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POSTED March 26, 2012 8:36 p.m.

LAWSUIT: PA. YEAR OF THE BIBLE RESOLUTION UNLAWFUL: HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — An organization that includes atheists and agnostics has filed a lawsuit over a state House resolution that declares 2012 the Year of the Bible, saying the measure violates the U.S. Constitution's provision that prevents government from enacting laws "respecting an establishment of religion."

The Freedom from Religion Foundation on Monday sued the measure's main sponsor, Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny; House clerk Tony Barbush; and House parliamentarian Clancy Myer over the resolution.

The lawsuit says the resolution "sends a message to the citizens of Pennsylvania, including (the foundation's) members, that Christian beliefs are more legitimate in the eyes of the state than other systems of belief and thought, which constitute matters of individual free conscience."

The Madison, Wis.-based foundation wants a federal judge to order the defendants to stop publishing and distributing the resolution and to rule that the state government isn't Judeo-Christian. It also requests a declaration that the state public officials are subject to the Constitution's Establishment Clause and a repayment of costs and legal fees associated with the complaint.

NEW ORLEANS COP SUSPENDED FOR TRAYVON MARTIN POST: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans police officer who was placed on desk duty following a shooting has been suspended for posting a comment on a local television station's website about the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Officer Jason Giroir identified himself as a New Orleans Police Department employee when he wrote, "Act like a thug die like one!" in response to a WWL-TV article about a rally supporting Martin.

Martin was fatally shot last month by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas announced Monday that Giroir has been suspended indefinitely without pay.

Giroir was under investigation for his role in the March 1 on-duty shooting death of a 20-year-old man.

WIFE DEFENDS SOLDIER ACCUSED IN AFGHAN RAMPAGE: SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — The wife of a U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians says her husband showed no signs of PTSD before he deployed, and she doesn't feel like she'll ever believe he was involved in the killings.

"I just don't think he was involved," Karilyn Bales said in an interview with Matt Lauer that aired during Monday's "NBC Nightly News" broadcast. "I don't know enough information. This is not him. It's not him."

Earlier, she said on NBC's "Today" show that she didn't know much about PTSD symptoms.

"He doesn't have nightmares, you know, things like that. No dreams," Karilyn Bales said.

She defended her husband, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, in the weekend interview. Officials say Bales left his base March 11 in southern Afghanistan and killed eight Afghan adults and nine children.

The wife of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier said the accusations are "unbelievable to me."

He was formally charged Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder and other crimes, and is being held at a U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

FEDS DEFEND CHARGES IN MICHIGAN MILITIA CASE: DETROIT (AP) — A judge overseeing the trial of seven members of a Michigan militia signaled Monday that she's struggling with claims by prosecutors that secretly recorded chats about killing police and making bombs add up to a conspiracy to wage war against the government.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts heard a full day of arguments from defense lawyers who want key charges dismissed and prosecutors who urged her to keep the trial going and let jurors decide the case. The jury will stay home again Tuesday while she works on a decision.

A request for acquittal is standard procedure when prosecutors finish their side of a case. But with seven defendants and six weeks of testimony to consider, the judge is giving the matter a thorough look.

PA. GOP SENATOR CONVICTED OF THEFT OF SERVICES: PITTSBURGH (AP) — Republican state Sen. Jane Orie, accused of using her state-funded legislative staff to perform campaign work for herself and a state judge who's her sister, was convicted Monday on 14 counts of theft of services, conflict of interest and forgery and likely will be forced from the Senate.

Orie, acquitted of 10 other counts including perjury and election code violations, declined to comment after the verdict but appeared to be shaken. Her attorney, William Costopoulos, said after leaving the courtroom: "I can tell you we're disappointed, and there's no positive spin I can put on it."

Orie, 50, was elected to the Senate in a 2001 special election to fill an empty seat and was re-elected three times. The multiple convictions, including on five felony counts, mean she'll almost certainly be removed from office and lose her state pension.

Prosecutors said Orie, who's from McCandless, just north of Pittsburgh, had illegally used her legislative staff since 2001 to benefit herself and state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, who wasn't charged.

CHP OFFICER SUFFERS MINOR INJURIES IN ATTACK: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A California Highway Patrol officer is recovering from minor injuries suffered in a knife attack.

Officer Lizz Dutton says the officer was assaulted by a woman with a four-inch folding knife about 2 p.m. Monday.

He was responding to a report about a vehicle hitting a fence surrounding an apartment building in Foothill Farms, east of Sacramento.

The 12-year veteran, whose name was not released, was treated at a hospital for cuts to his wrist and neck.

Police detained 20-year-old Cheyenne Wheeling of Sacramento after a foot chase that led over two backyard fences. Dutton says she was found hiding in a backyard shed, but ran again before she was tackled by officers.

OFFICIALS: WHITE HOUSE OFFERS TO CURTAIL DRONES:  WASHINGTON (AP) — In a bid to save the CIA's drone campaign against al-Qaida in Pakistan, US officials offered key concessions to Pakistan's spy chief that included advance notice and limits on the types of targets. But the offers were flatly rejected, leaving US-Pakistani relations strained as President Barack Obama prepares to meet Tuesday with Pakistan's prime minister.

CIA Director David Petraeus, who met with Pakistan's then-spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha at a meeting in London in January, offered to give Pakistan advance notice of future CIA drone strikes against targets on its territory in a bid to keep Pakistan from blocking the strikes — arguably one of the most potent U.S. tools against al-Qaida.

 

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