- - Sunday, February 6, 2011

ARIZONA

Writing samples sought from shooting suspect

PHOENIX — Prosecutors are seeking handwriting samples from the suspect in the shootings of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people to compare with documents seized in a search of his home.

The request was made Thursday in a court filing in which prosecutors also said they plan to introduce documents at trial that were found at suspect Jared Loughner’s home and make references to Ms. Giffords, guns and bullets.

Other notebooks containing handwriting were found at the house, but no further details were provided on those documents.

Investigators who searched the home of Mr. Loughner after the Jan. 8 shooting found other handwritten notes in a safe that read, “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and “Giffords.” One note said “Die, bitch,” which authorities think was a reference to Ms. Giffords.

Instead of agreeing to provide handwriting samples, Mr. Loughner’s attorneys offered to review the documents and perhaps make an agreement about the handwriting. Prosecutors declined that request and said Mr. Loughner’s handwriting samples would be taken at the federal courthouse in Tucson if permission is granted by U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns of San Diego.

CALIFORNIA

National security rocket launch called a success

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — A rocket carrying a national security payload was successfully launched Sunday from a base on California’s central coast, Air Force officials said.

The Minotaur 1 rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:26 a.m. amid clear skies, said Col. Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander and the mission’s leader. The launch, which was scheduled for Saturday, had been delayed by a day because of power problems with the rocket’s safety equipment.

The four-stage, solid-fueled rocket was carrying a research and development spacecraft for the National Reconnaissance Office, but officials gave no further details on the craft’s purpose or cost.

The 63-foot Minotaur 1 is among the smallest of the many rockets that launch from the base 160 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The rocket is assembled from retired Minuteman stages combined with technology from Orbital Sciences. It can carry up to 1,278 pounds to low-Earth orbit.

GEORGIA

Confederate artwork removed from exhibit

OAKWOOD — A college president in Georgia said she ordered an instructor’s painting that featured a Confederate flag removed from a faculty art exhibit.

The Athens Banner-Herald reported that the flag was superimposed on images including a hanged black man and a hooded Ku Klux Klansman. Gainesville State College President Martha Nesbitt said she had to consider the impact on the health and reputation of the institution.

Athens artist Stan Bermudez said his painting was ordered removed about the time a retired air force major objected to it on a website devoted to Southern heritage.

The major said he hates to see the flag of Southern soldiers maligned, but Mr. Bermudez said the painting represents some of the feelings he associates with it.

MAINE

Failed ski lift overdue for inspection

PORTLAND — State records show that a lift that failed at a Maine ski area in December was a few weeks overdue for a safety inspection when a cable came off a suspension wheel, injuring eight.

The inspection, known as a load test, requires a test on chairlifts every seven years. Lifts are subject to other state inspections every year.

Records from the Maine Elevator and Tramway Board show that the Spillway East chairlift at Sugarloaf resort last had a load test on Dec. 4, 2003. The state had granted an extension, so the resort faces no penalty.

Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin told the Portland Press Herald that the lift was inspected before the season began and it was properly licensed.

VIRGINIA

Redskins’ Haynesworth charged in assault

Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth has been charged with assault in what police say was a case of road rage.

Fairfax County police spokeswoman Shelley Broderick said a 38-year-old man told investigators he was driving a Honda Civic in suburban Washington when he saw a pickup truck tailgating him. The man said the driver then made a hand gesture.

Ms. Broderick said Mr. Haynesworth, who was driving the truck, got out when the vehicles stopped and assaulted the other driver.

She said police have been in touch with Mr. Haynesworth’s attorney. She said arrangements have been made for him to meet with officers and appear in Fairfax County General District Court at a later date.

Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said team officials are gathering information about the incident and would not comment further.

From wire dispatches and staff reports