- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Ashcroft to visit British officials
Attorney General John Ashcroft will visit today with law-enforcement officials in Great Britain, who have assisted over the past three months in tracking down suspected accomplices in the September 11 attacks on America.
Mr. Ashcroft, accompanied by Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Asa Hutchinson and FBI acting Assistant Director Tim Caruso, will visit with British Home Secretary David Blunkett before meeting with U.S. law-enforcement officials in that country.
He also will visit later in the week with law-enforcement officials in Spain, Germany and Italy.

Justice sues rights commission
The Justice Department has filed suit against the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights after the chairman of the panel, Mary Frances Berry, refused last week to seat a Bush appointee.
The action asks that Commissioner Victoria Wilson, a Clinton appointee, be replaced by Peter Kirsanow, who was sworn in at the White House on Thursday.
Miss Wilson appointed in 2000 to fill out the remainder of a term that expired Nov. 29 argues that her term is still valid until Jan. 13, 2006. The Justice Department and the White House contend that her appointment was only temporary.
The suit asks U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler to expedite the case. It seeks a declaratory judgment on the matter.

Senate backs new dairy farm money
The Senate narrowly agreed yesterday to give dairy farmers $2 billion in new subsidies as Democrats struggled to push through an overhaul of farm programs.
The Bush administration opposes the dairy subsidies, warning that they will stimulate excess production and drive down milk prices.
But the subsidies are viewed as critical to getting the support of Northeastern senators for the Democratic farm bill. The Senate rejected 51-47 a Republican move to kill the milk subsidies.
Several Democrats, including Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Jean Carnahan of Missouri and Maria Cantwell of Washington, initially voted against the subsidies, but then switched sides.

School-prayer law ruled unconstitutional
NEW ORLEANS A federal appeals court yesterday declared unconstitutional Louisiana's school prayer law, which evolved from allowing a moment of silent meditation in 1976 to permitting spoken prayer in public classrooms.
A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 3-0 to uphold a judge's 1999 ruling striking the law down. The state had asked the appeals court to reinstate the law.
The mother of a ninth-grader sued the Ouachita Parish School Board because students had made fun of her son and another boy who did not participate in prayer.
The appeals panel agreed with a federal judge's rejection of the state's claim that the law is "neutral" toward religion.

Tobacco lawyer dead at 58
NEW ORLEANS Wendell Gauthier, an attorney who won billions of dollars for victims in court battles over silicone breast implants and hotel fires before taking on the tobacco industry, died yesterday. He was 58.
The cause of death was liver cancer, said Julie Calzone, spokeswoman for Mr. Gauthier's law firm.
Mr. Gauthier had a striking record of legal victories. But it may be a lawsuit that he lost that made Mr. Gauthier's legal mark.
His suit targeted cigarette manufacturers for consumer fraud, claiming the tobacco industry had hidden its knowledge of the health hazards of smoking for years and had manipulated the nicotine level of cigarettes to keep smokers hooked.
Mr. Gauthier's suit was dismissed.
However, other suits based on the same legal claim were later filed in the name of all 50 states, leading cigarette makers in 1998 to a historic $246 billion settlement with the states.

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