Thirteen years after he stood on the podium in Sydney, Lance Armstrong has been stripped of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics because of his involvement in doping. The International Olympic Committee sent a letter to Armstrong on Wednesday night asking him to return the medal, just as it said it planned to do last month. The decision was first reported Thursday by The Associated Press. The IOC executive board discussed revoking the medal in December, but delayed a decision until cycling body UCI formally notified Armstrong he had been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and all results since 1998. He then had 21 days to appeal. Now that the deadline has expired, the IOC decided to take the medal away. The letter to Armstrong was also sent to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which would collect the medal.
President Obama is pitching the most ambitious gun control program in decades — but whether it becomes law or not remains to be seen. While Obama said any action that can save one child’s life is worth it, he and aides indicated that proposals to ban assault weapons, expand background checks, and restrict the capacity of gun magazines face big hurdles on Capitol Hill. Vice President Biden, who helped push through background checks and an assault weapons as a Delaware senator in 1993 and 1994, said he has “no illusions about what we’re up against or how hard the task is in front of us.” The main reason: The Republicans control one branch of Congress, the U.S. House, and many of their members have sworn strong fidelity to Second Amendment gun rights. Gun rights supporters sharply criticized the president’s proposals as ineffective, unconstitutional, and politically motivated. The National Rifle Association, which has major influence on congressional Republicans, has declared all-out opposition to the president’s gun proposals, saying that “attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation.”
The Colorado city of Aurora has asked a judge presiding over the criminal case of last summer’s movie theater massacre to lift a gag order barring police and emergency personnel from publicly discussing the rampage, a court filing made public on Wednesday showed. Days after the July 20 shooting in which 12 died and dozens wounded, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester imposed a court order prohibiting any party involved in the case, including law enforcement, from talking about it in the media. Former graduate student James Holmes is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from the shooting spree at a midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” After a three-day preliminary hearing last week, Sylvester ruled the prosecution had presented sufficient evidence for Holmes to stand trial. The city’s motion said that because details of the crime were aired in open court, “the evidence has already been revealed to millions of people worldwide.” It asked the judge to consider allowing the town’s police officers and firefighters to talk about their response to the tragedy. Holmes, 25, is scheduled to enter a plea to the charges in March. If he enters a not guilty plea, prosecutors have 60 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty.
A standoff between striking school bus drivers and aides looking for job protections and a city administration that says they just can’t have it has the potential to go on for some time. Parents are scrambling for a second day to figure out alternatives so tens of thousands of students can get to school on Thursday. Michael Cordiello of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union says the drivers will strike until Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city agree to put a job security clause back into their contract. But Bloomberg says the strike “is about job guarantees that the union just can’t have.” Parents and kids meanwhile are caught in the middle. Many have been forced to walk, take the subway or hop in a taxi to get to class. To sway public opinion, the union has launched TV ads warning parents about new school drivers who could be hired if the city doesn’t meet their demands. Those who rely on the buses include 54,000 special education students and others who live far from schools or transportation. They also include students who attend specialized school programs outside of their neighborhoods. The city is distributing MetroCards to students who could take buses and subways to school. It also plans to reimburse parents who drive or take taxis.
Four Hollywood studios were named on Wednesday in lawsuits brought by two directors and a representative for late actor Charles Bronson claiming what could be up to hundreds of millions of dollars in back royalties on films distributed to the home video market. News Corp’s 20th Century Fox, Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures, Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures were sued in Los Angeles Superior Court. The four lawsuits – described in a release as a class action – were also filed on behalf of others who might be added later, said Neville Johnson, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. He said the amounts owed talent on such contracts could total hundreds of millions of dollars. Representatives for the studios were either unavailable or had no immediate comment. Johnson said the plaintiffs’ contracts predate the 1980s when it became the industry standard to pay talent a royalty based on 20 percent of home video revenues.