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American Scene

- - Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Circumcision ban to appear on ballot

SAN FRANCISCO | San Francisco voters in November will be asked to weigh in on what was until now a private family matter: male circumcision.

City elections officials confirmed Wednesday that an initiative that would ban the circumcision of males younger than 18 in San Francisco has received enough signatures to appear on the ballot. The practice would become a misdemeanor.

Supporters of the ban say male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation that should not be forced on a child.

But opponents say such claims are alarmingly misleading, and call the proposal a clear violation of constitutionally protected religious freedoms.

The initiative's backers say its progress is the biggest success story to date of a decades-old nationwide movement to end circumcision of male infants in the U.S. A similar effort in Massachusetts last year failed to gain traction.

MICHIGAN

Chrysler has deal to repay bailout loans

DETROIT | Chrysler is close to repaying its government bailouts.

The company has lined up investors to help it refinance $7.5 billion in loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments, three people briefed on the matter said Wednesday. Under the deal, the company would take out $2.5 billion in bank loans and sell $3.5 billion worth of bonds to investors. Italy's Fiat, which has management control of Chrysler, would kick in $1.3 billion more to raise its stake in the U.S. carmaker.

The deal moves Chrysler closer to separating itself from the government, which was the only lender available to save the company when it nearly ran out of cash early in 2009. Chrysler would like to shed its image as a ward of the government, which has angered some potential customers who disliked the bailout. The refinancing also will dramatically cut Chrysler's interest payments, which CEO Sergio Marchionne has blamed for holding down the company's profits.

Details of the financing package are still being worked out and are scheduled to be finalized Thursday morning, the people said. It's likely the money will change hands and the government debt will be repaid on Tuesday, said two of the people.

NEW YORK

Conde Nast to anchor World Trade Center tower

NEW YORK | Magazine publisher Conde Nast plans to occupy 1 million square feet at the rebuilt World Trade Center's signature skyscraper.

The publisher of magazines including Vogue and the New Yorker plans to move about 5,000 employees into 1 World Trade Center in 2014.

The deal has been in the works for months.

It will go before the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on May 26 for approval. The authority owns the trade center site.

Conde Nast will pay an estimated $2 billion over 25 years.

TEXAS

Colorado lawmaker absolved in fatal crash

LUBBOCK | A Texas grand jury has cleared a Colorado lawmaker of criminal wrongdoing after the car she was driving collided head-on with another vehicle in the Panhandle in December, killing a pregnant woman, the district attorney who presented the case said Wednesday.

Hartley County District Attorney David Green said at a news conference that grand jurors declined to indict Colorado Sen. Suzanne Williams, 66.

Investigators say Mrs. Williams' car drifted into oncoming traffic along U.S. 385 near Channing on Dec. 26 and crashed into an oncoming car, killing Brianna Gomez, 30, of Amarillo. Mrs. Gomez's unborn child was delivered by cesarean section.

Mr. Green told reporters he would not discuss specifics of the panel's deliberations other than to say it decided not to issue criminal indictments.

From wire dispatches and staff reports