Federal Judge cites Interior for contempt
The federal judge who struck down the Obama administration's moratorium on deepwater drilling after the gulf oil spill held the Interior Department in contempt Wednesday, and ordered it to pay attorneys' fees for several offshore oil companies. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman chided the agency for its "dismissive conduct" after he overturned its decision to halt new permits for deepwater projects and suspend drilling on 33 exploratory wells after the Deepwater Horizon blast, which killed 11 workers and triggered the massive spill. After he overturned the moratorium in June, the agency issued a second nearly identical suspension.
Film leads to firing at women's clinic
Planned Parenthood fired a clinic manager who advised a man posing as a sex trafficker. The manager was videotaped covertly in a clinic in Perth Amboy by actors working for an anti-abortion group, Live Action. The manager gave advice on how to get medical care for underage prostitutes. The tape's release on Tuesday embarrassed Planned Parenthood, which provides contraceptives, gynecological care, cancer screening and abortions, mainly to low-income women. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America said that immediately after the "highly unusual" visit, its affiliate had notified prosecutors.
Cleric charged with terrorism
Abu Bakar Bashir, a Muslim cleric long accused of being a main terrorist ideologue, was charged with coordinating and financing a militant group that was violently suppressed by the police last year after it set up an armed training camp in the northern Sumatran province of Aceh. Prosecutors lodged the case file with the charges, which contain a maximum sentence of death, on the same day defense lawyers mounted a constitutional challenge to Bashir's long detention since his arrest in August.
Gun rights hero wins early release
A farmer who became a folk hero to gun rights activists after he was imprisoned for brandishing a handgun at a trespasser on his property won early release. The New Hampshire Executive Council voted unanimously to free Ward Bird, just two months into his three-year sentence. Bird, 49, of Moultonborough had sought a full pardon. The council voted in his favor, but Gov. John Lynch vetoed the pardon, saying the judicial system had given Bird's case a thorough review. The council then immediately voted to commute his sentence, and Lynch let that vote stand.
Diocese settles abuse claims
The Diocese of Wilmington settled a lawsuit with nearly 150 alleged victims of sexual abuse for more than $77 million, including an agreement to fully disclose church documents relating to the abuse. The lawsuits claimed child sexual abuse by dozens of diocesan and religious order priests dating to the early 1960s. Anthony Flynn, a lawyer for the diocese, said the settlement provided "fair compensation for victims." The money will come from a trust fund.
New York: The city's parks, beaches and even Times Square will be off-limits to smokers under one of the nation's toughest anti-cigarette laws passed Wednesday by the City Council.
Compiled from Times wires.