- - Thursday, January 21, 2010


Fiddler Daniels suffers mild stroke

DURANGO — Fiddler-guitarist Charlie Daniels said he suffered a mild stroke while snowmobiling in Colorado and has some stiffness and numbness in his left hand and arm.

Mr. Daniels, 73, suffered the stroke Friday just outside Durango. He was treated at a local hospital then airlifted to a Denver hospital, where he was released Sunday.

In a posting on his Web site Wednesday, Mr. Daniels said he was starting physical therapy. He didn’t say whether his playing had been affected but wrote, “I’m doing fine.”

Mr. Daniels is best known for his 1979 hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The Charlie Daniels Band was awarded a Grammy for best country vocal for the song.


Ice storm snarls traffic in Midwest

DES MOINES — A storm brought freezing rain and ice to the nation’s midsection on Wednesday, causing widespread power outages and forcing school closures in several states, and contributing to at least one traffic fatality in South Dakota.

Ice up to a ½-inch thick coated parts of western and northern Iowa, turning streets and sidewalks into near skating rinks.

Todd Heitkamp, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sioux Falls, S.D., said driving conditions were treacherous in parts of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Authorities were also warning drivers about icy conditions in parts of Minnesota and Illinois.


Judge: Ex-mayor owes $300,000

DETROIT — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick lied again to the residents of the city he once led, a judge said Wednesday as he ordered the disgraced official to pay more than $300,000 in restitution within 90 days or face further punishment.

During a restitution hearing, Wayne County Judge David Groner had harsh words for the ex-mayor and convicted felon, calling his conduct “reprehensible” and accused him of showing “contempt” for Detroit.

“You have not been credible in this courtroom, and again you have not been honest,” Judge Groner said.

Kilpatrick was silent during the hearing, shaking his head on occasion as Judge Groner made his ruling.

Kilpatrick agreed to pay $1 million in restitution in late 2008 as part of pleas in two criminal cases, but later requested that his monthly payments be reduced. He lowered those payments from $6,000 to $3,000 because he said his pay in a new job as a salesman in Texas had fallen.


N.Y. Times to charge for Web access

NEW YORK — The New York Times says it will charge readers for full access to its Web site starting in 2011, a risky move aimed at drawing more revenue online without driving away advertisers that want the biggest possible audience.

The potential pitfalls have made most other major newspapers hesitant to take a similar step. But after months of deliberation, the Times said Wednesday it will use a metered system, allowing free access to a certain number of articles and then charging users for additional content.

The Times did not disclose how many articles will be available for free and what it will charge to read more. Subscribers to the printed version of the Times would still have free access to the Web site.


Runaway to remain free of Muslim parents

COLUMBUS — A runaway teenage girl from Ohio who converted from Islam to Christianity has reached a court settlement that allows her to remain free of her Muslim parents.

The agreement reached Tuesday said that Rifqa Bary, 17, will stay in a foster home under state custody in Columbus until she turns 18 in August, the Columbus Dispatch reported. After that, she’ll be an adult and free to live where she chooses.

Miss Bary’s attorney read a statement in Franklin County Juvenile Court, saying that the girl and her parents love and respect each other and will try to resolve their differences through counseling.

Miss Bary ran away to Florida last summer, saying she feared her father would harm or kill her for leaving Islam.

Her father denied the claim, and a law enforcement investigation found no credible threats to the girl.


Ozone in U.S. West linked to Asia

GRANTS PASS — A new study found that while U.S. controls on air pollution have been driving down a major ingredient of smog, ozone blowing over from Asia is raising background levels over California and other Western states.

Dan Jaffe, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Washington at Bothell who contributed data to the study, said it is the first time Asian pollution has been directly linked to ozone over the United States.

Lead author Owen Cooper, a research scientist at the University of Colorado, said the amounts are small, and have been traced only at middle altitudes.

But he said the amounts have been steadily rising since 1995, and probably longer, and could complicate U.S. efforts to lower ozone levels at home.


Report: Judge shouldn’t lose job

SAN ANTONIO — An embattled Texas judge who closed her court before a death-row inmate could file his final appeal should not lose her job or receive any further punishment beyond the “public humiliation” she has faced, a judge presiding over her ethics trial said in a report released Wednesday.

Judge Sharon Keller still faces five judicial misconduct charges for refusing to keep her court open past 5 p.m., and the state commission that will ultimately decide Judge Keller’s fate is not bound by the recommendations in Wednesday’s report.

But the report makes it clear that Judge Keller is not to blame for a twice-convicted killer being executed Sept. 25, 2007.

State district Judge David Berchelmann, who oversaw Judge Keller’s ethics trial, recommended that Judge Keller was also undeserving of “further reprimand beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered.”


Highway rest stops to reopen

RICHMOND — The Commonwealth Transportation Board has voted to reopen 19 closed interstate rest stops in Virginia.

The board’s unanimous approval Wednesday followed a short appeal by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who made good on a promise to reopen rest areas closed by his predecessor, Democrat Tim Kaine.

Mr. McDonnell, a Republican, told the board that inmate labor and private contributions would help manage the costs of reopening the rest stops.

The rest stops were closed last summer as part of a plan to cut nearly $9 million in expenses from a strained state budget.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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