Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Minnesota legislators keep feuding, irk Ventura

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Lawmakers are heading into overtime after adjourning their five-month session without a budget — the result of weeks of feuding between legislators and Gov. Jesse Ventura over the best way to use the state´s $2.4 billion surplus.

Only one of nine major spending bills — the smallest of the bunch — won approval by a Monday midnight adjournment deadline. It will take a special session, which Mr. Ventura had been reluctant to call, to finish work on a two-year, $27 billion budget.

Hanging in the balance is funding for courts, schools, colleges, nursing homes, prisons, roads and other programs that need new money to operate after July 1. Also unresolved is Mr. Ventura´s tax proposal, in which the state would assume all basic school costs and reduce schools´ dependence on the property tax.

Mr. Ventura accused lawmakers of wasting time and trying to cram big decisions into the final days. Lawmakers said Mr. Ventura dumped his low-growth budget and complicated tax plan in their laps and then disappeared.

Lawyers challenge sex offender ruling

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Defense lawyers are challenging a judge´s order that forced more than a dozen registered sex offenders to put signs in their yards and on their cars to warn the public of their presence.

Local lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union and legal observers have questioned the legality of Judge J. Manuel Banales´ order. They say it may be cruel and unusual punishment and violate privacy rights.

Judge Banales said he made the order after meeting with probation officials as a way to protect the community and rehabilitate the sex offenders. The importance of the signs to the community, he has said, overrides the sign´s effect on offenders´ family members.

Judge gives approval to Fonda-Turner divorce

ATLANTA A judge granted Jane Fonda a divorce from CNN founder Ted Turner yesterday, ending without fanfare nearly a decade of marriage.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan granted Miss Fonda´s divorce petition, which she filed last month, said her attorney, John C. Mayoue.

“I feel sadness,” the 63-year-old actress and former fitness guru said in a statement that Mr. Mayoue issued. “We shared 10 years together, and I will always care for him.”

Mr. Turner´s spokesman, Phillip Evans, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Environmental group suspected of setting fire

CLATSKANIE, Ore. — The FBI is investigating whether the Earth Liberation Front, a shadowy, radical environmentalist organization, was responsible for a fire ignited by explosives that destroyed two buildings and several vehicles at a tree nursery.

The FBI is also looking into whether arson was to blame for a fire that gutted laboratories and offices at the University of Washington´s Center for Urban Horticulture, about 150 miles to the north. Both fires were reported at about 3:20 a.m. Monday. No one was injured.

In the Oregon fire, about a half-dozen pickups, all-terrain vehicles and a semitrailer at Jefferson Poplar Farms were destroyed along with an equipment storage building and a maintenance building, the Oregon State Police said. Jefferson grows hybrid trees for paper production.

Committee OKs display of vilified Virgin portrait

SANTA FE, N.M. — A collage of the Virgin of Guadalupe clad in a flowery two-piece swimsuit will remain on display at a state-run museum despite protests from some Roman Catholics.

A museum committee yesterday recommended that “Our Lady,” by Los Angeles artist Alma Lopez, continue on display at the Museum of International Folk Art. However, the entire exhibit of which it is a part will close earlier than previously scheduled.

Many Catholics had condemned the image as sacrilegious and demanded its removal. Others among about 600 people who spoke at a forum in April said removing it would be censorship.

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