- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

CALIFORNIA

Governor seeks quick budget deal

SACRAMENTO | Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says that California’s budget crisis will require a transformation in state government.

The state faces a $24.3 billion deficit and a looming cash crisis that jeopardizes its ability to pay its day-to-day bills.

The governor told a joint session of the Legislature on Tuesday that government must become more efficient and learn to provide services for less. He told the lawmakers: “Our wallet is empty.”

The governor’s speech comes just four months after he and lawmakers agreed to a two-year budget package that was intended to close a deficit of $42 billion through mid-2010. Tax revenue has declined since that agreement.

ILLINOIS

Appeals court OKs local handgun bans

CHICAGO | A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld local gun ordinances barring ownership of handguns in most cases in Chicago and suburban Oak Park.

The court said Tuesday that the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms is not an adequate basis for lawsuits attacking local gun ordinances. The National Rifle Association argued that the Second Amendment makes such ordinances unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has ruled in a D.C. case that the amendment entitles people to keep handguns at home for self-protection. The appeals court upheld dismissal of the Chicago lawsuit on the ground that the District, unlike Chicago and Oak Park, is a federal jurisdiction.

KANSAS

Suspect charged in doctor’s slaying

WICHITA | An activist abortion opponent was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the death of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, and the prosecutor said the evidence in the case ruled out the death penalty.

Scott Roeder, 51, was shown via a video link from the Sedgwick County Jail. He fiddled with the charging documents in front of him, and said “OK” three times as Judge Ben Burgess read the charges and explained the court process.

Judge Burgess ordered Mr. Roeder to be held without bail and that he not be allowed to communicate with Dr. Tiller’s family or two witnesses whom he is suspected of assaulting. The judge told Mr. Roeder that he would be assigned a public defender.

“And I’ll obviously be hearing from one of those lawyers between now - or do you know how long it will be before I hear from one of those lawyers?” Mr. Roeder said.

Within two days, the judge answered to Mr. Roeder’s only question in the brief appearance. A preliminary hearing is set for June 16.

LOUISIANA

New Orleans rated U.S. murder capital

NEW ORLEANS | A newspaper analysis of fresh FBI statistics finds that New Orleans is once again the nation’s murder capital.

The Times-Picayune determined that with 64 killings per 100,000 people in 2008, New Orleans had the highest per capita murder rate in the nation, well ahead of second-place St. Louis, which had 47 reported murders per 100,000 people.

Baton Rouge, which gained population after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, came in No. 7 with 30 murders per 100,000.

The per capita estimate is based on the FBI putting New Orleans’ population at 281,440 as of July 1. The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center put the city’s population for the first half of 2008 at 324,357. But even using the higher estimate, the city recorded 55 murders per 100,000 people.

MASSACHUSETTS

Ex-speaker, associates accused of corruption

BOSTON | Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and three associates have been indicted on federal corruption charges.

Mr. DiMasi resigned his office in January amid allegations that close friends used their relationships with him to push legislation and gain favor in awarding state contracts.

Mr. DiMasi was indicted Tuesday on eight counts, including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, mail fraud and wire fraud. Richard McDonough, Joseph Lally and Richard Vitale also were indicted on corruption charges.

MONTANA

Judge approves bankrupt resort sale

BILLINGS | A bankruptcy judge approved a sale of the Yellowstone Club for the bargain of $115 million Tuesday, letting the exclusive Montana resort emerge from bankruptcy that developed after its owners diverted hundreds of millions of dollars for their own use.

Boston-based CrossHarbor Capital Partners is buying the 13,600-acre club for less than a quarter of the $470 million it offered last year.

NEW YORK

Baby is latest swine flu fatality

NEW YORK | A baby has become New York’s fifth fatality from swine flu, the city health department said Tuesday.

Last week, health officials reported the deaths of a 41-year-old woman and a 33-year-old man. Two other adults had died after contracting the H1N1 swine flu virus.

A total of 18,965 cases of infections, including 117 deaths, have been reported to the World Health Organization by 64 countries.

A WHO official warned Tuesday that a pandemic was looming closer, as Africa reported its first case and Australia’s tally approached 500.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Funeral license lifted for mutilation

COLUMBIA | The South Carolina funeral board has revoked the licenses of a funeral home and its director for cutting the legs of a 6-foot-7 man so that his corpse would fit in a casket.

A state licensing spokesman said the Board of Funeral Service voted Monday to revoke the funeral director license of Michael Cave and the license of Cave Funeral Services of Allendale. The board also fined Mr. Cave the maximum $500 and ordered him to pay $1,500 for the investigation.

WISCONSIN

School graduation allowed at church

MILWAUKEE | A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Wisconsin school district may continue to hold its graduation ceremonies in a church because the location doesn’t necessarily make it a religious event.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State had argued that the setting violated students’ and parents’ constitutional rights by creating an atmosphere that makes non-Christians uncomfortable.

The Elmbrook School District plans to use Elmbrook Church for Brookfield Central and East high schools’ commencement ceremonies Saturday and Sunday.

WYOMING

State sues over ‘endangered’ wolves

CHEYENNE | The state of Wyoming has filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s recent decision to leave gray wolves on the endangered species list in the state while delisting them elsewhere.

The state said the federal agency should turn wolf management over to the state.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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