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Judge presses Stewart prosecutor

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

With Martha Stewart looking on, a federal appeals judge Thursday sharply questioned a prosecutor about why no hearing was held into alleged lies told by a juror in the celebrity homemaker’s trial.

The exchange came as lawyers for Stewart, freed from prison earlier this month and now serving five months of house arrest, sought to convince a three-judge appeals panel to overturn her conviction for lying to the government.

Stewart is basing her appeal partly on allegations that juror Chappell Hartridge lied repeatedly on his jury questionnaire, including about a prior arrest, in order to get on the jury.

Judge Richard Wesley, one of the appeals judges, asked prosecutor Michael Schachter whether the trial had been tainted because trial judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum held no hearing into the alleged lies by Hartridge.

Credit card internet sales of cigarettes ends

Major credit card companies will no longer handle Internet sales of cigarettes under a nationwide agreement announced Thursday.

The move is aimed at illegal dealers that are trying to avoid sales taxes or sell to underage customers.

The thriving trade of Internet tobacco undercuts local businesses that sell cigarettes and often avoids sales tax for states and cities, allowing smokers to buy cigarettes considerably cheaper online.

The agreement among virtually all credit card companies, state officials from around the country, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is effective immediately.

“The way the system works now, tobacco can get into the hands of minors,” said Bob Cooper, spokesman for the Idaho attorney general’s office. “And these sales are depriving the states of revenue.”

Smokers would still be able to buy cigarettes over the Internet, but they would not be allowed to use their credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Instead, they would have to use checks, money orders or some other payment system that would probably hold up delivery.

PSE wind energy project started near Dayton

Puget Sound Energy has purchased and started construction on a wind energy project in southeastern Washington.

The 150-megawatt Hopkins Ridge Wind Project will be on 11,000 acres of wheat fields about 15 miles northeast of Dayton. The more than 80 wind turbines will provide enough energy to power 50,000 homes, the company said in a news release Thursday.

“The Hopkins Ridge Wind Project will be an excellent addition to our portfolio of electric resources,” said Eric Markell, senior vice president of energy resources. “It will provide more control over our power supply and minimize the risk to our customers from a volatile short-term energy market.”

PSE bought the wind farm from Blue Sky Wind LLC, an affiliate of United Kingdom-based Renewable Energy Systems Ltd. The utility expects to spend up to $200 million on the project, including $180 million to buy and construct the wind farm and $10 million to upgrade the transmission systems of the Bonneville Power Administration and other energy providers, the release said.

Nike’s third-quarter profits up 36 percent

Nike Inc. posted a 36-percent increase in third-quarter profits on Thursday in the first quarterly report since co-founder Phil Knight stepped down as CEO of the athletic shoe and clothing company.

Net income was $273.4 million, or $1.01 per share, up from $200.3 million, or 74 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The results were aided by a 14 percent jump in revenue to $3.31 billion, up from $2.9 billion.

Analysts noted that although the biggest growth was still in Nike’s core models, the company is increasingly reaping the benefits from its other brands, including Converse and Starter.

Nike shares rose 47 cents in late trading, after the income statement was released. They gained 39 cents to close at $86.83 in regular trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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