- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2009


Johnston’s mom guilty in drug case

PALMER | The mother of Levi Johnston, the ex-fiance of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol, has reached a plea deal in her drug case.

Sherry Johnston pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of possession with intent to deliver the painkiller OxyContin. Five other felony counts were dropped.

Johnston was placed in pink handcuffs and taken to a correctional facility, where she’ll be held until her Nov. 20 sentencing.

Her attorney and prosecutors have agreed to a five-year sentence, with two years suspended. The judge has the sentencing recommendation under review.

Mr. Johnston, 19, was engaged to 18-year-old Bristol Palin. The couple called off the wedding after their son, Tripp, was born in December.


Trial date set for Prop 8 case

SAN FRANCISCO | A judge has set a Jan. 11 trial for a federal lawsuit challenging California’s gay marriage ban.

At a status hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker also barred advocacy groups from joining the lawsuit, filed on behalf of two gay couples seeking to marry in California.

Three gay rights groups petitioned to join on the plaintiffs’ side, and an anti-gay marriage group had asked to intervene on the side of Proposition 8 supporters. Judge Walker denied their petitions.

Judge Walker did allow the city of San Francisco to join the case, but only to assess Proposition 8’s impact on local government.

Plaintiff attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson had requested that all those parties be excluded, saying it would needlessly delay the case’s resolution.


Military helicopter crashes, kills 2

The Black Hawk helicopter from Kentucky’s Fort Campbell was carrying out training exercises when it struck near the top of 14,200-feet tall Mount Massive near Leadville, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s office and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The injured person was flown to a Denver hospital, while rescue teams searched for the only other person aboard, said Sheriff spokesman Max Duarte. The condition of the injured person was not immediately known.


Hurricane Bill looms as Category 4 storm

MIAMI | Hurricane Bill became a dangerous Category 4 storm Wednesday as it howled through the open Atlantic’s energizing waters, which could further boost the storm’s power as it moves north.

Forecasters said Bill should begin pushing large swells toward Bermuda and parts of the southeastern U.S. coast by the weekend, but it wasn’t yet clear how close the storm would come to land.

The National Hurricane Center also said people in the Leeward Islands should keep an eye on the storm, though its core was expected to pass well to the northeast of the chain in the next 24 hours.


Diver finds cannons ID’d by Kennedy

PROVINCETOWN | A treasure hunter on Cape Cod has brought ashore more booty from a sunken pirate ship, including two 300-year-old cannons first identified by John F. Kennedy Jr.

Barry Clifford recently recovered new artifacts from the Whydah. Mr. Kennedy helped Mr. Clifford explore the wreck after it was located off Wellfleet in 1984.

Mr. Clifford said Mr. Kennedy used to draw pictures of the cannons. Mr. Kennedy dove off and on near the shipwreck until his death in a plane crash in 1999.

Mr. Clifford said divers also discovered a plastic compass with the initials “J.F.K.” near the cannons in 2007. He said the compass must have ripped off Mr. Kennedy’s diving suit more than 20 years ago.

Historians said the Whydah sank in a fierce storm in 1717.


Ex-ACORN director to testify against group

LAS VEGAS | A former Las Vegas director for a political advocacy group accused of illegally paying canvassers to register voters during last year’s presidential campaign has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and agreed to testify against the group and another employee.

Chief Deputy Nevada Attorney General Conrad Hafen said Wednesday that Christopher Edwards’ plea deal strengthens a felony case against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and Amy Busefink, a former regional voter registration director for ACORN.

Edwards pleaded guilty this week to two counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of compensation for registration of voters.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 17.


Merck wins battle on allergy drug’s patent

TRENTON | The patent for Merck & Co.’s blockbuster allergy and asthma drug is valid, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, handing the drugmaker a crucial victory in its 2 1/2-year legal battle to block a rival from selling a cheaper generic version.

U.S. District Judge Garrett E. Brown Jr. upheld the patent for Singulair, which as Merck’s top-selling drug provides about one-sixth of its annual revenue. Judge Brown also issued an injunction that prevents Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals from selling generic Singulair, a long-term drug to prevent asthma and allergy flare-ups, in the United States until the patent expires in August 2012.


Judge: U.S. wrong to freeze charity’s assets

TOLEDO | A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government was wrong to freeze the assets of an Ohio-based charity accused of having ties to a militant Islamic group.

U.S. District Judge James Carr said Tuesday that the government shouldn’t be allowed to close down an organization and freeze its assets without first getting a warrant.

Attorneys for Kindhearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development said the government refused to say why the charity was essentially shut down three years ago.

The Treasury Department in 2006 ordered U.S. banks to freeze the Toledo charity’s assets, saying it was funneling money to organizations affiliated with Hamas.

KindHearts officials have denied being connected to any terrorist group.


Mother: Daughter was bullied into anorexia

PITTSBURGH | A woman has filed what experts think is a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the Pittsburgh Public Schools, claiming her daughter developed anorexia because male students bullied the girl about her weight, forcing her to leave the district.

But those experts, including the head of the National Eating Disorders Association, said linking bullying to anorexia is oversimplification, at best.

“With eating disorders, we say you’re born with a gun and life pulls the trigger,” said Lynn Grefe, chief executive officer of Seattle-based NEDA, who has never heard of a school being sued over such a scenario.

Generally, people who develop anorexia already have issues with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive or perfectionist behavior. Bullying could trigger anorexia in those people but not others who are taunted about their weight, Miss Grefe said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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