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Racial speeding study results might be held

The Justice Department is questioning a New Jersey study that suggests black drivers speed more than other drivers, and has asked the state to withhold the report.

The state troopers union, however, demanded Thursday that the report be made public, saying it absolves troopers of charges of racial profiling.

"It seems like it flies in the face of what they've been saying," said Ken McClelland, president of the State Trooper Fraternal Association. "We stopped the people who were speeding."

The study found black drivers sped much more than other drivers and the racial gap was wider than officials expected, the Associated Press reported.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Justice Department officials have serious concerns about the methods used to gather the data. The researchers, though, said their methods were sound.

Life begins at conception, Kansas lawmakers say

TOPEKA, Kan. _ In a broad attack on abortion, Kansas lawmakers voted Thursday to ask the state Supreme Court to declare that life begins at conception.

Abortion opponents hope the court will rule that a fetus is entitled to protections provided by the Kansas Constitution, including the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

"This is a direct attack on Roe vs. Wade," said Rep. Rick Rehorn, a lawyer and Democrat who supports abortion rights.

The Kansas House voted 70-50 Thursday to direct the attorney general's office to file a lawsuit asking the Kansas Supreme Court to make the declaration that life begins at conception.

Supporters say the issue of when life begins is ripe for review by the courts because of advances in medical science since the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalized abortion.

Flooding from Kentucky to Virginia spreads

OLIVE HILL, Ky. _ Streams overflowed their banks and hundreds of homes and businesses were inundated as flooding spread throughout the hills of eastern Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia.

Since the weekend, at least seven people have died, and hundreds of homes have been damaged or destroyed.

By midday Thursday, the rain had stopped across much of the Appalachian region, but water flowing from swollen tributaries continued to raise rivers.

The Kentucky River was expected to remain high at least through today, with more precipitation forecast for late Thursday, and the National Weather Service issued flood warnings for north-central Kentucky.

Elsewhere . . .

SECOND SOLDIER DIES: A second soldier, Staff Sgt. Eric Hall, 34, of Phoenix has died from injuries he suffered when two artillery shells missed their mark and exploded near a mess tent during a training exercise, an Army spokesman said Thursday.

TWO TO BE CHARGED IN PILEUP: Two truck drivers involved in last week's 125-vehicle pileup on I-75 will be charged with speeding and driving too long without a break, federal authorities said Thursday.

BODIES TIED TO RUSSIAN MOB: Five people whose bodies were pulled from a reservoir near Sacramento, Calif., had been abducted, blackmailed and killed by Russian mobsters, the U.S. attorney said. Six men of Russian descent are in custody, charged with hostage-taking or receiving ransom money in connection with some of the victims.

AIRPORT SCUFFLE: A passenger was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and accused of striking a flight attendant who tried to break up an argument during a flight, federal officials said Thursday.