- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2009

ARKANSAS

Governor signs lottery bills

LITTLE ROCK | Gov. Mike Beebe has signed two bills creating a state lottery, making his state the 43rd plus the District to host the games.

Mr. Beebe, a Democrat, signed the Arkansas Lottery into law Wednesday. The games could be in place by the end of the year.

Last year, voters changed the state constitution to allow a lottery. Proceeds will fund college scholarships.



CALIFORNIA

Court OKs contempt hearing

SACRAMENTO | A federal appeals court is refusing to block hearings to decide whether California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, should be held in contempt for refusing to provide funds for health care at state prisons.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected an appeal from the administration, saying U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson can proceed with the hearings.

The Schwarzenegger administration is refusing to turn over $250 million as a down payment sought by a court-appointed receiver. The receiver, J. Clark Kelso, wants up to $8 billion spent on new medical centers for prison inmates.

The appeals court decided the case on procedural grounds.

MASSACHUSETTS

Vatican official rededicates menorah

BRAINTREE | The Vatican’s top liaison to Jews helped rededicate a menorah in memory of Holocaust victims Wednesday amid fallout from the Holy See’s botched decision to the lift the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop.

Cardinal Walter Kasper joined Holocaust survivors and local Roman Catholic leaders Wednesday at the ceremony for the Yom Hashoah Menorah at the Boston Archdiocese’s Braintree offices.

Cardinal Kasper said the ceremony reaffirmed the need to work for peace.

Auschwitz survivor Israel Arbeiter, who is president of the Boston area chapter of the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, said, “We stand together against those who today conspire to repeat history even as they deny that very history.”

The menorah was dedicated in 2002 at the archdiocese’s former campus in Brighton. The archdiocese sold the land to neighboring Boston College to relieve debt and recently moved the menorah to its new offices in Braintree.

MINNESOTA

Attorney says cause of collapse wrong

MINNEAPOLIS | The National Transportation Safety Board got the cause of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse wrong, the lead attorney for most victims of the disaster claimed Wednesday.

Attorney Chris Messerly said experts from the engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti Inc. told survivors and families of victims Tuesday night that the “initiating event” wasn’t the fracture of a key gusset plate in the bridge, but the failure of a horizontal beam called a chord. The firm was hired by a group of attorneys who are representing 117 families of victims and survivors for free.

Mr. Messerly said the experts concluded that the “L9-L11 west” chord buckled because of heat stress on the bridge that day, the weight of construction materials on it, and frozen roller bearings that prevented the bridge from expanding as it should have to handle the heat. The engineers said the chord failure then caused the “U10 west” gusset to fail, he said.

The firm has yet to produce a report on its findings, which Mr. Messerly said show that URS Corp., an engineering consultant that analyzed the bridge before it fell, is partially to blame for the collapse.

The bridge collapsed Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Death penalty repeal endorsed

CONCORD | Three months after a man was sentenced to die for killing a police officer - New Hampshire’s first death sentence in 50 years - the House voted Wednesday to repeal capital punishment.

The chamber voted 193-174 to send the repeal bill to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, said he would veto the bill if it reached his desk.

Michael Addison was sentenced to death in December for killing Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006.

NEW YORK

Teen in custody in reporter’s slaying

NEW YORK | A teenager is in custody in the brutal slaying of a veteran New York City radio reporter, police said.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said the 16-year-old suspect “made statements implicating himself” in George Weber‘s death.

The teen was taken into custody late Tuesday night in Middletown, N.Y.

Mr. Weber apparently allowed the teen into his Brooklyn home after they met through Craigslist.

Mr. Weber worked at WABC in New York for 12 years as the on-air reporter for popular shows such as “Curtis and Kuby.”

VERMONT

Governor vows to veto gay marriage

MONTPELIER | Gov. Jim Douglas said Wednesday he will veto a gay-marriage proposal if it passes the legislature, the first time he has signaled such an intent before final legislative action on a bill.

Mr. Douglas, a Republican, said that he thought Vermont’s first-in-the-nation civil unions law, passed in 2000, provided sufficient rights to same-sex couples and that he believed “marriage should remain between a man and woman.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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