Nation digest 09/10/03

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Alabama voters say no to record tax hike

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Gov. Bob Riley's $1.2 billion tax package was rejected overwhelmingly Tuesday night as voters agreed with those who said Alabama needs spending cuts rather than the largest tax increase in state history.

With 94 percent of precincts reporting, 830,724 people, or 67 percent, were opposed; 401,634 people, or 33 percent, were in favor.

The Republican governor promoted the tax package as the way to get Alabama off the bottom of many national education rankings.

But opponents said Alabama politicians need to cut wasteful spending rather than raise taxes.

Music industry settles suit against 12-year-old

WASHINGTON -- A 12-year-old girl in New York who was among the first to be sued by the record industry for sharing music over the Internet is off the hook after her mother agreed Tuesday to pay $2,000, apologizing and admitting that her daughter's actions violated U.S. copyright laws.

The hurried settlement involving Brianna LaHara, an honors student, was the first announced one day after the Recording Industry Association of America filed 261 such lawsuits across the country.

The family lives in a city housing project on New York's Upper West Side, and they said they mistakenly believed they were entitled to download music because they had paid $29.99 for software that gives them access to online file-sharing services.

The RIAA said it did not look at each individual's background before filing its suits.

Alabama Capitol display includes commandments

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Gov. Bob Riley opened an exhibit at the Capitol on Tuesday that included a small plaque of the Ten Commandments, keeping a promise to supporters of a massive granite monument removed by court order from the state judicial building.

Riley and Alabama's attorney general included other historical documents, including the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, in the display to make it more legally defensible than the 5,300-pound monument that sat alone in the rotunda of the Supreme Court building before it was wheeled away on Aug. 27, a spokesman said.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was suspended for refusing to comply with a federal court order to remove his monument from the Supreme Court building, said a display like Riley's is unacceptable.

"To put things around the Ten Commandments and secularize it is to deny the greatness of God," he said.

Texas governor calls third special session

AUSTIN, Texas -- Republican Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday called a third special session of the legislature to redraw Texas' congressional districts after the Democrats thwarted two previous attempts by fleeing the state.

Perry said the session would begin on Monday.

During two previous GOP efforts to redraw Texas' congressional map, Democratic lawmakers slipped across the state line, beyond the reach of Texas law, depriving the Republicans of the quorum needed to conduct business.

The announcement came after 10 Senate Democrats who have been in New Mexico boycotting the legislature relented and announced that they would return to Texas.

Mother convicted of killing infant with meth

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- A woman whose baby overdosed on methamphetamine contained in the mother's breast milk was convicted of murder.

During the three-week trial of Amy Leanne Prien, 31, witnesses testified about her appetite for methamphetamine.

Her 3-month-old son, Jacob Wesley Smith, was found dead in the home Jan. 19, 2002.

Defense lawyer Stephen Yagman said he would appeal, adding there was no evidence that the baby ingested the drug through the breast milk.

Prien could get up to life in prison when sentenced next month.

-- From wire reports

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