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Nation in brief: Court sidesteps fight over FBI raid

Tue., April 1, 2008

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to step into a high-stakes legal fight between the Justice Department and indicted Rep. William Jefferson over the unprecedented raid on the lawmaker’s Capitol Hill office.

The Justice Department said the court’s action would not impede the bribery case against the Louisiana Democrat.

The justices declined to review an appeals court ruling that said that, while the office search itself was legal, the FBI reviewed legislative documents in violation of the Constitution.

Other documents seized in the raid were provided to prosecutors and were used to support a 16-count indictment of Jefferson in June 2007.

Jefferson has pleaded not guilty to charges of soliciting more than $500,000 in bribes while using his office to broker business deals in Africa.


U.S. regulators faulted in cave-in

Federal regulators failed to protect workers at Utah’s Crandall Canyon mine, where nine people died last summer, a U.S. Labor Department watchdog said Monday.

The department’s inspector general’s office blamed federal mining regulators for negligence in approving a roof-control plan for the mine. Six miners died in a collapse Aug. 6. Another cave-in 10 days later killed three people trying to reach the trapped men.

The 80-page report Monday from Assistant Inspector General Elliot Lewis said the Mine Safety and Health Administration could not show it made the right decision when it approved risky retreat mining at Crandall Canyon.

In the same report, MSHA director Richard Stickler disputed the claim his agency was negligent and unduly influenced by the mine operator, Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp. MSHA is part of the Labor Department.

“We take exception to the inspector general’s use of headline-grabbing language that is unsupported by facts or evidence,” MSHA spokesman Matthew Faraci said Monday.


Fetus aboard plane traced to girl, 14

A 14-year-old girl on a return flight from a middle-school trip delivered a stillborn fetus in the bathroom of an airplane and disposed of it in a waste bin, police said Monday.

The girl, whom police did not identify, said she didn’t know she had been pregnant. Preliminary autopsy results indicated the fetus was stillborn, police said.

“We’re dealing with a scared child at this point,” investigator Keith Lovelace said.

Police were called to Bush Intercontinental Airport after a cleaning crew found the fetus in a bathroom wastebasket after the Continental Airlines plane landed Sunday afternoon.


Bad wiring caused airplane skid-offs

Two United Airlines A320 planes that skidded off runways in recent months had crossed wiring in their main landing gear, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

Investigators are continuing to look into both incidents, NTSB spokesman Peter Knutson said.

United Airlines confirmed the finding and said three Airbus A320s in all were found to have the faulty landing-gear wiring, which is believed to have caused wheels to lock.

The most recent incident occurred Feb. 25 when a plane slid off the runway after landing in Jackson Hole, Wyo. No one was seriously hurt.

Four months earlier, a United A320 briefly veered off a runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, taking out some runway lights and causing two minor injuries. United said the third miswired plane was not involved in an accident.

The airline since has inspected its fleet of 97 A320s.


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