- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 30, 2007

Panel to compile vets’ health woes

A presidential panel said yesterday it was compiling a first-of-its-kind national survey to determine scientifically the extent of health care problems for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking at its last public hearing before considering final recommendations, the nine-member commission said its final report could shed light on a point of long dispute in the veterans care debate: Whether highly publicized horror stories of lost paperwork, delays in disability benefits and other problems are more isolated or significantly widespread.

“With this survey, we should be able to say some things in a more systematic way,” said Donna Shalala, co-chairwoman of the commission and the former secretary of Health and Human Services.

The panel said it hopes to issue the report by mid-July.

Court rejects appeal in T-shirt case

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a school district’s appeal of a ruling that it violated a student’s rights by censoring his anti-Bush T-shirt.

A seventh-grader in Vermont was suspended for wearing a shirt that bore images of cocaine and a martini glass — but also had messages calling President Bush a lying drunken driver who abused cocaine and marijuana, and the “chicken-hawk-in-chief” who was engaged in a “world domination tour.”

After his suspension, Zachary Guiles returned to school with duct tape covering the offending images.

Williamstown Middle School Principal Kathleen Morris-Kortz said the images violated the school dress code, which prohibits clothing that promotes the use of drugs or alcohol.

An appeals court said the school had no right to censor any part of the shirt.

N.H. repeals law on parental-notification

CONCORD, N.H. — Gov. John Lynch signed legislation yesterday that made New Hampshire the first state to repeal a law requiring a parent be notified before a minor received an abortion.

The 2003 law never took effect because of a court challenge, and the repeal took effect immediately.

“I strongly believe parents should be involved in these decisions, providing important support and guidance. Unfortunately that is not possible in every case,” said Mr. Lynch, a Democrat.

Benoit family awaits answers

ATLANTA — The father of pro wrestler Chris Benoit said yesterday that he was eager to see whether chemical tests can help explain why Benoit killed his wife and son and committed suicide — acts the wrestler’s father said he had no clue were coming.

Michael Benoit said by phone from his home in Canada that his family is shocked and in disbelief over the slayings.

“We have no understanding of why it happened,” he said. “We need some time to gather our thoughts and wait and see. There’s still more information that’s going to come out from toxicology tests that will give us some understanding of why this happened.”

Anabolic steroids were found in the younger Benoit’s home in an Atlanta suburb, leading officials to wonder whether the drugs played a role in the killings last weekend.

More rain soaks Texas, Oklahoma

FORT WORTH, Texas — Flood-weary residents of Texas and Oklahoma had no reprieve yesterday as more rain fell in a region where two weeks of storms have swollen rivers and lakes beyond their limits.

Thousands of people have been forced from their homes, though some residents were holding out, saying conditions are no worse than floods they’ve weathered before.

A state of emergency was in place for all of Oklahoma yesterday, and flood watches and warnings were posted for river communities. A flood watch was in effect for large portions of Texas, where the storms have been blamed for at least 11 deaths.

Four indicted in JFK airport plot

NEW YORK — Four men accused of plotting to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport by blowing up a jet fuel supply were indicted yesterday.

The indictment filed in Brooklyn charged Russell Defreitas, Kareem Ibrahim, Abdul Kadir and Abdel Nur, all arrested earlier this month, with conspiring to “cause death, serious bodily injury and extensive destruction” at the airport.

The charges were first detailed in a criminal complaint unsealed at the time of the arrests. A grand jury voted yesterday to indict the four defendants on five counts of conspiracy.

If convicted, the men could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

From staff reports and wire service dispatches

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