- - Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Police make arrests during Bay Area transit protest

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco transit commute went smoothly for the first Monday in two weeks as demonstrators — acknowledging that disruptive protests of the two previous Monday nights have angered commuters — stayed away from train platforms, where protests have been barred for safety reasons.

About 75 protesters gathered above the Bay Area Rapid Transit system’s Civic Center station shortly after 5 p.m. and marched on the sidewalks down San Francisco’s Market Street. The busy downtown corridor runs over the BART tracks and the protesters briefly gathered in front of three other BART stations to chant slogans and yell at police.

Two protesters were arrested in BART’s Embarcadero station, outside the fare gates and a floor above the platform.

FLORIDA

Tropical Storm Katia gathers momentum

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Katia continues to gain strength as it moves west-northwest across the Atlantic.

Katia has maximum sustained winds late Tuesday afternoon of 60 mph, a 20 mph increase over Tuesday morning. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says continued strengthening is forecast and Katia could become a hurricane by Wednesday.

Katia is centered about 750 miles west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands and is moving at 20 mph. Hurricane specialist Michael Brennan said Tuesday morning that Katia could affect the Caribbean, but that it was too early to tell if it would hit the U.S.

The storm’s name replaces Katrina in the rotating storm roster because of the catastrophic damage from the 2005 storm.

KANSAS

State ordered to resume Planned Parenthood funding

WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge ordered Kansas to immediately resume funding a Planned Parenthood chapter on the same quarterly schedule that existed before a new state law stripped it of all federal funding for nonabortion services.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Tuesday rejected the state’s request that it pay Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri monthly and only for services provided.

The judge also declined to order Planned Parenthood to post a bond in the event the state prevailed in the lawsuit.

Planned Parenthood has sued to block a provision of the state budget preventing the organization from receiving any of the state’s share of federal family planning dollars.

MINNESOTA

Dad who abandoned son arrested in California

LAKEVILLE — A father accused of abandoning his 11-year-old son because his Minnesota home was in foreclosure has been arrested in a small coastal town in central California.

Steven Alexander Cross, 60, was arrested Monday afternoon in Cambria, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. A sheriff’s patrol deputy spotted Mr. Cross’ Ford Windstar van and arrested him without resistance, the department said.

Sheriff’s spokesman Rob Bryn told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Mr. Cross appeared to be living in his van and that authorities tracked him down after a tip that he was working in a deli in Cambria, some 30 miles north of San Luis Obispo.

Mr. Cross, of Lakeville, is wanted on a warrant for gross misdemeanor child neglect.

The boy awoke at their Lakeville home July 18 to discover his father had gone, leaving two letters: one said their home, some 25 miles south of Minneapolis, was going to be sold at a sheriff’s sale and instructed the boy to take his PlayStation and go to a neighbor’s house; the other asked the neighbors to take care of his son.

The child is now living with an aunt, according to the Star Tribune.

NEW JERSEY

Man pleads guilty in murder of five teens

NEWARK — A New Jersey man pleaded guilty to murdering five teenagers in 1978 in what was one of the state’s longest-running cold cases.

Philander Hampton of Jersey City made his plea in court in Newark on Tuesday.

Hampton told police three years ago that he and another man lured the teens to an abandoned house in Newark with the promise of odd jobs, then locked them inside and set the house on fire.

The attack allegedly was prompted by stolen drugs.

Melvin Pittman, Ernest Taylor, Alvin Turner, Randy Johnson and Michael McDowell were last seen Aug. 20, 1978, on a busy street near a park where they had played basketball.

Lee Evans, the other man charged in the killings, is scheduled to go to trial this fall.

OHIO

Atheists say they get kudos for billboard

MANSFIELD — An Ohio atheist group says it has been commended by some people for a billboard put up by a church’s pastor.

The road sign in Mansfield features the statement “There is no God” in capital letters. Below that, it says, “Don’t believe everything you hear.”

The Rev. Frank Moore of McElroy Road Church of Christ told the Mansfield News Journal that he wanted to honor God with an ad that would get people thinking. He says he remembered how his parents always advised him not to believe everything people told him.

The Mansfield-based Mid Ohio Atheists said it has been contacted and congratulated by people incorrectly thinking it put up the billboard. The group says it wants to thank the church for, as the atheists say, “advertising our thoughts.”

OKLAHOMA

Residences cleared as fire threatens capital

OKLAHOMA CITY — Police ordered residents from dozens of homes Tuesday as a spectacular wildfire pushed by 25 mph wind gusts threatened part of Oklahoma City.

Bursts of flame rose amid thick black smoke as oil-packed cedar trees ignited, giving gawkers a stunning view even from blocks away. Utility poles lit up like matchsticks, and power was out to more than 7,000 homes and businesses.

TEXAS

Judge strikes down sonogram requirement

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down key provisions of Texas’ new law requiring a doctor to perform a sonogram before an abortion, ruling that the measure violates the free speech rights of doctors and patients.

The law — one of dozens of anti-abortion measures that advanced through state capitals across the United States this year — was set to take effect Thursday.

A New York-based reproductive rights group had sued to block the law.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said in his ruling that requiring a doctor to show women images from the sonogram and the sounds of the fetal heartbeat violates the First Amendment rights of doctors.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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