N.C. trooper who kicked his dog should get job back, court says

Dog lovers everywhere were outraged when a video hit the Internet in 2007 showing Ricoh, a drug-sniffing police dog, being kicked and yanked by his trainer, North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper Charles L. Jones.

The public uproar triggered by the video helped lead to Jones’ firing in September 2007, a month after the training incident. Now, more than four years later, a state appeals court has ruled that Jones should get his job back and receive back pay totaling more than $200,000.

A three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that Jones should be reinstated, the News and Observer of Raleigh reported. The panel upheld earlier decisions by a state Superior Court judge, an administrative law judge and a state personnel commission that supported Jones’ attempt to recover his job.

The state could ask the North Carolina Supreme Court to review the panel’s decision. Jones was ordered fired by the governor at the time, Mike Easley.

Jones has said he was acting within patrol policy when he was videotaped kicking Ricoh, a Belgian Malinois, while disciplining the dog during a training session in August 2007. The video appeared on the Internet at the same time as the dog-fighting and abuse scandal involving NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

The video shows Jones wrapping Ricoh’s leash over a railing, then yanking and raising the dog by its neck so that only its back feet touched the ground. Jones then kicked Ricoh five times, causing the dog’s legs to swing out from under it. Jones was disciplining the dog after it refused to release a piece of fire hose given as a reward for alerting officers to the presence of narcotics.

At a hearing on a lawsuit by Jones suing the state for firing him, a fellow trooper testified that the patrol’s dog handlers were taught to "use any means necessary to discipline" a dog in order to control the animal.

"If he’s not in control, let’s be honest -- the dog turns into a four-wheel-drive stabbing machine," the trooper testified.

Jones’ lawyer, Jack O’Hale, said in 2010 that Jones’ actions were consistent with accepted training methods. "We’re not dealing with household pets. These are weapons. We’ve got to train accordingly."

O’Hale told the News and Observer that the state should not challenge the appeals court’s ruling. "Everybody tells me the state is broke, and yet they keep spending taxpayers’ money to fight this," O’Hale said.

Jones, who now works as a police officer in Apex, N.C., had worked with Ricoh for six years before the training incident.

Tamara Zmuda, a lawyer representing the state during a hearing on Jones’ appeal, said Jones was fired for violating the patrol’s "unbecoming conduct" policy and bringing the K-9 unit "into disrepute."

"No reasonable person would do what he did that day," Zmuda said.


Not only a prig would object to 10 grenades and a pig

911 call: Worker says Josh Powell 'blew up the house and kids'

No rape charge for New York police commissioner's son, D.A. says

-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

Photo: Former North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper Charles L. Jones, shown in this screen grab, was videotaped kicking and yanking his dog. Warning: The video, available on YouTube, contains graphic content. Credit: YouTube

Only 1 handgun a month? Virginia lawmakers see no point in limit

HandgunsFor all those gun enthusiasts who feel constrained by Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month purchase limit, this bill’s for you: The Virginia Senate has voted to lift the 20-year-old limit to allow buying as many handguns as desired.

The measure stands a good chance of becoming law, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Tuesday. The Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill last week, and Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has indicated he will sign it into law.

"The albatross is almost dead," said Philip van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, referring to the one-gun-a-month law enacted in 1993 to combat interstate gun trafficking.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr., said the bill would bring Virginia in line with 46 other states, leaving only California, Maryland and New Jersey with similar handgun purchase limits.

"Today, the Senate took a stand for the Second Amendment by eliminating an unnecessary and outdated law," Carrico said in a statement.

Supporters of the bill, who included most of the Legislature’s Republicans as well as some Democrats from rural areas, contend that the state’s updated computerized check system makes the current law unnecessary.

Monday's passage of the bill drew withering criticism from the mother of a Virginia Tech student wounded in the 2007 shootings at the university.

"Virginia has had more than its share of horrific tragedies perpetrated by criminals with easy access to firearms,'' said Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily was one of 25 people injured in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, which killed 35. "It’s a sad day when our legislators purposely make it easier for gun traffickers to do their dirty business."

Richard Cullen, a Republican and a former U.S. attorney in Virginia, said the one-gun-a-month law had been successful and should remain in place.

In 1993, gunrunning was a major problem up and down the East Coast, and I am convinced that this law had a significant impact in reducing gunrunning," Cullen said. "So I’m disappointed that it’s being repealed."

Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, a Democrat who opposes the bill, said allowing people to buy more than one handgun a month wouldn’t make Virginia any safer. Anyone who had bought a handgun a month under the current law would have amassed 240 guns during the law’s 20-year span.

If you need more than 240 handguns, then I would submit something's wrong with you," he said. "Something's gone wrong in your life."


Did GOP group skip out on $228K South Carolina hotel bill?

Charles Dickens, a man with his own ghosts, gets Google Doodle

Clint Eastwood: Super Bowl ad aimed at Americans, not politicians

-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

Photo: If Virginia lifts its one-handgun-a-month limit, only three states -- California, Maryland and New Jersey -- would have such limits. Here, handguns are shown on display at the National Shooting Sports Foundation's 34th annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 17. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Philadelphia cardinal Bevilacqua dies; tenure marred by sex abuse

Cardinal Anthony J. BevilacquaCardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, the former head of the Philadelphia archdiocese who was accused during his 15-year tenure of ignoring sexual abuse of children by hundreds of priests, has died. The diocese announced that Bevilacqua, 88, died in his sleep Tuesday night in his apartment at a seminary in a Philadelphia suburb.

Bevilacqua, known for his regular press-the-flesh visits to all 302 parishes in the archdiocese and for his strong stands against racism and anti-Semitism, was also sharply critical of homosexuals and refused for several years to close Catholic churches and schools to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

In a statement Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI praised Bevilacqua’s "longstanding commitment to social justice and pastoral care of immigrants and his expert contribution of the revision of the church’s law in the years following the Second Vatican Council."

Bevilacqua, the son of an Italian immigrant bricklayer in Brooklyn who spoke little English, championed the rights of immigrants. In 1998, he asked Pennsylvania’s governor to fund food stamps for the state’s legal immigrants. The following year, he urged local businesses to help find work for welfare recipients whose benefits had been reduced.

Bevilacqua also set up a Spanish-language radio show and instituted service centers for Latino and African American Catholics.

"We don’t help people because they are Catholic," he often said. "We help them because we are Catholic."

Bevilacqua seemed to revel in his frequent public meetings with congregants, visiting schools and nursing homes while posing for photos. He sometimes tossed his zucchetto, or skull cap, like a Frisbee into delighted crowds and even placed his bishop’s hat on children’s heads, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

But Bevilacqua’s tenure was marred by clergy sexual-abuse revelations that rocked the Philadelphia archdiocese in 2002, as the scandal was erupting nationwide and in Europe.

In 2005, after a 40-month grand jury investigation, a report by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office harshly criticized Bevilacqua and his predecessor, Cardinal John Krol, for failing to protect children from years of rapes and sexual abuse by priests.

"Sexually abusive priests were left quietly in place or 'recycled' to unsuspecting new parishes -- vastly expanding the number of children who were abused," the report said.

Bevilacqua did not respond to the report. His successor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, said the report was "very unfair" for not addressing sexual abuse in other denominations or public institutions.

Bevilacqua condemned homosexuality, saying homosexual men were unfit to be priests. He said the Catholic Church considers homosexuality an "aberration, a moral evil."

Born in Brooklyn in 1923 and raised in Queens, Bevilacqua graduated from a seminary at age 26 and was ordained in 1949.  He earned advanced degrees in canon law, civil law and political science.

Pope John Paul II named Bevilacqua archbishop of the Philadelphia archdiocese in late 1987.  He retired in 2003.   

A day before his death, a Philadelphia judge ruled that Bevilacqua, who suffered from dementia, was competent and could testify in the upcoming trial of a Philadelphia priest accused of failing to protect two children from sexual abuse by a priest under his supervision.

In 1998, the National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper, reported that Bevilacqua had secretly spent approximately $5 million to renovate a mansion that served as his residence and to renovate a seaside villa used as a vacation home by Bevilacqua and retired priests.

The improvements were carried out at roughly the same time that Bevilacqua approved the closing or merging of inner-city parishes and schools because they had budget deficits and suffered from low attendance, the newspaper reported. Those closings were met with outrage by some parishioners and social activists, who accused the archdiocese of racism.

Bevilacqua was "surprised and embarrassed" by the reaction, the Inquirer reported. He set up a process in which local priests and members of the lay community took the lead in deciding whether or how to close or merge parishes.

While bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese in the early 1980s, Bevilacqua ended his predecessor’s practice of including women in the traditional Holy Thursday foot-washing ceremony.  Bevilacqua said Jesus had washed only the feet of his male apostles.

After protesters demonstrated against the decision, Bevilacqua consulted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which concluded that including women in the ceremony was proper. Bevilacqua relented, saying local priests could make their own decisions on the matter.

Bevilacqua also backed down from his refusal to allow Catholic churches and schools to close for the King holiday. In 1998, he announced that the holiday could be honored.

Later that year, Bevilacqua wrote a pastoral letter condemning racism as "an evil that violates Christ’s command to love your neighbor as yourself."


Wisconsin recall: Petition names go public despite security fears

Police raid five-story New York pot farm, an indoor marijuana jungle

Groundhog Day 2012: Which winter-predicting groundhog will you choose?

-- David Zucchino

Photo: Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, shown in this Dec. 2, 2000, file photo, served as head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for more than 15 years. Credit: H. Rumph Jr. / Associated Press

Legal war in Durham, N.C.: Judge suspends district attorney

Durham, N.C., Dist. Atty. Tracey Cline questions a witness at a hearing in December, 2011.

Tracey Cline, the confrontational district attorney in Durham, N.C., has been suspended from office by a state judge, who ruled Friday that probable cause exists for Cline’s permanent removal.

Cline, who replaced disgraced former Durham Dist. Atty. Mike Nifong, has been chastised in court for including false information in filings seeking to remove from office Durham’s senior judge, Orlando F. Hudson Jr. Cline has accused Hudson of "moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption" in murder cases her office prosecuted.

Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood of nearby Franklin County set a Feb. 13 hearing for Cline to defend her filings and argue against permanent removal. Hobgood’s ruling was in response to an affidavit by Durham lawyer Kerry Sutton, who alleged that Cline had engaged in "conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the office into disrepute."

Under state law, prosecutors found guilty of violating that standard are removed from office.

In court filings replete with misspelled words and fractured syntax, Cline has described Hudson as "without legal consciousness of right and wrong, having total and reckless disregard of the law, and a reprobate mind of a monarch."

Hudson dismissed murder charges against two defendants prosecuted by Cline. The district attorney said that was "retaliatory conduct" for her refusal to heed Hudson’s request to drop charges in a 2010 case.

In her filings, Cline said crime victims had been "emotionally and relentlessly repeatedly raped" by Hudson’s rulings.

In 2008, Cline, 48, replaced Nifong, who was removed from office and stripped of his law license after falsely accusing three white Duke University lacrosse players of raping a black stripper at a house party in 2006.

Cline was elected on a promise to do the right thing, not the popular thing. She was reelected without opposition in 2010.


'Most hated man' gets death sentence

Barefoot Bandit: "I should have died years ago"

Teenage girl praised as hero for helping foil alleged school bomb plot

-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

Photo: Durham, N.C., Dist. Atty. Tracey Cline questions a witness at a hearing in December 2011. Credit: Shawn Rocco / Raleigh News & Observer/MCT


Death row inmate to North Carolina: 'Kill me if you can, suckers'

Danny Robbie Hembree

Danny Robbie Hembree considers himself a gentleman of leisure. He enjoys color TV, air conditioning and abundant food. He naps pretty much whenever he feels like it.

He also happens to live on death row at Central Prison in Raleigh, N.C. But that’s not a bad thing, he wrote in a taunting letter to his hometown newspaper, the Gaston Gazette.

In fact, Hembree wrote, the state of North Carolina has taken the "death" out of death row.

"Kill me if you can, suckers. Ha! Ha! Ha!" Hembree gloated in his letter, portions of which were published by the Gazette on Tuesday.

Hembree, 50, was sentenced to death in November for suffocating a 17-year-old girl in 2009, and is also accused of killing two other North Carolina women. But no one has been executed in the state since 2006 because of legal challenges over lethal injections and whether a physician must oversee executions.

"Is the public aware that the chances of my lawful murder taking place in the next 20 years if ever are very slim?" Hembree wrote on lined notebook paper in what he described as an editorial.

Meanwhile, life is sweet. "Is the public aware I am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the A.C., reading, taking naps at will, eating three well-balanced meals a day?" he wrote.

Oh, and he also receives free government healthcare, he pointed out.

The man who prosecuted Hembree, Gaston County Dist. Atty. Locke Bell, was not amused.

"He’s sitting down there looking at the law and laughing," Bell told the Associated Press. "He’s been sentenced to death. He shouldn’t be watching color TV." Hembree's execution should not be delayed, Bell said.

Bring it on, Hembree wrote: "I am a man who is ready to except [sic] his unjust punishment and face God Almighty with a clear conscience unlike you cowards and your cowardly system."

And lest readers dismiss Hembree as a complete sociopath, note that moments after he was convicted in November, he blew a big kiss to his mom.


Some Amish find safety triangles too blingy

'Barefoot Bandit' calls authorities 'fools' and 'swine'

'Headless body in topless bar' convict is denied parole

-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

Photo: Danny Robbie Hembree and his defense lawyer, Rick Beam, in an earlier court proceeding in Gaston County, N.C. Credit: Mike Hensdill / Gaston Gazette

Rare winter tornadoes rake Alabama; at least 2 killed, 100 injured

Storm damage in Trussville, Ala.

A line of rare winter tornadoes roared through Alabama early Monday morning, ripping apart homes and businesses and prompting the state’s governor to declare a state of emergency. Two people were reported killed.

The tornadoes combined with powerful thunderstorms and straight-line winds to topple trees and power lines, injuring at least 100 people. Windows were blown out of homes and cars as people were roused from sleep in the early morning hours.

Some tornadoes struck near neighborhoods ravaged by twisters that killed 240 people last spring, said Jennifer Ardis, press secretary for Gov. Robert Bentley. She said authorities were trying to confirm reports of a total of four people killed in the storms.

"We have reports of damage from at least seven counties," Ardis said.

Officials postponed a meeting previously scheduled for Monday to discuss the state’s response to last spring’s tornadoes.

Emergency workers were searching for victims and clearing trees and debris that blocked some people from leaving their homes. A 16-year-old girl was killed in the town of Clay and an 82-year-old man died in Oak Grove in north-central Alabama, according to local officials.

The worst damage was in Jefferson County, where Birmingham was devastated by last spring’s tornadoes, and in Chilton County in the center of the state.

Tornadoes were also reported in Arkansas, with hail and high winds whipping through Tennessee, Mississippi and Illinois.

The Alabama tornadoes were spawned by a collision between warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico and a large cold front that dipped into the South from the Great Plains, said Mark Rose, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Birmingham.

"It’s very rare to see tornadoes here in January -- it’s just highly unusual," Rose said.

The tornadoes began in Mississippi and tore through Alabama between 2:30 and 8 a.m., Rose said. Three weather service survey teams were in affected areas Monday to determine the number and strength of the tornadoes, he said.

Bentley declared a state of emergency in all 67 Alabama counties. "The severe weather outbreak of last year is still fresh on our minds and is a reminder that we must take the threat of severe weather seriously," the governor said.

In Clay, northeast of Birmingham, Stevie Sanders hid with family members in the laundry room of their brick home as the storm hit and trees began snapping outside.

You could feel the walls shaking and you could hear a loud crash," Sanders told the Associated Press. "After that it got quiet, and the tree had fallen through my sister’s roof."


'Headless body in topless bar' killer wants out of prison

Whopper Highway? Virginia considers selling road-naming rights

Supreme Court rejects California anti-animal cruelty law targeting pigs

-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

Photo: Residents walk through the debris of their neighborhood after a possible tornado ripped through the Trussville, Ala., area in the early hours Monday. Credit: Butch Dill / Associated Press

N.C. tour turns poverty's 'bloodless statistics' into reality

The poverty statistics from northeastern North Carolina are stark:

In six poor rural counties the rates range from 21% to 26%.  Among blacks, poverty rates approach 40% in parts of those counties. Statewide, the poverty rate is 17. 4%, the nation’s 12th highest.

The state’s NAACP, seeking to put a human face on what it calls "bloodless statistics," mounted a Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty through the six counties Thursday and Friday. More than 60 volunteers from the civil rights group and several other nonprofits piled onto a bus to hear local residents describe what poverty looks like and feels like.

"It’s no sin to be poor," the Rev. William Barber told residents of tiny Roper, N.C. "But it is a sin to allow entrenched and systemic poverty in the richest nation on Earth."

For two days, residents stood up in churches, town halls and community centers in the six counties to lay out the full dimensions of lives circumscribed by poverty.

In Beaufort County, Charlette Blackwell Clark told of trying and failing to raise enough cash to remove a tree that had collapsed on her mobile home, crushing the roof.  She’s a member of what demographers call the working poor. She cleans neighbors’ homes for cash; her husband, Noah, is a trash collector. Between them, they barely earn enough to survive day to day -- they can't pay $2,000 to remove a tree.

In Roper, town clerk Dorenda Gatling told of reluctantly cutting off town water service to friends and neighbors unable to pay their bills -- most of them low-wage workers or elderly people on fixed incomes. It pains her, Gatling said, because she has endured unemployment and hand-to-mouth living herself. But because the town itself is strapped for cash, she said, she had no choice but to "aggressively collect."

In Elizabeth City, the Rev. Tony Rice welcomed the tour to the cramped homeless shelter he runs. It’s the only men’s shelter within 100 miles, he said. It can accommodate just seven men a night. With the county’s homeless rate rising along with the poverty rate (23%), there are more than a thousand homeless people seeking shelter in the city every night.

Gene Nichol, director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina, listened to dozens of people pour out their life stories. Poverty is far more than cold statistics, he told one gathering, "it lives in wounds to the human heart," he said. 

And federal poverty statistics tell only part of the story, tour leaders insisted. The federal poverty earnings threshold of $22,113 per year for a family of four is too low; families earning more than that amount also live in poverty, they said.

In Halifax County in northeastern North Carolina, for instance, the federal poverty rate is 26.2%. But a working family of four actually needs $46,120 a year to afford basic living expenses in the county, according to the N.C. Justice Center, a nonprofit advocacy group.

In Scotland Neck, a poverty-stricken northeastern North Carolina town that is 70% black, James Mills took the tour on a walk through the black part of a town he says is largely segregated by race.

Mills served two terms as the town’s first black mayor. He was voted out of office last fall.

Mills pointed out ramshackle homes and trailers occupied by blacks, and the ruins of abandoned houses along potholed streets.  Then he suggested that tour members drive through the predominantly white side of town, where he said roads are well paved and public services are far better.

As Mills spoke, a backhoe raised a racket while removing a large tree that had fallen onto a small house last summer. Mills said he had tried for months as mayor to get the city to remove the tree but was told that no facilities were available.

"Today, with y'all due to show up on your tour," the deposed mayor told the poverty tour, "it looks like the city decided it could find the energy and the facilities to clear out that tree."


Virginia to D.C.: Keep your rats to yourself

Trusties in Mississippi governor's mansion? Not anymore

Wisconsin recall webcam: In this surprise hit, viewers write plot

-- David Zucchino in Scotland Neck, N.C.

Photo: The Rev. William Barber, left, president of the North Carolina NAACP, asks Queen Richards, 50, of Scotland Neck, N.C., about conditions in her community. To the right, in the red shirt, is former Scotland Neck Mayor James Mills, who lost his reelection bid to a white candidate last fall.

John Edwards' 'serious' medical condition leads to trial delay


A cardiologist for former presidential candidate John Edwards says he has a life-threatening medical condition that will require surgery next month, a federal judge disclosed Friday as she postponed Edwards’ campaign corruption trial for at least two months.

Saying the 58-year-old Edwards suffers from "a serious condition," U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles delayed the trial until at least March 26. The judge said she had read two letters from Edwards’ cardiologist but she did not disclose details about the former senator’s condition.

Eagles quoted the cardiologist as saying that Edwards’ condition is treatable, with a good chance of recovery. She said the doctor recommended that Edwards avoid driving or traveling.

"Clearly the ends of justice are served by continuance, given the seriousness of his medical condition," Eagles said.

She asked Edwards’ lawyers to provide her with a medical update Feb. 28.

Edwards, whose presence in court had been requested by Eagles, walked in and out of the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., without assistance, the Associated Press reported.

The trial, which was continued twice prior to Friday’s hearing, had been scheduled to begin Jan. 30.

Edwards is a one-term U.S. senator who ran as a vice-presidential candidate with Sen. John Kerry on the 2004 Democratic ticket and twice ran for president. He is charged with six felony and misdemeanor counts.

Prosecutors say Edwards violated campaign finance laws while attempting to cover up an illicit affair with a campaign videographer who later gave birth to his daughter. He faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted on all counts.

A federal indictment in June alleged that Edwards accepted more than $900,000 in illegal contributions from Bunny Mellon, a philanthropist in Virginia, and the late Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer. The indictment said the payments were campaign contributions used by Edwards to pay living expenses for Rielle Hunter while trying to keep their affair secret.

Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth Edwards, suffered from terminal cancer at the time. She died in December 2010.

Edwards has said he committed no crimes. His lawyers have argued that the payments were private gifts to Hunter and her entourage, not campaign contributions, and thus did not violate campaign finance laws.

Edwards’ lawyers have also maintained that the charges are unconstitutionally vague and politically motivated. Those arguments have been dismissed by Judge Eagles.

"The public has an interest in a speedy trial," Eagles said in court Friday. "Ordinarily I would try to manage something like this. But clearly there are some limitations on Mr. Edwards due to real and serious health issues."


Winter finally strikes in the Midwest

New York mayor bets a cheesecake on a Giants victory

Natalee Holloway justice? Joran Van der Sloot gets 28 years

-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

Photo: Former U.S. Sen. and presidential candidate John Edwards is surrounded by the media as he leaves federal court in Greensboro, N.C., on Oct. 26. Credit: Chuck Burton / Associated Press

Forced sterilization worth $50,000, North Carolina panel says

Meeting about forced sterilization
In the first instance of a state moving to compensate victims of forced sterilization, a gubernatorial panel in North Carolina voted Tuesday to pay victims of a state eugenics program that forcibly sterilized more than 7,500 people.

The Governor's Eugenics Compensation Task Force, established by Gov. Beverly Perdue in March, voted to pay verified victims $50,000. The payments must still be approved by the Legislature.

At least seven of 33 states that carried out eugenics programs have acknowledged or apologized for the policies, but North Carolina is the first to propose paying compensation. The state's forced-sterilization program, designed to weed out the mentally disabled, criminals and other "undesirables," was in effect from 1929 to 1974. North Carolina formally shut down its discredited Eugenics Board in 1977.

The rate of sterilizations in North Carolina picked up after World War II despite unfavorable comparisons to Nazi eugenics, and peaked in the 1950s. The task force has estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 sterilization victims are still alive. The state has verified 72 victims.

Impoverished or uneducated African Americans were victimized by many eugenics programs, especially in the South. But the task force found that, although many victims of the North Carolina program were African Americans, the number of Caucasians who were sterilized was even higher.

If the payments are approved, victims would have three years to apply for compensation.

The sterilizations were supervised by a state Eugenics Board that included the chief medical officers of the state hospital and the Institution for the Feeble-Minded, the state attorney general and the secretary of the state board of health. Of the 7,528 documented cases of forced sterilization, nearly 3,000 were carried out in the 1950s and more than 1,600 between 1960 and 1968.

Involuntary-sterilization laws remained on the books in North Carolina until 2003, the task force reported. The five-member task force is made up of a former judge and journalist, a historian, a physician and a lawyer.     

Task force Chairwoman Laura Gerald told the Associated Press that the panel has sought to strike a balance between victims’ rights and political realities.

"Compensation has been on the table now for nearly 10 years, but the state has lacked the political will to do anything other than offer an apology," Gerald said.


Treacherous sea ice delays fuel delivery to Nome, Alaska

Where's the gear? Infantry company confined to Lewis-McChord base

8 killers pardoned: Outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour under fire

-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

Photo: Sadie Long, left, of Charlotte, N.C. talks to sterilization victim Lela Dunston, 63, following the Governor's Eugenics Compensation Task Force meeting on Tuesday. Credit: Karen Tran / Associated Press

$399 for Super Bowl parking? And still a 20-minute walk?


Never underestimate the ability of anyone remotely associated with football’s Super Bowl to separate fans from their money.

To extravagantly priced game tickets and jacked-up concession prices, you can add overpriced parking -- up to $399 for a single spot in Indianapolis, site of the Feb. 5 Super Bowl XLVI game. And those pricey spots are a good 20-minute walk in winter weather to the actual game, according to a survey by TV station WTHR.

But the $399 spots can accommodate big RVs and tailgate parties, with fans able to reserve the spots online ahead of time. And toilet facilities are available.

"They can tailgate, feel like they are not going to get harmed. We are watching while they are at the game," Peter Hanson, owner of TWAY Company Parking, which owns the lot, told the station. "They know they are being taken care of."

That’s one way to put it.

Belaboring the obvious, Scott Gould, of Denison Parking, told WTHR: "It is probably going to be the best day in the parking business." With 10,000 parking spots, Denison stands to rake in up to $1 million from Super Bowl week activities, Gould said.

Other parking companies are cashing in, too. A parking space across from the City Market downtown that normally goes for $6 will cost $99 on game day. Other lots or garages surveyed by the TV station ranged from $59 to $129 per parking space.

Prices vary based on distance from the stadium, the type and size of vehicles they can accommodate, and whether they allow tailgating or provide security.

Comments on the TV station’s website ranged as widely as parking prices.

"IT’S GOUGING! . . GOUGING . . . GOUGING!!!" one fan wrote. Another countered: "Let me introduce you all to a simple concept known as supply and demand."

Fans can, of course, watch the game for free on network TV. But if they absolutely have to attend the game in person, the Indianapolis Star reports that the city’s transportation system, IndyGo, will offer free rides on certain routes during Super Bowl weekend.


John 3:16 message delivered by Tim Tebow's arm

Keep Obama off ballot, Alabama man says; judge will listen

Katharine Hepburn estate? Being bought by Obamas? Um, no

-- David Zucchino

Photo illustration: What would you pay to watch this being tossed in the Super Bowl? If you have to factor in parking, get out a calcuator. Credit: Greg Hister / Los Angeles Times 


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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal

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