- - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Slain publicist’s computers seized

BEVERLY HILLS — Investigators have seized computers from the business of a prominent Hollywood publicist who was fatally shot in her car in Beverly Hills on her way home from a movie premiere.

Police hauled the equipment from Ronni Chasen’s business, Chasen and Co., about 12 hours after she was gunned down early Tuesday. They had no suspects or motive for the crime.

The 64-year-old publicist, who promoted such Oscar winners as “Driving Miss Daisy,” was shot several times in the chest in her Mercedes-Benz near Sunset Boulevard. Her car then hit a light pole and she died before dawn at a hospital.

She was killed only hours after attending the premiere of the movie “Burlesque,” which she had a hand in promoting.

MICHIGAN

Fiat returns to take on Cooper

AUBURN HILLS — Italian automaker Fiat is coming back to the U.S. after nearly 30 years.

Fiat plans to unveil the North American versions of its Fiat 500 hatchback and convertible small cars Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s the first time Fiat has shown a car bound for this market since 1983, when it halted U.S. sales because of rust and other quality problems.

Fiat says it aims give drivers a sporty, Italian option at a lower price than the $20,000 Mini Cooper.

The 500 has been a big seller in Europe, but European buyers prefer small cars because gas prices are higher there. Small car sales have dipped in the U.S. this year as gas prices stabilized, but Fiat is betting they’ll grow as fuel economy standards rise.

NEW YORK

Mom sent to prison for torture, murder

BUFFALO — A New York woman was sentenced Tuesday to 57 years to life in prison for torturing and smothering her mentally disabled daughter, whom prosecutors said she put through “an almost unimaginable living hell” of sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

Eva Cummings, 51, appeared to cry as a prosecutor described her behavior in the family’s ramshackle North Collins home outside Buffalo as “depraved and horrific” and the victim as “an object of torture and abuse.”

Investigators said Laura Cummings, 23, who had the mental capacity of a preteen, spent days and nights tied to a chair with a hood over her head and was repeatedly raped, beaten and scalded, and had her face pushed into feces. Her half brother, Luke Wright, 31, is awaiting trial on charges including rape and incest.

OHIO

Bomb scare closes university library, labs

COLUMBUS — A bomb threat targeting Ohio State University was e-mailed to the FBI Tuesday morning, prompting the school to evacuate four academic buildings, including the main library. An initial search turned up nothing out of the ordinary, officials said.

The threat was in a message received Tuesday at FBI headquarters in Washington, said Paul Bresson, an agency spokesman. Campus police said they were alerted at 8:19 a.m. that the threats involved the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library and three laboratory buildings.

“This is still in our assessment a threat, and there have been no suspicious package or devices found at this time,” university Police Chief Paul Denton said at a news conference.

Authorities did not identify the source of the bomb threats at Ohio State, one of the nation’s largest universities, with more than 56,000 students at its main Columbus campus. Mr. Bresson declined to provide information about where the e-mail appeared to originate or whether the bureau thought the threat was real.

PENNSYLVANIA

Pittsburgh bans natural gas drilling

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh has become the first city in Pennsylvania to approve a total ban on natural gas drilling.

Drilling operations in recent years have been booming in the state’s gas-rich Marcellus Shale. None of them is in Pittsburgh.

Still, the Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday approved the ban within city limits. City Councilman Doug Shields said drilling companies were putting jobs and making money before people’s health. He called the city’s ban an important statement that other communities will be looking to duplicate.

Lawyers representing gas companies have said they may sue to challenge the ban. They say drilling is rightly regulated by state and federal environmental protection agencies.

VIRGINIA

Study finds fewer illegals, less crime

MANASSAS — A study has found that Prince William County’s immigration policy has cut the number of illegal immigrants, and the authors say the rates of some crimes have fallen since the policy was implemented.

Those are some of the conclusions of a University of Virginia study of the policy presented Tuesday to the Board of County Supervisors. The study also found that the policy created an ethnic divide in perceptions of the county, but that has been largely repaired.

The policy initially allowed officers who reasonably suspected someone might be an illegal immigrant to ask about their immigration status, but was later changed to require checks for anyone arrested.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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