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American Scene

- - Wednesday, June 2, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Evidence lacking to charge archdiocese

LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors haven't discovered enough evidence during eight years of investigation to charge the leaders of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles for their handling of the clergy abuse scandal, according to a memo provided Wednesday.

The investigation of alleged sex abuse by priests remained active, but a criminal conspiracy case against archdiocese officials was "more and more remote" because of the passage of time, said the memo written last week by Deputy District Attorney William Hodgman.

Investigators have insufficient evidence to fill in a timeline stretching over 20 years and are hampered by the statute of limitations, Mr. Hodgman wrote.

The district attorney's office did subpoena documents from the archdiocese and hoped to use the material to build more cases, but the effort was stymied by reluctant victims and insufficient evidence to corroborate what was in the documents, Mr. Hodgman wrote.

COLORADO

Disgraced pastor to start new church

COLORADO SPRINGS — Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard, who fell from grace amid a sex scandal, is starting a new church in Colorado Springs.

Mr. Haggard made the announcement Wednesday during a news conference.

Incorporation papers for a new church were filed three weeks ago, he said. Mr. Haggard previously indicated that he and his wife incorporated the church for accounting purposes, but predicted they would return to some type of ministry one day.

Mr. Haggard resigned as senior pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church after a male prostitute alleged that Mr. Haggard paid him for sex over three years.

CONNECTICUT

Bombing suspect faces foreclosure

SHELTON — The suspect in last month's failed Times Square bombing is slated to lose his Connecticut home to foreclosure under a court order.

A notice of judgment filed Tuesday in Milford Superior Court orders Faisal Shahzad to repay more than $200,000 to Chase Home Finance LLC on his Shelton home by July 31 or lose it to foreclosure.

Mr. Shahzad is in federal custody on terrorism charges in connection with trying to set off a car bomb in New York's Times Square on May 1.

The Connecticut Post reported the foreclosure judgment Wednesday. The paper says he also owes delinquent taxes and possibly part of a second mortgage.

He stopped making mortgage payments in June 2009. That's around the time he left for Pakistan in what federal authorities said was a trip to a terrorism training camp.

FLORIDA

Shuttle workers get grant to find jobs

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA shuttle workers will get $15 million from the federal government to help them search for new jobs once the program ends, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said Wednesday.

Speaking at Kennedy Space Center, Mrs. Solis said the emergency federal grant was meant to help contractors who work for the shuttle program look for new positions and get additional training after the program ends. The last launch is scheduled for November.

Mrs. Solis said the grant will assist about 3,200 contractors who work on the shuttle program full time, including those from major aerospace companies, such as ASRC Aerospace Corp., Boeing and United Space Alliance.

As many as 20,000 contract and subcontract workers could be laid off by the end of the shuttle program, according to Labor Department estimates.

MICHIGAN

Cars selling despite fewer deals

DETROIT — Americans shrugged off fewer discounts and a scary stock market plunge last month, snapping up new automobiles and delivering another month of higher sales for carmakers.

The industry's double-digit jump in sales shows that consumers feel the economy is healthy enough for them to buy a new car or truck. It's easier to get a car loan, and gas prices are holding steady. Those factors helped ease any jitters about the 8 percent drop in the stock market last month.

General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC saw strong sales gains over the same month last year — a bleak month for the industry as GM headed into bankruptcy and Chrysler was already there. Most Asian- and European-based automakers also posted big gains.

The exception was Toyota Motor Corp. The Japanese automaker has been relying on generous discounts the past three months to keep its sales afloat after massive safety recalls that began last fall. Those incentives appeared to lose their luster in May, as sales rose just 7 percent.

OHIO

Student killed in school bus crash

ZANESVILLE — A school bus overturned in eastern Ohio, killing an elementary school student and injuring the driver, officials said.

Details of how the accident occurred were not available, but the bus wound up on its roof in a ditch.

The Tri-Valley Local School District said the crash occurred as the bus was taking seven students to Nashport Elementary, about 45 miles east of Columbus. School officials said the bus driver was taken by helicopter to a hospital, but they were not releasing information about the students.

A highway patrol dispatcher in Zanesville confirmed the student's death Wednesday morning.

UTAH

911 tape: Coleman suffered wound

SALT LAKE CITY — Former child TV star Gary Coleman was bleeding from the back of his head and "bubbling at the mouth" after falling at his Santaquin home but still tried to get up, his distraught wife told a Utah emergency dispatcher in a 911 tape released Wednesday.

The call was made by Shannon Price on May 26, two days before Mr. Coleman died of a brain hemorrhage at age 42 after being removed from life support.

"I just don't want him to die," Ms. Price tells the female dispatcher during the nearly six-minute call. "I'm freaking out, like, really bad."

In the call, Ms. Price said she's not sure whether Mr. Coleman had a seizure or whether he hit his head and fell. She said he had just gotten home and was going downstairs to make some food for her and that she then heard a "big bang."

"Send someone quick, because I don't know if he's like gonna be alive 'cause there's a lot of blood on the floor," Ms. Price said.

WASHINGTON

2 climbers missing on Mount St. Helens

COUGAR — Searchers are looking for two Vancouver, Wash., men who failed to return from a climb on Mount St. Helens.

Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox said a deputy found their car early Wednesday at the Marble Mountain Snow Park about 10 miles northeast of Cougar.

Undersheriff Cox said the men, Mark Lapinskas, 32, and Kevin Dean, 34, both have packs, but probably aren't prepared for the deluge of rain hitting the area.

Lisa Dean reported her husband and brother-in-law overdue Tuesday night.

Volunteers from the North Country Volcano Rescue Team from Yacolt have started searching trails on the south side of the volcano.

WEST VIRGINIA

Gas aborts first visit to mine

CHARLESTON — Dangerous gases have turned back investigators venturing for the first time into a West Virginia mine where an April explosion killed 29.

Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Amy Louviere said two teams got about 1,000 feet into Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine Wednesday morning. They left after about an hour because hand-held meters registered potentially elevated levels of carbon monoxide and methane gas.

West Virginia spokeswoman Leslie Fitzwater said the teams hope to try again after checking their instruments.

No one had entered the mine since rescuers removed the final victims in April. Investigators are eager to search for the cause of the April 5 explosion — the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years.

WYOMING

Nine injured in lightning strike

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — A lightning strike in Yellowstone National Park injured nine people waiting to see Old Faithful geyser erupt.

One man was hospitalized while the others suffered minor injuries.

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said the lightning struck about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

He said a 57-year-old man, whose name was not released, was taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Mr. Nash said his condition was not available but some bystanders performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him before rangers arrived.

Seven others complaining of shortness of breath, tingling or numbness were treated at Old Faithful Clinic and released, while a ninth person struck did not seek medical attention.

From wire dispatches and staff reports