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Nation in brief: No licenses for illegal immigants

Illegal immigrants are ineligible for driver’s licenses, Michigan’s attorney general said Thursday in an opinion that affects one of the few states that have been granting licenses to undocumented residents.

Attorney General Mike Cox’s opinion is legally binding on state agencies and officers unless reversed by the courts. It was not immediately known how soon any changes would take place or what the opinion means for illegal immigrants with currently valid licenses.

Michigan law prohibits the secretary of state from issuing a driver’s license to a nonresident. Cox, a Republican, said it would be inconsistent with federal law to regard an illegal immigrant as a permanent resident in Michigan.

Whether illegal immigrants should get licenses has become a major political issue. Earlier this year, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, but he ended up withdrawing that plan after intense opposition.


Utility finds likely cause of crater

A small clump of sealant probably caused a steam-pipe explosion last summer that blew a crater near Grand Central Terminal, according to the utility that runs New York’s underground steam system.

The clog apparently came from an epoxy resin injected into the midtown Manhattan pipe four months before the July 18 blast, which left one woman dead of a heart attack as she fled and dozens of people injured, Consolidated Edison spokesman Michael Clendenin said.

The epoxy was being used to seal a seam connecting two segments of the steel pipe. Some of the epoxy got into a valve, leading to a buildup of pressure that ruptured the pipe, according to a new report from consultants for Con Edison.

Con Edison is changing rules for fixing seam leaks and taking other steps in response to the report, Clendenin said.


Teen sentenced for highway shootings

A teenager who pleaded guilty to killing one man and wounding another in a series of 2006 Indiana highway sniper shootings was sentenced Thursday to 42 years in prison.

Defense attorneys tried to portray 18-year-old Zachariah Blanton as troubled and the victim of teasing, but the judge said his emotional problems were no excuse for killing someone he had never met.

Prosecutors said Blanton fired his hunting rifle into Interstate 65 traffic on July 23, 2006, from an overpass about 60 miles south of Indianapolis, killing 40-year-old Jerry L. Ross of New Albany. An Iowa man traveling in another pickup truck also was injured.

Defense attorneys had said Blanton fired at a white pickup truck carrying Ross in anger after an emotional clash with other family members during a deer hunt. But Ross had nothing to do with what happened during the hunt, said Jackson Circuit Judge William Vance.


Nose wipe garners battery charge

Sometimes you need a police officer; sometimes you need a tissue. Confuse the two, and it could cost you.

A woman in this Charleston suburb was charged with battery on a police officer after the officer said she wiped her nose on the back of his shirt.

Cpl. S.E. Elliott said he had arrested the 36-year-old woman last week after seeing her slap a man, bite him on the elbow and spit in his face. Elliott said the woman wiped her nose on him as he led her into the police station for booking on a charge of domestic battery.

Battery on a police officer is defined as intentionally making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an officer.


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