- - Sunday, July 17, 2011


Suspect in soldier’s death seeks bigger stage

LITTLE ROCK — The Muslim man who confessed to shooting two soldiers outside a military recruiting station in Arkansas, and killing one, claims he’s being treated like a common criminal with a state murder charge.

Abdulhakim Muhammad goes on trial this week in Little Rock in the death of Army Pvt. William Andrew Long. He has confessed to The Associated Press, the judge handling his case and others, hoping the world would pay attention to the war he declared on the United States.

Muhammad claims his case should be tried in federal or military court, and he says charging him in state court increases the chance he’ll be executed.

State prosecutors say the murder charge is fitting because Muhammad committed a drive-by shooting like a common thug.


Oldest ferry to close because of budget cuts

ROCKY HILL — A round of budget cuts in Connecticut is forcing the nation’s oldest operating ferry to close.

Historical archives say the Rocky Hill Ferry has been crossing the Connecticut River between the towns of Rocky Hill and Glastonbury continuously since 1655.

It is among two historic ferries that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has put on the chopping block to close a $1.6 billion budget gap.

Historical documents say the ferry began with pole-operated boats run by families from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The state took over its operation in 1915 and Connecticut archivists say it has been in service longer than any other ferry in the United States.


Last space shuttle astronauts finish packing

CAPE CANAVERAL — The astronauts making NASA’s last shuttle flight gave up their off-duty time Sunday and finished packing up their gigantic suitcase for the ride home.

The 10 space travelers cheered as they put the final items in Raffaello, the Italian-made cargo canister that’s the size of a bus.

More than 5,600 pounds of old space station equipment, packing foam and other trash will return to Earth this week inside Raffaello.

“We’re full,” reported astronaut Sandra Magnus. “Everybody pitched in.”

The compartment will be moved from the International Space Station back onto space shuttle Atlantis early Monday. It carried up to 9,400 pounds of food, clothes and other household goods - a year’s worth of supplies.

Atlantis will undock from the space station Tuesday, after a visit of more than a week, and aim for a Thursday landing back in Florida to end 30 years of shuttle flight.

Mission Control gave the four shuttle astronauts some time off Sunday to relax before heading home, but they spent it packing.


Lemonade stand shut down by police

MIDWAY — Police have shut down a lemonade stand run by three girls trying to save up for a trip to a water park, saying they didn’t have a business license or the required permits.

Midway Police Chief Kelly Morningstar says police also didn’t know how the lemonade was made, who made it or what was in it.

The girls had been operating for one day when Chief Morningstar and another officer cruised by.

The girls needed a business license, peddler’s permit and food permit to operate, even on residential property. The permits cost $50 a day or $180 per year.

Casity Dixon, 14, says the three had to listen to police and shut down. The girls are now doing chores and yard work to make money.


Budget special session temporarily delayed

ST. PAUL — There won’t be a special session of the Minnesota Legislature on Monday but officials say work is continuing to end the state’s government shutdown.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders released a statement Sunday saying work on the detailed budget bills that need to be passed is moving in a positive direction.

They say a special session will be called as soon as the work is done and all the bills have been reviewed and agreed upon.

While both sides had been hoping to wrap up work in time for the governor to call a special session on Monday, Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci says it doesn’t look like they’ll make that goal.


NYC man accused of running on tarmac

NEWARK — Authorities say a New York City man carrying a knife in his pocket jumped over a barrier and ran onto the tarmac at Newark Liberty International Airport before being tackled by a police officer.

Thirty-nine-year-old Xiang Xun Shao of Manhattan was charged with defiant trespass and a weapons offense after the incident Saturday night.

He was later taken to a hospital and was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

A spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, says the man was initially seen walking around near a gate where vehicles access the tarmac area. The spokeswoman says he then jumped over a retractable metal barrier and briefly ran onto the tarmac before being caught near Terminal C.

No planes were delayed as a result.


Heat wave in central regions not letting up

OKLAHOMA CITY — As temperatures climbed into the 90s in Steele, N.D., on Sunday, a small window air conditioner in Paul and Betty Smokov’s ranch home just couldn’t keep up.

“It’s 82 in the house,” Betty Smokov said. “The heat is really oppressive and sticky.”

That observation could be made anywhere in the central U.S. Heat advisories and warnings were in place in 17 states, from Texas to Michigan, as temperatures and humidity combined to make being outside uncomfortable for millions. One National Weather Service forecaster called the heat wave “unrelenting” and said sweaty residents shouldn’t expect any relief soon: A so-called “heat dome” over the region isn’t moving much.

In Oklahoma City, forecasters expected another day of 100-degree heat Sunday, which would be the 27th day this year the city has reached 100 or above.


City moves to ban plastic bags at stores

PORTLAND — Plastic shopping bags could be banned at Portland’s larger grocery store and other retailers as soon as Oct. 15.

Mayor Sam Adams proposed an ordinance Thursday that is expected to easily win City Council approval.

The Oregonian reported that Mr. Adams backed off his bag-ban proposal to give the Legislature a chance to enact a statewide ban. The session ended last month without approval of a bill that would have banned plastic bags and imposed a 5-cent fee for paper sacks.

Portland’s ordinance would exempt plastic grocery bags used for produce, bulk food and meat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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