- - Wednesday, August 31, 2011


9/11 donations overseer to aid with stage disaster

INDIANAPOLIS | The man who oversaw victims’ compensation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the BP PLC oil spill will help Indiana officials decide who gets money donated to help victims of the deadly state fair stage collapse.

Fair Commission Chairman Andre Lacy said Wednesday that victims’ compensation specialist Kenneth Feinberg is donating his services for the effort to distribute the money “as soon as we can.”

Mr. Feinberg will help the commission develop a plan for distributing the money, including eligibility and a claims process.

Seven people died and at least four dozen were injured when high winds toppled the stage scaffolding onto a crowd awaiting a performance by the country band Sugarland at the Indiana State Fair.

Officials said about $800,000 has been raised for the victims.


Federal judge orders Planned Parenthood funding

WICHITA | Kansas says it will obey a federal judge’s order to fund Planned Parenthood clinics immediately while the state pursues an appeal.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Tuesday ordered the state to continue paying Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri on the same quarterly schedule that existed before a state law stripped it of all federal funding for non-abortion services.

The Kansas attorney general’s office and the state Department of Health and Environment told the Associated Press on Wednesday that they will comply with the order while appealing to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


Jamaican drug kingpin confesses in court

NEW YORK | A Jamaican drug kingpin has pleaded guilty in New York to racketeering and assault charges, admitting his leadership in an international criminal organization.

Christopher Coke entered the plea Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan. Coke admitted that he led a drug organization known as the Shower Posse and the Presidential Click. Jamaican authorities arrested him at a police checkpoint in June 2010 and extradited him to the United States.

A hunt for Coke in his West Kingston slum stronghold led to a confrontation that killed 73 civilians and three security officers.

A prosecutor said Coke moved drugs and guns between Jamaica and the U.S. with impunity for at least a decade.

Sentencing is set for Dec. 8. Coke faces up to 23 years in prison.


Kidnapper of Smart transferred to prison

SALT LAKE CITY | Authorities say the Utah street preacher convicted of kidnapping and raping Elizabeth Smart is being moved to a federal prison nearly 8 1/2 years after his arrest.

A Salt Lake County jail lieutenant said the U.S. Marshals Service picked up Brian David Mitchell on Wednesday. The Bureau of Prisons declined to say where the 57-year-old will be housed.

Jurors in December convicted Mitchell on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sex. He was sentenced to life in prison and plans no appeal.

Since his 2003 arrest, Mitchell has been housed in the jail or at the Utah state mental hospital.


Appeals court considers wiretapping lawsuits

SEATTLE | A federal appeals court panel in Seattle considered Wednesday whether to revive two cases claiming the government has monitored the communications of millions of Americans since Sept. 11, 2001.

One involves customers who sued telecommunications companies, claiming they illegally turned over emails and phone calls to the National Security Agency without warrants. The other involves lawsuits that some of those same plaintiffs brought against the government, saying the surveillance violated their constitutional rights.

A San Francisco judge dismissed the lawsuits, saying such claims against telecom companies can be barred under a law changed by Congress in 2008, and that the people who sued the government directly did not suffer specific harms that give them legal standing to sue.

The government has refused to confirm whether the domestic surveillance program exists.

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