American Scene: Home explosion turns 
into homicide investigation

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INDIANAPOLIS — Authorities launched a homicide investigation Monday into the house explosion that killed a young couple and left numerous homes uninhabitable in an Indianapolis neighborhood.

Indianapolis Homeland Security Director Gary Coons made the announcement after meeting with residents of the subdivision where the Nov. 10 blast occurred and shortly after funerals were held for the two victims, who lived next door to the house where investigators believe the explosion originated.

Search warrants have been executed and official are looking for a white van that was seen in the subdivision the day of the blast, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said. Authorities are offering at least a $10,000 reward.

OKLAHOMA

Judge: Hobby Lobby must 
offer morning-after pill

OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge Monday rejected Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.’s request to block part of the federal health care overhaul that requires the arts and craft supply company to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after and week-after birth control pills.

In a 28-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton denied a request by Hobby Lobby to prevent the government from enforcing portions of the health care law mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives the company’s Christian owners consider objectionable.

The Oklahoma City-based company and a sister company, Mardel Inc., sued the government in September, claiming the mandate violates the owners’ religious beliefs. The owners contend the morning-after and week-after birth control pills are tantamount to abortion because they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s womb. They also object to providing coverage for certain kinds of intrauterine devices.

CALIFORNIA

State’s first pollution 
permits sold out

SAN FRANCISCO — California sold out of the first pollution permits, issued last week as part of a landmark offensive against greenhouse gases. Regulators said Monday that the inaugural auction went smoothly.

The effort to curtail carbon emissions involved the sale of 23.1 million permits — each allowing for the release of 1 ton of carbon — for $10.09 apiece, the California Air Resources Board said.

The permit sales opened the largest carbon marketplace in the nation and the second-biggest in the world after the European Union. The California air board will hold four such auctions a year.

“By putting a price on carbon, we know we are beginning the process of breaking our dependence on fossil fuels,” said board Chairman Mary Nichols during a conference call with reporters.

The board would not divulge specific figures on how many permits were bought by individual polluters covered under newly instituted caps on carbon emissions. To protect each polluter’s strategy regarding use of the carbon market, the board does not comment on bidding activity, Ms. Nichols said.

LOUISIANA

2 workers shoulder blame 
for 2010 BP oil disaster

NEW ORLEANS — Federal authorities have blamed two rig supervisors for the deaths of 11 workers killed when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and spawned BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, even though a string of investigations spread fault among a host of people and companies.

A federal indictment last week charged Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine with manslaughter, accusing them of botching a crucial safety test. But a defense attorney claims the two BP well-site leaders are scapegoats, as other government probes have concluded the disaster resulted from a complex web of mistakes and a corporate culture that placed profits ahead of safety.

One specialist speculated that the Justice Department probably took aim at targets higher up BP’s corporate ladder before charging Mr. Kaluza and Mr. Vidrine.

DELAWARE

$123M settlement OK’d
in child abuse case

DOVER — A judge has approved a $123 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of young children who were sexually abused by former Delaware pediatrician Earl Bradley.

New Castle County Superior Court Judge Joseph Slights III issued his ruling Monday after holding a hearing last week.

The settlement resolves claims against a southern Delaware hospital where Bradley had physician privileges, the Medical Society of Delaware, and five physicians accused by the plaintiffs of not reporting suspicions about Bradley to authorities.

Bradley, 59, is serving 14 life sentences for child rape. He was convicted last year by a judge who viewed more than 13 hours of homemade videos showing sex crimes against more than 80 victims.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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