Senator ‘plotted’ smear
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnel presided over a meeting of his top staff at which they discussed how to attack a potential challenger, actor Ashley Judd, as suicidal and emotionally unbalanced, Mother Jones reported on Tuesday. The magazine published a secret recording of a meeting that took place on Feb. 2, at a time when Judd was thought to be preparing to run against the senator. The 12-minute tape reveals Judd was discussed in brutal terms. “This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign ... when anybody sticks their head up, do them out,” McConnell says at the start. A male voice says: “This sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced ... you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.” McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton said the FBI had been asked to investigate whether the recording had been a criminal act.
Six-year-old dies in shooting
A six-year-old boy who was accidentally shot in the head by a four-year-old playmate has died from his wounds, New Jersey authorities said on Tuesday. Toms River police Chief Michael Mastronardy said Holt was pronounced dead at 5pm on Tuesday, nearly 24 hours after the shooting. Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said the four-year-old boy got the .22 caliber rifle from his home and it discharged accidentally on Monday evening. The children were about 15m apart. Coronato said it was too early to know whether anyone would be charged.
Train avoids hitting puppy
Officials say a 78-year-old man tied a puppy to train tracks in the California desert, and an engineer had to use emergency brakes to keep from crushing it. The train was near Mecca on April 2 when the engineer saw a man walking away from the tracks and stopped. Union Pacific Special Agent Sal Pina responded to the scene, untied the dog and detained the man, who said his family did not want the dog and didn’t know what to do. Pina says the man appeared confused. Riverside County animal control said the 10-month-old poodle-terrier is fine and up for adoption.
Beyonce’s Cuba trip legal
Pop diva Beyonce and hip-hop star Jay-Z’s trip to Cuba was part of a cultural exchange and did not violate the government’s economic embargo on the island, a US Treasury official said on Tuesday. “It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba,” Alastair Fitzpayne, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, said in a letter to Republican lawmakers who had questioned the trip.
Elephant shot in drive-by
An elephant in the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus was injured in a drive-by shooting in Mississippi on Tuesday and police were searching for suspects in the attack. The 39-year-old Asian elephant named Carol was resting in an enclosure outside the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo when it was hit in the shoulder with a shot fired from a passing vehicle. The elephant will be taken to Missouri for several weeks of treatment and is expected to make a full recovery, a circus spokeswoman said.