Sound defense? The court marshal for Maj. Nidal Hasan entered its second day today at Fort Hood in Texas. The former Army psychologist is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 30 more in a shooting rampage—acts he doesn’t deny. During opening arguments Tuesday, Hasan told jurors the evidence would show he was the shooter. He said he “switched sides” (from American soldier to Mujahideen fighter) shortly before picking up guns he had recently purchased and unloading them on his “new” enemies. Sound legal strategy? Hasan is acting as his own lawyer. He faces the death penalty. Security has been tight around the courtroom, with metal shipping containers and a 15-foot-high blast wall serving as a protective barrier against any potential attack. According to a Dallas television station, the bill for providing Hasan’s security and housing topped $500,000 in June. Meanwhile, the Army continues to send him his paycheck while he stands trial.
Corruption. FBI agents arrested two Florida mayors and two lobbyists yesterday in separate corruption cases. Manuel L. Maroño, the mayor of Sweetwater, and Michael Pizzi, the mayor of Miami Lakes, face charges of conspiracy to commit extortion. If convicted, they could get up to 20 years in prison. The investigation began in 2011 when two undercover FBI agents told lobbyist Richard F. Candia they could get him in on a scheme to obtain federal grants, with the help of corrupt local officials. The men planned to distribute the grant money among themselves. Prosecutors allege Maroño took more than $40,000 in bribes, with Pizzi taking less than $7,000, as part of the scheme.
Weight loss. American preschoolers are not as fat as they used to be, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The latest figures show the obesity rate dropped, albeit only slightly, in 18 states between 2008 and 2011. Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had the largest decreases—1 percentage point. Obesity rates didn’t change in 20 states and Puerto Rico, while rising in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. According to the CDC, about one in eight preschoolers is obese.
Suicide risk. Mental illness, not the stress of combat, is behind an increase in military suicides, according to new research set to be published in the next edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Servicemen and women suffer from the same problems found in the general population—depression, manic depression, and alcohol abuse. Last year, the military reported 325 confirmed or potential suicides, higher than normal for America’s armed forces but not higher than the suicide rate among civilians. Despite high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, the study’s authors said only about 10 percent of the people who committed suicide suffered from it. By contrast, 66 percent of suicide victims were heavy drinkers.