- The Washington Times - Monday, April 19, 2010


Priest apologizes for marriage comments

CHICAGO | An activist Catholic priest in Chicago who made headlines when he mocked Hillary Rodham Clinton during her presidential campaign is apologizing for a sermon in which he said priests should be allowed to marry and women should be allowed to become priests.

In a statement posted Wednesday on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Web site, the Rev. Michael Pfleger said he was expressing his opinion but that he respects and follows the teachings of the church.

Father Pfleger is a popular pastor of a church on the city’s South Side and a longtime activist who has protested everything from the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Washington’s handgun ban to Jerry Springer’s television show.


Stolen loan data found with police

MINNEAPOLIS | Investigators say the personal data of about 3 million borrowers stolen last month from a federal student loan company was recovered soon after the theft, but was only recently discovered in a Minnesota police evidence room.

Two safes containing the data on DVDs were stolen March 20 or March 21 from Educational Credit Management Corp.

Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force investigators said Friday that police recovered the safes March 22 and stored them in the evidence room. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety only recently connected the safes with the theft. Authorities say the data didn’t appear to have been compromised.

State investigators have identified one suspect in the theft, who’s in custody on an unrelated matter.


Strict new abortion law faces long road

LINCOLN | Legal analysts say a groundbreaking abortion law approved in Nebraska last week won’t go into effect any time soon — if ever.

Instead, it’s expected to present a legal test that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which could take years.

Even ardent abortion opponents say a court injunction will likely keep the ban on abortions at and after 20 weeks of pregnancy from going into effect at its planned start date in October.

No one has stepped forward to challenge the law. But Dr. LeRoy Carhart, one of the nation’s few late-term abortion providers, is considered a likely candidate.

Lower courts have no precedent to support the law, which bases the new restrictions on the assertion that fetuses feel pain.


Cheese sandwiches served as punishment

ATLANTIC CITY | Students at a New Jersey high school have learned not to mess with the lunch ladies.

Cafeteria workers at Atlantic City High School served only cheese sandwiches Wednesday and Thursday as punishment for a cell-phone-coordinated food fight.

School superintendent Fredrick Nickles said the school supplies only the basic food requirement when there’s been a food-throwing incident. Mr. Nickles said the policy is effective.

A parent, Bridgitte Reid, became angry after her daughter explained the menu. Mrs. Reid called it “prison food.”

Students got a regular menu Friday.


Former officials of Blackwater indicted

RALEIGH | The former president of Blackwater Worldwide and four other former officials at the embattled security firm were indicted Friday on federal weapons charges, partially the result of a raid two years ago by agents that rounded up 22 weapons, including AK-47s.

The indictment issued Friday charges Gary Jackson, who left the company last year in a management shake-up, along with four other former workers. The charges against Mr. Jackson include a conspiracy to violate firearms laws, false statements and possession of an unregistered firearm.

Also indicted were former general counsel Andrew Howell, former Executive Vice President Bill Mathews, Ana Bundy, who at one point had oversight of the firm’s armory, and Ronald Slezak, who was hired to oversee documents related to the company’s status as a firearms dealer.


Veteran kills self at medical center

DAYTON | A veteran wearing military fatigues killed himself with an assault rifle on the steps of a Veterans Affairs medical center, authorities said.

The Montgomery County coroner in Dayton identified the man, who died early Friday morning, as 27-year-old Jesse Huff. The Dayton VA center said Mr. Huff was a veteran who had been treated in the emergency room.

Police said they found the rifle and a satchel near the body, which was on the steps of the hospital’s main entrance.


Farmhouse owner: Drill, baby, drill

PLEASANT MOUNT | A natural gas drilling well near a farmhouse in Pleasant Mount is at the heart of a controversy in the Delaware River watershed.

Energy companies have leased thousands of acres, hoping to tap natural gas from the sprawling Marcellus shale. Researchers say the wild and scenic Delaware River watershed could become the nation’s most productive gas field.

The farmhouse’s owner, Louis Matoushek, and others are eager for the gas, and the royalty checks, to start flowing. Farmers see Marcellus money as a way to keep their struggling operations afloat.

A federal interstate commission must decide whether to let a Louisiana company drill on Mr. Matoushek’s land. Opponents say drilling so close to crucial waterways threatens drinking water and will wreck property values, and transform the rural area into an industrial zone.


Ceremony remembers Tech shooting victims

RICHMOND | Virginia’s governor led a ceremony at the state Capitol to mark the third anniversary of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history at Virginia Tech.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell on Friday read a proclamation at a gathering at the Capitol bell tower honoring the 32 who died and those who were injured in the shootings. He also said the state would observe Virginia Tech Remembrance Day each April 16 during the four years of his term.

The crowd observed a moment of silence, and Mr. McDonnell then read the names of each of the students and faculty killed by a student gunman on April 16, 2007. The ceremony ended with the bell ringing 32 times. The gunman killed himself after the attack.


Mine operator faces 60 safety violations

CHARLESTON | Federal inspectors have found more than 60 serious safety violations at Massey Energy operations since the explosion that killed 29 miners, adding to fallout from the disaster that includes a wrongful-death lawsuit by one of the men’s widows.

Inspectors visited more than 30 underground Massey coal mines in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia after the April 5 blast, according to records from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The agency has tentatively blamed preventable accumulations of explosive methane gas and coal dust for the worst U.S. coal mining disaster since 1970.

The miner’s widow accuses the company of a history of safety violations that amount to negligence in the first wrongful death lawsuit over the explosion, which she filed Thursday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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