National Digest


August 23, 2005

Justices reject new look at ruling on eminent domain

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court, given a chance to revisit a heavily criticized ruling, refused yesterday to reconsider its decision giving local governments more power to seize people's homes for economic development.

So contentious was the court's 5-4 ruling in the eminent domain case decided this year that some critics launched a campaign to seize Justice David H. Souter's farmhouse in New Hampshire to build a luxury hotel. Others singled out Justice Stephen G. Breyer's vacation home in the same state for use as a park.

Pataki wants publication of taped phone calls probed

ALBANY, N.Y. - Gov. George E. Pataki has called for a federal investigation after transcripts of his taped telephone conversations with an aide appeared in a New York newspaper.

The New York Post reported that the conversations appear to have taken place during Pataki's first term, in 1996 or 1997.

The newspaper said a tape recording of the telephone conversations, which include a former Pataki aide complaining about administration commissioners not hiring the patronage appointees he had recommended to them quickly enough, were given to it anonymously.

Pentagon can't validate claims about 9/11 hijacker

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has been unable to validate claims that a secret intelligence unit identified Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta as a terrorist more than a year before the attacks, a Defense Department spokesman said yesterday.

Larry Di Rita said no evidence has been found that the intelligence unit, Able Danger, came up with information as specific as an officer associated with the program has asserted.

That officer, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said Able Danger identified Atta and three other future Sept. 11 hijackers as terrorists in 2000. Military lawyers stopped the unit from sharing the information with the FBI because of concerns about the legality of gathering and sharing information on people in the United States, Shaffer said.

Coast Guard searches Fla. waters for 31 Cubans

MIAMI - The U.S. Coast Guard searched the Florida Straits yesterday after three Cubans rescued at sea said they had been aboard a speedboat that sank with 31 others aboard.

Coast Guard crews found a capsized 28-foot boat matching the Cubans' description about 16 miles from where the three were picked up, but they found no bodies.

Assassinate Venezuelan president, Robertson urges

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson called yesterday for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him a "terrific danger" to the United States.

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America, said it was the United States' duty to stop Chavez from making Venezuela a "launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous.

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