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Originally published Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Nation Digest

Port agency ruled negligent in attack

...

New York

A jury ruled Wednesday that the Port Authority was negligent in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. It was a long-awaited legal victory for victims of an attack that killed six people and injured 1,000 eight years before terrorists brought down the center's twin towers.

The jury ruled that the Port Authority, the agency that owned the World Trade Center, was negligent by not properly maintaining the parking garage where terrorists detonated more than a half-ton of explosives in a rented van. Several separate trials will determine financial damages for about 400 individuals.

The trial cast a spotlight on an attack that was overshadowed by Sept. 11, but was horrific nonetheless. The noontime blast blew a gigantic crater in the garage, filled the building with smoke, wrecked the towers' power and emergency systems, and spread fear across New York.

Jurors said they were swayed by a 1985 report written by the Port Authority's own security officials, who warned the 400-slot garage was a likely attack site. The agency vowed to appeal the verdict.

Montgomery, Ala.

Ex-governor faces bribery charge

Former Gov. Don Siegelman was charged Wednesday in a widespread racketeering conspiracy that includes allegations that he took a bribe from former hospital executive Richard Scrushy for a key state appointment.

Also indicted on federal charges were two members of Siegelman's administration and Scrushy, the former head of the HealthSouth medical-services company who was acquitted earlier this year in a massive accounting-fraud case.

Siegelman, a Democrat who was governor from 1999 to 2003, was charged with racketeering, fraud, bribery, extortion and obstruction of justice. He called the grand-jury probe a political witch hunt by Republican prosecutors trying to derail his campaign for a second term in 2006. "I never put a dime in my pocket that didn't belong there," he said Wednesday.

In all, Siegelman is accused of soliciting more than $1 million for himself, his 1998 campaign for governor or his unsuccessful bid in 1999 to get Alabama voters to approve a state lottery. Prosecutors say he made official state decisions in return for the money.

Santa Cruz, Calif.

City supports medicinal pot

The City Council voted to create a department to coordinate the distribution of medical marijuana and vowed to fight federal drug regulators in court to establish it.

Santa Cruz leaders say the office will be formed only with federal approval. A case is under way in San Jose challenging the federal government's right to restrict states from allowing medicinal marijuana use, he said. Santa Cruz hopes to become part of that case.

The City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday to create the department. California law has allowed medical marijuana since voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that the federal government can continue to prosecute users.

Compiled from The Associated Press

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