Colorado shooter's parents ask for plea deal

DENVER - The parents of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes begged yesterday for his life to be spared through a plea bargain.

The statement released by Robert and Arlene Holmes emphasized a key legal issue in the tortured history of the case - Holmes' mental state when he killed 12 people and injured 70 others, and whether he should die if convicted of the crime.

"He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness," the parents wrote.

Prosecutors previously rejected at least one proposed plea deal, criticizing Holmes' lawyers for publicizing the offer and calling it a ploy meant to draw the public and the judge into what should be private plea negotiations.

Oil prices drop: Good for some, not others

NEW YORK - Oil's plunge is spreading both pain and gain across the globe. The price of a barrel has fallen by about half since June, punishing the economies of some major exporters. Russia's currency has nose-dived and investors worry Venezuela could default on its debt. For countries that consume large amounts of oil, it's a different story. The world's four biggest economies - U.S., China, Japan and that of the European Union - all benefit from lower oil prices. The global price of oil traded near $61 yesterday, down 47 percent from its high for the year of $115. That drop removes nearly $5 billion a day in revenue from the global oil industry .

Pakistan executes two militants

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hanged two convicted militants yesterday in the country's first executions in years, while warplanes and ground forces pounded insurgent hideouts in a northwest region bordering Afghanistan - part of a stepped-up response to the Taliban slaughter of scores of schoolchildren. Unchastened by criticism from all corners of the globe, the Taliban threatened earlier yesterday to kill more children if executions were carried out as promised. A key question now is whether attacking children will undermine the sympathy many Pakistanis have for the militants. Many Pakistanis believe the militants are holy warriors taking up arms against Pakistan only because the government aligned itself with the unpopular U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Olympian Phelps gets probation for 2nd DUI

BALTIMORE - Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps avoided jail time yesterday when a judge placed him on probation for pleading guilty to a drunken-driving charge for the second time in 10 years. The punishment came with a warning. "You don't need a lecture from the court," Baltimore District Judge Nathan Braverman told Phelps. "If you haven't gotten the message by now, or forget the message, the only option is jail." The swimmer was contrite in court, with his lawyer detailing his pursuit of sobriety since his arrest, including 45 days of inpatient treatment in Arizona. A letter from his doctor there was glowing, saying he was forthright and cooperative.