Nation briefs 5/7/05

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Rumsfeld: Fewer base closings than predicted

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon now foresees a much smaller round of base closings and consolidations, saying it has only half as much surplus space as previously estimated, according to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. That is likely to make the politically touchy subject of base closings less difficult for the Bush administration. Rumsfeld is to submit his list of recommended closures and realignments to the independent Base Realignment and Closure Commission no later than May 16, and the commission is required by law to submit its final report to President Bush by Sept. 8.

Man pleads innocent in Florida girl's death

TAMPA, Fla. -- A sex offender charged in the slaying of a 13-year-old girl pleaded innocent Friday, and prosecutors said they plan to seek the death penalty. An attorney for David Lee Onstott entered the plea to charges of murder and attempted sexual battery. Meanwhile, prosecutor Mark Ober filed court papers Friday saying he will seek the death penalty for Onstott if he is convicted of first-degree murder. The massive search for Sarah Lunde captured the nation's attention last month before her partially clothed body was found April 16 in an abandoned fish pond near her family's mobile home in Ruskin. Authorities said Onstott, 36, allegedly told investigators that he killed Sarah after the two got into an argument.

CEO: Microsoft will back gay rights legislation

SEATTLE -- In a turnaround Friday, Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer said the company will support gay rights legislation. Ballmer made the announcement in an e-mail to employees two weeks after gay rights activists accused the company of withdrawing its support for an anti-discrimination bill in its home state after an evangelical pastor threatened to launch a national boycott. The bill died by a single vote in the state Senate in late April. The bill that failed in the state legislature would have banned discrimination against gays in housing, employment and insurance.

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