- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Pope is awarded congressional medal

VATICAN CITY Pope John Paul II was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal yesterday, joining a select list that includes George Washington and Mother Teresa.

U.S. House and Senate leaders presented the medal to the pontiff during a ceremony in the Apostolic Palace's fresco-covered 17th-century Clementine Room.

The legislation to award John Paul the medal hails the 80-year-old Polish pope for using "his moral authority to hasten the fall of godless totalitarian regimes."

"May your influence be as strong in the 21st century as it was in the 20th century," said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.

John Paul told the politicians he was "honored by the gracious gesture which brought you here."

Anti-cop lawmaker offers resignation

CONCORD, N.H. A freshman state lawmaker who stunned his constituents by revealing his support for killing police officers said yesterday that he would resign under certain conditions.

Republican Rep. Tom Alciere, 41, said he would step down if 10 lawmakers will shepherd his bills to a floor vote.

However, he reserved the right to run in the special election that would be needed to fill his Nashua seat. He gave no reason for his change of heart.

Mr. Alciere's bills propose drug legalization, barring involuntary commitments to mental institutions and the replacement of public schools with on-line learning.

Homosexuals challenge Louisiana sodomy law

NEW ORLEANS Homosexual activists are seeking to overturn Louisiana's 196-year-old law barring sodomy on the grounds it unfairly targets them.

In 1999, Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson upheld the law, ruling that it violates Louisiana's right to privacy but does not violate other rights protected by the state Constitution.

An appeal was filed by the Louisiana Electorate of Gays and Lesbians and by nine homosexuals on equal-protection grounds, since the law "denies us the right to have sex under any circumstances," said John D. Rawls, LEGAL's attorney.

State attorneys, however, contend the law is needed to promote marriage and encourage procreation. Arguments are scheduled this week before the state's 4th Circuit Court of Appeal.

If LEGAL loses, the case cannot be appealed to federal court, Mr. Rawls said. "We have not raised any federal issues in this case."

Propane tank blast destroys mobile homes

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. The blackened wreckage of several campers and mobile homes littered a three-block area yesterday after an unoccupied pickup truck rolled across a street and hit a propane tank, touching off a pair of fiery explosions that turned night into day.

Seventeen persons were treated for minor burns or smoke inhalation.

Authorities said 13 structures mobile homes, recreation vehicles, an empty building and the gas company's office were burned, along with 10 trucks and cars, a horse trailer and a boat.

Investigators were trying to determine how the pickup moved on its own. Police Chief David Bryant said the driver was Tammy Selman, who was apparently delivering a pizza at the time.

City renames street for Elvis Presley

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Shreveport, La., home of the Louisiana Hayride, is joining Memphis with a street renamed in honor of favorite son Elvis Presley.

Memphis has long held the distinction as one of few cities in the country with a real street, Elvis Presley Boulevard, named for the king of rock 'n' roll. Tupelo, Miss., where he was born, has Elvis Presley Drive.

In the early 1950s, the singer was rejected by Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, which told him to "go back to driving a truck."

The rock-'n'-roller then turned to the Opry's biggest competitor, the Louisiana Hayride, which helped jump-start his career.

Proud of its role, Shreveport is renaming the former Grand Avenue, which runs past downtown's municipal auditorium, to Elvis Presley Avenue.

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