- - Thursday, June 16, 2011

ARKANSAS

Man shot mayor who backed his parole

LITTLE ROCK — A convicted killer who was out on parole shot and critically wounded a northern Arkansas mayor who had written a letter in support of his release from prison, records show.

Everton Mayor Bill Gerdes was in critical condition at a hospital in Springfield, Mo., after he was shot in the back and left hand Wednesday night.

Authorities arrested Justin Bates around midnight Wednesday after an hours-long standoff outside his father’s home in Everton. Boone County Sheriff Danny Hickman said Bates, 35, faces a count of attempted capital murder and a firearms charge.

He’s being held at the county jail on $1 million bond.

GEORGIA

CDC: 1 in 4 teens drink soda every day

ATLANTA — A new study shows one in four high school students drink soda every day.

The national survey found that teens drink water, milk and fruit juices most often. But a quarter say they have at least one soda each day.

For all sweetened beverages, the figure is closer to two-thirds when other sugary drinks like Gatorade are counted along with soda. That seems to be less than in the past when more than three-quarters reported drinking a sugary drink each day.

The survey of more than 11,000 teens was conducted last year. The results were reported Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

INDIANA

Planned Parenthood gets federal backing in state fight

INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. Justice Department is siding with Planned Parenthood of Indiana in its lawsuit trying to block a new Indiana law that takes away much of its public funding.

The Justice Department filed a brief after hours Thursday saying federal interests are at stake and that U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt should grant Planned Parenthood’s request for an injunction blocking the law signed May 10 by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

It’s unclear how the last-minute filing affects the timing of Judge Pratt’s ruling. She has said she intends to rule by July 1. Planned Parenthood attorney Ken Falk told the Associated Press the brief caught him by surprise.

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher did not immediately respond to an after-hours email seeking comment.

NEW YORK

20 Costco workers share Powerball jackpot

MELVILLE — A group of 20 Long Island Costco employees calling themselves the “1937 Flatbush Avenue Dodgers” in tribute to the 73-year-old Brooklyn baseball fan among them who bought the winning ticket, stepped forward Thursday in the parking lot of the big box store where they work to claim first prize in a June 1 Powerball jackpot.

The winners, who opted to take a lump sum payout instead of stretching their winnings over 20 years, will actually share $70.2 million after taxes, New York state Lottery officials said. The group formed a legal entity named for the Dodgers, which will administer the distribution of the jackpot to the 20 new millionaires, lottery officials said.

The winners haven’t decided whether they will keep working at the massive store, where shoppers were filling up carts with industrial-sized boxes of soda, cleaning supplies, candy and other groceries amid the smiles and high-fives nearby. The employees include pharmacists, security guards, meat cutters, merchandise managers and supervisors.

WASHINGTON

Catholic bishops keep abuse prevention policy

BELLEVUE — The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday renewed their plan to prevent clergy sex abuse, making only minor revisions despite lapses in some dioceses that created pressure for more dramatic change.

After the vote, victim advocates said they were determined to bring any future concerns about the removal of guilty priests directly to law enforcement. In February, a grand jury accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of keeping about three dozen credibly accused clergy in ministry.

Church leaders initially adopted the policy in 2002, after the abuse crisis erupted in the Archdiocese of Boston then spread nationwide and beyond. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 187-5 to approve the policy for two more years with a few updates. Separately, they approved a statement explaining Catholic teaching against physician-assisted suicide, before ending the public sessions of their assembly. Four bishops abstained from voting on the charter.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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