Mass. governor signs law limiting abortion clinic protests

July 30
MASSACHUSETTS
Governor signs new law on abortion protests

Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D) on Wednesday signed into law a measure allowing police to order anti-abortion protesters away from clinic entrances if their presence impedes public access.

The measure comes a month after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 2007 Massachusetts law prohibiting protests within 35 feet of the entrances of reproductive health facilities, a measure that the top court found violated the right to freedom of speech.

The new law will allow police to order protesters to move 25 feet away from clinic entrances for eight hours if they block access. State officials, who drafted the bill quickly after the Supreme Court decision, said the new approach was modeled on similar laws elsewhere that had withstood legal challenges.

Anti-abortion activists had criticized the legislation, saying it would have a chilling effect on speech.

— Reuters

CALIFORNIA
Water-main break floods UCLA campus

A rupture in a 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California’s worst drought in decades, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the school’s storied basketball court less than two years after a major renovation.

The 30-inch pipe burst Tuesday under nearby Sunset Boulevard, sending water 30 feet into the air, opening a 15-foot hole in the street and inundating part of the campus that soon was swarmed with police and firefighters.

The break came amid a historic drought when residents statewide are being threatened with $500 fines for using too much water.

Repairing the pipe could take several days, Department of Water and Power official Jeff Bray said at a briefing Wednesday. A number of valves were still leaking water into the ruptured pipe, and the complex repair operation cannot begin until it is drained, Bray said. Despite the rupture, no utility customers were without water.

— Associated Press

PENNSYLVANIA
Six officers accused of robbing drug dealers

U.S. government agents arrested six Philadelphia narcotics officers Wednesday on charges that they robbed and in some cases kidnapped drug dealers, including dangling one over an 18th-floor balcony to force him to reveal a computer password.

The men are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and items including a Rolex watch and a designer suit. In one instance, they are accused of seizing cocaine and reselling it on the street.

“The conduct is really egregious,” said U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger.

The officers: Perry Betts, 46; Thomas Liciardello, 38; Linwood Norman, 46; Brian Reynolds, 43; John Speiser, 46; and Michael Spicer, 46, were taken into custody early Wednesday at their homes, authorities said.

Charges include robbery, racketeering, civil rights violations and falsifying records. Speiser faces up to 40 years in prison, while the other officers could face life sentences.

— Reuters

A second hole found in border fence in Arizona: U.S. Border Patrol officials said Wednesday that agents discovered a garage-sized hole through a steel fence that separates the United States from Mexico just east of Nogales, Ariz. The announcement was the second this week about problems with the border fence. On Sunday, agents found that runoff from rainstorms during the weekend had also knocked down 60 feet of the rebar-reinforced steel fence just west of the Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry near Interstate 19 in Nogales. That fence stood between 18 and 26 feet high and extended at least 7 feet underground.

Three dead, three officers wounded in S.C. shootout: A domestic dispute erupted into a gun battle with deputies Wednesday at a mobile home park southwest of downtown Fayetteville, N.C., leaving three people dead and three officers wounded, officials said.

— From news services

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