In the Nation

Seattle liable for

illegal '99 arrests

SEATTLE - A federal jury yesterday found the City of Seattle liable for the unlawful arrests of a group of protesters during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting, a ruling that could cost the city millions of dollars.

The jury found the city liable for violating the rights of about 175 protesters against unreasonable search and seizure, but it did not find a violation against their free-speech rights.

Barring a challenge by the city or an immediate appeal, the class-action lawsuit will move to a damages phase. Seattle has already paid $800,000 in lawsuits and settlements stemming from the protests.

The trial grew out of arrests of protesters at a park where they were sitting and singing patriotic anthems. At the time, 50,000 demonstrators had swarmed Seattle, overwhelming police and closing down parts of the WTO meeting. - AP

Lawmakers angry at poor lab security

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers threatened yesterday to strip the Los Alamos National Laboratory of classified operations or even shut it down after a decade of security lapses.

Rep. John D. Dingell (D., Mich.) said he had sat through nearly a decade of hearings at which the Energy Department and the New Mexico lab, birthplace of the atomic bomb, had promised to fix security problems, and the promises have "become somewhat tedious."

The lawmakers blistered the lab for its most recent security breach, in which a contract worker walked out with hundreds of pages of classified documents. Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas) said that if problems could not be solved this time, he would ask that Los Alamos be shut down. - AP

Nine years in jail for Iraq contractor

WASHINGTON - A former Pentagon contractor has been sentenced to nine years in prison for helping to steer millions of dollars in Iraqi reconstruction aid to a businessman in exchange for plane tickets, watches, and sexual favors.

Robert Stein, 52, of Fayetteville, N.C., who was a comptroller and funding officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, was also ordered Monday to forfeit $3.6 million and serve three years' probation, the Justice Department said.

Stein admitted conspiring with businessman Philip H. Bloom and others. Bloom, who has pleaded guilty to charges and awaits sentencing, received more than $8.6 million in rigged contracts, prosecutors said. - AP

Elsewhere:

Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, the only U.S. military officer charged with crimes in the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, entered no plea at an arraignment yesterday. A judge set a hearing next week on a defense request to dismiss the charges.

Two national advocacy groups accused the government yesterday of neglecting what they called an epidemic of homelessness affecting tens of thousands of gay and lesbian youth, many of whom leave home because of conflicts with their parents.

The Bush administration plans to keep funding health programs for sick ground zero workers, enough to keep the effort alive at least through 2007, the White House said yesterday.