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American Scene

- - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Saggy-pants case doesn't hold up

SAN FRANCISCO — Prosecutors said Wednesday they will not file charges against a University of New Mexico football player who was arrested after wearing saggy pants on a plane at San Francisco airport.

The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office reviewed the June 15 arrest of DeShon Marman and determined criminal charges were not warranted, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Mr. Marman was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, battery of a police officer and obstruction after police say he refused to leave the US Airways flight on the captain's orders. He also injured an officer while being taken into custody, according to police.

Mr. Wagstaffe said the officer got a minor scratch and twisted knee but no significant injuries. Mr. Marman should have deplaned at the request of police officers and a sheriff's deputy.

GEORGIA

Pills prevent HIV in straight men, women

ATLANTA — Two new studies found that daily pills prevented infection with the AIDS virus in heterosexual men and women in Africa, bringing new hope for someday offering a medical shield against HIV infection.

"This is good news. This is a good day for HIV prevention," said Dr. Lynn Paxton of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who has coordinated the agency's research into HIV prevention.

Earlier this year, another study found the same pills did not prevent the AIDS virus among women in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

But researchers now say that study may have been flawed based on the success of the two studies announced Wednesday.

NEBRASKA

Nuclear plant lifts alert as water recedes

BROWNVILLE — An alert issued at a southeast Nebraska nuclear power plant as rising floodwaters from the bloated Missouri River threatened its perimeter has been terminated.

The Nebraska Public Power District said it officially ended the notice of unusual event at the Cooper Power Plant that began June 19.

The utility issued the alert when the river rose 899 feet above sea level. The Missouri River had fallen to 895.5 feet above sea level by Wednesday morning.

The utility says it appears that the level of the river will continue to slowly decline as long as no major rainstorms develop. The utility plans to keep most of the flood barricades in place at Cooper as a precaution.

Operations continued at Cooper throughout the flood threat.

NEW YORK

Judge blocks disclosure law at pregnancy centers

NEW YORK — A judge blocked New York City on Wednesday from enforcing a new law designed to force pregnancy centers to disclose what services they offer.

The ruling by federal Judge William Pauley blocks a law that was supposed to go into effect Thursday. It would require pregnancy centers to disclose whether they have licensed medical staff and what they do to protect client privacy.

Abortion rights advocates say the centers try to deceive women by opening near offices that offer abortions and implying they will give referrals to women considering ending their pregnancies.

The judge agreed with several centers that are suing that the law, supported by abortion rights groups, appears to be unconstitutionally vague.

NORTH DAKOTA

Napolitano visits flooded city

MINOT — The Cabinet secretary responsible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency told residents in the flooded North Dakota city of Minot on Wednesday that the federal government is "here for the duration" and will do everything it can to help, but also cautioned that state residents should better prepare for future flooding.

The federal government "does not have deep pockets, nor is it a panacea," Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano said after a helicopter tour over the city where 4,100 homes have been damaged by Souris River floodwaters and more than 11,000 people have had to temporarily leave.

North Dakota also has seen record flooding along the Missouri River this summer, and eastern North Dakota went through its third consecutive battle against a flooding Red River last spring. Ms. Napolitano urged state residents in flood-prone areas to get flood insurance if they do not already have it to guard against future emergencies.

Only 375 homes in the flooded areas of Minot were insured against flooding, according to FEMA.

TEXAS

Groups sue to stop governor's prayer day

AUSTIN — The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit to stop the Texas governor's day of prayer and fasting.

The organization, which is made up of atheists and agnostics, argues that Gov. Rick Perry is violating the constitutional ban on the government establishing a religion.

Mr. Perry has invited the Obama administration, the nation's governors and Texas lawmakers to attend the prayer meeting in Houston on Aug. 6. The event is being sponsored by evangelical Christian groups and is explicitly a Christian event.

The foundation said Mr. Perry should not have organized the event as governor.

The suit was filed Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Houston. A spokesman for the event, called the Response, says he needed to consult an attorney before commenting. The governor's office had no immediate comment.

WASHINGTON

Suspect allowed to view child porn in jail

TACOMA — A legal loophole is allowing a Washington state man accused of child sex crimes to view child pornography in jail.

Weldon Marc Gilbert is acting as his own lawyer in the case, and that means he's entitled to review the evidence.

The evidence in the case includes more than 100 videos seized from Mr. Gilbert's Lake Tapps home after his 2007 arrest. Authorities say some of the footage was shot by Mr. Gilbert.

The materials normally would be contraband at the Pierce County Jail, but restricting Mr. Gilbert's access to the videos could result in a mistrial, the station reported Wednesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports