- Associated Press - Saturday, May 9, 2015
Sabotage conviction overturned against nun, fellow activists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An 85-year-old nun and two fellow Catholic peace activists who splashed blood on the walls of a bunker holding weapons-grade uranium - exposing vulnerabilities in the nation’s nuclear security - were wrongly convicted of sabotage, an appeals court ruled Friday.

At issue was whether Sister Megan Rice, 66-year-old Michael Walli and 59-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed injured national security when they cut through several fences to break into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge in July 2012. A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that they did not.

Once there, the trio had hung banners, prayed and hammered on the outside wall of the bunker to symbolize a Bible passage that refers to the end of war: “They will beat their swords into ploughshares.”

“If a defendant blew up a building used to manufacture components for nuclear weapons … the government surely could demonstrate an adverse effect on the nation’s ability to attack or defend,” the opinion says.

“But vague platitudes about a facility’s ‘crucial role in the national defense’ are not enough to convict a defendant of sabotage.”

The court upheld a less serious conviction for injuring government property. An attorney for the three, Bill Quigley, said he hopes they will be re-sentenced to time served and released from prison, where they have been since being convicted in May 2013. Rice was sentenced to nearly three years; Walli and Boertje-Obed are each serving sentences of just over five years.


Tennessee Highway Patrol says 6 killed in head-on crash

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A sport utility vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a minivan head-on in Tennessee, killing six people, including three children, authorities said Friday.

Those killed include both drivers and the front passenger in the minivan. The three children who died were also riding in the minivan, which was carrying eight people, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. A man and two children in the van were injured, though the extent of their injuries wasn’t clear. They were taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

The crash happened Thursday night on U.S. 411 South in Blount County, Lt. Bill Miller said.

Police identified those killed in the minivan as driver Tammy James, 52, and passengers Christy Manuel, 30; Cody Manuel, 13; Christopher Manuel, 8; and Gavin Manuel, 1.

All were from Greenback, about 30 miles southwest of Knoxville.

Police said Robert Sorenson Jr., 56, of Maryville, was the driver of the Isuzu Rodeo that crossed over the lanes.


Haslam signs new licensing rules for abortion clinics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill into law placing licensing restrictions on abortion clinics.

Under the new law, facilities or physician offices would have to be licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers if they perform more than 50 abortions in a year.

The House approved the measure on an 81-17 vote, while the Senate passed its version 28-4.

Haslam has yet to sign a separate bill to require a 48-hour waiting period before an abortion but has indicated that he plans to.

The legislation came after voters in November approved a constitutional amendment giving state lawmakers more power to regulate abortions. The ballot measure overturned a 2000 Supreme Court ruling that had thrown out laws imposing similar restrictions.


State releases details of Tenn. lawmaker health benefit cost

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A state agency has released detailed information about the nearly $6 million in taxpayer-subsidized health insurance benefits provided to Tennessee lawmakers.

The Tennessean (https://tnne.ws/1F9ZdDThttps://tnne.ws/1F9ZdDT ) reports that Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration handed over the public records, a day after an unexplained delay.

The newspaper requested the information after lawmakers voted against Haslam’s proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans.

After a reporter was permitted to read the information about lawmaker benefits on a state computer earlier in the week, the paper agreed to pay $1,500 for its own copies. But the state balked at turning over the records on Thursday as some lawmakers raised opposition to the information becoming public.

Of 132 state lawmakers, 116 are on the state health insurance plan.


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