- The Washington Times - Monday, March 22, 2010


Court: Smith gets none of fortune

SAN FRANCISCO | Anna Nicole Smith’s estate will receive none of the more than $300 million that she claimed her late billionaire husband had promised her, a federal appeals court said.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest stop in the 15-year legal battle over the $1.6 billion estate that oil magnate J. Howard Marshall left after his 1995 death at age 90.

Smith had married Marshall the previous year and argued that he meant to leave her more than $300 million. A Texas state court ruled against Smith and in favor of Marshall’s son, who argued the model should receive nothing. A federal bankruptcy court in Los Angeles later awarded her $474 million. A federal trial court later reduced that to $89 million.

Lawyers for the son’s estate say they hope the litigation is at an end with Friday’s ruling.


Topless gardening prompts new rules

BOULDER | In response to neighborhood reports of a topless gardener, the housing authority in a Colorado town plans to amend its rules so that tenants cover up when they’re outside.

Robert Pierce, of Boulder, said he’ll fight changes that would keep his wife from gardening outside topless, which is legal under state and city law.

Boulder Housing Partners Executive Director Betsey Martens didn’t return a phone call Friday seeking details on how covered residents would have to be.

The City Council is considering expanding its anti-nudity ordinance, but a proposal to make it an offense for women to go topless in public was removed. A city spokesman said the housing authority is a separate entity and that the city can’t dictate agency rules.


Toyota shareholders sue over stock prices

MIAMI | Toyota shareholders incensed over a sudden drop in the Japanese automaker’s stock price are heading to court with lawsuits claiming company executives deliberately misled investors and the public about the depth of accelerator problems in millions of its vehicles.

At least three proposed class action lawsuits filed by Toyota investors say the company gave false initial assurances that the sudden acceleration problem was a simple matter of floor mats trapping gas pedals, helping prop up the stock price.

The shareholder cases are part of an avalanche of potentially costly lawsuits against Toyota over the acceleration issue, including those filed by crash victims and their families and those brought by Toyota owners contending their vehicles are worth far less because of the recalls.

The investor lawsuits say Toyota spread misleading information through press releases, conference calls with stock analysts and TV interviews to assure stockholders and the public that the accelerator problem was easily fixed or might be the driver’s fault. Instead, the lawsuits contend, top Toyota executives have known for nearly a decade that faulty electronic throttle controls caused vehicles to sometimes careen wildly out of control but covered it up.

The company has not issued any recalls involving flaws in the electronic throttles and has repeatedly denied they are the problem.


Census workers reach remote areas

PORTLAND | Census workers are using snowmobiles, airplanes, all-terrain vehicles — even lobster boats — to visit the most far-flung, hidden-away dwellings when counting the nation’s populace.

To deliver 2010 census questionnaires to the more remote homes, census workers might fly over mountains, four-wheel it through forests and contend with deep snow, bone-chilling temperatures and wildlife on the move.

The Census Bureau has designated only two places, much of Alaska and Maine’s North Woods, as requiring special travel arrangements to reach remote locations.

In Maine, census workers will begin delivering forms this week by whatever means it takes — ATV, snowmobile, cross-country skis or snowshoes — to get to some of those hard-to-get-to places


Lesbian teen gets $30,000 scholarship

JACKSON | A lesbian high school student embroiled in a legal flap over her school’s prom policy has received a $30,000 scholarship on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Constance McMillen was speechless Friday when the talk show host pulled out an oversized check from the Web site Tonic.Com, a digital media company.

Miss DeGeneres said she admires Miss McMillen for challenging Itawamba County School District rules that would prevent her from escorting her girlfriend to the prom. The school district canceled the April 2 prom after Miss McMillen’s request.

A hearing is scheduled Monday in federal court in Aberdeen on American Civil Liberties Union efforts to force the district to hold the prom.


Malcolm X’s killer granted parole

ALBANY | One of three men convicted of killing Malcolm X 45 years ago has been granted release from weekends in prison in his 17th appearance before a state parole board.

The State Division of Parole said Thomas Hagan, 69, appeared before a parole panel March 3 and was granted release effective April 28.

Until then, he’ll remain at the Lincoln Correctional Facility in New York City, where he has been locked up two days a week for 22 years. The other five days, he’s been allowed to work and live with his family.

Hagan was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in April 1966 for shooting the civil rights leader at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. Two other convicted gunmen were previously paroled.


Spring snowstorm hits Southwest

OKLAHOMA CITY | More snow was falling Sunday as part of a powerful storm blowing through Oklahoma and the southern Plains on the first weekend of spring.

The National Weather Service said there was moderate to heavy snow across northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas, with some places reporting 8 to 12 inches of snow. The snow and rain was expected to end later Sunday.

Authorities have attributed at least four deaths in four states to the weather. Police in Arlington, Texas, said ice on an interstate caused an accident Sunday involving five vehicles and two 18-wheelers. One of the 18-wheelers fell on another vehicle, killing one person.

The storm came a day after temperatures had reached into the 70s, and forecasters say temperatures should rebound into the 60s as soon as Monday.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation urged people in the eastern part of the state not to travel on the snow-packed and slick roads if they didn’t have to, but said roads in the western part of the state were improving as the weather did.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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