- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 10, 2010

ALABAMA

Van der Sloot admitted lying

BIRMINGHAM | A newly unsealed FBI affidavit says the Dutch man suspected in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway admitted he lied to her family about where her body was buried on the island of Aruba.

The affidavit unsealed Thursday says Joran van der Sloot wanted $250,000 - and a signed contract - in return for showing her family where the remains were buried and the circumstances of her death.

According to the sworn statement from an FBI agent, Mr. van der Sloot took a family representative to a house on Aruba. He later admitted he lied when it was shown the house had not been built when Miss Holloway disappeared in 2005.

Mr. van der Sloot, charged with extortion in Alabama, is also being held in Peru in the strangling death of a 21-year-old woman.

CALIFORNIA

Girl, 16, in trouble on solo world sail

LOS ANGELES | A 16-year-old Southern California girl attempting a solo sail around the world was feared in trouble Thursday in the frigid, heaving southern Indian Ocean after her emergency beacons began signaling and communication was lost.

Abby Sunderland’s family was talking with U.S. and international governments about organizing a search of the remote ocean between southern Africa and Australia, family spokesman Christian Pinkston said.

Conditions can quickly become perilous for any sailor exposed to the elements in that part of the world.

“We’ve got to get a plane out there quick,” said Mr. Pinkston, who was in close contact with Abby’s family in Thousand Oaks.

“They are exhausting every resource to try to mobilize an air rescue, including discussions with the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and various international rescue organizations,” he said.

Abby last communicated with her family at 4 a.m. Thursday and reported 30-foot swells but was not in distress, Mr. Pinkston said.

An hour later, the family was notified that her emergency beacons had been activated, and there was no further communication. Mr. Pinkston said the beacons were manually activated.

CONNECTICUT

Court rules in feud over Rockwell works

NEW HAVEN | The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled in favor of two brothers in their long-running feud with a third brother over an inheritance that included famous Norman Rockwell paintings.

The state’s high court ruled unanimously Thursday in favor of William and Jonathan Stuart, who have been fighting with their brother, Kenneth J. Stuart Jr. He will have to pay nearly $1 million to the family estate.

The paintings were collected by their father, Kenneth J. Stuart Sr.

Stuart Sr. had executed a will that would have distributed his assets equally to his three sons.

But less than four months before his death in 1993, most of his assets were transferred to a partnership Stuart Jr. formed with him. The other two sons sued, saying their father had been too ill to understand what had happened.

MICHIGAN

GM won’t nix ‘Chevy’ nickname

DETROIT | Turns out you can take your “Chevy to the levee” or any other darn place you please.

General Motors Co. on Thursday backed off a “poorly worded” internal memo that asked employees to refer to the brand only as “Chevrolet” in an effort to create consistency.

GM said in a statement that it “in no way” is discouraging anybody from using the name Chevy. The internal memo was part of an effort to develop a consistent brand name as it tries to broaden its global presence.

There have been many pop culture references to Chevys. Perhaps the best known is in Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Its signature singalong chorus begins, “Bye bye, Miss American pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry.”

MINNESOTA

12,000 nurses launch walkout

MINNEAPOLIS | More than 12,000 nurses on Thursday launched a one-day strike at 14 Minnesota hospitals in a dispute over staffing levels and pension benefits.

Nurses wearing red T-shirts and carrying signs began walking the picket lines at 7 a.m. At Abbott Northwestern near downtown Minneapolis, several hundred nurses were serenaded by another nurse playing “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

Sue Stamness, a nurse in the cardiology unit for 24 years, said the nurses are striking because they are concerned that patient safety is at risk due to thin staffing.

Hospitals say patient safety is a top priority. They have arranged for replacements for the nurses, and the immediate effect of the strike is expected to be minimal.

NEW YORK

Judge: New 9/11 pact ‘very good’ deal

NEW YORK | A federal judge signed off on a legal settlement Thursday that could pay as much as $713 million to 9/11 responders exposed to World Trade Center dust, and immediately urged thousands of police, firefighters and construction workers to take the deal.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein gave his enthusiastic endorsement to the proposed package just three months after sternly rejecting an earlier plan that would have put less money into the hands of ground zero workers who got sick after breathing the toxic ash.

He said months of nonstop negotiations had produced a pact capable of ending the seven-year-old case, which pitted New York City officials against thousands of men and women hailed as heroes for their service at the trade center.

The new proposal would add roughly $125 million to the pot and include bigger payments for people diagnosed with cancer, an illness that hasn’t yet been linked to the dust but is perhaps the most feared among the workers.

UTAH

Inmate seeks to avoid firing squad

DRAPER | A Utah man set to be executed by firing squad says he wants to live to help make life better for troubled children.

Ronnie Lee Gardner told the state’s parole board Thursday that he plans to turn over a 150-acre family farm for a residential program for children. Gardner said he plans to donate about $1,300 he earned from selling prison artwork and that he tried to enlist Oprah Winfrey in the cause.

Gardner testified for about two hours Thursday before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.

The hearing continues Friday, and the board said it will make a decision on Gardner’s clemency appeal Monday. That’s five days before he is set to be executed for killing a lawyer in 1985.

Gardner is asking to be sentenced to life in prison instead.

VIRGINIA

Court sides with Episcopal Church

RICHMOND | The Virginia Supreme Court overturned a judge’s decision allowing breakaway Episcopal Church congregations to keep church property Thursday, but the battle isn’t over.

The justices unanimously ruled that the 1867 statute on which the judge based his decision did not apply. They sent the case back to Fairfax County Circuit Court to determine ownership based on real estate and contract law.

The ruling was a blow to nine Northern Virginia congregations that split from the Episcopal Church in a disagreement over acceptance of gays, the ordination of women and other theological issues. They aligned with the more conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a mission of the Church of Nigeria.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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