- - Sunday, January 16, 2011


Arizona shooting victim has organs donated

BOSTON | The father of the youngest victim of the Arizona massacre said some of her organs have been donated to a young girl in the Boston area.

John Green told the Boston Globe for Sunday’s editions that he received a phone call about the transplant, but he doesn’t know any other details about the donation.

He said the call “really lifted” his spirit, and he and his wife are proud parents yet again of their daughter, “who has done another amazing thing.”

Nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green was born Sept. 11, 2001. She had just been elected to her Tucson school’s student council, which is why she went to see Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The lawmaker was one of 13 wounded; Christina and five others were killed A spokesman for the New England Organ Bank said he can’t comment on donations.


Globes ex-publicist sues, alleges ‘payola’

LOS ANGELES | A former publicist for the organization that runs the Golden Globes sued the group, claiming it engages in payola schemes for nominations and awards.

Michael Russell sued the Hollywood Foreign Press Association late Thursday, just three days before the Golden Globes aired Sunday on NBC.

The lawsuit claims many association members “abuse their positions and engage in unethical and potentially unlawful deals and arrangements, which amount to a ‘payola’ scheme” that could be illegal and jeopardize the group’s tax-exempt status.

The filing does not list any specific examples in which a studio or producer has paid for a Golden Globes nomination or award.

In addition, the suit alleges the association sells prime spots on the show’s red carpet to lesser-known media outlets.

A statement from Ken Sunshine, whose company currently handles the show’s public relations, said the allegations were without merit.


Governor tells critics: ‘Kiss my butt’

PORTLAND | Maine’s governor told critics to “kiss my butt” over his decision not to attend the state NAACP’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations last weekend.

Gov. Paul LePage declined invitations to attend a dinner in Portland on Sunday night and a breakfast in Orono on Monday because of prior commitments.

The NAACP’s state director said the group felt it was being neglected by the new governor, a Republican elected in November with tea party support.

When asked by a reporter Friday to respond, Mr. LePage said: “Tell them to kiss my butt.”

Mr. LePage made news last fall on the campaign trail when he told a group of fishermen that if he were elected, “you’re going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page, saying ‘Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.’”


Is drunken riding legal statewide?

HELENA | A Montana Department of Transportation public safety video that features a horse picking up a rider at a bar is intended as a metaphor to encourage drinkers to get a ride home.

But it is being taken literally by some in a state well-known for its horse culture.

Helena Police Chief Troy McGee says he’s received many calls from residents wanting to know if riding a horse while under the influence is legal. Chief McGee tells the Independent Record newspaper that it is.

Montana law carefully defines a vehicle, and excludes those running under animal power.

The popular 30-second video titled “Sober Friend” shows a savvy horse carefully obeying traffic laws on a nighttime journey through town before stopping in front of a bar to pick up a rider.


New leader named for proposed Islamic center

NEW YORK | The organization planning to build an Islamic community center near the World Trade Center said Friday that the imam who co-founded the project and served as its public face is shifting out of a key leadership role so he can focus on other initiatives.

The nonprofit group Park51 said Feisal Abdul Rauf, who began a national speaking tour Saturday and spends much of his time out of the country, didn’t have enough time to spend on the center.

The group announced it had named a new senior adviser to help lead religious programming, Abdallah Adhami, a scholar with an architecture degree known for his lectures on gender relations.

Mr. Rauf, who helped come up with the idea for the center, and later promoted it amid fierce controversy over its location, announced late this fall that he would be starting a global movement that would fight extremism and promote better relations between people of different faiths and cultures.

Mr. Rauf will remain on the Islamic center’s board and involved in the project, Park51 said in a statement. But the group said it needed someone who could be more focused on the day-to-day business of building a local congregation.


Ex-civil rights chief turns himself in

DAYTON | The former national chairman of an Atlanta-based civil rights organization turned himself in Friday to face charges, including grand theft involving a meal program for low-income older people in southwest Ohio.

Civil rights leader the Rev. Raleigh Trammell declined comment as he was escorted by Montgomery County prosecutors. The former local president and national chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was indicted Wednesday on 51 charges — one count of grand theft and 25 counts each of forgery and tampering with government records. Last year, he denied misusing public funds.

Mr. Trammell, 73, surrendered one day after a nationwide arrest warrant was issued.


Landslides hit Pacific Northwest

PORTLAND | A Pacific storm sweeping through the Northwest has brought heavy rain to Washington state and Oregon, causing multiple landslides that shut down roads across the region.

Oregon transportation officials on Sunday closed U.S. Highway 20, also called Santiam Highway, near Cascadia in central Oregon after a landslide brought about 150 cubic yards of mud, rock and debris onto the road.

KOIN-TV reports that a section of a Portland road was partially underwater Saturday, while a landslide closed the westbound lanes of Highway 26 in the mountains west of Hillsboro.

Landslides also closed sections of three state highways in southwest Washington. The National Weather Service said the rain likely would cause flooding through Monday, as many waterways already were rising from snowmelt with recent warmer temperatures.


State won’t appeal license-plate ruling

MONTPELIER | A Vermont man will be able to get a license plate that refers to a famous passage from the Bible’s New Testament.

The state decided last week to settle a lawsuit filed by Shawn Byrne of West Rutland. The Department of Motor Vehicles rejected his vanity-plate request because it violated a policy prohibiting religious slogans on plates.

The settlement means Mr. Byrne can order a license plate that reads “JN36TN,” a reference to the often-quoted Bible verse John 3:16.

In October, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overruled a federal court in Vermont and said the ban was unconstitutional.

Vermont Assistant Attorney General Bridget Asay says the state won’t appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court because the chances of success are slim.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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