Man who talked of eating kids gets nearly 27 years in prison

A man who chatted online with other men about their desire to kidnap, rape, kill and eat children was sentenced to nearly 27 years in prison after prosecutors showed photos of a basement dungeon he built, a child-size coffin, butchering tools and metal restraints. Geoffrey Portway, 40, of Worcester, was sentenced to 26 years and eight months behind bars. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf said chats recovered from Portway's computer show he solicited people for help for a kidnapping with the intent of raping, killing and eating a child.


Woman who had hiccup fame is now on trial on murder charge

A woman who appeared on several national television programs as a teen because of her uncontrollable hiccupping went on trial in Clearwater on a murder charge. Prosecutors and attorneys for Jennifer Mee began selecting a jury in a Pinellas County courtroom. Judge Nancy Moate Ley told potential jurors that the trial would probably wrap up by the end of the week. Mee, 22, suffered from prolonged hiccups of up to 50 a minute in 2007. She appeared on several TV shows and while on the "Today" show, was hugged by country music star Keith Urban. Mee is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Shannon Griffin, 22, in an alleged drug robbery gone wrong.


Snowden is nominated for top European human rights award

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, considered Europe's top human rights award, could go to Edward Snowden, who was nominated by the European Parliament late Monday. Other nominees include Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistani girl who was 14 when she was shot by the Taliban last October but survived to become a potent voice in the struggle for education rights for women; Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, a former oil tycoon and Kremlin critic who is imprisoned in Russia, and Erdem Gunduz, who helped inspire the protests against the Turkish government's perceived authoritarianism this year in Istanbul's Taksim Square.


Arrest underscores effort to silence Muslim Brotherhood

Demonstrating determination to quash the Muslim Brotherhood rather draw the Islamist group back into the political fold, authorities in Egypt arrested a prominent spokesman for the organization and renewed a freeze on the financial assets of senior leaders. The latest steps by the interim government, reported by the state news agency MENA, appeared to be an effort to capitalize on the strong anti-Muslim Brotherhood sentiment that cuts across much of the country's political spectrum and has buoyed the interim government. Army chief Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, viewed as the key architect of the July 3 coup against Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, is being urged by fervent supporters to run for president.


Experts fault North Korea for 'shocking' human rights abuses

United Nations experts investigating human rights conditions in North Korea said they had gathered "shocking" evidence of widespread abuses and atrocities requiring an international response. Testimony heard by the three-member Commission of Inquiry about prison camps, torture, starvation and international abductions by North Korean agents suggests "large-scale patterns" of abuse "that may constitute systematic and gross human rights violations," the panel's chairman, Michael Donald Kirby, said in a statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council. The panel's final report is due in March.


Karzai pressed on packing rights committee with cronies

The top U.N. human rights official left a meeting in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai without hoped-for assurances that he would reverse his decision to pack his human rights commission with political appointees. Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, was critical of progress on human rights in the country, saying it was endangered in part because officials were more focused on political concerns ahead of April's presidential elections. NEWS SERVICES