Obama names San Antonio mayor housing secretary

President Obama Friday named San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as his next housing secretary, bringing a Hispanic Democrat seen as a potential vice presidential candidate to the administration.

If confirmed by the Senate, Castro would replace Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who Obama is nominating to serve as his next budget director.

Obama praised Donovan, saying he played a key role in the government’s efforts to revive the housing industry, and said Castro will bring to HUD a record of accomplishment and an understanding of the struggles faced by many Americans.

Federal judge lifts ban on forced feeding of detainee

An unhappy federal judge has blasted the Defense Department for its “intransigence” but said she had no choice but to lift a ban on the forced feeding of a hunger-striking Guantanamo Bay detainee.

In a ruling issued late Thursday, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said she felt compelled to remove a temporary restraining order that had blocked personnel at Guantanamo from feeding Syrian detainee Mohammed Abu Wa’el Dhiab through his nostrils in a process the Defense Department calls “enteral feeding.”

“Thanks to the intransigence of the Department of Defense, Mr. Dhiab may well suffer unnecessary pain from certain enteral feeding practices and forcible cell extractions,” Kessler wrote in a three-page decision. “However, the court simply cannot let Mr. Dhiab die.”

Three Asian elephants join herd at The National Zoo

The National Zoo is welcoming three new Asian elephants to its herd.

The zoo says the female elephants arrived Friday at the zoo after a three-day, 2,500 mile trip from the Calgary Zoo in specially-made, 10,000-pound crates. They’re on loan from the zoo, which is relocating its elephants to more suitable habitats.

Kamala and Swarna were born in the wild in Sri Lanka in 1975 and 23-year-old Maharani is Kamala’s daughter. They will be introduced slowly to the zoo’s herd of four after 30 days in quarantine, but fans can check on them on a new elephant cam.

Asian elephants are endangered in the wild. Their median life expectancy in captivity is about 50 years.

The move was funded through a $2 million gift from businessman David M. Rubenstein.


‘Pillowcase Rapist’ to be released from prison

The so-called “Pillowcase Rapist” who attacked at least 40 women in the 1970s and 1980s will be freed and allowed to live in a remote Southern California desert area despite a host of vocal protests, a judge ordered Friday.

Christopher Evans Hubbart, 63, must be released from a state facility by July 7, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Gilbert Brown ruled.

Hubbart will be permitted to rent a small house near Palmdale, some 45 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

“Now we are preparing for his arrival,” said District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who spent months fighting Hubbart’s release. “We will do everything within our authority to protect the residents of Los Angeles County from this dangerous predator.”

Hubbart will wear a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week GPS monitor on his ankle and will be accompanied by security people every time he goes out in public for the first six months to a year of his release, Lacey said. He will be transported to therapy sessions twice a week.


Storm-related multiple-car crash leaves six dead

Six people are dead and all that remained of the several vehicles involved in a fiery crash along Interstate 10 in southwestern New Mexico were charred hunks of nearly indiscernible metal.

New Mexico State Police said the crash in Hidalgo County, several miles from the Arizona border, came as New Mexico and the region was struck Thursday afternoon by a violent storm system.

“A sudden dust storm that limited visibility to almost nothing caused the lead vehicle to stop suddenly, causing a chain reaction of rear-end collisions,” police said in a statement.

– From news service reports