Ex-Duke lacrosse prosecutor pleads not guilty to charge

DURHAM, N.C. - Disgraced former prosecutor Mike Nifong pleaded not guilty Thursday to criminal contempt charges stemming from his failure to turn over complete DNA testing results during the now-discredited Duke lacrosse rape case.

If found in contempt, Nifong could face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Judge lets Nowak remove monitoring bracelet from ankle

ORLANDO, Fla. - Former astronaut Lisa Nowak can remove an electronic monitoring bracelet from her ankle while she awaits trial on charges she attacked a romantic rival, a judge ruled Thursday.

Nowak had argued that the bracelet was expensive, bulky, uncomfortable and prevented her from exercising, as required of a military officer. Judge Marc L. Lubet said that those claims did not matter, but that Nowak had behaved well enough over the past seven months to remove the device.

Report citing little progress in Iraq draws criticism from White House

WASHINGTON - An independent assessment concluding that Iraq has made little political progress in recent months despite an influx of U.S. troops drew fierce pushback from the White House on Thursday and provided fresh ammunition for Democrats who want to bring troops home.

The political wrangling came days before the report was to be officially released and while most lawmakers were still out of town for the August recess, reflecting the high stakes involved for both sides in the Iraq war debate.

Justice Department investigating whether Gonzales lied to Congress

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department said Thursday it is investigating whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied or otherwise misled Congress last month in sworn testimony about the Bush administration's domestic terrorist spying program.

Details of the inquiry by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine were released three days after Gonzales abruptly announced he was stepping down despite months of vowing to remain on the job.

Va. Tech president defends school's response during shooting rampage

RICHMOND, Va. - With anguished parents demanding his firing, Virginia Tech's president bristled at suggestions Thursday that he bears responsibility for the bloodbath on campus, calling it a crime 'unprecedented in its cunning and murderous results.'

At a news conference where he was grilled about an independent panel's conclusion that lives could have been saved had the school warned the campus sooner that a killer was on the loose, Charles Steger suggested there may have been nothing anyone could have done to stop the rampage by gunman Seung-Hui Cho that left 33 people dead.

Governor issues commutation order

HUNTSVILLE, Texas - Gov. Rick Perry, longtime head of the nation's busiest death penalty state, spared an inmate Thursday hours before he was to have been executed for being a killer's getaway driver.

Perry issued the commutation order on a parole board's rare recommendation about seven hours before Kenneth Foster was to have been put to death - the narrowest gap by which he has halted an execution in his more than eight years in office.

New documents show FBI spied on Coretta Scott King

ATLANTA - Federal agents spied on the widow of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for several years after his assassination in 1968, according to newly released documents that reveal the FBI worried about her following in the footsteps of the slain civil rights icon.

In memos that reveal Coretta Scott King being closely followed by the government, the FBI noted concern that she might attempt 'to tie the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement.'