Nation briefs 11/24/04
Guantanamo lawyers skip right to high court
WASHINGTON -- Attorneys for an alleged al-Qaida member have filed an unusual appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the government's strategy in holding military trials for terror suspects in Cuba. Earlier this month a federal judge blocked the first planned trial, and lawyers for the accused enemy combatant in that case are trying to bypass an appeals court and get the issue before the high court immediately.
Viacom, FCC agree to $3.5 million for indecency
WASHINGTON -- Viacom agreed Tuesday to pay $3.5 million to end investigations by the Federal Communications Commission into allegations of indecency in its radio and television programming. The fine, one of the largest in FCC history, settles three pending FCC investigations, one involving shock jock Howard Stern and two involving Opie and Anthony, who lost their Viacom-owned New York radio show after it featured a couple purporting to have sex inside St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan.
TSA: Don't bring guns, knives on holiday flights
WASHINGTON -- Is it possible the word still hasn't gotten around? Leave your handguns and knives at home when you go to the airport. The chain saw, land mines and gunpowder, too. More than three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, air travelers still are trying to carry thousands of potentially deadly items on planes every month. The Transportation Security Administration, which took over security screening at 450 airports in February 2002, said Tuesday it had confiscated 15.6 million prohibited items, including 2,150 guns, 75,241 boxcutters and 4.7 million knives through the end of October.
Suspect in hunter shooting calls matter self-defense
HAYWARD, Wis. -- A Hmong immigrant suspected of killing six fellow deer hunters in the Wisconsin woods told investigators that he opened fire after they took a shot at him first and hurled racial slurs at him, according to court papers filed Tuesday. A judge set bail at $2.5 million for Chai Vang, 36, of St. Paul, Minn., who was jailed on suspicion of murder and attempted murder. The shootings occurred Sunday after Vang climbed into a tree stand on private property and got into a confrontation with the landowner and members of his hunting party.
Tornadoes strike eastern Texas after days of rain
AUSTIN, Texas -- Tornadoes touched down Tuesday in eastern Texas, killing a woman, injuring three people, and destroying several homes after days of rain throughout the region. Valerie Stewart, a dispatcher for the Hardin County Sheriff's Department, said there was "pretty extensive damage," but she was not aware of other injuries from a deadly late-afternoon tornado -- one of four she said struck the county. "Several trailers were wiped out," Stewart said. She did not know whether the woman who died lived in a trailer.
-- From wire reports
Tests show no mad cow in U.S. beef
WASHINGTON -- No sign of mad cow disease was found in an animal the Agriculture Department had singled out for followup tests, officials said Tuesday. Initial screenings last week had raised the possibility of a new case of the disease in the United States. A more definitive test at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, came back negative, the officials said.
Gays win small battle in conservative Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Kansas is as conservative as any state, but its capital city has taken a small step toward protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. The Topeka City Council last week narrowly approved an ordinance prohibiting bias in city hiring or employment based on sexual orientation. Many activists were disappointed, hoping the council would enact a broader ordinance against discrimination in housing, lending and private employment. Yet a few took some comfort in the small progress they did perceive.
Prison no chore for 'safe, fit, healthy' Stewart
NEW YORK -- Martha Stewart, in prison for one of her favorite holidays, says she is "safe, fit and healthy" and grateful this Thanksgiving for the support of her fans. In a new message on her personal Web site, the homemaking expert also says she is being treated fairly by staff and other inmates at the federal women's prison in Alderson, W.Va.
Mom who cut off baby's arms joins list of infamous Texas women
DALLAS -- When a mother admitted killing her baby daughter by severing the child's arms this week, she joined a high-profile list of Texas women with histories of mental illness who have killed their children in gruesome fashion. The state has had at least four similar cases in recent years. Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family's Houston bathtub in 2001. Deanna Laney bashed her three sons' skulls with rocks last year, killing two and maiming a toddler. She said God told her to do it. A mother from suburban Dallas drowned her daughters last fall, and a woman in Brownsville is accused of helping her common-law husband behead her three children.
L.A. to close trauma unit in gang-ridden area
LOS ANGELES -- The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to close a hospital trauma center in one of the city's poorest, most gang-ridden sections, despite pleas from politicians, civil rights leaders and neighborhood residents. Four of the five supervisors voted to close the unit at Los Angeles County's Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, while the supervisor who represents the area abstained. The crowd in the meeting hall erupted in chants of "Save King-Drew!" and "No justice, no peace!" immediately after the vote.
-- From wire reports