- - Thursday, March 24, 2011


Judge won’t halt mental exam of suspect

PHOENIX | A federal judge won’t reconsider his order sending the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage to Missouri to have a competency exam at a federal medical facility and that it be videotaped.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns also rejected requests by attorneys for Jared Lee Loughner that he delay the exam while they appeal.

Judge Burns wrote in Thursday’s order that the defense requested the taping and that providing copies to both the prosecution and defense is only fair. He also says the federal facility in Springfield, Mo., is the best and closest place for the exam and won’t harm the defense.

Mr. Loughner was flown from Tucson to Springfield Wednesday. The exam will determine whether he understands the nature of the charges against him and can assist in his defense.


L.A., unions reach deal on givebacks

LOS ANGELES | Striving to ease a budget crisis, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a watershed deal Thursday with city unions that will require civilian workers for the first time to pay part of their salary toward retiree health benefits.

The tentative health care agreement with the Coalition of L.A. City Unions could generate $64 million over three years and help City Hall avoid sweeping municipal layoffs, as the mayor and City Council try to close a projected $500 million budget shortfall.

A sickly economy, double-digit unemployment and a housing crisis have left the nation’s second-largest city starved for cash, and unions faced a stark choice: Agree to concessions, or see jobs eliminated. Already, the city has cut library hours, reduced park maintenance and cut loose employees to save money.

“Los Angeles has a message for Madison, Columbus, Indianapolis and every city or state capital where public employee unions have been vilified as the cause of budget problems and economic woes: Collective bargaining works,” Mr. Villaraigosa said in a statement. “Unions are our partners, not our enemies.”


Planned speech by Farrakhan blasted

JACKSON | Some advocates for racial equality are criticizing the selection of Louis Farrakhan as the keynote speaker for an annual convention of civil rights veterans in Mississippi.

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