- - Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ARIZONA

Deputy: Smoke flare likely scare cause

WINTERSBURG | A device that caused the entrance to a nuclear power plant west of Phoenix to be closed appears to be a smoke flare, authorities said.

The device was found on the floorboard of an employee’s car at a security checkpoint a mile from the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station at about daybreak on Wednesday, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Brian Lee said. At first glance, it looked like a stick of dynamite, so plant security closed the checkpoint to traffic as a precaution.

Power-plant operations weren’t affected, and the checkpoint was reopened after about three hours.

The employee is being questioned, but Lt. Lee says she has not been arrested. An official with plant operator Arizona Public Service Co. said the issue will likely be handled as an internal matter.

CALIFORNIA

Transgender woman sues LPGA over rule

SAN FRANCISCO | A transgender woman is suing the LPGA over a requirement which states that all competitors must be “female at birth.”

Lana Lawless, 57, underwent gender-reassignment surgery in 2005. She filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday claiming that the policy violates California civil rights laws.

Miss Lawless won the women’s world championship in long-drive golf in 2008, but was barred this year because Long Drivers of America — which oversees the event — had changed its policy.

GEORGIA

Hispanics’ longevity high among races

ATLANTA | U.S. Hispanics can expect to outlive whites by more than two years and blacks by more than seven, government researchers say in a startling report that is the first to calculate Hispanic life expectancy in this country.

The report released Wednesday is the strongest evidence yet of what some experts call the “Hispanic paradox” — longevity for a population with a large share of poor, undereducated members. A leading theory is that Hispanics who manage to immigrate to the U.S. are among the healthiest from their countries.

A Hispanic born in 2006 could expect to live about 80 years and seven months, the government estimates. Life expectancy for a white is about 78, and for a black, just shy of 73 years.

NEW JERSEY

Abortion doctor found negligent

TRENTON | The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office says an abortion doctor was “grossly negligent” for transporting some patients to Maryland to take advantage of disparities in the two states’ abortion laws.

New Jersey is seeking to have Dr. Steven Brigham’s license suspended or revoked. A state disciplinary panel for doctors began hearing arguments in the case Wednesday. Dr. Brigham started abortion procedures on some of his patients in one state and then had them travel to another state to continue the procedures.

Dr. Brigham’s attorney asked the board to dismiss the case. He said the same panel ruled in two cases in the 1990s that the two-state procedure was legal.

TEXAS

Worker testifies in shootings hearing

FORT HOOD | A terrified worker begged a 911 dispatcher for help as gunfire and screams rang out during a deadly rampage at Fort Hood, according to a recording of the phone call played Wednesday at a military hearing to decide if an Army psychiatrist accused in the attack should stand trial.

Medical technician Michelle Harper testified during the Article 32 hearing that she was working at the Army post’s processing center when gunfire erupted there Nov. 5. She said she hid under a desk and could only see the shooter’s slow, deliberate footsteps around the center as the attack unfolded.

Miss Harper was the second witness to testify at the hearing to determine if Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan should stand trial.

Maj. Hasan, 40, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the attack — the worst-ever mass shooting at an American military base.

According to authorities, the Muslim major was inspired by al Qaeda’s Yemeni-American imam Anwar al-Awlaki to commit the attacks as an act of jihad, or holy war, against the U.S. and its military.

The Article 32 hearing will determine if there’s enough evidence to move forward to a trial. It is expected to last at least three weeks.

Miss Harper told the dispatcher, “Hurry, hurry, hurry, please,” according to the recording, which was peppered with the background sounds of gunshots, the moans of injured victims — including a soldier who was standing in front of Miss Harper when he was shot three times — and people yelling for help.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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