- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009


State limits shelters for storm evacuees

MONTGOMERY | Alabama has a message for its neighbors: Don’t count on us next time you need shelter from a storm. And it’s not because Louisiana evacuees made a mess last time they came.

Gov. Bob Riley said Tuesday that Alabama will take fewer out-of-state evacuees into shelters this year, so that shelter space will remain available for Alabama residents. He said the state will be especially cautious about filling shelters if there’s a chance another hurricane could affect the Alabama coast.

More than 6,500 evacuees, mostly from Louisiana, filled 28 shelters at community colleges across Alabama over Labor Day weekend last year as Hurricane Gustav neared the Louisiana coast. Most came in buses, many from the New Orleans area.

Another storm, Hurricane Ike, hit Texas about a week later. Mr. Riley said if Ike had hit Alabama instead, shelter space might not have been available for state residents.

A man facing nearly 30 years in prison for raping three women who had advertised on Craigslist’s former “erotic services” section apparently committed suicide in his Kansas jail cell, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.


Members of the Screen Actors Guild voted overwhelmingly to ratify a two-year contract covering movies and prime-time TV shows made by the major Hollywood studios, the union announced Tuesday.

About 78 percent of those who voted were in favor of the deal, a show of unity after a bitter dispute in which Guild members fought among themselves and left them further behind than where they started. About 110,000 SAG members were sent ballots and more than 35 percent cast votes.

The new contract immediately raises actors’ minimum pay by 3 percent and grants another 3.5 percent raise in the second year of the deal, which, along with better pension benefits and some Internet compensation, gives them $105 million in overall gains, the union said.

But it does not improve upon the Internet terms that other unions already have accepted. Negotiators replaced in January had sought more lucrative Web compensation. #

The deal was reached nearly a year after the last contract expired, meaning SAG actors lost out on proposed raises over the past year that the studios estimated totaled nearly $80 million.


Quarantine length uncertain for mayor

NEW ORLEANS | A spokeswoman for New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin said Chinese officials haven’t said when they’ll end a quarantine for the mayor, his wife and a security guard.

Nagin spokeswoman Ceeon Quiett said Mr. Nagin is feeling fine and that the three, as of early Tuesday, had not been tested for swine flu. They’ve been quarantined in a Shanghai hotel since Sunday, after a passenger on Mr. Nagin’s flight from New Jersey showed flu symptoms.

China has been imposing quarantines and temperature checks at airports throughout the country. If the quarantined individuals display no flu symptoms, they are usually released in about seven days.


Elder Bush plans another skydive

KENNEBUNKPORT | Former President George H.W. Bush plans to celebrate his 85th birthday Friday by making a parachute jump in Maine, where he has his summer home.

Jim Appleby, a Bush aide, said Tuesday that Mr. Bush will make a tandem jump with a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team. Their landing zone is near a church in Kennebunkport.

Mr. Bush made his first jump as a Navy pilot when his plane was shot down over the Pacific during World War II. He also made two jumps apiece on his 75th and 80th birthdays.

His most recent jump was in November 2007 at the reopening of his library at Texas A&M University.


Globe union files bid to block pay cuts

BOSTON | The union representing Boston Globe reporters and editors says it has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

The move came one day after the Boston Newspaper Guild rejected a package of wage and benefit concessions, prompting the Globe’s parent, the New York Times Co., to declare an impasse and unilaterally impose a 23 percent pay cut that the Times says is needed to keep the 137-year-old newspaper from closing.

Guild president Daniel Totten announced the filing of the complaint Tuesday night after a nearly two-hour meeting with union members. He said a meeting with the National Labor Relations Board is scheduled for next Tuesday. The wage cut is scheduled to go into effect next week.


Spy for Iraq gets four years

DETROIT | A judge in Michigan has sentenced a man to nearly four years in prison for supplying information to Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds rejected a claim by Najib Shemami, 62, that he was under duress by the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The man from the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights pleaded guilty in January to aiding Iraq without approval from the U.S. government.

There is no dispute that Shemami told Iraqi authorities about the activities of Iraqi expatriates living in the U.S. He also reported on U.S. military movements in Turkey.

Shemami apologized to the judge Tuesday and said he acted because he was “so scared” of Saddam.


Official wrestles gun from man

ORANGETOWN | A man walked into a suburban New York middle school with a handgun Tuesday but was wrestled to the floor by the district superintendent, who wrenched the weapon away and pinned the man until police knocked down a door and arrested him, authorities said.

No one was injured, and it appears no shots were fired at South Orangetown Middle School in Blauvelt, authorities said.

The man walked into the school about 11:45 a.m. and confronted Ken Mitchell, the South Orangetown Central School District superintendent, about an unspecified “minor” issue, said Orangetown Supervisor Thom Kleiner.

Mr. Mitchell talked the man down, wrestled him to the ground and took the gun away, Mr. Kleiner said.

Authorities did not identify the man.


Helms honor vote prompts boycott

RALEIGH | Twenty-six North Carolina legislators, including 21 of the state chambers’ 29 black members, sat out a vote Tuesday on a resolution honoring the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, showing that the Republican remains a polarizing figure a year after his death.

The state legislature approves dozens of honorary resolutions each two-year session, and the body’s bill drafting director, Gerry Cohen, said he could remember none of the others being avoided by so many lawmakers in his three-decade career.

The Senate voted 41-1 for the Helms resolution, and the House 98-0. The only dissenting vote was Sen. Julia Boseman, New Hanover Democrat and the legislature’s first openly gay member.

None of about a dozen House members seated outside the chamber during the vote would say whether the effort was coordinated, but it was clear the absences were on purpose. “I could have never voted in favor of a resolution honoring Senator Helms because of his divisive history and his anti-civil-rights principles,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick, Durham Democrat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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