Fall showdown likely over Patriot Act
The Senate’s passage of its version of a renewal of the Patriot Act sets up a fall confrontation with the House, which passed its version July 21.
The Senate, which approved the legislation by voice vote Friday, minutes before the chamber left for a monthlong summer break, made permanent most of the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.
However, senators set new four-year expiration dates on the most contentious provisions of the law, those allowing federal agents to use roving wiretaps and to search library and medical records. The House wants to extend those two provisions for 10 years.
The House and the Senate will try to negotiate a compromise bill to send to President Bush before December, when 16 provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire.
BTK to represent self in lawsuits
WICHITA, Kan. — BTK serial killer Dennis Rader plans to act as his own lawyer in wrongful-death lawsuits filed by the families of his 10 victims.
Rader filed a notice of his intention Thursday to represent himself “pro se,” a legal term that means he plans to go to court without a lawyer.
In a courtroom confession last month, Rader, 60, said sexual fantasies drove him to kill 10 persons in the Wichita area between 1974 and 1991. As BTK, which stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill,” he taunted the press and police in communications that eventually led to his arrest. His sentencing is set for Aug. 17.
Astronomers claim discovery of planet
LOS ANGELES — It’s icy, rocky and bigger than Pluto. And according to scientists who found it orbiting the sun, it’s the newest planet on our solar system’s block.
The planet — the farthest-known object in the solar system — is currently 9 billion miles away from the sun, or about three times Pluto’s current distance from the sun.
“This is the first object to be confirmed to be larger than Pluto in the outer solar system,” Michael Brown, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology, said Friday in a telephone briefing announcing the discovery.
Astronomers do not know the new planet’s exact size, but its brightness shows that it is at least as large as Pluto and could be up to 1 times bigger.
Court rules against beachfront residents
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — People can stroll along Michigan’s 3,200 miles of Great Lakes beaches whether lakefront property owners like it or not, the state Supreme Court ruled.
The court on Friday unanimously sided with Joan M. Glass, who sued her neighbors over access to the Lake Huron waterfront. The neighbors said she was trespassing.
The justices disagreed over the appropriate boundary of the public area, but a five-member majority held that the public can wander anywhere between the water’s edge and the ordinary high water mark.
The decision overturned an appeals court ruling that the state owns that land — but that owners of adjacent property have exclusive use of it and can kick others out.
Teen disappears during Yankees game
NEW YORK — A 13-year-old boy went to a restroom during a Yankees game and never returned, and searches of the stadium, nearby fast-food restaurants and train stations by hundreds of police and security guards were fruitless.
Majelique Lewis, of Stamford, Conn., disappeared Friday night during the seventh-inning stretch of a Yankees-Angels game, police said.
His mother immediately reported him missing to security, who notified police about an hour later.
Every stadium exit is monitored by security cameras and Majelique’s mother did not spot him on hours of recorded images, police said.
At least 4 dead in 20-vehicle wreck
ELKO, Nev. — More than 20 vehicles collided Friday on an interstate in northeastern Nevada after drivers were blinded by swirling dust and ash, killing at least four persons and injuring a dozen others.
Poor visibility was caused by high winds that picked up dust and ash from land near the freeway that was burned by wildfires about three weeks ago, said Sgt. Bob Sneed of the Nevada Highway Patrol.
“Someone probably stopped because of the heavy dust that blew through,” he said. “It just became a chain reaction.”
The vehicles that rear-ended one another on Interstate 80 included four or five big trucking rigs, as well as passenger vehicles and pickups, authorities said.
From staff reports and wire dispatches