Obama administration seeks tobacco profits

The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court on Friday to allow the government to seek nearly $300 billion from the tobacco industry for a half-century of deception that ”has cost the lives and damaged the health of untold millions of Americans.”

Both sides in a landmark, decade-long legal fight over smoking took their case to the high court. The administration, joined by public health groups, wants the court to throw out rulings that bar the government from collecting $280 billion of past tobacco profits or $14 billion for a national campaign to curb smoking.

Leading tobacco companies accounting for 90 percent of U.S. cigarette sales want the justices to wipe away court holdings that the industry illegally concealed the dangers of cigarette smoking. If they succeed, the attack on their profits also would be halted.


Lautenberg diagnosed with curable lymphoma

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, at 86 the nation’s second-oldest U.S. senator, has curable lymphoma of the stomach, his office said Friday.

Doctors for the Democrat found B-cell lymphoma that will require treatment over the next few months, spokesman Caley Gray said in a news release. He will not be resigning, Gray said.

Lautenberg will undergo six to eight chemotherapy treatments and should make a ”full and complete recovery,” said Dr. James Holland of New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Lautenberg was taken to the hospital Monday after his office said he fell. The office said Tuesday the senator was treated for a bleeding ulcer, and Gray said Friday the lymphoma was found in the ulcer.


Professor held in shooting worries about her job

The Alabama university professor accused of shooting six colleagues has a genius-level IQ, yet wonders whether she has been fired from her job — a clear sign that she has trouble relating to the world, her attorney said Friday.

One week ago, the Harvard-educated Amy Bishop was accused of opening fire at a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, killing three co-workers and injuring three others. She is remorseful, but doesn’t recall pulling the trigger, said her attorney, Roy W. Miller. She exhibits signs of mental illness and needs evaluations, he said.

”Something’s wrong with this lady, OK?” Miller said, laying the groundwork for a potential insanity defense during a news conference. Bishop is being held without bond on charges of capital murder and attempted murder.

Miller said Bishop breaks down and cries during their talks in the county jail. She wants to see her four children and was worried about her position at the university.

”She said, ‘Do I still have a job out there?’ She asked me that yesterday,” Miller said. ”She said, ‘Do you know if I have a job? I assume they fired me. Did they fire me?”’


Volunteer firefighter convicted of murder

A young volunteer firefighter who prosecutors say wanted to be a hero was convicted Friday of murder for setting a fire that killed a mother and three of her children.

According to prosecutors, Caleb Lacey, 20, set the Feb. 19, 2009 fire in a stairwell leading to apartments in Lawrence, N.Y. It was the only entrance and exit for tenants on the second floor; a fire escape had previously been removed from the building.

The fire, several doors from Lacey’s home, killed Morena Vanegas, 46; her daughters Susanna and Andrea Vanegas, ages 9 and 13; and her 19-year-old son, Saul Presa. Three others escaped the building by climbing out a rear window.

Prosecutors said the rookie set the fire so he could be one of the first responders and be viewed as a hero.

During deliberations, jurors asked to review videos taken by security cameras, including one that prosecutors said showed Lacey’s car stopped outside the apartment building. Another video showed Lacey arriving at the Lawrence-Cedarhurst firehouse two minutes before an alarm about the fire. Before any other firefighters had arrived, Lacey was already dressed in his gear.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Canty said Lacey joined the fire department in October 2008 but became frustrated after answering 90 emergency calls, none of which were active fires. He also noted that in Lacey’s brief tenure with the department, he had never responded to any calls between midnight and 7 a.m., until the morning of the fatal blaze.


Former secretary Haig listed in critical condition

Former secretary of state and presidential adviser Alexander Haig is in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Hospital spokesman Gary Stephenson said Friday that the 85-year-old was admitted Jan. 28 and remains in critical condition. Stephenson said he cannot say why Haig is hospitalized.

The four-star general served as a top adviser to three presidents and had presidential ambitions of his own. President Nixon appointed him White House chief of staff in 1973, and he helped the president prepare his impeachment defense and handled many of the day-to-day decisions normally made by the chief executive. Haig later served as secretary of state under President Reagan.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.