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News Briefs

December 22, 1995
Web posted at: 12:20 a.m. EST

Prosecutors suggest Tulsa as site of bombing trial

OKLAHOMA CITY (CNN) -- The prosecution in the Oklahoma City bombing case recommended Thursday that the trial be held in Tulsa, the second-largest city in the state.

Tulsa is about 100 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. It is in a separate federal judicial district, so the jurors would come from that area, rather than from Oklahoma City.

The defense has asked the case be moved out of the state and as far away as possible, but prosecutors said Oklahoma jurors could be as fair as anyone else in the country.

The new judge in the case, Judge Richard Matsch, will not rule on a trial site until after a court hearing starting January 30.

The bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building last April caused the deaths of 169 people. Former Army buddies Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols could face the death penalty if convicted in what is the nation's largest mass murder case.

Matsch is the senior federal judge in Denver, and many observers expect he conduct the trial there if he decides to move it out of Oklahoma.

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Oil company to pay $129 million for Love Canal cleanup

BUFFALO, New York (CNN) -- A 16-year-old lawsuit over the cleanup of Love Canal was settled Thursday. A division of Occidental Petroleum will pay $129 million to cover federal cleanup costs.

More than a thousand families in the Love Canal are in Niagara Falls were evacuated in 1977 when toxic chemicals began seeping into their basements. The chemicals came from a company that had dumped them into the abandoned canal.

In 1988, the government declared the area safe and the abandoned homes were resold.

Under the settlement, the Environmental Protection Agency Superfund will be reimbursed for $102 million spent on the cleanup and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which relocated residents, will get $27 million.

Occidental Petroleum will also pay $375,000 for damage to birds and fish in the area.

Perry says he'll take Army's racial probe seriously

William Perry

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defense Secretary William Perry said Thursday that he is taking claims of racial hates groups in the military seriously. A U.S. Army investigation into the existence of such groups, headed by Army Secretary Togo West, is due out in a few weeks.

The probe was prompted by the December 7 shootings of a black man and woman as they walked down a street in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg. Pvts. James Burmeister, 20, and Malcolm Wright, 21, are being charged with the murders. A third soldier, Spec. Randy Lee Meadows, 21, has been charged in the killings as well. Meadows allegedly drove the car that the killers used.

"We're very serious about that study and he (West) will be reporting to me in a matter of weeks what the findings are and what the recommendations are and to the extent any actions are indicated on our part, we are certainly prepared to take them," Perry said.

Some sources say that soldiers in the elite 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg have actively participated in white supremacist groups.

Selena's convicted killer wants a new trial

Yolanda Saldivar

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CNN) -- The convicted killer of Tejano singer Selena wants a new trial. Attorneys for Yolanda Saldivar argued at a hearing Thursday that key evidence was kept out of the first trial.

They said that defense attorneys weren't notified that one witness had a criminal record.

Saldivar is serving a life sentence in the shooting death of singer Selena last March at a Corpus Christi motel. Saldivar, the founder of Selena's fan club and manager of her clothing boutiques, admitted shooting her idol, but said that it was an accident.

The judge says that he'll make his ruling early next month.

Madonna ordered to testify in stalking, or face arrest


LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Controversial singer Madonna has been ordered by a Los Angeles judge to testify against a man charged with stalking her. If the singer doesn't comply, she could be arrested with $5 million bail.

Madonna has refused to come to court to testify against Robert Dewy Hoskins, a drifter who reportedly seen around the singer's Hollywood Hills home on three occasions. He was arrested May 29.

The pop star's attorneys argued Thursday that Madonna's schedule does not permit her to appear in court, but Judge Andrew Kauffman disagreed. Kauffman said that she "must be in court, period" and ordered her to testify on January 2.

Newt on Time cover

Gingrich 'Man of Year' photo a 'tad odd,' aide says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Speaker Newt Gingrich's press secretary criticized Time Magazine's cover photo of their new "Man of the Year," saying the magazine's editors were trying "to make it less flattering than it would have been."

"It's sort of an odd photo," said Tony Blankley, citing the "pinks and purples and oranges" evident in the portrait. "(But) Gingrich is pleased to be Man of the Year, with any picture."

Although Blankley said the photo was a "tad odd," he admitted that Gingrich's wife, Marianne, liked it.

Robert Pondiscio, a spokesman for the magazine, said the photo is "100 percent unretouched." He added that it was "slightly ironic" that the magazine should be accused of not altering a photograph after the controversy earlier this year over a retouched photograph of O.J. Simpson that appeared on its cover.

The photograph of Gingrich was taken by Gregory Heisler, who has done half a dozen other Man of the Year portraits for the magazine.


Trucking company tried to bypass regulations

BALTIMORE, Maryland (CNN) -- A federal jury found a trucking company and its owner guilty Wednesday of trying to force its drivers to falsify records in order to bypass federal safety regulations.

Prosecutors contended that Gunther Leasing Transport Inc. and Mark Gunther had a "wink and a nod" agreement with his truckers under which they would not follow rules regarding their time on the road and rest periods between trips, but report that they did.

Federal regulations require drivers to take at least an eight-hour break after 10 consecutive hours on the road, and limit the drivers to no more than 70 hours total in an eight-day period.

A sentencing date was not set. Gunther could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $500,000. His company could be fined $500,000 on each of five counts.


Circus loses battle with Utah over slogan

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) -- Utah may continue to call its ski slopes "the greatest snow on earth," despite objections from Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows Inc. A three-judge Trademark Trial and Appeal Board panel made the ruling this week.

The circus known as "The Greatest Show on Earth" filed suit against Utah after the state filed for federal trademark protection for its slogan in 1988. The state had used the slogan since 1959. Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey did not challenge the use of the slogan before 1988.

The slogan "has become identified with our ski industry and is a useful calling card," said state Assistant Attorney General Ralph Finlayson Wednesday. "The snow must go on."

The circus may appeal the ruling to federal court.


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