- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Suit: Deaths blamed on housing site

LOS ANGELES | More than 400 people have filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County and Exxon Mobil Inc., claiming exposure to toxins caused at least 38 deaths and a variety of medical problems at a housing complex.

The lawsuit filed Friday by former residents and their survivors blames toxic soil and vapors for cancers, miscarriages, rashes, asthma and other problems among residents of the county-owned Ujima Village in Willowbrook.

The 300-unit complex was closed by the county in 2008. It was built in 1972 on a former oil tank storage site.

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages to compensate for back rent, injuries, medical costs and what were alleged to be wrongful deaths.

A spokeswoman for the county Housing Authority had no comment Tuesday.


Official sues self to get on ballot

HARTFORD | Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz’s quest to run for attorney general is heading to court.

Testimony is expected Wednesday and Thursday in Hartford Superior Court in her case against her own office, with final arguments next week.

She’s challenging the constitutionality of election law requiring attorney-general candidates to have at least 10 years in active legal practice. She says even if it’s upheld, her 11 years as secretary of the state and six years as a corporate lawyer should count.

Now she must fend off barbs by Republicans, whose attorney forced her to acknowledge in a deposition that she hasn’t been in a courtroom since law school.

The judge said he’ll expedite the case so it’s resolved before Democrats pick their candidates in May.


Missing autistic girl found in woods

WINTER SPRINGS | A missing 11-year-old central Florida girl with Asperger syndrome was found alive Tuesday, four days after she disappeared into an alligator-infested swamp a half-mile from her suburban home.

Nadia Bloom was taken to a hospital in nearby Longwood, Fla., where she will be evaluated and treated for dehydration and insect bites, said Winter Springs Police Chief Kevin Brunelle.

“If I never believed in miracles, I sure do now,” Chief Brunelle said during an afternoon news conference.

Chief Brunelle said Nadia told rescuers two things: “I’m glad you guys found me” and “I can’t believe you guys rescued me.”


Ford chief: Revenues, demand up

DETROIT | Ford Motor Co.’s revenues rose in the first quarter thanks to strong U.S. demand for cars and trucks, Ford’s Americas President Mark Fields said Tuesday.

Mr. Fields didn’t provide numbers, which are expected to be released later this month. But it was more good news for the automaker, which is expected to report its fourth consecutive quarterly profit in the first quarter. Ford has benefited from Toyota’s recall woes as well as consumer goodwill because it didn’t take federal bailout money, as General Motors and Chrysler did.

Ford’s U.S. sales jumped 37 percent in the first three months of this year, more than double the industry increase of 15 percent. Only Subaru and Volkswagen had higher gains. Ford’s year-over-year U.S. market share gain for the quarter, at 2.7 percentage points, was the largest gain since 1977, when results were skewed by a strike.


Landmark abortion bills signed by governor

LINCOLN | Gov. Dave Heineman has signed two landmark abortion bills into law that both sides of the abortion debate say are firsts in the country.

One bars abortions at and after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on assertions that fetuses feel pain at that time. The current standard is viability, or when a fetus is able to survive outside the womb.

Abortion-rights advocates say that is a clear break with court precedent and it won’t withstand a court challenge. Supporters of the ban see an opening in previous court rulings.

The other bill signed by Mr. Heineman will require doctors or other health professionals to assess whether women have risk factors that could lead to mental or physical problems after an abortion.


1913 Lincoln film found in barn cleanup

CONCORD | A contractor cleaning out an old New Hampshire barn he was about to demolish has found the only known copy of a 1913 silent film about Abraham Lincoln.

Francis Ford stars in “When Lincoln Paid.” He’s the brother of John Ford, director of “The Grapes of Wrath,” and “The Quiet Man.”

Peter Massie gave the nitrate reels to Keene State College, which determined that the film didn’t exist in film archives. It was one of eight silent films starring Francis Ford as Lincoln; there are no known surviving copies of the others.

A Colorado lab has since restored the film about the mother of a dead Union solider requesting that Lincoln pardon a Confederate soldier whom she had initially turned in. The college is holding an April 20 screening.


Boy Scouts ordered to pay man $1.4 million

PORTLAND | An Oregon jury on Tuesday found the Boy Scouts of America negligent for repeated sexual abuse by an assistant Scoutmaster in the 1980s and awarded the plaintiff $1.4 million.

The jury also decided the Scouts organization, based in Texas, was liable for punitive damages that will be decided in a separate phase of the trial. That would be in addition to the $1.4 million.

The lawsuit was filed by Kerry Lewis, a former Portland man, who was abused by assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes in the early 1980s.


Women wary of ‘socially inept’ judge

PITTSBURGH | A judge could be removed from the bench if a court finds he brought disrepute on his office by contacting women for dates or friendship after they appeared in his courtroom.

But the attorney for District Judge Gerard Alonge said the judge isn’t that different from other guys who can’t get a date.

The six women who complained about being contacted include five lawyers. Accusations include that the judge showed up announced at their homes or offices.

Attorney Phil Friedman said the trouble with Judge Alonge is he’s “socially inept” and doesn’t pick up on clues that the women aren’t interested.

A judicial discipline court heard Judge Alonge’s case Monday and will rule in a few weeks.


Ex-mine official to lead probe of blast

CHARLESTON | Gov. Joe Manchin III on Tuesday asked a former top federal mine safety official to conduct an independent investigation of an explosion that killed 29 West Virginia miners, and also called for more scrutiny of mines with a history of safety violations.

Mr. Manchin told the Associated Press that J. Davitt McAteer, who headed the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration, will probe the explosion and serve as his special adviser on issues involving the blast at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine.

Mr. McAteer’s probe will be independent of separate investigations being done by state and federal officials.

Congress is also convening hearings beginning later this month to look at weaknesses in federal mine safety legislation and whether the system encourages mine operators to challenge safety violations and delay penalties.

Mr. Manchin said he wanted state regulators to target problems involving methane gas and coal dust levels, poor ventilation and electrical issues. Officials think methane gas at Upper Big Branch caused the nation’s worst mining disaster since 1970.

“Right now, we need to make sure that the rules are being complied with. I can’t sit back and assume anymore,” Mr. Manchin said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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