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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2004

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June 3, 2004

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Idaho

Jury still deliberating in trial of Saudi student

Jurors completed their first day of deliberations Wednesday without reaching a verdict in the case of a University of Idaho graduate student accused of fostering terrorism on the Internet.

The jury must decide whether Sami Omar Al-Hussayen was exercising his right to free speech or breaking the law when he lent his Internet skills to Web sites the government claims promoted terrorism.

Prosecutors have argued that the 34-year-old Saudi Arabian graduate student turned Web sites of the Islamic Assembly of North America into an Internet network providing information to support terrorism.

Florida

Fire forces evacuation of hundreds of families

A fast-growing wildfire forced the brief evacuation of hundreds of northern Florida families Wednesday.

The fire grew from about 3,000 acres to about 5,000 acres as it burned near Hampton, about 50 miles southwest of Jacksonville, said Annaleasa Winter, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Forestry.

About 500 people who had been evacuated from areas near the blaze were allowed to return Wednesday night; nearly a half-inch of rain doused the blaze, much of which was burning in inaccessible swamp areas.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Restriction of pot ads ruled unconstitutional

A judge said Wednesday that a federal law aimed at restricting the display of paid, pro-marijuana ads in buses and subway stations was unconstitutional, improperly infringing on free speech rights.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman came in a lawsuit challenging the law that cuts off up to $3.1 billion in federal funds to local transit authorities if they display ads promoting the legalization or medical use of marijuana or other drugs.

Fearing a loss of at least $85 million in federal aid, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority earlier this year declined to run ads submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union and three drug advocacy groups. The groups then filed suit, calling it an unconstitutional restriction.

Friedman said the law, which took effect in February, unfairly punished a particular viewpoint.

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