The Norman Transcript

October 23, 2012

news in brief


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Wife: husband terrorized her

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Wisconsin man terrorized his wife for years, threatening to throw acid on her face, dousing her car with tomato juice and slashing her vehicle’s tires before finally going to the spa where she worked, opening fire and killing her and two others.

The shooting spree stunned the middle- to upper-class Milwaukee suburb where it happened, but court records show the conflict between Radcliffe Haughton and his wife had been escalating for years.

The 45-year-old former car salesman ultimately shot seven women at the spa before turning the gun on himself. Three remained hospitalized Monday.

Haughton, of Brown Deer, was charged with disorderly conduct last year after police officers responding to a 911 call saw Haughton point what appeared to be a gun at his wife, Zina, from a window at their home. Officers took cover, and a 90-minute standoff ensued.

Brown Deer police said Monday the standoff ended peacefully, and they were never able to confirm a gun was involved because Zina Haughton wouldn’t allow them into the couple’s home. The charge against Radcliffe Haughton was dropped when a police officer failed to appear in court.

Drones goingto West Africa

PARIS (AP) — France will move surveillance drones to West Africa and is holding secretive talks with U.S. officials in Paris this week as it seeks to steer international military action to help Mali’s feeble government win back the northern part of the country from al-Qaida-linked rebels, The Associated Press has learned.

France and the United Nations insist any invasion of Mali’s north must be led by African troops. But France, which has six hostages in Mali and has citizens who have joined al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, is playing an increasing role behind the scenes.

Many in the West fear that northeast Mali and the arid Sahel region could become the new Afghanistan, a no-man’s-land where extremists can train, impose hardline Islamic law and plot terror attacks abroad. And France, former colonial ruler to countries across the Sahel, is a prime target

“This is actually a major threat — to French interests in the region, and to France itself,” said Francois Heisbourg, an expert at the Foundation for Strategic Research, a partially state-funded think tank in Paris. “This is like Afghanistan 1996. This is like when Bin Laden found a place that was larger than France in which he could organize training camps, in which he could provide stable preparations for organizing far-flung terror attacks.”

France is turning its attention to the Sahel just as it is accelerating its pullout of combat troops from Afghanistan ahead of other NATO allies.

Sex-abuse files challenge Scouts

True to their motto, the Boys Scouts tried to be prepared. For months, they braced for the backlash sure to follow the court-ordered release of voluminous confidential files detailing decades of alleged sex abuse by Scout leaders.

Now the files are public, lawyers are calling for a congressional investigation and the Boy Scouts of America — as so often in recent years — finds itself embattled.

The files released last week are old — dating from 1959 to 1985. Many of the alleged abusers listed in the files may well be dead. And the Scouts, while apologizing for past mistakes, have significantly improved their youth protection program in recent years.

Still, release of 14,500 pages on alleged abusers is an unwelcome development for an organization struggling to halt a decades-long membership drop while incurring relentless criticism for its policy of excluding gays.

“It does pose a challenge for the Scouts, whether they’re going to be able to win back the confidence of the public,” said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. “I’m sure for some period of time, there’s going to be a concern.”

7 convicted for poor quake warning

L’AQUILA, Italy (AP) — In a verdict that sent shock waves through the scientific community, an Italian court convicted seven experts of manslaughter on Monday for failing to adequately warn residents of the risk before an earthquake struck central Italy in 2009, killing more than 300 people.

The defendants, all prominent scientists or geological and disaster experts, were sentenced to six years in prison.

Earthquake experts worldwide decried the trial as ridiculous, contending there was no way of knowing that a flurry of tremors would lead to a deadly quake.

“It’s a sad day for science,” said seismologist Susan Hough, of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s unsettling.”

That fellow seismic experts in Italy were singled out in the case “hits you in the gut,” she said.

Whale mimicks human voice

SAN DIEGO (AP) — It could be the muffled sound of singing in the shower or that sing-songy indecipherable voice from the Muppets’ Swedish Chef.

Surprisingly, scientists said the audio they captured was a whale imitating people. In fact, the whale song sounded so eerily human that divers initially thought it was a human voice.

Handlers at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego heard mumbling in 1984 coming from a tank containing whales and dolphins that sounded like two people chatting far away.

It wasn’t until one day, after a diver surfaced from the tank and asked, “Who told me to get out?” did researchers realize the garble came from a captive male Beluga whale.

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