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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

   Missouri Transportation officials are warning drivers to expect more nighttime lane and ramp restrictions along Interstate 70 near the Blanchette Bridge this week.

   MoDOT says drivers should expect at least one lane to be closed eastbound on the Blanchette Bridge from 8 p.m. through 5 a.m. each weeknight, as crews near completion of the north span rebuild.  

   Officials say additional lane and ramp closures are likely through next weekend in the final push to get both the eastbound and westbound bridges back to five lanes in each direction by Monday, August 26th.

More settlements near in Penn State abuse talks

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 01:59 Published in National News

   HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Negotiations between Penn State and young men who claim they were abused by Jerry Sandusky have begun to bear fruit, with lawyers involved saying there will be more announcements of settlements in the coming days.

   The school's trustees have set aside some $60 million to pay claims, and on Monday a lawyer working for Penn State said the one settlement so far should be followed by 24 more this week. Thirty-one young men have come forward to Penn State.

   Attorney Michael Rozen said the pending agreements include most of the eight young men who testified last year against Sandusky, the school's former assistant football coach now serving a prison sentence for child molestation.

   Penn State said little over the weekend in response to an announcement by the lawyer for one of the eight, "Victim 5," that his case was fully settled and he expected payment within a month. The school is paying out the claims through its insurance coverage and from interest revenues on loans made by the school to its own self-supporting entities.

   Rozen said all of the deals are expected to include provisions that give the university the right to pursue claims against the university's insurer, The Second Mile charity founded by Sandusky and The Second Mile's insurer.

   Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in state prison after being convicted last summer of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Witnesses testified that he met victims through The Second Mile, an organization established to help at-risk children that ran camps and offered other services.

   Rozen said the "value" of the claims depended in part on whether they happened after 2001, when top-ranking school officials were told by a graduate assistant about Sandusky with a child in a team shower, or before 1998, the earliest documented example of a Sandusky complaint.

   "It's what did Penn State know and what duty did they have?" Rozen said. "What did they know, when did they know it, and what duty — if any — did they have to act, and to what extent?"

   He said claims for abuse before 1998 also may fall outside the statute of limitations that put time limits on how long victims have to sue.

   Although some lawyers have said they were interested in settlements that require Penn State to make changes that might prevent such abuse from re-occurring, Rozen said those matters have been eclipsed by the widespread reforms the university has adopted or begun since a series of recommendations were made last summer in an internal report.

   "I don't think anybody could reasonably or rationally question the university's commitment to doing things differently in the future," Rozen said. "This was about trying to redress harm caused to young men by this really bad person, Sandusky."

   He declined to say how much the 25 cases are settling for, or provide a range of the settlements.

Pakistan ex-head Musharraf charged in Bhutto death

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 01:45 Published in National News

   RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani court Tuesday indicted former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf on murder charges in connection with the 2007 assassination of iconic Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, deepening the fall of a once-powerful figure who returned to the country this year in an effort to take part in elections.

   The decision by a court in Rawalpindi marks the first time Musharraf, or any former army chief in Pakistan, has been charged with a crime.

   Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup and stepped down from office in disgrace nearly a decade later, now faces a litany of legal problems that have in many ways broken taboos on the inviolability of the once-sacrosanct military in Pakistani society.

   He has been charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and facilitation for murder, said prosecutor Chaudry Muhammed Azhar.

   The former army commando appeared in person during the brief morning hearing, and pleaded not guilty, said Afsha Adil, a member of Musharraf's legal team.

   Bhutto was killed in 2007 during a gun and bomb attack at a rally in the city of Rawalpindi, the sister city to the capital of Islamabad. Prosecutors have said Musharraf, who was president at the time, failed to properly protect her.

   The judge set August 27 as the next court date to present evidence.

   Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March after nearly four years outside the country and vowed to take part in the country's May elections. But he has little popular support in Pakistan and ever since his return has faced a litany of legal problems related to his rule.

   He has been confined to his house on the outskirts Islamabad as part of his legal problems, and was brought to court Tuesday amid tight security.

   In addition to the Bhutto case, Musharraf is involved in a case related to the 2007 detention of judges and the death of a Baluch nationalist leader.

   He's also faced threats from the Pakistani Taliban who tried to assassinate him twice while he was in office and vowed to try again if he returned.

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