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U.S. appeals ruling in Blackwater case that involved a Baghdad shooting

Saturday, January 30, 2010; A16

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

U.S. appeals ruling in Blackwater case

The U.S. government appealed a ruling by a federal judge that threw out all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards in a Baghdad shooting.

Prosecutors have said the guards killed 14 Iraqi civilians and wounded 20 others in an unprovoked attack in Nisoor Square on Sept. 16, 2007.

In throwing out manslaughter and weapons charges on Dec. 31, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled that the Justice Department's investigation had been badly tainted by statements the guards provided under the promise of immunity to State Department investigators after the shooting.

The Justice Department has until March 1 to file court papers explaining its legal arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Outside legal experts have said the government faces a tough task in overturning Urbina's detailed ruling.

-- Del Quentin Wilber

HAWAII

State House rejects same-sex civil unions

Hawaii lawmakers declined to vote Friday on a bill to allow same-sex civil unions, effectively killing the measure.

The state House of Representatives indefinitely postponed a decision on whether to grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits the state provides to married couples.

The state Senate approved a civil unions bill last week. The voice vote in the House defers further action on the bill unless two-thirds of the lawmakers vote to reconsider it.

-- Associated Press

CONGRESS

15th GOP member to leave the House

Indiana Rep. Steve Buyer announced his retirement Friday, becoming the 15th House Republican planning to retire or seek higher office.

Buyer, who has held the seat since 1992, said he would retire at the end of the current term because his wife, Joni, has an autoimmune disease. He did not name the disease.

-- Chris Cillizza

Washington state eyes BPA ban: The Washington state Senate approved a ban on bisphenol A in baby bottles and other food containers designed for use by children 3 or younger, virtually ensuring that the state will become the third -- after Connecticut and Minnesota -- to ban the chemical in some products. The House passed a similar measure this week.

Plane diverted in watch list mix-up: In what turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, a Continental Airlines jet flying from Newark, N.J., to Bogota, Colombia, was diverted Friday to Florida over concerns that a passenger was on the government's no-fly list of suspected terrorists. The passenger was cleared by the FBI at Jacksonville International Airport and permitted to continue on the flight.

-- From news services

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