- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2012

CONNECTICUT

ACLU: School wrong to outlaw anti-gay shirt

HARTFORD | The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday said a Connecticut high school violated a student’s rights to free expression by asking him to remove a T-shirt with an anti-gay message.

Seth Groody, a junior at Wolcott High School, wore the shirt bearing a rainbow with a slash through it on April 20, which had been designated by the school as a day of awareness of harassment toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. The other side showed two stick figures - a male and a female - holding hands above the message “Excessive Speech Day,” according to the ACLU of Connecticut.

The group said the student told them he removed the shirt under protest on school officials’ orders.

In a letter to principal Joseph Monroe, the ACLU said the school violated the student’s First Amendment rights. It asked for assurances from school officials that students will be allowed to wear clothing with similar messages.

Mr. Monroe’s office said Tuesday that he had no comment.

Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut, said the student should be allowed to express his dislike of gay marriage.

“The ACLU has fought hard for same-sex marriage, and we couldn’t agree with Seth less on that issue, but he is absolutely correct about his right to express his opinion,” Ms. Staub said.

NEW YORK

Labor woes at Belmont as Triple Crown bid nears

NEW YORK | New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging both sides to resolve a labor dispute that’s threatening to scratch I’ll Have Another’s chance of winning thoroughbred racing’s first Triple Crown in more than 30 years.

His intervention comes as a mediator meets Tuesday with the New York Racing Association and union leaders. Some track workers have gone two years without a new contract.

Mr. Cuomo said it’s unacceptable that the dispute could get in the way of Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

An official with the union representing maintenance and starting-gate workers at the racetrack said he hadn’t heard of any progress in the talks as of Tuesday afternoon.

About 150 union members at NYRA’s Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks have authorized a strike over overtime and scheduling.

IDAHO

Federal judge rejects groups’ execution case

BOISE | A federal judge has denied a petition from news organizations that want to strike down Idaho’s policy of restricting full access to executions.

The Associated Press and 16 other news organizations filed a federal lawsuit last month targeting the portion of Idaho’s policy that prevents witnesses from viewing lethal injections from start to finish.

In a ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge took issue with the timing of the claim, saying the lawsuit had been filed too close to the scheduled June 12 execution of Richard Leavitt and could cause a delay.

Judge Lodge said the public has an interest in viewing the entire execution, but it also has an interest in seeing the judgment against Mr. Leavitt enforced without disruption.

The news organizations are considering appealing.

MISSOURI

3 dead after strong storm hits Midwest

ST. LOUIS | A sudden, violent storm in southeastern Missouri has left a man and his two adult sons dead.

Authorities are assessing the damage after high winds, heavy rain and hail ripped through parts of Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky late Monday. The worst hit is Diehlstadt, Mo., where winds blew over a mobile home, killing the three men. Their names have not been released.

There were several reports of damage to homes in and around Diehlstadt, a town of 163 residents in Scott County about 100 miles south of St. Louis. The National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., reported large hail, heavy rain and wind gusts of more than 50 mph in southern Illinois and Kentucky. No other injuries were reported immediately.

CALIFORNIA

Bike gunman shoots father, toddler in L.A.

LOS ANGELES | A gunman on a bicycle shot a father as he cradled his 1-year-old boy in his arms on a South Los Angeles street, killing the infant, police said Tuesday.

The 24-year-old father was attacked Monday evening on a sidewalk in an area that has been plagued by gang violence, police said. The gunman appeared to be a 15- to 17-year-old boy in a hoodie sweatshirt, police said.

He rode past the father and fired several shots, police Capt. Phillip Tingirides told KCAL-TV.

The infant was shot in the stomach and died at a hospital following surgery. The father was struck in the shoulder and remained hospitalized in stable condition, police said.

Their names were not released.

Police have not released a motive, though Capt. Tingirides said investigators were leaning heavily toward gang rivalry. The attacker was black, and the father is Latino, authorities said.

A conflict between black and Latino gangs has led to more than a half-dozen killings in the area in the past year, police said.

WASHINGTON

Seattle terror suspect wants evidence tossed

SEATTLE | Lawyers for a man accused of plotting to attack a military office in Seattle last year want some of the evidence against him thrown out. They say the government should not have been able to obtain a secret warrant because there was no indication the man was involved in international terrorism.

Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif was arrested last June, along with an acquaintance from Los Angeles, when authorities said they arrived at a Seattle warehouse garage to pick up machine guns and grenades to use in the attack.

Defense lawyers said that weeks before the arrest, investigators used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to intercept Mr. Abdul-Latif’s phone calls and four years of his emails.

OKLAHOMA

Arraignment set for man charged in 3 deaths

OKEMAH | An Oklahoma man accused in the killing of two girls in 2008 is scheduled to be arraigned formally on a first-degree murder count stemming from the July death of his girlfriend.

The proceeding for Kevin Sweat is set for Tuesday afternoon in Okfuskee County District Court in Okemah.

A judge last month determined there is enough evidence for Mr. Sweat to stand trial in connection with the slaying of 23-year-old Ashley Taylor. Investigators said fragmented human bones found smoldering on the property of Mr. Sweat’s father are consistent with Ms. Taylor but are not an exact match.

Mr. Sweat also is accused in the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Taylor Placker and 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker near Weleetka.

Mr. Sweat has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

From wire dispatches and staff reports