- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2009

COLORADO

Medical marijuana limits overturned

DENVER | A judge overturned tight restrictions Tuesday on Colorado medical marijuana providers, saying state health officials had ignored the needs of patients and violated open meetings laws while imposing the rules.

The ruling by Denver District Judge Larry Naves means medical marijuana providers can continue supplying the drug to registered users without having to provide any other care, as a state Board of Health vote last week would have required.

It was another setback for health officials struggling to regulate Colorado’s growing medical marijuana industry, which sprang up after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2000.

Colorado now has at least 11,000 people registered with the state as medical marijuana users.

FLORIDA

Ex-astronaut pleads guilty in attack

ORLANDO | A former astronaut pleaded guilty Tuesday to attacking a romantic rival after driving 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando and was sentenced to a year on probation.

Lisa Nowak, a Navy captain, pleaded guilty to felony burglary and misdemeanor battery. She originally had been charged with two felonies - attempted kidnapping and burglary - along with misdemeanor battery. She could have faced up to life in prison under the attempted kidnapping charge.

Nowak confronted her romantic rival, Colleen Shipman, in the parking lot of Orlando International Airport in February 2007 after driving from Houston. Miss Shipman had begun dating Nowak’s love interest, former space shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein.

GEORGIA

ATM hacking ring busted for stealing

ATLANTA | Federal authorities said they have cracked a sophisticated computer hacking ring that stole more than $9 million within 12 hours last November, securing indictments against eight people from Russia, Estonia and Moldova.

The acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia said Tuesday that the ring hacked into payroll debit card information of Royal Bank of Scotland Group in Atlanta.

The U.S. attorney, Sally Quillian Yates, said the group created 44 counterfeit payroll debit cards used to withdraw money from more than 2,100 ATMs in at least 280 cities worldwide, including the U.S.

Authorities said Sergei Tsurikov 25, of Tallinn, Estonia, was in custody but the U.S. attorney’s office declined to discuss the whereabouts of the others.

NEW JERSEY

Man sues FBI over detention

TRENTON | A New Jersey man detained for months in Ethiopia on allegations of supporting Islamic militants is suing the FBI agents involved in his interrogations.

Amir Mohamed Meshal of Tinton Falls claims his constitutional rights were violated by the U.S. government.

Mr. Meshal was held nearly four months in Ethiopia, where U.S. agents carried out interrogations in the hunt for al Qaeda in the Horn of Africa.

In his lawsuit, Mr. Meshal said he was questioned by FBI agents more than 30 times. He said they threatened to torture, death, and that he was never allowed to talk to an attorney or contact his family.

He returned to New Jersey in May 2007.

NEW YORK

Ex-top cop leaves jail for holidays

WHITE PLAINS | Former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik can get out of jail for the holidays, a federal court ruled Tuesday.

Kerik, who pleaded guilty to eight felonies last week, can remain out of jail until he is sentenced in February, federal Judge Stephen Robinson said.

Kerik left the federal courthouse in White Plains after the judge’s decision.

The judge imposed some conditions - home confinement, wearing an electronic monitoring device and adding another $975,000 to the previous $500,000 bond, all secured by his house in Franklin Lakes, N.J. He would be allowed to visit his lawyers, accountants and a hospital emergency room if needed. However, the judge did not grant the former police commissioner’s request to take his children to school.

OHIO

Trooper of year charged with DUI

LIMA | A state trooper in northwest Ohio who was honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 1997 for the number of drunken-driving arrests he made has been charged with drunken driving.

A patrol spokesman said Monday that Gerald Gibson had taken leave after his arrest last weekend.

Trooper Gibson was off duty Sunday when Waynesfield police say he drifted over the center lane and then refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving honored Trooper Gibson in 1997 for making the most drunken-driving arrests by a Lima trooper. He was named trooper of the year in 2002 in Lima.

OREGON

Gunman kills two in strip mall

PORTLAND | A gunman killed two people in a strip mall in Tualatin, a small city south of Portland, police said Tuesday.

The suspect was in custody, said police in Tualatin. Two other victims are being treated in hospital after the shooting, which took place at a drug-testing facility, the police said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Church settles suit, bans concerts

BEARS ROCKS | The leader of a western Pennsylvania church is settling a federal lawsuit by pulling the plug on jam band concerts he says were religious services.

William Pritts sued Fayette County in 2006, saying zoning restrictions that stopped the concerts years before violated the religious freedom of his Church of Universal Love and Music.

The church agreed in a March settlement not to tolerate drug law violations in return for permission to hold 12 concerts a year. But a federal judge temporarily banned the concerts after 22 people were arrested on drug charges at an August concert on Mr. Pritts’ farm.

The court agreement to permanently ban the concerts was filed late Monday.

Mr. Pritts has said he plans to move the church to another county.

SOUTH CAROLINA

License tag with cross nixed

COLUMBIA | A federal judge ruled Tuesday that South Carolina can’t issue license plates showing the image of a cross in front of a stained-glass window along with the phrase “I Believe.”

U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie said in her ruling that the license plates was unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion.

“Such a law amounts to a state endorsement not only of religion in general, but of a specific sect in particular,” Judge Currie wrote.

Her ruling also singled out Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who had pushed the bill approving the license plates through the state legislature. Christian advocates tried to get the same license plate approved in Florida, but the bill did not pass its legislature.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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