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NEBRASKA

Governor signs bills on pipeline regulation

LINCOLN — Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline promised a renewed effort Tuesday to kill the contentious project that would pump Canadian crude from tar sands deposits in Alberta to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

Pipeline critics hailed two new state laws as a win for landowners, environmentalists and Nebraskans who had worried about potential risks to an environmentally sensitive area that was on the original route proposed by Canadian developer TransCanada. But several opponents said they still opposed the entire project.

The U.S. State Department announced earlier this month that it will delay its decision on the transnational pipeline until at least 2013. TransCanada subsequently agreed to divert its proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline so that it wouldn’t pass through the Nebraska Sandhills, a region of porous hills that includes a high concentration of wetlands and the Ogallala aquifer, which provides water to huge swaths of U.S. cropland.

On Tuesday, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed two bills into law aimed at major oil pipelines, shortly before lawmakers ended their special session to confront concerns about the multibillion-dollar Keystone XL.

One law authorizes the state Department of Environmental Quality to conduct an environmental review of pipeline projects, including the Keystone XL. The governor would review the findings and submit an opinion to the State Department. The second law asserts Nebraska’s authority over future oil-pipeline projects, with public meetings and a mandatory review by the state Public Service Commission, which oversees utilities, telecommunications and mass transit.

FLORIDA

More reports of botched buttocks surgery by fake doc

MIAMI — Several possible victims have come forward alleging a woman posing as a Florida doctor and promising buttocks enhancement pumped their behinds with a toxic concoction of cement, superglue and flat-tire sealant, state health officials said Tuesday.

Oneal Ron Morris, who police say was born a man but identifies as a woman, was arrested Friday after nearly a year of being sought and charged with practicing medicine without a license with serious bodily injury. Authorities say a victim who was looking to get a job at a nightclub and wanted a curvier figure paid Mr. Morris $700 for the injections in 2010. Mr. Morris allegedly used some type of tubing and inserted the toxic chemicals into her backside during a painful procedure.

The victim, who is not being identified owing to medical privacy laws, suffered permanent scarring around the injection sites. Shortly after the surgery, she went to the hospital, but left because she was too embarrassed to tell doctors about the procedure. The victim required multiple surgeries and had a 24-hour home health aide for an extended period of time, according to a statement from the Department of Health.

 

GEORGIA

Four terrorism suspects denied bond

ATLANTA — A federal judge has denied bond for four elderly Georgia men accused of plotting terrorist attacks against government officials, saying in an order filed this week that there was no other way to “reasonably assure the safety of the community.”

U.S. Magistrate Susan Cole said in Monday’s written order that although the four militia members may be elderly and infirm, they could still carry out attacks simply by pulling a trigger or detonating an explosive with a cellphone. Some of the men, she wrote, could feel they have “nothing to lose by committing the violent acts.”

Magistrate Cole had denied the request for the bond during brief remarks at a hearing last week, but elaborated on the decision in a 28-page order. She concluded there was ample evidence to keep them in federal custody while they await trial, and said there were “no conditions of release” that would ensure they wouldn’t commit any violent acts.

COLORADO

Air Force probes gun after standoff on base

DENVER — The Air Force is investigating how an airman managed to get his own handgun onto a sensitive air base in Colorado where he barricaded himself in a building for 10 hours before surrendering, officials said Tuesday.

Nico Cruz Santos, 21, was taken into custody at Schriever Air Force Base at about 8 p.m. Monday, officials said. No injuries were reported.

The base controls more than 60 military satellites, including those used for GPS. The Air Force said satellite operations weren’t disrupted.

Officials said the airman barricaded himself in a building where personnel prepare for deployment. The satellite control rooms are in a separate, heavily guarded area.

Authorities said the airman faces a possible discharge for an unrelated crime in civilian court. He pleaded guilty in September to a charge of attempted sexual exploitation of a child in Gilpin County west of Denver. He faces up to 18 months in prison. Sentencing is Dec. 16.

MISSOURI

Shop owner says ‘sorry’ to religious skeptics

SPRINGFIELD — A businessman has apologized for briefly posting a sign in the window of his Springfield gelato shop informing those in town for a convention of religious skeptics that they were not welcome at his Christian business.

Andy Drennen apologized in a letter posted Monday on the website Reddit. He said he posted the hastily drawn sign in his shop, Gelato Mio, on Saturday after seeing someone attending Skepticon delivering a mock sermon and cursing the Bible.

The sign read: “Skepticism is NOT welcomed to my Christian business.”

Mr. Dreenen, 28, said his response was impulsive and “was completely wrong and unacceptable,” and that he didn’t actually turn anyone away from the store, which opened last year.

He said he removed the sign after about 10 minutes, realizing it was wrong.

Ryan Culbertson-Faegre, captain of the Springfield chapter of the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which helped organize the convention, said the sign violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination based on race, religion and national origin.

MASSACHUSETTS

Feds confiscate fishermen’s 881-lb. tuna

NEW BEDFORD — It’s the big one that got taken away.

Massachusetts fishing boat owner Carlos Rafael was elated recently when one of his trawlers snared an 881-pound tuna.

The Standard-Times of New Bedford reported that the tuna was likely inadvertently snagged as Mr. Rafael’s crew set a net to catch bottom-dwellers. Federal fishery-enforcement agents seized the fish when the crew returned to port Nov. 12.

Mr. Rafael had tuna permits, but was told catching tuna with a net is illegal. They must instead be caught with rod and reel.

A fish that big is hugely valuable — a 754-pound tuna recently sold for nearly $396,000.

Mr. Rafael’s fish will be sold overseas. He will likely get a warning and no share of the proceeds if regulators find a violation.

He said he might give up his tuna permits, saying they’re apparently worthless.

NEW YORK

Bomb suspect’s attorney questions informant’s record

NEW YORK — A new attorney for a New York City man charged with crafting homemade bombs in a terrorism plot against police stations and post offices says a confidential informant in the case also has legal trouble. A person familiar with the matter says it’s a minor marijuana charge.

Lawyer Lori Cohen said Tuesday she’s representing terrorism suspect Jose Pimentel, who previously had a Legal Aid Society lawyer. Ms. Cohen says she was told Legal Aid represented the informant in an unspecified other case, creating a conflict of interest.

A person familiar with the matter tells the Associated Press the informant’s case is a low-level marijuana arrest. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information hasn’t been made public.

A Legal Aid spokeswoman didn’t return a telephone message. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has declined to comment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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