- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 11, 2004

Rehnquist planning to preside at inaugural

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, despite having thyroid cancer, still plans to preside at President Bush’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

The chief justice normally swears in the president, but it has not been clear whether Chief Justice Rehnquist will be well enough to participate.

The chief justice has been away from the court since Oct. 22, when he was hospitalized and then underwent a tracheotomy to help him breathe. Medical experts have said his treatment, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, is standard for anaplastic thyroid cancer, a fast-growing form of the disease.

More oversight urged for homeland security

Congressional oversight of the Homeland Security Department is “dysfunctional” and must be changed to ensure Americans are protected, according to a report issued yesterday by former House Speaker Thomas S. Foley and retired Sen. Warren B. Rudman.

At least 412 of the 435 House members and all 100 senators have some form of jurisdiction over the agency, inevitably leading to confusion and duplication, the former lawmakers said.

Mr. Foley and Mr. Rudman called on Congress to create single standing committees with jurisdiction over all aspects of homeland security.

Nightclub shooter was ‘off his rocker’

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The man who fatally shot former Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and three others at a nightclub was obsessed with the heavy metal band, a onetime friend said yesterday .

Jeramie Brey said gunman Nathan Gale once showed up at a friend’s house saying he wanted to share songs he had written. The lyrics were copied from Pantera, but Gale claimed he had written them, Mr. Brey said.

“He was off his rocker,” Mr. Brey told the Columbus Dispatch. “He said they were his songs, that Pantera stole them from him and that he was going to sue them.”

The 25-year-old charged the stage at a show Wednesday by Mr. Abbott’s new band, Damageplan, and gunned down four persons before a police officer fatally shot him.

Firm to cooperate in campaign probe

AUSTIN, Texas — A company accused in the campaign-finance investigation that has implicated associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay agreed to aid prosecutors in exchange for having charges against it dropped, court papers show.

California-based Diversified Collection Services was accused of giving $50,000 to Texans for a Republican Majority, a Republican political action committee associated with Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican, during the 2002 campaign.

Seven other companies are accused of contributing a total of $140,000 to the PAC, and three associates of Mr. DeLay have been indicted on charges of money laundering and illegal acceptance of corporate political contributions.

Democratic panel to study primary

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Democratic National Committee formed a 40-member panel yesterday to study whether to shake up the dominance that Iowa and New Hampshire hold in presidential elections.

Former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and Rep. David E. Price, North Carolina Democrat, will head the commission.

Officials in Iowa and New Hampshire vigorously oppose any changes. They argue that voters in those states are uniquely engaged in the primary process and give candidates a tough test, while a national nominating process would focus on large cities.

Terrorists with lasers a concern, memo says

Federal officials are concerned that terrorists could try to down aircraft by blinding pilots with laser beams during landing approaches.

A memo sent to law-enforcement agencies recently by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said there is evidence that terrorists have explored using lasers as weapons.

“Although lasers are not proven methods of attack, like improvised explosive devices and hijackings, terrorist groups overseas have expressed interest in using these devices against human sight,” according to the memo.

The authorities said there is no specific intelligence indicating al Qaeda or other groups would try to use lasers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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