Saturday, July 14, 2007

Recovering senator raises $1.3 million

Ailing Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota has raised more this year than he did during the same period six years ago, even though he hasn’t set foot in the Senate since suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage in December.

Mr. Johnson, a Democrat who is up for re-election next year, has been recovering in the hospital and at home since Dec. 13. It is not clear when he will return to the Senate and whether he will run for re-election.

But his Senate colleagues have cleared his way by holding multiple fundraisers, ultimately raising $1.3 million for him this year. That’s about $300,000 more than he raised in the first six months of 2001, the year before his last election.

Though Republicans have remained mostly quiet about the race as Mr. Johnson recovers, two persons have stepped forward to run. Republican state Rep. Joel Dykstra said earlier this month he would seek his party’s nomination. In May, Sam Kephart, a self-employed Republican businessman from Spearfish, said he would run.

High school attack foiled by police

YAPHANK, N.Y. — Two teenagers were charged with conspiring to attack a Long Island high school after a chilling journal and videotape surfaced in which one teen identifies several potential victims by name, authorities said yesterday.

“I will start a chain of terrorism in the world,” a 15-year-old suspected of planning the assault purportedly wrote in the journal, which led to his arrest. “This will go down in history. Take out everyone there. Perfecto.”

Both teens were charged with misdemeanor conspiracy, punishable by up to a year in jail. The 15-year-old was scheduled to appear in juvenile court yesterday; the second suspect, 17-year-old Michael McDonough, pleaded not guilty.

Man sentenced in Civil War theft

PHILADELPHIA — A financially strapped book dealer who stole scores of Civil War documents from U.S. archives and sold them on EBay was sentenced Thursday to 15 months in prison.

Denning McTague, 40, worked as an unpaid intern last summer at the National Archives and Records Administration branch in Philadelphia to complete a master’s degree program.

Assigned to organize Civil War papers, he began stuffing them into his yellow legal pads and walking out with them.

The 146 stolen documents included the War Department’s announcement to the troops of President Lincoln’s death, an 1860 letter from famed Confederate cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart and an 1864 appeal for better pay from a group of Philadelphia women pressed into wartime jobs.

Abu Ghraib figure gets new job

KEYSER, W.Va. — Lynndie England, one of the most recognizable figures of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, has a new role as a volunteer member of this Eastern Panhandle city’s recreation board.

Miss England, 24, contributed her knowledge of computers, electronics and graphics for Keyser’s Strawberry Festival, which helped her land the unpaid position, said Roy Hardy, the England family’s attorney.

Miss England, who now works in Mr. Hardy’s law firm as a legal assistant, was released in March from a military prison in San Diego after serving half her 36-month sentence. She was convicted of six counts involving prisoner mistreatment. Eleven U.S. soldiers have been convicted of crimes at the prison near Baghdad.

Senate confirms Army secretary

The Senate confirmed Pete Geren yesterday to be secretary of the Army, four months after his predecessor resigned amid outrage over conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Mr. Geren, who served as an assistant to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, has been serving as acting Army secretary since March, when former Secretary Francis J. Harvey resigned after reports surfaced about troops facing poor living conditions at Walter Reed and bureaucratic problems getting proper care and disability payments.

Mr. Geren served as a Democratic congressman from Fort Worth, Texas, from 1989 to 1997 and was acting secretary of the Air Force.

Lawmaker accidentally kills granddaughter

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A state senator accidentally drove over his young granddaughter yesterday, killing her, the senator said in a statement.

Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen said he was leaving to attend a meeting when his granddaughter ran out of the house and got behind his car. Mr. Hansen said neither he nor his wife knew the girl had run outside.

The girl, Elliana Zaidel, was to have turned 2 on Wednesday.

Green Bay police Lt. Mike Graham issued a statement calling the girl’s death a “tragic, unfortunate accident. There are no pending criminal charges.”

Sheriff probes Hilton jail time

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has opened an investigation into whether Paris Hilton received special treatment during her 23 days in jail last month, a spokesman for the department said yesterday.

The internal investigation is looking into whether the 26-year-old hotel heiress had access to a cell phone while other inmates had to wait in line to use pay phones.

The probe also will determine whether Miss Hilton was given a new jail uniform, instead of a recycled one like most other inmates, and finally, whether she had her mail delivered by a captain. Most mail is delivered by inmate trusties.

The accusations of special treatment were brought by deputies that approached their department’s union, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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