Nation digest 08/09/03

Saturday, August 9, 2003

Incineration of chemical weapons to continue

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge cleared the way Friday for the Army to begin destroying Cold War-era chemical weapons at a military facility in Alabama, rejecting environmentalists' claims the process could endanger residents.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson denied a request from an environmental group for a temporary restraining order to block the startup of the incinerator at the Anniston Army Depot.

The group then asked for a preliminary injunction, which the judge also denied.

At the hearing, Jackson said the plaintiffs did not sufficiently show that "harm will flow." He said any danger suggested by the group "is purely speculative."

Air Force drops charges in cadet rape case

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Air Force has dropped sexual assault charges against an officer accused of raping an Air Force Academy cadet last year, but he still faces administrative punishment, his lawyer said Friday.

If 2nd Lt. Ronen Segal had been convicted of the criminal charges, he could have faced a life sentence and dismissal from the Air Force. He still could be disciplined by the academy because he allegedly provided alcohol to the cadet, who was under age.

The charges were dropped after the investigating officer said the woman was capable of giving or withholding consent and "did not in any way object to or resist" sex, the Air Force said Thursday, according to The Gazette of Colorado Springs.

Esquire cancels review by ex-Times reporter

NEW YORK -- Esquire has canceled a movie review it commissioned former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair to write, the magazine said Friday.

Blair, who resigned from the Times after editors learned he had embellished and plagiarized parts of dozens of reports, was to have reviewed "Shattered Glass," a film about another journalist found to have fabricated stories, Stephen Glass.

David Granger, editor in chief of the 68-year-old men's magazine, said Esquire reversed its decision after news of Blair's assignment became public.

"It was intended as a joke that readers would see when they picked up the issue," Granger said. "All the news reports took away that element of surprise."

Gov. Bush's daughter released from drug rehab

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Gov. Jeb Bush's daughter completed a drug rehabilitation program Friday and a judge allowed her to go home with her parents.

Noelle Bush hugged Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead during a drug court hearing. The president's niece had been ordered into treatment after she was arrested in January 2002 for allegedly trying to use a fraudulent prescription to buy the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

"It's been quite a challenge, and I'm grateful," Noelle Bush said during the hearing at the Orange County Courthouse.

Whitehead twice sent Noelle Bush to jail for breaking the rules in rehab.

-- From wire reports

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