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Nation in brief

Couple held without bail in National Guard spy case

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 9, 2003


SPOKANE, Wash. -- National Guard intelligence officer Rafael Davila admits he spent years bringing home secret and top-secret documents, stacking them in his basement and finally in a rented storage locker. He told the FBI he just wanted to read them.

Now in a case with ties to the shadowy world of white supremacists and antigovernment militias, prosecutors are accusing Davila and his ex-wife, Deborah, of espionage. Investigators are still trying to track down hundreds of files apparently containing information about nuclear, chemical and biological warfare.

A federal indictment charges the Davilas with unauthorized possession of sensitive documents during the first eight months of 1999. Deborah Davila is also charged with trying to deliver the documents to an unidentified person in August of that year.

During a hearing last week, Davila, 51, sat silently with Deborah, 40, as prosecutors vilified them for allegedly exposing the nation to danger from terrorists and antigovernment extremists.

A judge ordered the two held without bail.

The Davilas, whose marriage crumbled in 1999 after less than a year, have pleaded innocent. Prosecutors said there is no evidence that foreign governments are involved in the case. If convicted, the Davilas could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and fines of $250,000.

End in sight for N.J. doctor slowdown

TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey hospitals and doctor's offices should return to normal Monday, a week after physicians began withholding routine treatments to protest ballooning malpractice rates.

North Jersey physicians will end their work slowdown Monday, Dr. Thomas Ahlborn, president of one of several ad hoc groups focused on the insurance issue, said Friday. Most southern and central New Jersey doctors returned to work Thursday.

It is unclear how many physicians took part in the slowdown, but more than 4,000 doctors and supporters rallied outside the statehouse and hundreds turned out at other rallies this week to press the governor and Legislature for malpractice reforms.

4 dead in N.J. nightclub shootings

NEWARK, N.J. -- Police were searching for suspects Saturday in a pair of apparently unrelated nightclub shootings that left four people dead and seven wounded.

A man walked into a neighborhood bar late Friday night and opened fire, killing three people and wounding three others.

About three hours later in nearby New York, a 17-year-old girl was shot and killed and four other people were wounded at a club following a dispute during a private party.

Newark Police Lt. Derek Glenn said authorities have found nothing to link the shootings.

Sen. Kerry criticizes environmental policy

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Kerry accused the Bush administration of putting special interests ahead of the environment and called for a renewed national commitment to clean air, water and land.

"Corporate polluters have found that in the Bush administration the doors of government are wide open," Kerry, D-Mass., said in remarks prepared for delivery tonight. "Almost as soon as this administration took office they invited in the chief lobbyists to rewrite the very laws that were intended to protect our land, our water, and our air. And not surprisingly, the result was the biggest retreat on environmental protections in a generation."

NAACP okays S.C. campaign spending

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NAACP officials in South Carolina last week defended Democrat John Edwards' decision to personally honor their economic boycott, even while allowing his presidential campaign to spend money in the state.

Critics have accused Edwards of backpedaling on a pledge to honor the 2-year-old boycott, imposed to protest the flying of the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of the state capitol. But state NAACP President James Gallman said campaigns are exempt.

"(Edwards) said he would honor our sanctions and, under the guidelines and rules we have, that's what he's been doing," Gallman said.

DeLay says he never saw antiunion letter

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Friday disavowed an antiunion fundraising letter that bears his signature after several union leaders condemned the letter because it accuses "big labor bosses" of seeking to expand their power at the expense of national security.

The letter, which raised money for the National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation, criticized "the union bosses' drive to use the national emergencies we face today to grab more power." The letter, said this drive, "presents a clear and present danger to the security of the United States."

On Friday night, DeLay's spokesman, Stuart Roy, said that DeLay disavowed the letter, dated Jan. 8, and had not seen it before Thursday. Roy said one of DeLay's assistants had made a mistake in approving the letter.

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