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Nation news briefs
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JUDGE UPSET BY OBAMA'S COMMENTS ON HEALTH CARE LAW: HOUSTON (AP) — A federal appeals court judge seems to have taken offense at comments President Barack Obama made this week in which he warned that if the Supreme Court overturned his signature health care overhaul it would amount to overreach by an "unelected" court.

The Supreme Court is set to rule later this year on the overhaul's fate.

During oral arguments Tuesday in Houston in a separate challenge to the health care law, U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith said Obama's comments troubled people who have read them as a challenge to federal courts' authority.

While judicial review of laws has long been established, Smith ordered a federal attorney to submit a letter by Thursday stating the government's position on this issue in light of the Obama's comments.

FORMER OJ LAWYER IN VEGAS SUES FLORIDA COLLEAGUE:  LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas lawyer who represented O.J. Simpson in the Nevada trial that led to the celebrity football star's conviction on armed robbery and kidnapping charges is suing Simpson's Florida-based lead attorney in the case, claiming he was stiffed on promised fees.

Gabriel Grasso alleges in a civil breach of contract lawsuit that he was promised $250,000 to serve as local attorney following Simpson's arrest in September 2007. But he said Yale Galanter only paid him $15,000.

Galanter told The Associated Press that he hadn't been served with the lawsuit and couldn't comment on it. But he said he intends to fight.

"You can say anything you want in a lawsuit. Proving it is another matter," Galanter said Tuesday. "Gabe Grasso got paid everything he was supposed to get paid commensurate with his skill level, his ability level and his responsibilities as local counsel in Las Vegas."

The 17-page lawsuit, filed Friday filed in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000. It cites "extensive and time consuming" proceedings between Simpson's arrest in September 2007 and trial a year later.

SCHOOLS CHIEF CALLS FOR CAL STATE SALARY FREEZE: SACRAMENTO . (AP) — California's school chief is calling on California State University to freeze compensation for top executives as the state grapples with its ongoing fiscal crisis.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sent a letter Monday to the university system's chancellor and Board of Trustees chairman to express opposition to 10 percent pay hikes for incoming presidents at the Fullerton and East Bay campuses.

Vacancies at six other campuses are expected to be filled in coming months.

Last July CSU faced criticism for approving a $400,000 salary for the new president of San Diego State.

At that same meeting, tuition was increased by 12 percent for students._

ROCKET WITH SECRET PAYLOAD LAUNCHES FROM CALIF: VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE . (AP) — A rocket carrying  top-secret payload blasted off Tuesday from the California coast.

The Delta IV rocket lifted off at 4:12 p.m. from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

"We've just seen the successful liftoff" of the rocket, launch commentator Don Spencer said in a webcast.

Since the launch involved a classified cargo for the National Reconnaissance Office, no details were immediately available about whether it was boosted to its intended orbit.

The reconnaissance office, which oversees the nation's constellation of spy satellites, has kept mum about the purpose of the mission and directed United Launch Alliance to cut off the live broadcast three minutes after liftoff.

NEW DOG BEACH MAY BE DOOMED BECAUSE OF POPULARITY: RANCHO PALOS VERDES (AP) — The popularity of a newly-christened Los Angeles County off-leash dog beach may lead to its demise.

The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council approved a yearlong pilot program on Feb. 21 to allow dogs on the 5-acre beach below the Ocean Trails Reserve and Trump National Golf Course.

There are only two other beaches in the county — Long Beach and Malibu — that allow dogs.

Trump golf club general manager Lili Amini wrote the council saying they have lost business because of complaints about dog feces and parking, among other things.

MAN'S FOOT AMPUTATED AFTER RAUCOUS KY. CELEBRATION: LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Doctors amputated the foot of a man shot during raucous street celebrations in Lexington after Kentucky won the NCAA basketball championship and police said Tuesday they were trying to find the shooting suspect.

Harold Calloway, 31, remained hospitalized Tuesday, police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said. Calloway was shot about 2 a.m. EDT as Kentucky fans were celebrating Kentucky's 67-59 victory over Kansas on Monday night.

The man was shot in the foot, which had to be amputated because of the extent of the injuries, police told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The celebrations around Lexington went on into the early-morning hours. Police said more than 50 people were arrested, and a fire official said 56 fires, all but one minor, were reported. There were also 25 emergency medical runs.

WOMAN, 80, LANDS PLANE ON LOW FUEL; HUSBAND DIES: MILWAUKEE (AP) — An 80-year-old woman with little flying experience knew her husband had died after he fell unconscious at the controls of a small plane, yet she remained calm as she landed the aircraft at a northeastern Wisconsin airport, her son said Tuesday.

In a phone interview with The Associated Press, James Collins said he's also a pilot and had helped his mother Helen Collins via radio as the Cessna twin-engine plane began running out of gas Monday evening. Another pilot also took to the skies to guide her to the ground at Cherryland Airport, near Sturgeon Bay — about 150 miles north of Milwaukee.

He said his mother took lessons to take off and land about 30 years ago at her husband's urging, in case something happened to him, but never got her license. She has flown hundreds of hours by his side.