- - Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Vilsack still plans Sherrod meeting

URBANDALE — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he’s sure he’ll meet with ousted employee Shirley Sherrod but that they’re still arranging a time to get together.

Speaking Wednesday at an event in suburban Des Moines, Mr. Vilsack said he had talked with Ms. Sherrod “a number of times.”

The Agriculture Department asked Ms. Sherrod to resign last month after seeing an edited video of a speech in which she seemed to say she had treated a white farmer unfairly because of his race. That video was posted by a conservative blogger.

After seeing the full video, where it was clear that Ms. Sherrod had helped the farmer, Mr. Vilsack apologized and offered to rehire her.


Attorney general won’t defend abortion law

OMAHA — Nebraska’s attorney general will not defend in court a new state law requiring health screenings for women seeking abortions, effectively preventing the law from going into effect, according to his spokeswoman and court documents filed Wednesday.

Attorney General Jon Bruning agreed to a permanent federal injunction against enforcement of the law, which faces a challenge from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said spokeswoman Shannon Kingery.

“We will not squander the state’s resources on a case that has very little probability of winning,” she said.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed a lawsuit last month in U.S. District Court in Nebraska over the law approved in the spring by state lawmakers. The group said compliance would be difficult and that the measure could require doctors to give women irrelevant information.

The law would require women seeking abortions to be screened by doctors or other health care professionals to determine whether they had risk factors for mental or physical problems after an abortion.


‘Dr. Laura’ plans to end radio show

NEW YORK — Talk show host Laura Schlessinger says her desire to talk freely without having affiliates and sponsors attacked led to her abrupt decision to end her “Dr. Laura” radio show later this year.

Ms. Schlessinger said she is walking away a week after apologizing for saying the N-word 11 times on the air while talking to a black woman with a white husband, then saying “if you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.”

She apologized a day after the Aug. 10 remarks, but Media Matters for America called for her removal from the talk show. The group encouraged its members to contact show sponsors and affiliates and urge them to drop “Dr. Laura.”

Ms. Schlessinger said Tuesday on CNN’s “Larry King Live” that her daily talk show will end when her contract expires this year, with the last show probably around Christmas. She said she was wrong to say what she said, was sorry for it, but “there are people who won’t accept my apology.”

“When I started in radio, if you said something somebody didn’t agree with and they didn’t like, they argued with you,” she said. “Now they try to silence you. … My First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups who don’t want to debate. They want to eliminate.”


Lawmaker confident of his illegals bill

SALT LAKE CITY — A conservative Utah lawmaker said his proposed Arizona-style immigration bill would withstand any federal court challenges.

State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom’s bill had its first public hearing Wednesday. The measure contains several provisions nearly identical to those a federal judge blocked in Arizona before they could take effect last month.

That includes a requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, question people’s immigration status if officers have reasonable suspicion they’re in the country illegally.

A delegation of Utah lawmakers traveled to Arizona this summer to get advice on drafting the law. Tennessee legislators recently made a similar visit to Phoenix, and Colorado lawmakers were at the Arizona Capitol on Wednesday to ask for advice on their own state proposal.


Ride operator charged in girl’s 100-foot fall

MADISON — An amusement park worker told investigators he “blanked out” and forgot to get the all-clear sign before he allowed a 12-year-old girl to fall 100 feet from a ride and hit the ground, authorities said.

Prosecutors charged Charles A. Carnell, 33, of Lake Delton, with one count of first-degree reckless injury. He could face up to 25 years in prison and $100,000 in fines if convicted.

Prosecutors say Mr. Carnell failed to check that nets were in place and an air bag was properly inflated before allowing the girl to fall. She sustained injuries that could leave her paralyzed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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