Nation digest 11/09/04

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

New Jersey governor makes farewell address

TRENTON, N.J. -- Gov. James E. McGreevey delivered a farewell address Monday in which he said he does not apologize "for being a gay American but rather for having let personal feelings impact my decision-making." McGreevey is to step down Nov. 15. He resigned over a gay affair with a man identified as Golan Cipel -- hired by the governor in 2002 to head the state's Homeland Security department. Cipel has steadfastly denied any involvement with McGreevey and has alleged he was sexually harassed by the governor.

Citing health, Kevorkian asks for prison release

LANSING, Mich. -- An attorney for Jack Kevorkian asked the state parole board Monday to recommend that the assisted suicide advocate be released from prison for health reasons. Attorney Mayer Morganroth said Kevorkian has health problems including high blood pressure, a hernia and arthritis, and the board should urge Gov. Jennifer Granholm to either pardon him or commute his sentence. Kevorkian, 76, has been in prison 5 1/2 years and his health has worsened, Morganroth said. Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said medical commutations are normally granted only for inmates expected to live a year or less.

Evolution disclaimer challenged in court

ATLANTA -- A trial opened Monday over whether a warning sticker in suburban Atlanta biology textbooks that says evolution is "a theory, not a fact" violates the separation of church and state by promoting religion. Cobb County schools put the disclaimers in biology texts two years ago after more than 2,000 parents complained the books presented evolution as fact without mentioning rival ideas about the origin of life, namely creationism. A group of parents and the American Civil Liberties Union then filed a lawsuit over the stickers.

Reagan shooter seeks more time out of hospital

WASHINGTON -- The attorney for the man who shot President Reagan 23 years ago argued Monday that John Hinckley is ready to live part-time away from the mental hospital where he has been confined since shortly after the failed assassination attempt in 1981. Hinckley, 49, sat silently in a federal courtroom as a judge began hearing from psychiatrists and others who disagree over whether Hinckley is entirely well and can be trusted to spend days at a time off the hospital grounds at his parents' home in Williamsburg, Va. The hearing is expected to last several days.

Scientists: Arctic bearing brunt of climate changes

WASHINGTON -- Scientists say changes in the earth's climate are occurring particularly intensely in the Arctic region, evidenced by widespread melting of glaciers, thinning sea ice and rising permafrost temperatures. A study released Monday said the annual average amount of sea ice in the Arctic has decreased about 8 percent in the past 30 years, resulting in the loss of 386,100 square miles of sea ice -- an area bigger than Texas and Arizona combined. In the past 50 years, average yearly temperatures in Alaska and Siberia rose about 3.6 degrees to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and winters in Alaska and western Canada warmed an average of 5 degrees to 7 degrees Fahrenheit.

-- From wire reports

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