improving life for some people with chronic heartburn who need more help than medicine can give them.
It's a novel way to treat severe acid reflux, which plagues millions of Americans and can raise their risk for more serious health problems.
It happens when a weak muscle doesn't close after swallowing as it should. That lets stomach juices splash back into the throat. Drugs like Nexium and Prilosec reduce acid. But they don't fix the underlying problem, called GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The Linx device, made by Torax Medical Inc., of St. Paul, Minn., is a ring of titanium beads with magnets inside. Surgeons place it around the weak muscle at the base of the esophagus. The ring reinforces the weak muscle to keep it closed, yet is flexible and expands to let food pass when the wearer swallows.
Texas officials: Massstabbing suspect had cannibalism fantasies
Houston • Officials say a man accused of stabbing more than a dozen people at a Houston-area college told investigators that he had fantasized about cannibalism and about cutting off people's faces and wearing them as masks.
According to a search warrant affidavit made public Thursday, Dylan Quick told an investigator that about week before the attack at Lone Star College in Cypress he had researched mass stabbings on his home computer.
The affidavit says Quick told the investigator that in preparing for the campus stabbing incident, he had sharpened things, including a hairbrush and pencils, to use as weapons.
The affidavit said investigators found several books about mass killings and serial killers in his home.
Quick is charged with three counts of aggravated assault.
Fox removes Coulter's reference to killing McCain's daughter
New York • The Fox Nation website has removed a column by conservative commentator Ann Coulter because it had a reference to killing the daughter of Sen. John McCain.
Fox said Thursday that the post was removed because of the reference. It had been posted Wednesday.
Coulter wrote about how MSNBC's Martin Bashir suggested Republican senators wouldn't support stronger gun control legislation until a member of their family was killed. She wrote: "Let's start with Meghan McCain!"
McCain tweeted on Thursday that she "couldn't imagine living a life that seems so void of love, compassion and perspective."
Her mother, Cindy McCain, tweeted that "Ann Coulter needs to get a life!"
Police: Maine burglar caught after 27 years surviving in woods
Rome, Maine • Cottage owners on a central Maine lake are expressing relief that a so-called hermit is no longer at large.
Law enforcement officials say 47-year-old Christopher Knight lived in the woods for 27 years and may be responsible for more than 1,000 burglaries of food and other items. Authorities arrested Knight last week after he tripped a surveillance sensor while allegedly stealing food from a camp for special needs people.
Authorities are sorting through Knight's lair in the woods, but the land's owner is turning away others who have hiked there to get a look.
Among them was Frank Ten Broeck, a retired New Jersey police official who has a cottage nearby. Ten Broeck says it's "mind-boggling" that Knight could survive through Maine's severe winters for so long.