Nation briefs 10/13/03
Monday, October 13, 2003
Ex-Illinois governor joins Penn. death penalty foes
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- About 1,000 people converged on the state Capitol to urge a suspension of the death penalty, joined by the former Illinois governor who imposed a moratorium there.
Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan suspended executions in 2000 after 13 death-row prisoners were found to have been wrongfully convicted.
He said Saturday that Pennsylvania is in a similar position now. "You've exonerated more than you've executed. Why would you do that?"
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell opposes a death-penalty moratorium. Since taking office in January, he has signed 10 death warrants.
During Ryan's final days in office in January, the Republican pardoned four death-row inmates and commuted the sentences of all 167 of the state's condemned prisoners, most of them to life in prison without parole.
Two children killed in house blaze in New York
NEW YORK -- A fire swept through a home early Sunday, killing two children and prompting a search for their parents, authorities said.
Firefighters responding to the basement fire in a two-story home in Brooklyn found the children, a 2-year-old boy and a girl believed to be 8 or 9, suffering from smoke inhalation. The children were later pronounced dead at a hospital, said Jack Thompson, a Fire Department spokesman.
Authorities were looking for their parents, Thompson said.
No other injuries were reported in the fire.
Diocese settles abuse cases for $5.2 million
COVINGTON, Ky. -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington has agreed to pay nearly $5.2 million to 27 people who said priests sexually abused them in their youth.
The men and women had accused at least six priests of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s at parishes in Lexington and northern Kentucky.
In two agreements announced Saturday, the payouts were $4,415,000 to 24 people and $750,000 to three others. The amount any individual received was based on the severity of the abuse and its impact.
The settlements follow meetings between Bishop Roger J. Foys and many of the claimants, who included 22 plaintiffs in a lawsuit and five others who brought out-of-court claims.
"I am very pleased that we are able to take this important step, and I pray that it will be the beginning of healing and reconciliation with those who have been deeply hurt as children by priests," Foys said in a statement.
Texas House clears way for redistricting
AUSTIN -- The Texas House approved a sweeping government reorganization measure Sunday, acquiescing to Senate terms for giving final approval to a congressional redistricting map.
Final passage of the Republican-backed redistricting map now rests with the Senate, which was scheduled to meet later in the evening Sunday.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst previously said the Senate would not approve the map until the House passed the unrelated bill intended to reorganize state government.
On Friday, several House Democrats thwarted an initial vote on the reorganization measure by leaving and preventing a quorum. That delay was another strange development in the six-month redistricting saga that has included a quorum bust by 51 House Democrats who fled to Ardmore, Okla., in May and another by 11 senators who traveled to Albuquerque, N.M., over the summer.
Several members of the House argued against the reorganization bill, including a Republican who helped write the measure.
-- From wire reports