- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Bush suspends Helms-Burton law

President Bush said yesterday he planned to suspend for six months a law allowing U.S. citizens and companies to sue foreign firms using Cuban property confiscated after the 1959 Communist takeover.

The move is a victory for European Union nations whose firms have investments in the Communist-run Caribbean island and a setback for some U.S. firms and Cuban-Americans who lose the right to sue people in U.S. courts for using property seized after Cuban leader Fidel Castro took power.

Mr. Bush said he would extend President Clinton's suspension of part of the Helms-Burton law, passed in 1996 after Cuban MiG fighters shot down two small planes flown by Miami-based Cuban exiles.


Downey enters plea in drug case

INDIO, Calif. — Actor Robert Downey Jr. pleaded no contest yesterday to two cocaine-related charges in a plea bargain that will keep the actor out of jail.

Under the deal, Downey was sentenced to one year in a live-in drug rehabilitation program and three years of probation. He will have to pay a series of fines and was ordered to comply with a set of regulations including random drug testing.


Judge finds ex-Klansman mentally incompetent

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A judge ruled yesterday that a former Ku Klux Klansman is mentally incompetent and cannot be tried for murder in a 1963 church bombing that killed four black girls.

Circuit Judge James S. Garrett ruled that attorneys and medical experts for Bobby Frank Cherry had presented enough evidence to show he isn't mentally fit to face murder charges in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the deadliest act of the civil rights era.

Judge Garrett scheduled another hearing for Aug. 10. Mr. Cherry could be committed to a state hospital for treatment or sent home with the charges dismissed.


Judge bars release of DNC, union records

A judge blocked a federal agency yesterday from releasing documents from its inquiry into campaign activities coordinated by the Democratic National Committee and the AFL-CIO.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler's preliminary injunction, sought by the Democrats and the union, came the day before the Federal Election Commission planned to release thousands of pages from its probe.

The DNC and AFL-CIO contend most of the records the commission wants to open to public inspection contain proprietary information, including campaign strategy and employees' names.

Judge Kessler's order will remain in effect until at least October, when she will receive the final arguments in the case.


Abortion protesters win ruling on march

WICHITA, Kan. — A judge overruled the city yesterday and said pro-life activists can hold marches this week outside the clinic of one of the few doctors in the nation to perform partial-birth abortions.

The ruling came as hundreds of demonstrators, in town for a renewal of the Summer of Mercy protests that crippled Wichita a decade ago, took to the streets to demand an end to abortion. They read Bible verses over a loudspeaker as they marched through downtown with a police escort.

Judge Thomas Marten ruled that the city improperly denied the demonstrators' group, Operation Save America, a parade permit for marches near the clinic of Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and wounded in 1993.


Death penalty sought in Yosemite killings

MARIPOSA, Calif. — Prosecutors said yesterday they will seek the death penalty against a man if he is convicted of killing three Yosemite Park tourists.

Cary Stayner, already serving a life sentence in the killing of a park naturalist, pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and a number of additional charges in the deaths of the tourists.

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