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Thursday, September 23, 2004 - Page updated at 10:50 A.M.

Nation Digest
Evangelist Swaggart apologizes for remark about gays

Rescue workers remove Matthew Ramige from a helicopter yesterday at Kalispell Regional Hospital in Kalispell, Mont. Ramige and another traveler survived a Monday plane crash that killed 3 others.
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Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart apologized yesterday for saying in a televised worship service that he would kill any gay man who looked at him romantically.

A complaint was filed with a Canadian broadcasting group, and Swaggart said his Baton Rouge-based Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has received complaints from gay groups over the remarks made Sept. 12.

In the broadcast, Swaggart was discussing his opposition to gay marriage when he said, "I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry."

"And I'm going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died," Swaggart said to laughter and applause.

Swaggart said yesterday he jokingly has used the expression "killing someone and telling God he died" thousands of times, about all sorts of people. He said the expression is figurative and not meant to harm.

Sacramento, Calif.

Governor vetoes driver's license bill

An attempt to let illegal immigrants apply for driver's licenses in California failed yesterday as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made good on a vow to veto legislation that would have allowed up to 2 million immigrants to drive legally.

Supporters of the bill promised to resume the battle next year and said the governor caved in to negative public sentiment instead of showing leadership.

Schwarzenegger had pledged to veto the bill after lawmakers passed it Aug. 27.

He said the bill did not address his security concerns and lacked a key provision he insisted on for months — a special identifying mark on the licenses held by illegal immigrants. Supporters of the bill said such a mark would create a "scarlet letter" stigma.

Busy bank robber sentenced to 21 years

A man who robbed 43 banks in six states was sentenced yesterday to 21 years in prison after telling a federal judge that he stole to support his son and the boy's mother.

David W. Brankle, who stole $175,141 between April 2002 and December 2003, had no prior criminal record and said he never intended to hurt anyone.

"I went in to get the money and that was it," Brankle, 47, said at his sentencing in federal court.


Man in wheelchair allegedly robs bank

A man in a wheelchair said he robbed a bank because a homeless-assistance center and a hospital refused to help him.

Larry Miller, 42, went into Pan American Bank on Tuesday — an employee opened the door for him — carrying a note reading, "Robbery put the money bag" and "1,500," police said. Miller, who had no weapon, gave the note to a teller, who gave him two $100 bills.

A security guard stopped him at a Metrorail station and called police, police Lt. Bill Schwartz said.

San Francisco

Closed for repairs, cable-car line reopens

Thousands of tourists who hoped to ride the city's famed red-and-tan cable cars were out of luck after a frayed cable line prompted a shutdown of one of the system's most popular routes.

San Francisco Municipal Railway first halted the popular Powell-Hyde line Tuesday morning after a frayed cable was discovered on that route, which traverses the steep hills between Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf.

The cable was repaired and service resumed Tuesday, but halted again yesterday when officials decided more time was needed for repairs. Service resumed last night.


A retired zoo director died after he was stung about 1,000 times by European yellow jackets when he fell onto their nest from a ladder while cleaning windows at his home near Huntertown, Ind. Earl Wells, 75, had been in a coma at a Fort Wayne hospital since the Sept. 12 attack. He died Tuesday.

A bull elk charged and injured two people, including a Yellowstone National Park tourist who took a flash photograph of the animal from less than 10 feet away. The 60-year-old Texas man was stuck by the elk's antlers Sunday at Mammoth Hot Springs. He received cuts and bruises to his head, hands and chest, officials said yesterday. A National Park Service employee was charged by the same bull later in the day and suffered bruises and strained muscles.

Fewer senior citizens are taking the government up on its offer to deposit their Social Security checks directly into their bank accounts, costing taxpayers $100 million each year, a federal study shows.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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