Nation briefs 10/13/05

Thursday, October 13, 2005

FEMA reconsiders ban on firearms at trailer park

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Under pressure from gun rights groups, FEMA said Wednesday it is reconsidering a ban on firearms at a trailer park established to temporarily house Hurricane Katrina victims. "We've got attorneys who are looking at that as we speak and they're trying to figure out who wrote the rules, what the intent was," FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney said. The dispute involves a nearly 600-trailer encampment that opened last week near Baton Rouge. Katrina evacuees will be allowed to stay there rent-free while they try to find permanent housing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has been general policy at FEMA for several years to prohibit guns at such parks anywhere in the country. But the National Rifle Association threatened to sue, and another gun rights group, the Second Amendment Foundation, said it, too, was looking at legal action.

Man punched on tape by La. police pleads not guilty

NEW ORLEANS -- A 64-year-old retired teacher accused of being drunk and resisting arrest, and whose beating by city police was caught on videotape, pleaded not guilty Wednesday as the officers involved in the arrest denied using excessive force. An attorney for Robert Davis said charges of public intoxication, resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and public intimidation were groundless and that they should be dropped. Joseph Bruno met briefly with city officials to discuss having the charges dismissed, and they agreed to continue their talks. Davis was released on bond and a trial was set for Jan. 18 -- a week after the scheduled start of the trial for the officers accused of beating him. An attorney for the officers, Frank DeSalvo, said police were only trying to subdue Davis, and that Davis had stumbled into a police horse and had been belligerent toward officers before his arrest.

Ga. teacher denies 24 charges of molestation

SYLVESTER, Ga. -- A third-grade teacher accused of slashing her wrists in front of her class and molesting students has pleaded not guilty. Georgianne Harrell, 24, was indicted last month on 24 charges of child molestation and reckless conduct. Harrell cut her wrists with broken glass in front of her class at Holley Elementary School, according to the indictment. Authorities also say she performed oral sex on a 9-year-old boy in her classroom, let students peek down her blouse and talked to some of the children about sexual matters. Between August 2004 and May, authorities claim she abused a total of seven students. She has resigned from the school. If convicted on all charges, she could receive maximum sentences ranging up to hundreds of years, prosecutors said.

Joan Kennedy undergoes breast cancer surgery

BOSTON -- Joan Kennedy, former wife of Sen. Edward Kennedy and mother of Rep. Patrick Kennedy, was recovering Wednesday from breast cancer surgery. Kennedy, 69, underwent a lumpectomy Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to a person close to the family who, at the family's request, spoke only on condition of anonymity. She will be treated with radiation and was expected to be released from the hospital later Wednesday, the person said. Sen. Kennedy said Wednesday that he was optimistic his former wife would beat cancer.

U.S. urges cooperation on natural disasters, crime

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Juggling military disaster relief efforts in the United States, Pakistan and Guatemala, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Central American leaders Wednesday that the next unknown crisis can only be resolved if democracies work together. Speaking to military and security ministers, including some who are allies in Iraq and the war on terror, Rumsfeld spoke broadly of the need to defend democracy in order to open up future opportunities. "It is clear the better the relationships and the better organized we are with respect to security matters, the better able we will be to deal with disasters, natural or manmade," said Rumsfeld. "And that is a good thing for our people."

-- From wire report

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