- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2009

ALASKA

Palin says couple still in school

ANCHORAGE | Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says her future son-in-law is not a high school dropout as the press is reporting.

The former Republican vice-presidential candidate told the Associated Press on Wednesday that 18-year-old Levi Johnston is enrolled in high school through a correspondence program.

Mrs. Palin said some media outlets also are erroneously reporting that her 18-year-old daughter, Bristol, is a high school dropout. The governor said her daughter is enrolled in regular high school and also has taken correspondence courses.

Miss Palin and Mr. Johnston are the parents of Mrs. Palin’s first grandchild, Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston, who was born Saturday. Mr. Johnston has said he and Miss Palin plan to marry.

ARIZONA

IndyCar driver cited for speeding

SCOTTSDALE | Police in Arizona said IndyCar racer Danica Patrick was pulled over for the activity she usually gets paid for — speeding.

Scottsdale police said Patrick is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 5 after she was pulled over Dec. 9 in a gold 2007 Mercedes for driving 54 mph in a 35 mph zone, the Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.

The citation was Patrick’s second in Scottsdale in a year — she had cited for speeding in January, when police said she was driving 57 mph in a 40 mph zone.

Patrick’s win earlier last year at the Indy Japan 300 certified her as the first woman to win an IndyCar race. She was named Rookie of the Year in 2005 by the Indy Racing League.

CALIFORNIA

Arnold releases budget plan

SACRAMENTO | Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration Wednesday released his latest plan to close a deficit projected at $41.6 billion over the next 18 months, a proposal that looks much like one he released months earlier.

The Republican governor wants $17.4 billion in spending cuts and $14.3 billion in tax increases and other new revenue, though legislative members of his own party remain steadfastly opposed to tax increases and are able to block them.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s proposals including shortening the K-12 school year by a week. If that provision is approved, it would be the first time in state history that California abbreviated its school year, according to the state Department of Education.

State officials are warning that without a budget fix, California will run out of money sometime in February and the state will have to start issuing IOUs to employees, contractors and taxpayers expecting a refund.

NEW JERSEY

Islamist wants Fort Dix retrial

MOUNT LAUREL | One of the five Muslim immigrants convicted of plotting to kill American soldiers on U.S. soil has asked a judge to overturn the verdict or at least give him a new trial.

Defendant Serdar Tatar gave an FBI informant a map of the Army’s Fort Dix in New Jersey. But in a legal filing this week, defense attorney Richard Sparaco said that doesn’t mean Tatar was part of a plot.

The lawyer says the government failed to produce any direct evidence tying the 25-year-old Philadelphia convenience store manager to a conspiracy.

Mr. Sparaco said Tatar produced the map only after the informant had asked for it over the course of several weeks.

NORTH CAROLINA

Pilot in fatal crash was headed for base

HAVELOCK | The military says a Marine pilot killed in a crash this week began having problems shortly after takeoff, prompting him to try to return to his North Carolina base.

Capt. Alberto N. Bencosme was piloting the AV-8B Harrier on a training mission Monday when he crashed about a mile short of the runway at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

Marine officials say Capt. Bencosme was instructed back to base shortly after takeoff by a cockpit caution light that came on, indicating that aircraft canopy latches may not have been secured.

No one else was injured when the plane went down in an unpopulated area.

SOUTH CAROLINA

State agrees to seek fed jobless money

COLUMBIA | Gov. Mark Sanford agreed Wednesday to request a $146 million federal loan that will allow South Carolina residents to continue receiving unemployment checks through March.

Otherwise, the fund that makes weekly payments of $14 million to some 77,000 residents would have run dry by the end of the day.

“Everybody was real scared this morning,” said Herbert Curtis, 51, who has collected unemployment since being laid off by a linen service a year ago. “My boat was sinking, and he threw me a life preserver. And he didn’t only throw it to me, he threw it to a lot of people.”

Mr. Sanford had refused to sign the loan request because of a long-running dispute with the state agency that handles unemployment.

The governor said Wednesday he agreed to request the aid because he got his way when several lawmakers said they would ask for an audit of the Employment Security Commission. He also found a legal provision that he says allows him to force the commission to turn over more information about how it calculates unemployment rates.

“We will not punish the unemployed for this agency’s incompetence,” Mr. Sanford said during a news conference.

TENNESSEE

Woman suspected in two baby-theft bids

NASHVILLE | Tennessee police say they arrested a woman who dressed like a nurse, entered a hospital maternity room and tried to leave with someone else’s baby.

Nashville police said charges were pending against Adriene Johnson, who was in custody.

According to a police report, the 24-year-old entered the maternity room Wednesday wearing medical scrubs and said she needed to check the baby’s temperature.

Police said Ms. Johnson triggered security measures when she tried to leave with the baby. The room was locked down, and the newborn was handed over to a doctor. According to police, Ms. Johnson had been on bond after being arrested Monday and charged with stealing a baby rocker from a Wal-Mart and trying to return it for money.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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