President's pitch for Olympics draws GOP fire

NEW YORK - President Obama's decision to travel to Copenhagen to boost Chicago's chances of winning the 2016 Olympics has drawn criticism from some Republicans, who call it a boondoggle for Obama's hometown allies and evidence the president has blurred his priorities.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele denounced the visit on a conference call with reporters Tuesday. Calling it 'noble for the president to pitch his home city, Chi-town,' before the International Olympic Committee Friday, Steele said it nonetheless was a distraction from more pressing issues such as health care, job creation and other urgent demands on Obama's time.

However, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential contender, said Obama was right to make an appearance.

'In the current environment, the presence of a head of state is important to get the Games,' Romney, who headed the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, said, noting that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had set a new standard by personally lobbying for his country's successful 2012 Olympic bid.

Teen wanders into armory scarred, beaten

OKLAHOMA CITY - A 14-year-old boy had deep cuts around his wrists and was covered with burns, bruises and scars when he wandered into a National Guard armory last week and said he had escaped from a home where he was locked in a bedroom closet, officials said Tuesday.

Two security guards who work at the armory and saw the teen there on Friday said they lost sleep over the weekend thinking about the boy and the torture he described.

The teen's mother, 37-year-old LaRhonda Marie McCall, and a friend, 38-year-old Steve Vern Hamilton, were arrested Saturday on 20 complaints each of child abuse and child neglect. Both remained jailed Tuesday on $400,000 bond.

Boy, 3, attacked by lynx at zoo, not seriously hurt

NORMAN, Okla. - A 3-year-old boy suffered superficial wounds when a 45-pound European lynx clawed him through a chain-link fence at a zoo, the zoo's director said Tuesday.

The boy was looking at swans at the Little River Zoo on Monday when he left a path and went under a rope barrier, over a low retaining wall and up to the fence surrounding the cat's enclosure, zoo director Janet Schmid said. The boy, who hasn't been identified, was scratched on the side of his head but wasn't seriously injured, Schmid said.

Feds: Global swindler nabbed at US border

MONTPELIER, Vt. - A handsome, smooth-talking Colombian who has been wanted in several countries on suspicion of stealing from wealthy hotel guests was arrested after crossing illegally from Canada to Vermont, federal authorities said.

Juan Carlos Guzman-Betancourt, 33, is wanted in Nevada on a 2006 warrant on a burglary charge and was arrested Sept. 21 after trying to convince a border guard that he was only seeking help for a broken-down car, officials said.

College bans sex in dormitory if roommate home

BOSTON - Sex in a dorm at Tufts University is fine. Sex in a Tufts dorm with your roommate there? That's a no-no.

The Boston-area school has a new policy this semester banning sexual activity while a roommate is in the same room.

A school spokeswoman said Tuesday that Tufts issued the rule after a dozen or so complaints in the past three years.

The school maintains the new policy is about respect and consideration, not about regulating behavior.

Guilty verdict in 1993 Illinois restaurant killings

CHICAGO - A former handyman was convicted Tuesday in the slayings of seven people whose bodies were found in a walk-in freezer and cooler at a suburban Chicago fast food restaurant 16 years ago.

Jurors deliberated for about two hours after the nearly monthlong trial of James Degorski, 37. They must now decide whether he is eligible for the death penalty and whether it should be imposed.

Prosecutors claimed Degorski shot and stabbed two owners and five employees of the Brown's Chicken and Pasta restaurant in Palatine in 1993 'because he wanted to do something big.'

2 plead guilty to starving boy to death in Miss.

FOREST, Miss. - A grandmother and an aunt pleaded guilty Tuesday to starving to death a 4-year-old boy who weighed only 19 pounds when he was found last year at his home in central Mississippi.

Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon accepted capital murder pleas from Austin Watkins' grandmother, 43-year-old Janice Mowdy, and aunt, 22-year-old Stephanie Bell. In exchange for the guilty pleas, the judge sentenced the women to life in prison. They could have faced the death penalty if a jury had convicted them.

Va. governor won't stop execution of D.C. sniper

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Tuesday he can't think of any reason he would stop the execution of Washington, D.C.-area sniper John Allen Muhammad.

Muhammad is scheduled to be executed Nov. 10 for the October 2002 killing spree that left 10 dead in the nation's capital, Virginia and Maryland. Kaine said he would review Muhammad's petition for clemency when he gets it.