Evidentiary hearing in theater shooting
CENTENNIAL, Colo., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Prosecutors Monday began laying out their case against James Holmes, accused in the deadly Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting.
Two overflow rooms were set up with a live video feed. One room was to be reserved for 100 or so victims and family members who have said they plan to attend the preliminary hearing, that began at 9 a.m. MST.
The five-day hearing before Chief Judge William Sylvester is to determine if there is enough evidence to put Holmes on trial.
Holmes, 24, faces 166 counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the July 20 shooting spree at the suburban Denver Century movie theater that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded.
Holmes has not entered a plea.
Holmes' lawyers have suggested in court their client, who dropped out of the University of Colorado-Denver's neuroscience doctoral program after failing an oral exam in June, suffers from mental illness.
The shooting was among the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, although it has been overshadowed by later attacks, including last month's Newtown, Conn., massacre of 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School students and six school employees.
Court won't review ban on guns in church
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to hear a challenge to Georgia's ban on carrying guns into churches.
The case, among scores rejected in one-line orders, was brought by GeorgiaCarry.org.
The group contended on its website that "the First Amendment's 'free exercise' clause prohibits states from banning activities in churches when such activities generally are permitted elsewhere in the state."
GeorgiaCarry first brought its challenge to a state court in Upson County, Ga., but a state judge sent it to federal court. A federal judge dismissed the case and a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal.
The group filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court in October. The justices made no comment in rejecting review of the case.
On its website, the group said it "is a 501(c) 4 non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization." The reference to 501(c) refers to the section of the U.S. Tax Code that allows non-profit "educational" fundraising.
Fannie Mae, BofA reach $10B settlement
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Bank of America and federal regulators said they have reached a $10 billion agreement on loans that contributed to the U.S. financial crisis.
In statements released Monday, the giant mortgage broker known as Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association, said Bank of America would buy back 30,000 mortgage loans originated from Jan. 1, 2000, through Dec. 31, 2008, at "par plus accrued interest," spending about $6.75 billion to do so, and pay $3.55 billion to cover bank fees.
The comprehensive agreement also includes Fannie Mae granting Bank of American permission to transfer servicing rights on 941,000 mortgage loans to other financial firms. In a statement BofA said the loans involved in that part of the agreement were worth $306 billion.
China to reform re-education policy
BEIJING, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- China plans to reform a system under which people are held for up to four years without an open trial, participants at a Beijing conference were told Monday.
The system, known as re-education through labor, has been criticized by experts as contradicting China's constitution, Xinhua reported.
The plan to advance reforms this year was announced at a national political and legal work conference, but no other information was released.
Complaints by educators, media and the public recently led to the release after one week of a woman who had sought tougher sentences for the people who had captured her daughter, but in two cases last year sentences of up to two years were imposed without trial on people who spoke out against the government.
Some 160,000 people were imprisoned in 350 re-education through labor camps in China as of 2008, the Bureau of Re-education Through Labor under the Ministry of Justice says.
Stolen $1M Henri Matisse work recovered
LONDON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A $1 million Henri Matisse painting, "The Garden," stolen 25 years ago from a museum in Sweden, was recovered in London, police said.
The recovery came just before Christmas after a Polish collector offered the painting, stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm in 1987, to an art dealer in Essex, the BBC reported Monday.
Charles Fine Art proprietor Charles Roberts searched the Art Loss Register, a database of stolen and missing artwork, and once a match was confirmed the recovery was handed to ALR Director Christopher Marinello, who negotiated the painting's return, the report said.
"No payments were made, no arms were broken," Marinello told the BBC.
The painting by the French impressionist is being kept in a safe until it is handed over to the Swedish Ministry of Culture for its return to Stockholm.