Judge to ‘El Chapo’: No hug for you

NEW YORK — A federal judge nixed Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s plea for some TLC from his American-born beauty queen wife Thursday morning.

The jailed Mexican drug kingpin asked that the court grant him permission to embrace his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, before opening statements in his trafficking trial kick off next week.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan wrote Thursday that “the court is sympathetic to the request,” citing Guzman’s “exemplary” conduct and “grace under pressure” during the proceedings so far, but ultimately said no.

“Having conferred extensively with the U.S. Marshals Service about defendant’s request, the court is constrained to deny it,” Cogan ruled. “The marshals have stressed that acceding to the request would be contrary to all the security procedures that have been put in place.”

Guzman’s attorney, Mariel Colon Miro, warned in a letter to Cogan that her client might have a mental breakdown if he can’t have any physical contact with his spouse. Guzman has been held in solitary confinement in New York for the last two years.

“It can be a brief embrace in open court with the courtroom railing between them. This entire process should not take more than a few seconds,” she wrote. “The only human contact Mr. Guzman has had since his extradition has been with the jail personnel when putting and removing his shackles, and a quick handshake from his attorneys when he goes to court.”

Cogan said in his order that the denial is meant to prevent Guzman from coordinating an escape “or directing any attack on individuals who might be cooperating with the government.”

— N.Y. Daily News

Giant lizard captured after months on the loose in Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — State wildlife agents on Tuesday captured a giant monitor lizard that had been spotted numerous times since August in Zachary Lieberman’s backyard.

“I wish I could say I helped catch it but I had a premonition it was caught,” he said. “I was driving down Griffin Road and I saw really a lot of iguanas out and I said to myself, ‘I bet the lizard is out today.’”

The lizard is about 7 feet long and weighs about 150 pounds. And while monitor lizards are not known to attack people, the Davie, Fla., resident took no comfort in that because he has a 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

“I’m relieved,” he said. “The whole community’s really relieved because people can fully enjoy the outdoors again and not have to fear that this thing might be out there lurking or whether it would attack or get after their children or a pet.”

The terrified family had enlisted the help of trappers, hunting dogs, and officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to try to catch the monster, which showed up in the Liebermans’ backyard — in the 9000 block of West Tree Tops Court near the Pine Island Ridge Natural Area — at least three times over the course of two weeks.

Lieberman called the FWC again about 2 p.m. Tuesday when he saw all the iguanas running around the streets of his neighborhood.

“Lo and behold, she said to me, ‘This is crazy but we just caught it about 10 minutes ago’” he said. “I was surprised but I had a premonition and they grabbed it.”

— Sun Sentinel

Bangladesh to hold elections in December

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh will hold parliamentary elections on Dec. 23, a senior official announced on Thursday, but an ongoing dispute between political blocs means it is unclear whether the opposition will take part.

In a televised address to the nation, Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda called upon all parties to take part in the polls in the politically volatile South Asian country.

The previous elections in 2014 were boycotted by the opposition and marred by violence.

The announcement came after a week-long, inconclusive dialogue between the ruling Awami League-led coalition of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the opposition alliance led by former foreign minister Kamal Hossain.

The main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia, forged the alliance with Hossain’s Gono Forum party to put the government under pressure.

They have issued several demands, including the release of Zia and the formation of a neutral caretaker administration to oversee credible elections.

Zia has been in prison since February after a court sentenced her to five years in jail — which was later doubled to 10 years — for misappropriation of funds intended for an orphanage.

— dpa