Ashcroft - Security fears can keep aliens in jail

Friday, April 25, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Most illegal immigrants can be jailed indefinitely without bond when national security risks exist, Attorney General John Ashcroft has declared in a legal opinion. Immigration advocates are calling that an abuse of power in the name of fighting terrorism.

The order means such aliens will not be released on bond while their cases are being decided by immigration judges if the government can show national security issues are involved.

"Such national security considerations clearly constitute a reasonable foundation for the exercise of my discretion to deny release on bond," Ashcroft said in the 19-page opinion, which was signed April 18.

The opinion was requested by the Homeland Security Department, which now enforces most immigration laws, after the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld a judge's decision to release Haitian asylum-seeker David Joseph on $2,500 bond.

Space worker charged in shuttle debris theft

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Kennedy Space Center employee accused of stealing debris while helping to recover parts of the space shuttle Columbia was released Thursday on $25,000 bond.

Michael Pankiewicz, 44, was arrested Wednesday and charged with embezzling government property, transporting stolen government property and making a false statement to federal investigators, said Carolyn Adams, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney. She wouldn't say what shuttle part or parts he was accused of taking.

Pankiewicz, who is on paid leave from NASA, has worked at the space center for 15 years, spokesman Bruce Buckingham said.

U.S. Magistrate Karla Spaulding ordered Pankiewicz to stay away from NASA facilities and military bases, but made an exception for when Pankiewicz needed to fulfill his duties as an Air National Guard reservist.

Truckers get to drive more, but rest longer

WASHINGTON -- The government says a new requirement that truck drivers rest two more hours between shifts will save as many as 75 lives annually by reducing fatigue-related accidents.

Safety groups and the truckers' union dispute that. They say the benefits from that change will be offset by another: Allowing the drivers to spend up to 11 straight hours behind the wheel, one more than now permitted.

The changes, announced Thursday by Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, are the first for truck drivers since 1939. Mineta said they could lower the cost of moving freight by 1 percent and mean a yearly economic benefit of almost $100 billion in increased productivity.

Drivers will have to rest at least 10 hours between shifts, two hours more than now, while also getting the chance to stay on the road an hour longer. The changes take effect Jan. 4.

Police: NYC actress shot in face by ex-boyfriend

NEW YORK -- An actress who had recently completed work on an episode of NBC's "Law and Order" was shot in the face by her ex-boyfriend early Thursday in the doorway of her apartment, police said.

The victim's mother, who was visiting, watched as the ex-boyfriend then fatally shot himself, police said.

Lyric Benson, 21, was hospitalized in extremely critical condition Thursday evening. Acquaintances said Benson broke off her relationship with Robert Ambrosino, 33, weeks ago after a religious reawakening prompted her to rethink their living together.

"She became religious," agent Jerry Hogan said. "It didn't quite work with living with someone out of wedlock."

Benson portrayed an actress working as a waitress in a current American Express ad campaign and had a small part on a recently completed episode of NBC's "Law and Order: Criminal Intent," according to her agents.

--From wire reports

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