- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Winter solstice display OK’d

LITTLE ROCK | A secular display celebrating the winter solstice and “freethinkers” such as Albert Einstein and Bill Gates can be placed at the state Capitol alongside a traditional Christian nativity scene, a federal judge said Monday.

The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers sued last week after Secretary of State Charlie Daniels rejected its proposal, saying it wasn’t consistent with the Capitol’s other decorations and displays. The group asked for a quick hearing before the winter solstice, which is Dec. 21.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright granted an injunction Monday allowing the display to go up.


‘Sully’ sells cap to help 3 schools

SAN RAMON | Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger has auctioned one of his pilot’s caps for $5,800 and will donate the proceeds to three San Francisco Bay-area public schools.

The signed hat, which was not worn the day the Mr. Sullenberger safely landed a disabled jet into the Hudson River, drew 68 bids on eBay.

The pilot is giving portions of the money to Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, where his two daughters attend, and two Oakland schools, Futures Elementary and Community United Elementary.

The winning bidder will also receive a thank-you note from Mr. Sullenberger, 58, and his wife, Lorrie.


Iranian sentenced in smuggling case

WILMINGTON | An Iranian man has been sentenced to five years in prison after secretly pleading guilty in a plot to ship sensitive U.S. military technology to Iran, a federal prosecutor said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Hall said Amir Hossein Ardebili was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Wilmington.

Mr. Hall said Ardebili was arrested in the Republic of Georgia in October 2007 and extradited in January 2008 on smuggling and arms-export violations.

Mr. Hall said that before Ardebili’s arrest the defendant acquired thousands of components for Iran, including military aircraft parts and night vision devices.


2nd man sentenced in video terror case

ATLANTA | A second Georgia man has been sentenced for conspiring to support terrorist groups by videotaping U.S. landmarks and sending the videos overseas.

Syed Haris Ahmed, 24, was sentenced to 13 years in prison Monday for sending the tapes of U.S. landmarks to terror suspects overseas. Ahmed faced up to 15 years in prison after his June conviction.

He also was sentenced to 30 years of supervised release.

Ahmed’s friend Ehsanul Islam Sadequee was sentenced to 17 years in prison earlier Monday on stiffer charges.


Early-release program suspended

SPRINGFIELD | Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn has suspended a prison program that allowed repeat drunken drivers, drug users and even people convicted of battery and weapons violations to serve less than three weeks’ total time behind bars.

Records obtained and analyzed by the Associated Press show that since September, more than 850 inmates were released weeks earlier than they ordinarily would be. The Corrections Department was saving money by abandoning a policy that requires inmates to serve at least 61 days and awarding them discretionary good-conduct credit immediately upon entering prison.

That means some prisoners have enough good-conduct days to qualify for release almost immediately, before they’ve had a chance to demonstrate any conduct at all.


Wild horse removal allowed

CARSON CITY | The Bureau of Land Management issued its final record of decision Monday, approving the removal of 2,500 wild horses from the range north of Reno as opposition grows to what would be one of the largest Nevada gathers in recent years.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., is to hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit filed to block the roundup planned for later this month.

The gather is part of the bureau’s overall strategy to remove thousands of mustangs from public lands around the West and ship them to greener pastures in the East. The bureau estimates that about half of the 36,600 wild mustangs live in Nevada. It wants to reduce the overall population to what it considers an “appropriate management level” of 26,600.


Police must show RNC surveillance

NEW YORK | A federal judge has ruled that the New York Police Department must release 2,000 pages of documents related to its surveillance of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Judge Richard Sullivan’s ruling was made public Monday. It supports conclusions reached two years ago by a federal magistrate judge, who ordered redactions to protect police sources and said only attorneys can view the documents.

The ruling stems from two lawsuits filed because of the four-day convention at Madison Square Garden, where President George W. Bush accepted his party’s nomination for a second term. The New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuits challenged the arrests of 1,800 protesters and the long waits they faced before seeing judges.

City lawyer Celeste Koeleveld said the city is disappointed by the ruling and is considering its legal options.


Rescuers race clock in search for hikers

GOVERNMENT CAMP | As a winter storm barreled toward Mount Hood, rescuers raced to find two experienced climbers missing for four days on Oregon’s highest peak.

A military Black Hawk helicopter spent Monday scanning the upper reaches of the mountain as ground teams fanned out below. But the desperate search ended for the day as darkness fell and the storm approached.

Bad weather has hampered the search for Anthony Vietti, 24, of Longview, Wash., and Katie Nolan, 29, of Portland, who have been missing since Friday.

Overnight temperatures dipped into the teens with moderate winds and intermittent snow.

A major storm was expected to hit by early Tuesday and bring from 10 to 12 inches of snow, forecasters said.

Mountaineers found the body of fellow climber Luke T. Gullberg, 26, of Des Moines, Wash., on Saturday at the 9,000-foot level on Reid Glacier.


Missing woman’s husband retains attorney

SALT LAKE CITY | The husband of a 28-year-old woman who went missing a week ago without taking her purse or cell phone has retained an attorney.

Well-known Salt Lake City defense attorney Scott Williams said Monday that he has been retained by Josh Powell, whose wife, Susan Powell, was reported missing Dec. 7.

Mr. Powell told police last week that he left his wife and took his boys, ages 2 and 4, on a camping trip about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 7 in subfreezing temperatures.

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