- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Cowell to leave ‘American Idol’

PASADENA | Simon Cowell, the acerbic Brit who has helped give “American Idol” some of its sharpest — and nastiest — moments, will leave the popular singing show after this season.

The cantankerous judge said that “The X Factor,” a show he created and is a hit in Britain, will join Fox’s schedule next year. Mr. Cowell will be on “The X Factor.”

Mr. Cowell’s decision is the biggest threat yet to what has been the country’s most popular TV program and a true cultural force. This season, original host Paula Abdul has been replaced by Ellen DeGeneres.

But Mr. Cowell, with his caustic commentary, has long been seen as the big star of “Idol.”

He said it would have been difficult for him to do both shows. While he makes a reported $36 million a year to be on “American Idol,” he owns “The X Factor” and could make much more if the show takes off.


Soldier jailed over rap song

SAVANNAH | A soldier is in a Georgia jail on charges he threatened his Army superiors in a rap song about being deployed to Iraq instead of being released from service.

Spc. Marc A. Hall has been jailed since last month on military charges of making threats, both in conversation with members of his infantry unit and in the lyrics to his song “Stop Loss.”

“Stop-loss” is the policy of keeping troops in service beyond their enlistment dates.

Spc. Hall recorded the song and put it on his Web site. He uses graphic language and raps about grabbing a rifle to spray bullets and “watch all the bodies hit the floor.”

Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said Monday commanders took the threats seriously. Spc. Hall’s military attorney declined to comment. A civilian attorney, Jim Klimaski, said the soldier intended no real violence.


Scrutiny sought of biolab workers

HAGERSTOWN | A federal panel has recommended that researchers who work with the world’s deadliest pathogens undergo more frequent security screening.

The Working Group on Strengthening the Biosecurity of the United States also suggested random drug tests and closer monitoring of the physical and mental health of those with access to dangerous pathogens.

And it recommended tighter scrutiny of foreign nationals who work in U.S. labs.

President George W. Bush’s administration ordered the report after the FBI concluded an Army scientist was behind the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people. Its recommendations will be considered by lawmakers and federal regulators seeking to improve the safety of labs that handle dangerous germs and toxins.

The report was published Friday.


Tylenol suspect gives DNA, friend says

BOSTON | A friend of a man long suspected in the 1982 Chicago-area Tylenol slayings says the man has submitted a DNA sample and fingerprints to authorities.

Roger Nicholson said Monday that James W. Lewis told him he and his wife both gave over samples after a closed-door court hearing last week in a Massachusetts court.

Mr. Lewis denies any role in the seven killings. Mr. Nicholson said Mr. Lewis told him Friday that he was not concerned about giving DNA because “if the FBI plays it fair, I have nothing to worry about.”

No one has been charged in the deaths. Mr. Lewis spent 12 years in prison for extortion after sending a letter demanding $1 million to “stop the killing.”

The FBI took items from Mr. Lewis’ home in Cambridge last year after Illinois authorities renewed the investigation.


Ford Fusion Hybrid wins car of year

DETROIT | Ford Motor Co.’s market momentum got a lift Monday by winning both the 2010 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

Ford’s Fusion Hybrid midsize sedan took top car honors and its versatile Transit Connect compact van snagged truck of the year at the Detroit auto show.

It was only the third time in 17 years that an automaker has won both awards, selected by 49 auto journalists and given annually since 1994. Finalists for the car award included the Buick LaCrosse and Volkswagen Golf GTI and TDI diesel. The Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Transit Connect and Subaru Outback were finalists for the truck award.

The awards, given annually by journalists who test cars throughout the year, are often used by automakers in advertising. Vehicles are judged on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value.


McGwire admits to steroid use

ST. LOUIS | Mark McGwire acknowledged on Monday that he used steroids during his Major League playing career, including in 1998 when he broke Major League Baseball’s single-season home run record.

Mr. McGwire said in a statement sent to the Associated Press that he used steroids on and off for nearly a decade. During a 20-minute telephone interview shortly afterward, his voice repeatedly cracked.

“It’s very emotional, it’s telling family members, friends and coaches, you know, it’s former teammates to try to get ahold of, you know, that I’m coming clean and being honest,” he said. “It’s the first time they’ve ever heard me, you know, talk about this. I hid it from everybody.”

Mr. McGwire said he also used human growth hormone, and he didn’t know if his use of performance-enhancing drugs contributed to some of the injuries that led to his retirement, at age 38, in 2001.

Mr. McGwire hit a then-record 70 homers in 1998 during a compelling race with Sammy Sosa, who finished with 66. More than anything else, the home-run spree revitalized baseball after the crippling strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series.

The Cardinals announced in October that Mr. McGwire would be the team’s hitting coach for the 2010 season.

“Now that I have become the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do five years ago. …

I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”


Tax evader sentenced on weapons charges

CONCORD | A tax-evading man convicted of amassing an arsenal of weapons that he and his wife held during a nine-month standoff with federal authorities was sentenced Monday to 37 years in federal prison in a hearing punctuated by him laughing and chiding the judge and prosecutors.

An attorney for Ed Brown argued his client suffers from a delusional disorder and asked for the minimum mandatory sentence of 30 years, saying it was enough and amounted to a life sentence for Brown, 67. Prosecutors sought a sentence of almost 50 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge George Singal found Brown competent and decided on the sentence because Brown seemed “unrepentant.”


Medical marijuana bill approved

TRENTON | The New Jersey Legislature has approved a bill allowing chronically ill patients access to marijuana for medical reasons.

Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, supports the legislation and could sign it before leaving office next week. That would make New Jersey the 14th state to allow medicinal marijuana use.

The compromise bill was approved by the state’s Assembly and Senate on Monday.

The legislation would allow patients with ailments such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis to buy up to 2 ounces of marijuana a month at state-monitored dispensaries.

Home growing and driving while high would remain illegal.


8 banks asked for bonus information

NEW YORK | New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Monday pressed the nation’s eight biggest banks to reveal how much they plan to pay out in employee bonuses for 2009.

Mr. Cuomo told reporters that he also wants to know how the size of the banks’ bonus pool would have been affected if the banks hadn’t received a taxpayer rescue at the height of the financial crisis in late 2008.

The fact-finding effort comes as Wall Street banks this month prepare to hand out near-record compensation for last year’s performance. Several banks earned huge profits in 2009, aided by billions in government bailout funds and a rebounding stock market.

Mr. Cuomo said he was only asking for information and didn’t threaten legal action against the eight banks — Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, State Street and Wells Fargo.

He asked the banks to provide bonus information by Feb. 8 in letters sent Monday. He didn’t say what actions he would take if the banks don’t comply.


Navy SEAL’s trial in detainee abuse moved

NORFOLK | Two Navy SEALs accused in the mistreatment of an Iraqi detainee should be tried at the U.S. base in Iraq where the alleged victim is being held, a military judge ruled Monday.

Cmdr. Tierney Carlos moved the trials after government prosecutors said they would make the detainee available for deposition at Camp Victory in Baghdad but would not bring him to Naval Station Norfolk to testify. The judge ruled that Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe of Yorktown, Va., and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas of Blue Island, Ill., have a right to face their accuser in open court.

A hearing for a third defendant, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe of Perrysburg, Ohio, is tentatively set for Wednesday before a different judge.

Petty Officer McCabe is accused of punching Ahmed Hashim Abed, the suspected mastermind of a 2004 ambush that killed four U.S. security contractors in Fallujah. The contractors’ bodies were dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge.

Petty Officer McCabe and the other two SEALs also are charged with dereliction of duty for failing to protect the detainee, and with lying to investigators. Petty Officer Huertas also is charged with impeding the investigation.


Bloodmobile offers beer to donors

TACOMA | A Washington state blood center is offering donors a deal: Give a pint of blood, get a pint of beer.

Cascade Regional Blood Services in Tacoma said its “Give blood, get beer” promotion has worked so well that it’s being expanded.

The News Tribune of Tacoma reported Monday that donors who are at least 21 years old are given a coupon for a free pint of beer.

Participating pubs and restaurants must wait at least four hours after the blood drive ends before donors can collect their free pint.

Cascade’s director of donor resources Dan Schmitt said it’s a fun way to get more donors, and it’s good for the participating businesses as well.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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