County OKs drilling near nuke site
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The Garfield County commissioners endorsed a request by an energy company to drill near the site of a 1969 underground nuclear explosion.
Presco Inc. wants to drill for natural gas within a half-mile buffer zone established around the Project Rulison site. It said the well bottom would be outside the zone. Project Rulison was designed to free natural gas from oil shale, but it was too radioactive to be sold commercially.
Ave Maria University graduates first class
NAPLES — Ave Maria University, the first Roman Catholic university to open in the United States in four decades, has graduated its first class.
Twenty-three students received bachelor’s degrees from the school, founded by Domino’s Pizza magnate Thomas S. Monaghan, a supporter of Catholic causes who hopes the school one day will rival the University of Notre Dame.
Honorary degrees were given to L. Paul Bremer, a Catholic layman and former head of the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq, and St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke. Mr. Bremer told graduates their generation will fight Islamic extremism the way their fathers fought communism and their grandfathers fought fascism.
Habitat sues founder over name use
ALBANY — Habitat for Humanity International has sued the group’s founder, Millard Fuller, and his new charity in federal court to block his use of the Habitat name.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Albany, asks the judge to order Mr. Fuller to pay unspecified damages and stop using the Habitat name through the group he started last month called Building Habitat Inc., which aims to raise money for the Habitat for Humanity International.
“This is a business issue,” said Chris Clarke, Habitat for Humanity’s senior vice president for communications. “It’s not about personalities. It’s about protecting a brand.”
Mr. Fuller, who founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976, was fired Jan. 31 after more than a year of tension sparked by charges that he sexually harassed a female colleague.
Chicago bans cell-phone driving
CHICAGO — Chicago officials voted yesterday to ban drivers from using hand-held cellular phones starting this summer and set fines of $50 or more for violators.
The City Council approved the ordinance without debating it, angering some aldermen who worried about suburban residents and visitors being targeted as they cross the city line.
But Mayor Richard M. Daley called the ordinance “good common sense.” The move follows similar bans enacted by several cities and states across the country, including New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
The Chicago measure requires drivers to use hands-free devices unless they are making 911 emergency calls or are talking while the vehicle is parked. The penalties would be $50, or $200 if the driver was involved in an accident.
State makes Moxie its official soft drink
AUGUSTA — The Legislature gave final approval to legislation making Moxie, a distinctively flavored soda that dates to patent medicine days, the state’s official soft drink.
Moxie is closely identified with Maine, where an annual festival and parade are held in its honor.
Six injured as planes collide on ground
MINNEAPOLIS — A Northwest Airlines DC-9 that had reported hydraulic problems collided with a Northwest Airbus on the ground Tuesday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, injuring six persons.
The accident happened shortly after 7:30 p.m. when the DC-9 landing from Columbus, Ohio, lost control of steering as it was taxiing to its gate and the Airbus was backing away from its gate for takeoff to San Antonio.
The injured included four crew members from the DC-9 and two ground employees. No passengers were hurt during the incident, but afterward one passenger complained of shortness of breath and was treated as a precaution.
None of the injuries appeared life-threatening, said Northwest spokesman Thomas Becher.
Road rage attack kills 2 on motorcycle
HIBBS — A man angry about an argument chased down a motorcycle and rammed it with his pickup truck, killing the bike’s two riders, state police said.
Edward A. Belch, 44, of McClellandtown, apparently got into an argument with the motorcycle’s passengers Tuesday evening, authorities said. The two persons then got on the motorcycle and left, and Mr. Belch followed them on state Route 21, passing other vehicles, until he hit the motorcycle, police said.
Terri Lynn Gresko, 44, and a 54-year-old man whom police didn’t immediately identify died at the scene.
Mr. Belch was being held in the Fayette County Jail yesterday after being arraigned on two counts of criminal homicide. It was not clear what the argument was or how Mr. Belch knew the other two persons, state police said.
County approves butcher for Muslims
SMITHFIELD — Johnston County commissioners approved a rezoning request from hog farmer Kenneth Rowe to build a slaughterhouse to kill animals according to guidelines known to Muslims as halal.
Mr. Rowe and his son will use the slaughterhouse to butcher meat according to halal standards, including hiring a Muslim to say a prayer for the animals.
Preschool lottery passes panel
NASHVILLE — Gov. Phil Bredesen’s $25 million preschool plan sailed through a key legislative committee. The move clears the way for one of the Democratic administration’s most important initiatives.
The plan would be voluntary and funded by the sale of state lottery tickets. It has cleared the House and now goes to the full Senate.
Abu Ghraib trial jury to see photos
FORT HOOD — A military judge yesterday rejected defense attempts to keep some of the notorious Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse photos from a jury in the scandal’s second trial.
Col. James Pohl, in a pretrial hearing for Spc. Sabrina Harman, gave prosecutors the go-ahead to show jurors 29 of the photos that prompted condemnation around the globe of U.S. military treatment of detainees at the prison in Iraq.
He also denied a defense request that the prosecution not refer to detainees as “victims” because it might prejudice the jury against Spc. Harman, and denied a defense request to present a statement purportedly made by an Iraqi detainee pictured in one of the photos because he could not be located and cross-examined about it.
Spc. Harman, a one-time pizza shop manager from Lorton, Va., is the second service member to go on trial on charges that she took part in mistreating detainees.
The trial was scheduled to begin today with jury selection and opening statements. Charles Graner Jr., the purported ringleader in the scandal and the only service member to be convicted at trial, was expected to be a witness.