- - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

ALABAMA

BP clears tar balls dumped on shore

GULF SHORES — BP workers used fishing nets to scoop tar balls off Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches Wednesday after the white sands were fouled by gooey, dark gobs churned up by heavy surf from Tropical Storm Lee.

Both the company and area officials said it would be days before tests confirmed whether the tar balls were from last year’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but BP contractors were removing the pollution anyway.

Grant Brown, a spokesman for the city of Gulf Shores, said residents have feared more oil remains on the Gulf’s sandy floor despite months of cleaning, and the appearance of tar balls after Lee only reinforced those concerns.

FLORIDA

ACLU to sue over welfare drug testing

MIAMI | The American Civil Liberties Union is suing to block Florida’s new law requiring new welfare recipients to pass a drug test, filing the lawsuit on behalf of a Navy veteran who was denied assistance to help care for his 4-year-old son because he refused to take the test.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court.

The ACLU, which is also challenging a mandate by Gov. Rick Scott requiring drug testing for state employees, says the law is unconstitutional — an argument that federal judges have agreed with before — because it constitutes an unreasonable search or seizure.

MISSOURI

College begins widespread drug tests

LINN — A two-year college has launched a program to drug-test new students, raising the hackles of civil libertarians who see an illegal invasion of privacy.

The tests started Wednesday at Linn State Technical College.

Courts have upheld more limited drug testing of high schools students, as well as NCAA athletes and students at private colleges. But Linn State’s move appears to be the first effort by a public college or university to enact widespread drug tests of the general student body.

School leaders say the move is necessary to ensure student safety at a campus where course work includes aircraft maintenance, heavy engine repair and other dangerous tasks. They say it also prepares students for the workplace.

The Missouri Civil Liberties Association suggests a legal challenge may be imminent.

MONTANA

Boy Scouts sued over 1970s sex abuse

HELENA — Five women who were sexually abused by a scout leader in the 1970s when they were children in a Montana co-ed program sued the Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday, saying the organization should be held responsible for the man’s actions.

The women, who are now in their 50s, say William H. Leininger Jr. repeatedly raped or molested them under the pretense of demonstrating first-aid techniques in the Explorer Scouts program when they were between the ages of 11 and 15.

Leininger was convicted in 1976 of abusing the five girls and a sixth who is not involved in the lawsuit. He was convicted again in 1982 of another charge of sexual intercourse without consent, according to Montana Department of Corrections records. Leininger died in prison in 2002 at age 80.

NEW JERSEY

Christie: Visiting Vegas in summer is ‘stupid’

ATLANTIC CITY — Gov. Chris Christie has a name for people who visit Las Vegas in the summertime: “Stupid.”

Speaking at a news conference to introduce the new head of a state agency tasked with revitalizing Atlantic City, the nation’s second-largest gambling market, Mr. Christie couldn’t resist taking a shot at No. 1.

“There is no reason people should go to Las Vegas in the summer,” he said. “Why would you go to the middle of the desert in the summer? You’d have to be stupid to do that.”

Instead, the governor offered an alternative. “Come to Atlantic City, where there’s a beautiful beach, gamble if you want to,” he said.

NEW YORK

Beefed-up security planned for 9/11 anniversary

NEW YORK — Despite no specific terrorism threats against the city, the New York Police Department will deploy thousands of extra police officers for the observance of the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said Wednesday.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, in remarks at a security conference in midtown Manhattan, cited evidence found in Osama bin Laden’s compound after his death suggesting he hoped to strike on the anniversary.

“For that reason alone, we need to take precautions as if an actual plot is under way,” Mr. Kelly said.

The NYPD plans to form a zone around the World Trade Center for a Sunday observance that President Obama and former President George W. Bush plan to attend. Along with extra officers, the security also will include hundreds of surveillance cameras trained on the site, Mr. Kelly said.

UTAH

Imprisoned sect leader seeks new Texas trial

SALT LAKE CITY — Imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs has filed a handwritten motion seeking a new trial in Texas after he was convicted there and sentenced to life in prison on child sex assault charges.

Jeffs, 55, who heads the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claims his religious freedoms were violated by the courts, an argument he also tried to make while defending himself during his trial.

Drafted on lined notebook paper in Jeffs’ uneven penmanship, the one-page motion was dated Aug. 23, about two weeks after a jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting two FLDS girls aged 12 and 15, whom he married in religious ceremonies.

WASHINGTON

Man pleads guilty to MLK Day parade bomb

SPOKANE — A man with extensive ties to white supremacists pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges he planted a bomb along a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route in Spokane, targeting minorities.

Kevin Harpham, 37, reached a deal with federal prosecutors for a recommended sentencing range of 27 to 32 years in prison just days before his trial was to begin in U.S. District Court.

The pipe bomb was loaded with lead fishing weights coated in a chemical, and could have caused mass casualties, prosecutors said.

Harpham told U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush that it took him about a month to build the bomb with components he bought at Wal-Mart and other places. He acknowledged placing the bomb along the parade route in an attempt to commit a hate crime.

The backpack bomb was discovered by parade workers and disabled before it could explode.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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