Abu Ghraib officer

faces court-martial

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - The only U.S. military officer charged with a crime in the Abu Ghraib scandal will be court-martialed on eight charges, including cruelty and maltreatment of prisoners, the Army said yesterday.

Lt. Col. Steven Lee Jordan, 50, a reservist from Virginia who ran the interrogation center at the Iraqi prison, was accused of failing to exert his authority as the place descended into chaos, with prisoners stripped naked, photographed in humiliating poses, and intimidated by snarling dogs. He was also charged with lying to investigators.

He is not accused of personally torturing or humiliating prisoners, and was not pictured in any of the photos that embarrassed the Pentagon and shocked the Muslim world. - AP
Maine lawmakers

reject U.S. ID law

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Legislature has declared that it would refuse a congressional order to change its driver's licenses so they can serve as national identification cards.

Supporters of the nonbinding resolution say the federal program would invite identity theft and cost Maine taxpayers $185 million over the first five years. The resolution, which passed by 34-0 in the Senate and 137-4 in the House, says the Legislature "refuses to implement the Real ID Act of 2005" and asks Congress to repeal it.

The Real ID Act passed after it was found that Sept. 11 terrorists had obtained legitimate driver's licenses. The law will link state records to a central database and seeks to unify the patchwork of state licensing rules.- AP

Judge won't back

Katrina settlement

NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Mississippi yesterday refused to endorse part of a proposed settlement that calls for insurance payments to thousands of Mississippi policyholders whose homes were destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. would not sign off on a deal between State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood for at least $50 million in payments to policyholders whose claims were denied but did not sue the company.

The Bloomington, Ill.-based insurer already has agreed to pay about $80 million to more than 600 policyholders who sued the company for refusing to cover damage from the August 2005 storm. Senter has not been asked to sign off on that part of the deal. - AP

Elsewhere:

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, S.C., announced yesterday it had agreed to settle child sex-abuse claims, designating as much as $12 million for damages.

Nine black youths were convicted yesterday in juvenile court in Long Beach, Calif., of beating three white women in a racially charged attack on Halloween night.

A military helicopter with four crew members aboard crashed yesterday into the Pacific Ocean about 50 miles off the California coast, killing at least one person. It was unclear if the other crew members survived.