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POSTED February 1, 2012 8:28 p.m.

550 ABUSE CLAIMS FILED AGAINST WIS. ARCHDIOCESE: MILWAUKEE (AP) — About 550 people have filed claims for restitution for alleged sexual abuse by clergy in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee — the most of the eight dioceses in the U.S. that have sought bankruptcy protection, a lawyer in the Milwaukee case said Wednesday.

James Stang, a bankruptcy lawyer who represents creditors in the Wisconsin case, estimated about 550 claims had been filed by the Wednesday afternoon deadline set by the court. The Milwaukee Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection last year, saying pending sex-abuse lawsuits could leave it with debts it couldn't afford.

The archdiocese has paid more than $30 million in settlements and other court costs related to alleged clergy abuse. The archdiocese only had $4.6 million in assets to be applied to claims in 2010. The bankruptcy court will decide the final payout, archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf said.

CALIF. AG ASKS JUDGE TO DENY SIRHAN SIRHAN APPEAL: LOS ANGELES (AP) — California's attorney general says a judge should deny the latest appeal of assassin Sirhan Sirhan saying the man long-convicted in the murder of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy hasn't proved his innocence.

In a 46-page reply brief issued Wednesday, Attorney General Kamala Harris says Sirhan's latest appeal is speculative, untimely and procedurally unsound.

Lawyers representing Sirhan filed the appeal late last year alleging a bullet was switched in evidence at his trial and that new forensic details exonerated him from the 1968 killing.

Sirhan, now in his late 60s, was denied parole at a hearing last March where he denied any memory of shooting Kennedy at a Los Angeles hotel moments after he claimed victory in California's Democratic presidential primary.

All of his appeals have been turned down.

JUDGE: CIVIL RIGHTS PHOTOGRAPHER WAS FBI INFORMANT: MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A judge says documents confirm that civil rights-era photographer Ernest Withers secretly served as an informer for the FBI.

District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Tuesday that FBI documents confirm Withers, who died at 85 in 2007, informed for the agency. Withers was known as "the civil rights photographer" for iconic images of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others protesting for racial equality in the South.

Berman's ruling follows a lawsuit by The Commercial Appeal. The Tennessee newspaper conducted a two-year investigation reporting Withers worked as a paid FBI informant at least from the late 1960s until 1970.

Jackson ordered the FBI to produce an index of any and all records in Withers' file by March 16.

FIRST LADY PROMOTES HEALTHY FOOD IN CALIFORNIA: INGLEWOOD  (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday said the campaign to bring healthy food to all Americans is happening neighborhood by neighborhood.

Standing in a vacant Southern California store set to be refurbished and reopened this summer, Obama lauded efforts to bring large grocery retailers to inner-city areas that traditional supermarket chains spurn.

"That's how we solve this problem — one community, one household at a time," Obama said, speaking in front of a display depicting an old-fashioned grocery store with crates stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. "We're not just making this generation healthy. We're making the next, and the next and the next."

Obama, who is on the second day of her two-day visit to the Los Angeles area, made the stop in the blue-collar, largely Hispanic neighborhood as part of her "Let's Move!" campaign to boost healthy food and fitness.

Part of the campaign includes promoting initiatives such as the $264 million California FreshWorks Fund, which finances grocery businesses willing to open in urban areas.

One of the fund's first projects was a $20 million loan to Anaheim-based Northgate Gonzalez Markets, which operates 34 supermarkets around Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, to build the Inglewood store and two others.

REACTIONS HEATED ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD-KOMEN RIFT: NEW YORK (AP) — Planned Parenthood said Wednesday that it received more than $400,000 from 6,000 donors in the 24 hours after news broke that its affiliates would be losing grants for breast screenings from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer foundation.

Komen, meanwhile, incurred heated criticism from some members of Congress, numerous liberal advocacy groups and some newspaper editorial writers. But it was applauded by many conservative religious and anti-abortion groups that abhor Planned Parenthood for its role as the leading U.S. abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood says the funding cutoff was a result of Komen succumbing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen, in a statement issued Wednesday evening, denied that politics played a role and reiterated that its decision was based on newly adopted criteria for issuing grants.

The criteria bar grants to any organization that's under local, state or federal investigation. Planned Parenthood is being investigated for alleged financial improprieties by a Republican congressman acting with the encouragement of anti-abortion groups.

 

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