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Nation in brief

Man attacks patrons of gay bar with hatchet, gun

By wire services
Published February 3, 2006

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. - A young man went on a rampage at a gay bar with a hatchet and a gun early Thursday, wounding three patrons in what police said appeared to be a hate crime.

All three victims remained hospitalized. Police said one was in critical condition.

Police were searching for 18-year-old Jacob D. Robida, who was wanted on charges of attempted murder, assault and civil-rights violations.

A customer dressed in black asked if Puzzles Lounge in New Bedford, about 50 miles from Boston, was a gay bar, said a bartender who identified himself as Phillip. Shortly after he was told it was, the customer attacked the three men, then fled.

Bar owner Richard F. Macedo said he planned to be open Thursday because closing would amount to giving in to homophobia.

National Guard won't reduce number of soldiers

WASHINGTON - Facing pressure from both parties in Congress and state National Guard leaders, the Army on Thursday committed to keeping the National Guard's authorized manpower at 350,000 and promised to fund it up to that level.

"If they recruit 350,000, the funding's there. Their authorization remains 350,000," Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, said Thursday.

Because of recruiting shortfalls, the Guard has about 333,000 soldiers on the rolls, but Guard leaders say they are confident of reaching 350,000 this year.

The Army had proposed cutting the budgeted Guard strength by about 17,000 positions, in part by replacing six combat brigades that each have 3,500 to 4,000 slots with brigade headquarters that have only a few hundred, said Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke, president of the Adjutants General Association of the United States.

Schoomaker said the Army would cut the number of National Guard combat brigades from 34 to 28, but reiterated a plan to replace them with six support brigades.

Elsewhere ...

NASA OFFICIAL INVESTIGATED: An FBI-led watchdog agency has opened an investigation into multiple complaints accusing NASA Inspector General Robert W. Cobb of failing to investigate safety violations and retaliating against whistle-blowers. The complaints are being reviewed by the Integrity Committee of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency.

ANDREA YATES TRIAL: Andrea Yates left jail early Thursday for a Texas mental hospital where she will await her second capital murder trial for the drowning deaths of her young children.

[Last modified February 3, 2006, 01:25:14]

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