- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 16, 2006

Senator’s health continues to improve

Sen. Tim Johnson has opened his eyes and shown other small signs of recovery from brain surgery that are encouraging to his family, a spokeswoman said yesterday.

The South Dakota Democrat’s sudden illness raised questions about the party’s one-vote majority in the upcoming Senate session.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid visited Mr. Johnson, 59, at George Washington University Hospital again yesterday and said he looked “good, fine.”

Mr. Johnson suffered bleeding in the brain Wednesday that was caused by an uncommon and sometimes fatal condition.

He was responding to the voice of his wife Barbara and following directions a few hours after the surgery. When she asked him to open his eyes, he did, and then reached out to hold her hand, said Johnson spokeswoman Julianne Fisher.

“They are just very encouraged by the little things right now,” Miss Fisher said yesterday .

Miss USA’s crown could be lifted

NEW YORK — Miss USA 2006 is in danger of losing her crown because of bad behavior, organizers of the annual beauty pageant said on Thursday.

Property magnate and TV reality series star Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA and Miss Universe contests, will decide next week whether Tara Conner would keep the title, they said.

“The Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Donald J. Trump will be evaluating her behavioral and personal issues to see what we can do to work with her, and what we will do about her reign going forward,” said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization.

A spokeswoman for the contest declined to give any details on Miss Conner’s purported misbehavior or comment on online reports about incidents of inappropriate conduct at New York bars.

Simpson book’s promoter fired

NEW YORK — O.J. Simpson’s would-be publisher, Judith Regan, was fired yesterday. Her sensational, scandalous tenure at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. ended with the tersest of announcements.

“Judith Regan’s employment with HarperCollins has been terminated effective immediately,” HarperCollins Chief Executive Officer Jane Friedman said.

Miss Friedman offered no reason for the announcement. But it comes less than a month after Mr. Murdoch’s cancellation of Mr. Simpson’s hypothetical murder confession, “If I Did It,” a planned book and Fox television interview that was greeted with instant and near-universal disgust when announced.

Ex-president’s son is denied bail

MIAMI — A federal judge denied bail yesterday for former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s son, who was indicted last week on torture charges stemming from his time as head of a security force in his father’s government.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Turnoff ruled that Charles McArthur Emmanuel, 29, was a danger to the community and at risk of fleeing the charges. Mr. Emmanuel has used several aliases, including Charles “Chuckie” Taylor Jr., and was charged as a youth in Orlando with several violent crimes.

Prosecutors say Mr. Emmanuel, as chief of the Anti-Terrorism Unit in the Taylor government, abducted and tortured a Liberian man in 2002 by pressing a hot iron into his flesh, using electric shocks and rubbing salt into the victim’s wounds. Mr. Emmanuel has pleaded not guilty.

16 face charges of immigration fraud

Federal immigration authorities have charged 16 persons in six states with criminal violations in connection with their efforts to obtain refugee status in this country by concealing their service in the Bosnian Serb military.

Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers said the 16 are accused of immigration fraud and making false statements by concealing their service in these Bosnian Serb military units when filing immigration applications with the U.S. government.

The fraudulent applications enabled them to gain refugee status, which allowed them to enter and live in the United States, she said. One later became a U.S. citizen.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Kadia H. Koroma said that in the past week, ICE agents arrested 13 of the suspects in Orlando and St. Petersburg, Fla.; Raleigh and High Point, N.C.; Milwaukee; Detroit, Cleveland and Denver. The others remain at large.

Ex-Rep. Barr quits Republican Party

Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr has quit the Republican Party to become a Libertarian, saying he is disillusioned with the party on issues such as government spending and privacy.

“It’s something that’s been bothering me for quite some time, the direction in which the [Republican] Party has been going more and more toward big government and disregard toward privacy and civil liberties,” said Mr. Barr, a lawyer and consultant living in Atlanta.

Mr. Barr served eight years as a Republican congressman before losing his seat in 2002 to fellow Republican Rep. John Linder.

He said he has no plans to run for office again. But in his new role as the Libertarian Party’s regional representative for the South, Mr. Barr said he will be active in promoting the party’s message and recruiting candidates.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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