OBAMA TO FAST-TRACK OIL PIPELINE, OTHER PROJECTS: BOULDER CITY, Nev. (AP) — President Barack Obama will direct federal agencies to fast-track an oil pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas, backing a segment of the larger Keystone XL project that he rejected earlier this year.
The 485-mile line from Cushing, Okla., to refineries on Texas' Gulf coast would remove a critical bottleneck in the country's oil transportation system, as rising oil production has outgrown pipelines' capacity to deliver oil to refineries.
Obama's directive, to be announced Thursday, also would apply to other pipelines that alleviate choke points. It will be issued along with an executive order requiring agencies to make faster decisions on other infrastructure projects.
For Obama, the announcement provides an answer to Republicans who say his energy policies, including the rejection of the larger Canada-Texas pipeline, have contributed to high gas prices and destroyed jobs.
The longer 1,700-mile pipeline became a political flashpoint late last year when congressional Republicans wrote a provision forcing Obama to make a decision, and environmental groups waged a campaign to kill the project. In January, Obama delayed it, saying the deadline didn't leave enough time for review.
WHITE TEEN PLEADS GUILTY IN MISS. HATE CRIME : JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A white teenager pleaded guilty to murder and a hate crime Wednesday for running over a black man with his pickup truck in a killing a judge called a stain on Mississippi that will take years to fade.
Deryl Dedmon, 19, apologized to the victim's family before he received two life sentences for the June 26 death of James Craig Anderson, a 47-year-old car plant worker who loved to sing in his church choir and was remembered for his sense of humor.
Dedmon, a slight, blonde man wearing a blue jumpsuit, looked down as prosecutors described the killing. Dedmon admitted that he and a group of white teens were partying in Puckett, a small town outside the capital city, when he suggested they find a black man to harass and went to Jackson because of its majority-black population. They found Anderson before dawn outside a hotel. He was beaten before Dedmon ran over him.
Prosecutors said Dedmon and others had targeted blacks for harassment before, usually homeless or drunk people who weren't likely to report it to police.
HONOLULU JUDGE PUTS MAN IN CHOKEHOLD FOR RUCKUS: HONOLULU (AP) — It got personal for a judge in Honolulu when he put a man in a chokehold for jumping onto his bench and breaking a flagpole bearing the state flag, authorities said.
District Judge Lono Lee knocked down Steven Michael Hauge and restrained him Monday after the man caused a ruckus in Lee's courtroom, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/GFfNuA).
Hauge had been going from courtroom to courtroom in the Honolulu District Court building screaming, State Sheriff Shawn Tsuha said. "He was quite upset about something," Tsuha said.
It was not clear why Hauge was in the building. Court records show a criminal record dating to 1977 with more than 50 convictions on charges including, burglary, fraud and assault.
Hauge was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, obstruction of government operations and fourth-degree criminal property damage. Tsuha said Hauge allegedly broke the flag's staff while swinging it.
BC FOOTBALL PLAYER CHARGED IN SECRET SEX RECORDING: BOSTON (AP) — A Boston College football player has been charged with secretly making an audio recording of two students having sex.
Backup defensive lineman Jaryd Rudolph was released on his own recognizance Wednesday after pleading not guilty to violating the state's wiretap statute.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents a female Boston College graduate student, said neither his client nor her partner — another BC player — knew of a Feb. 15 cell phone recording. He said she learned about it after Rudolph distributed it and she was mocked by other students.
Rudolph's attorney, John Seed, said his client is innocent and there's a question of whether the recording even exists.
Boston College said 19-year-old Rudolph is on probation and suspended from the team.
The maximum prison sentence upon conviction is 2½ years.
ABORTION FOES DO LIVE ULTRASOUNDS IN IDAHO CAPITOL: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Capitol was part medical clinic, part reality TV show and all cultural battlefield on Wednesday, as an anti-abortion advocate secured a basement meeting room to conduct live ultrasound procedures on six women before a mostly female audience of 150.
Some were ejected from the room by Idaho State Police troopers after interrupting activist Brandi Swindell's descriptions of the ultrasound images shown on three projector screens.
Swindell, a Boise resident who briefly caused an international incident with her arrest in China for protesting abortion ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hoped the event would help convince state lawmakers to support a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound first.
Currently, Idaho requires women seeking an abortion be given the option of an ultrasound. The House planned to take up the ultrasound mandate on Thursday. The measure has already passed the Senate, 23-12.
"How can anybody call this offensive?" Swindell said. "Who doesn't love an ultrasound image of a baby?"
WIS. TOWN LONGS FOR RELIEF FROM MYSTERIOUS BOOMS: CLINTONVILLE, Wis. (AP) — Sleepless families in a small Wisconsin town longed for quiet Wednesday after mysterious booming noises over the past few nights roused them from bed and sent residents into the street — sometimes still in pajamas.
The strange disturbance sounds like distant thunder, fireworks or someone slamming a heavy door. At first, many people were amused or merely curious. But after three restless nights, aggravation is mounting. And some folks are considering leaving town until investigators determine the source of the racket.
"My husband thought it was cool, but I don't think so. This is not a joke," said Jolene Van Beek, who awoke early Sunday to a loud boom that shook her house. "I don't know what it is, but I just want it to stop."
The booming in Clintonville continued Monday and Tuesday nights and into Wednesday morning, eventually prompting Van Beek to take her three sons to her father's home, 10 minutes away, so they could get some uninterrupted sleep.
There have been no reports of injury or damage, despite some residents saying they could feel the ground roll beneath their feet.
City officials say they have investigated every possible human cause. They checked water, sewer and gas lines, contacted the military about any exercises in the area, reviewed permits for mining explosives and inspected a dam next to city hall. They even tested methane levels at the landfill in case the gas was spontaneously exploding.