Wednesday, March 15, 2006

State Dept. Confirms Student Was Arrested on Trip to Africa

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The State Department has confirmed that a Harvard University student from the District was arrested in December and detained for several days while on a research trip to Zimbabwe.

Amar Bakshi, a senior, had gone to Zimbabwe to gather information for a thesis on the use of propaganda. He was pulled off an outbound flight Dec. 30 and charged with "removing information from the country" because of videotapes he was carrying, the State Department said. The charges were dropped Jan. 3, and he was released.

The State Department initially had declined to confirm Bakshi's account, citing privacy concerns, but a spokeswoman said the department had recently obtained a waiver from Bakshi.

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· WEARE, N.H. -- Voters in Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter's home town on Tuesday rejected a largely symbolic proposal to seize his 200-year-old farmhouse as payback for a ruling that expanded government's authority to take property. Even though voters overwhelmingly agreed to leave Souter's home alone, it would have been safe whatever the outcome. The vote was prompted by activists angered by the Supreme Court's 5 to 4 decision last year in a property rights case from Connecticut. Souter sided with the majority in holding that governments can take property and turn it over to private developers.

· TAMPA -- A second autopsy shows that a 14-year-old boy who was punched and kicked by guards at a juvenile boot camp did not die Jan. 6 of natural causes as a medical examiner initially ruled, prosecutors confirmed Tuesday. A surveillance video showed guards kicking and punching Martin Lee Anderson at the Bay County Sheriff's Office boot camp. A noted pathologist who observed Monday's 12-hour autopsy on behalf of Anderson's family said it is clear the teenager did not die from sickle cell trait, as the medical examiner for Bay County had determined, or from any other natural causes.

· INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana legislators were to vote Tuesday on a 10-year highway plan that includes leasing the state's only toll road for $3.85 billion to Macquarie Infrastructure Group and Cintra SA. The joint offer by the Australian and Spanish companies, top among four bidders who vied for the highway, faces its final vote before a midnight deadline after an agreement was reached in the legislature. Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (R) said he backs the agreement.

· BORGER, Tex. -- Firefighters said they were making progress against a string of wildfires ravaging the dry Texas grassland, but the good news was tempered by a threat of shifting winds and the distress of evacuees returning to charred homes. Windblown flames have raced across more than 1,000 square miles since Sunday, killed 11 people and forced about 1,900 others to evacuate.

· MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- An explosion that killed 12 workers at the Sago Mine was probably caused by a huge lightning strike that ignited methane gas in a sealed-off area, the mine's owner said. Ben Hatfield, chief executive of International Coal Group Inc., said weather monitors confirmed an unusually large and powerful lightning strike near the mine, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed a seismic event at Sago and the mine's own atmospheric-monitoring system signaled a combustion alarm.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports

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