Judge bars security letters
They’re called national security letters and the FBI issues thousands of them a year to banks, phone companies and other businesses demanding customer information. They’re sent without judicial review and recipients are barred from disclosing them.
On Friday, a federal judge in San Francisco declared the letters unconstitutional, saying the secretive demands for customer data violate the First Amendment.
She ordered the FBI to stop issuing the letters, but put that order on hold for 90 days so the U.S. Department of Justice can pursue an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Government opponents riot
Police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi during clashes that erupted on Saturday as he launched development projects in southern Egyptian where residents have long complained of being neglected by the central government.
Morsi was in Sohag province to unveil a housing project and new education complex when thousands of anti-government protesters tried to storm the hall where he was meeting with local officials. The rioting came as Morsi was trying to reach out to residents of Sohag, one of Egypt’s poorest southern cities.
Under long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in a popular uprising two years ago, the southern area known as al-Saeed was underdeveloped and impoverished. Businessmen close to Mubarak’s family were blamed for orchestrating economic reform that liberalized the economy, but left the country’s poor hard-pressed to reap the benefits of economic growth.
Oil could fuel legal fight
As oil-rich North Dakota moves toward outlawing most abortions, it’s in a better position than most states for what could be a long and costly court battle over its restrictions.
Lawmakers on Friday sent the Republican governor two anti-abortion bills, one banning the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and another prohibiting women from having the procedure because a fetus has a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome. They would be the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States.
Abortion-rights activists have promised a legal battle over the measures if they become law.
The state actually has a budget surplus nearing $2 billion, thanks to newfound oil wealth. Record oil production has made North Dakota the nation’s No. 2 oil producer behind Texas.
Assisted suicide champion dies
Booth Gardner, a two-term Democratic governor who later in life spearheaded a campaign that made Washington the second state in the country to legalize assisted suicide for the terminally ill, has died after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 76.
Gardner died Friday at his Tacoma home, family spokesman Ron Dotzauer said Saturday. He was the state’s 19th governor.
The millionaire heir to the Weyerhaeuser timber fortune led the state from 1985 to 1993 following terms as Pierce County executive, state senator and business school dean.