- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Lawmakers take aim at Palin veto

ANCHORAGE | The Alaska Legislature opened a special session Monday with legislators expected to try to override Sarah Palin’s veto of roughly $28 million in federal stimulus funds intended for energy projects.

Also on the agenda for the one-day session is confirmation of Craig Campbell as lieutenant governor.

Before stepping down as governor, Mrs. Palin said she would not accept about one-third of the $930 million designated by President Obama for Alaska, citing “strings” that could bind the state to federal mandates and increase the size of government.

But lawmakers found few such strings, and accepted the federal money.

Mrs. Palin eventually signed off on all but $28.5 million in energy cost relief, insisting that accepting it would require a state energy code - she said communities should decide their own codes. Critics said she was grandstanding and trying to appeal to fiscally conservative national voters.


Jackson autopsy to remain sealed

LOS ANGELES | The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said it has finished its probe into what killed Michael Jackson but will not release the results for now.

The coroner’s office said Monday that police have asked for the cause and manner of Mr. Jackson’s death to remain sealed while detectives investigate the events leading up to his death.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter declined to comment on when the results may be released and said his office will not respond to queries on the completed investigation.

Mr. Jackson died June 25 at his rented home in Beverly Hills. Investigators have been trying to determine to what extent prescription drugs may have contributed to his death.


Felicia weakens to tropical storm

HONOLULU | Hawaii braced for Tropical Storm Felicia, taking no chances even though the storm weakened rapidly as it moved toward the islands.

Felicia was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph with higher gusts. It’s expected to weaken more before hitting Hawaii, probably before daybreak Tuesday morning as either a tropical storm or depression.

The storm was expected to bring high winds and heavy rain to the islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai Tuesday morning, with Felicia likely to wash ashore on the island of Oahu later Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service said.


Blogger denied bail in threat case

CHICAGO | A blogger accused of threatening the lives of three Chicago-based federal judges by saying they “deserve to be killed” has been ordered held without bond.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Ashman said Hal Turner of North Bergen, N.J., is too great a danger to the community to be released on bail.

Prosecutors did acknowledge that Mr. Turner has been an FBI informant, paid by the government to spy on radical right-wing organizations. They said he told federal marshals about a man’s threat to disrupt a Chicago rally after President Obama’s election.

Mr. Turner’s comments on his blog about the judges came over their ruling on a lawsuit challenging ordinances banning handguns. Mr. Turner’s attorneys said he merely gave his opinion, which was protected free speech.


Six hours on tarmac ‘unacceptable’

MINNEAPOLIS | Continental Airlines is apologizing to passengers who were stuck on the tarmac for six hours when a Houston-to-Minneapolis flight was diverted because of bad weather.

Continental said the incident was “completely unacceptable.” The airline also is offering refunds and vouchers.

Continental Express 2816 was operated by ExpressJet Airlines, which handles regional flights for Continental. It was diverted to Rochester, Minn., and landed about midnight.

Passengers weren’t allowed to leave the plane until 6 a.m. Saturday.

ExpressJet said passengers couldn’t get off because security screeners had gone off duty.


Mass layoffs now require notice

CONCORD | New Hampshire has become at least the 17th state to enact a law requiring large companies to inform workers and the state before mass layoffs or plant closings.

Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, signed the New Hampshire Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act into law Monday. The companies must give at least 60 days’ notice.

The law is designed to prevent large companies from closing abruptly, leaving workers without pay and benefits due to them. Workers struggled to get help under the federal law on plant closings.


County to market housing to nonwhites

WHITE PLAINS | The suburban county just north of New York City will build hundreds of affordable homes in white communities and market them to minorities.

Westchester County said the plans will be filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan. It settles a $180 million lawsuit brought by the Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York.

In February, a judge ruled that Westchester failed to analyze how race could affect access to fair housing when it sought federal housing and development funds.


Gym gunman questioned earlier

PITTSBURGH | The man who carried out a massacre in a women’s aerobics class had been questioned a week earlier by police because he matched the description of a man seen pulling what appeared to be a grenade from a computer bag, authorities said Monday.

George Sodini, 48, of Scott Township, ultimately was released by Port Authority of Allegheny County police because they couldn’t confirm he was the man on the bus July 28, authorities said.

Allegheny County Superintendent Charles Moffatt said Sodini wrote in one of his many diaries “don’t worry about it, it was a false grenade.”

“We’ve never found a grenade so nobody can tell you right now it was him on that bus. We believe it was him on the bus,” Mr. Moffatt said.

Sodini fatally shot himself after killing three women and wounding nine others attending an aerobics class at the L.A. Fitness club in Collier Township on Aug. 4.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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