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Nation in brief

Justice ends Cubans' harsh confinement

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 6, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department, citing security concerns, held five Cubans in isolation cells where lights burned 24 hours a day and some detainees wore only underwear.

The department relaxed the extraordinary confinement restrictions this week following an interagency review. The restrictions had been in place for a month.

State Department officials, sharply critical recently of Fidel Castro's crackdown on dissidents in Cuba, had been discomfited by the restrictions.

The Cubans are held in separate U.S. penitentiaries after being sentenced in 2001 to long prison terms for conspiracy to commit espionage and other charges.

The Cuban government complained bitterly about their treatment, arguing that the restrictions were preventing them from properly preparing an appeal.

The Bush administration refused to say why the measures were lifted. It has been highlighting its concerns about Cuba's biggest crackdown on dissidents in years. The trials in Havana against 78 dissidents got under way Thursday.

Upper New York in an icy grip

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Temperatures began a slow rise Saturday, but more than 300,000 homes were without power after freezing rain encased trees, cars and roads in ice across upstate New York.

As much as a foot of snow piled up Friday in the Adirondacks and parts of New England. A mix of snow and sleet fell in portions of upstate New York through Saturday morning, but eased by afternoon and temperatures rose above freezing.

Oswego County, at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, declared a state of emergency.

Suit dismissed against JonBenet's parents

DENVER -- A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the parents of JonBenet Ramsey and criticized police and the FBI for what she said was a media campaign aimed at making the family look guilty.

Authorities never charged the parents in the death of the 6-year-old, whose body was found in the family's Boulder home Dec. 26, 1996. However, police refused to clear the couple of suspicion and ruled out the possibility that an intruder was responsible.

U.S. District Court Judge Julie Carnes of Atlanta said in the ruling this week there was no evidence showing the parents killed JonBenet and considerable evidence showing that an intruder killed the child.

Carnes' ruling was in a lawsuit brought by Chris Wolf, a former Boulder journalist whom the Ramseys described as a suspect in a book they wrote about the murder. Wolf had argued in the lawsuit that Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter and tried to cover it up.

The judge said that the Ramseys had defamed Wolf, but to win his case, Wolf would have had to put the Ramseys on trial for murder.

Six new moons are found circling Jupiter

HONOLULU -- Six more moons have been found orbiting Jupiter, pushing to 58 the total number of known natural satellites of the solar system's largest planet.

The University of Hawaii's David Jewitt and Scott Sheppard, along with Jan Kleyna of Cambridge University, announced the discoveries Friday.

The moons are tiny, perhaps just a mile or so across, and orbit Jupiter at a distance of tens of millions of miles. They were found as part of an ongoing search using the world's two largest digital cameras at the Subaru and Canada-France-Hawaii telescopes atop Mauna Kea.

Scholars call church sex scandals threat to liberty

BOSTON -- The sexual abuse scandals that have engulfed the Archdiocese of Boston and the Roman Catholic Church have become a powerful threat to religious liberty, said several legal scholars who spoke on Saturday at a conference at a Catholic law school.

"These cases will profoundly alter the nature of organized religion," said one professor, Patrick J. Schiltz, of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis. "This litigation has the potential to do to churches what many a tyrannical government could not."

The cases, he said, allow unpredictable juries to engage in antireligious animus.

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