- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 19, 2005

Atheist sues to bar ‘In God We Trust’

SAN FRANCISCO — A Californian atheist who has fought a series of legal battles seeking to bar religious references from American public life yesterday sued to remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from U.S. money and coins.

Michael Newdow, the plaintiff in the case, said he finds it “deeply offensive to have his government and its agents advocating for a religious view he specifically decries.”

The 162-page lawsuit filed in federal court in Sacramento named the United States of America, the Congress and several U.S. officials as defendants. Mr. Newdow is in an ongoing fight to remove the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance recited in public schools.

“This lawsuit is another attempt to use the legal system to remove a legitimate reference to the religious heritage of America,” said Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which will represent members of Congress in the suit.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to reconsider a lower court ruling that the words “In God We Trust” on the front of a North Carolina government building do not violate church-state separation.

Teen discussed armed raid on tape

LITITZ, Pa. — An 18-year-old man accused of kidnapping his girlfriend and killing her parents was videotaped discussing plans to conduct an armed raid on another family’s home and kill people inside, according to court documents released yesterday.

David Ludwig and another teenager are shown in the 18-minute video taking guns from Mr. Ludwig’s house to another home and discussing using them to “shoot and kill family members inside of the residence,” the court papers said.

It is not known whose house was targeted, but it was not the home of Michael and Cathryn Borden, who were gunned down Sunday, investigators said.

Police said they found the movie on a laptop computer at Mr. Ludwig’s home in Lititz.

Wildfire creeps toward homes

VENTURA, Calif. — Pushed by fierce Santa Ana winds, a 2,000-acre wildfire crept toward about 200 large, ridgetop homes yesterday, prompting a voluntary evacuation.

At midmorning, a wall of flames as high as 30 feet snaked along hillsides and by early afternoon a huge plume of brown smoke carried ash to the nearby Pacific Ocean.

The late-season blaze was first reported around 3:30 a.m. in School Canyon — a hilly, rocky area between Ventura and Ojai, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Wind gusts of more than 50 mph helped the fire triple in size in just a few hours.

Turkeys trot from truck

NEWARK, N.J. — Maybe they knew what was coming.

Two dozen live turkeys bound for Thanksgiving tables fell off a truck yesterday on the New Jersey Turnpike, briefly snarling traffic near Newark Liberty International Airport.

“I think we should be investigating this as an escape attempt,” joked Joseph Orlando, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

The birds, which survived the fall, presumably will be returned to the truck — if the driver notices they are missing and returns.

Taxi driver returns pouch of diamonds

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles taxi driver distinguished himself by his honesty after finding a pouch filled with diamonds worth $350,000 in the back of his cab, police said yesterday.

At first, Afghan immigrant Haider Sediqi, 40, paid little attention when he found the small brown pouch in the back of his car after dropping off a fare at the Los Angeles airport on Wednesday.

But later in the day, Mr. Sediqi opened the pouch to discover a series of clear plastic boxes filled with a fortune in cut diamonds.

The haul was returned to its relieved and grateful owner, New York jewelry trader Eric Austein, airport police said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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