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Bush approves energy assistance

Tue., March 21, 2006, midnight

Federal aid to help the poor cope with energy costs will increase by $1 billion to more than $3 billion this year under legislation President Bush signed Monday.

It took months to get the additional money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program through Congress, in part because of resistance from fiscal conservatives opposed to new spending and from lawmakers from warm-weather states who contend the program favors cold-weather regions.

Proponents said the program’s budget has failed to meet the needs of the poor as heating and cooling costs soar.

Under a compromise worked out in the Senate, half of the new money will be distributed according to an existing formula that favors warm-weather states while the other half will be spent at the discretion of the president.


Cuban migrants face varying fates

A Carnival cruise ship was poised Monday to turn over to the U.S. Coast Guard 28 Cuban migrants it picked up on the high seas, after having stopped in Galveston, Texas, over the weekend, Coast Guard officials said.

Meanwhile, another 19 Cuban migrants made it to dry land Monday at Sand Key, Fla., according to U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Robert Montemayor. He said 14 were at the Border Patrol office in Pembroke Pines, Fla., and five were taken to a Miami hospital to be treated for dehydration and sun exposure.

The 28 on the cruise ship most likely will be repatriated to Cuba unless they can convince U.S. officials that they face political persecution and qualify for asylum.

Under the controversial wet foot/dry foot policy, most Cuban migrants picked up at sea are repatriated to Cuba, but those who make it to U.S. territory can stay.


Plane just misses tourist hot spots

A twin-engine plane crashed in the heart of this resort town Monday, killing all four people aboard and setting fire to a building near the main drag of tourist nightclubs, theaters and music halls.

The Piper Seneca crashed into a self-storage complex about 200 feet from the busy street, near a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, two motels and a string of musical theaters bearing the names of such entertainers as Andy Williams and Bobby Vinton.

The plane, with its fuel tanks filled just before takeoff, struck the corner of the building containing 32 storage units. The building quickly caught fire and was destroyed.

Police Chief Caroll McCulough said there is no way to tell if the pilot deliberately avoided the bustling strip. Federal investigators are to comb through the wreckage today for clues.


Man shoots boy walking on lawn

A man who neighbors say was devoted to his meticulously kept lawn has been charged with murder in the shooting of a 15-year-old boy who apparently walked across his yard.

Charles Martin called 911 on Sunday afternoon, saying calmly: “I just killed a kid.”

Police, who released the call’s contents, said Martin also told the dispatcher: “I’ve been harassed by him and his parents for five years. Today just blew it up.”

Larry Mugrage, whose family lived next door, was shot in the chest with a shotgun. The high school freshman was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Martin, 66, allegedly told police he had had problems several times with neighbors walking on his lawn.

He remained jailed without bond Monday. His jailers said no attorney was listed for him.

Compiled from wire reports


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