- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Gay marriage ban challenge fails

SAN FRANCISCO | Gay rights activists say they have failed to qualify a measure that would repeal California’s same-sex marriage ban for the November ballot.

Restore Equality 2010 chairman Sean Bohac said the volunteer-run group fell short of gathering the nearly 695,000 signatures needed to put the initiative before voters. Monday was the deadline for submitting the signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Mr. Bohac said Restore Equality’s failed effort was undermined by the decision of more established gay rights groups not to participate in the campaign.

He said same-sex marriage supporters now are turning their attention to trying to repeal Proposition 8 in 2012.

A lawsuit to overturn Prop. 8 also is pending before a federal trial judge.

CONNECTICUT

Kennedy cousin loses appeal

NEW HAVEN | The state Supreme Court on Monday rejected Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel’s bid for a new trial in the 1975 killing of his 15-year-old neighbor, ruling that a claim implicating two other men, including a large black man, was not credible.

The court ruled 4-1 against Skakel’s request, saying the evidence doesn’t back up the alternate claim.

Skakel, a nephew of Robert Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in 2002 for fatally beating Martha Moxley with a golf club in a wealthy Connecticut suburb.

Prosecutor Susann Gill said she was pleased with the ruling denying Skakel a new trial and “hopefully sparing the Moxley family any further ordeal.”

Skakel’s attorneys, Hope Seeley and Hubert Santos, said it was a “travesty” that Connecticut courts won’t allow a jury to evaluate the evidence.

FLORIDA

Astronauts mark two anniversaries

CAPE CANAVERAL | The astronauts aboard the orbiting shuttle-station complex celebrated two big anniversaries Monday as they geared up for the third and final spacewalk of their mission.

And the world was treated to the first recital of traditional Japanese music and poetry in space.

Monday marked the 49th anniversary of the first human spaceflight — by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961 — and the 29th anniversary of the first shuttle launch.

“April 12th’s a really special day for astronauts,” said space shuttle Discovery’s commander, Alan Poindexter.

In honor of Russia’s Cosmonauts Day, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the residents of the International Space Station to wish them well. Three are Russian, two are American and one is Japanese.

“Space is something that unites all of us. It’s a global issue,” Mr. Medvedev told them.

On Thursday, President Obama will visit Kennedy Space Center to elaborate on NASA’s role once the shuttle era ends. Only three shuttle flights remain after this one.

GEORGIA

No charges against Steelers quarterback

MILLEDGEVILLE | Authorities said Monday that they will not charge Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after a college student accused him of sexually assaulting her at a nightclub last month.

Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said the 20-year-old student’s accusations could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and her lawyer said in a letter that she did not want to press charges.

“Therefore there will be no arrests made nor criminal prosecution against Mr. Roethlisberger,” Mr. Bright said.

The woman told an officer Mr. Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her early March 5 at the Capital City night club, where he was drinking with friends shortly after his 28th birthday.

IOWA

Teen to wear gum wrapper dress

GARNER | An Iowa teen is all bubbly over her one-of-a-kind high school prom dress she made out of gum wrappers.

Elizabeth Rasmuson made her dress, and matching vest for her date, out of blue and white wrappers from Wrigley’s “5 gum.”

The high school junior said she got the idea after hearing about someone making a dress out of duct tape.

She and her boyfriend began collecting gum wrappers last August. Miss Rasmuson said she quit counting after 200.

Since the wrappers break easily, Miss Rasmuson finished her dress with a vinyl top coat.

MICHIGAN

Hitler book, ammo found in militia raids

DETROIT | Federal agents investigating what they describe as a Christian militia bent on violence against police seized suspected crack cocaine and steroids, weapons, gas masks and a book of Adolf Hitler’s speeches during raids of members’ homes last month, according to search warrant records.

The raids were conducted over a 4½-hour span in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana on the night of March 27.

Authorities recovered hand grenade instructions and schematics, a container of potassium chlorate and other items during a raid that night at the southern Michigan home of David Stone, the suspected leader of the Hutaree.

Federal prosecutors say Mr. Stone and eight other members of the militia plotted the mass killings of police officers in the hope of sparking an anti-government revolution. They are charged with seditious conspiracy, or plotting to levy war against the U.S., and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.

NEW YORK

Firefighter killed in silo explosion

HOUNSFIELD | A fire in an animal-feed silo has triggered an explosion that killed a firefighter at a farm in northern New York where a barn blaze killed more than 100 cows three days earlier.

Authorities say Sackets Harbor Assistant Fire Chief Garrett Loomis, 26, was near the top of the burning silo when it exploded Sunday morning. He was taken to the hospital in nearby Watertown, where he was pronounced dead. He became assistant fire chief in Sackets Harbor’s volunteer department last Tuesday.

The explosion occurred at the North Harbor Dairy Farm in the town of Hounsfield, 60 miles north of Syracuse. The farm lost 104 cows in a barn fire on Thursday.

Both fires remain under investigation.

OKLAHOMA

Two arrested in mall shooting

MUSKOGEE | Police have arrested two teenage boys in connection with a weekend shooting at an Oklahoma shopping mall that left one person dead and five others wounded.

Muskogee police Capt. Chad Farmer said the 16- and 17-year-old boys were arrested Monday after officers found them hiding in a house.

He said investigators searched the home for weapons or other evidence that could tie the suspects to a shooting Saturday at the Arrowhead Mall that left a 17-year-old boy dead and five other people wounded.

Capt. Farmer said police are searching for a 20-year-old suspect.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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