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December 24, 2003


Vermont official backs Dean documents

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Vermont’s attorney general says the state should dismiss a lawsuit seeking to open the gubernatorial records of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean on grounds the former governor’s papers are not subject to the state’s public records law.

The move by Attorney General William Sorrell came Tuesday in response to a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a Washington-based group that wants to unseal the documents.

“He’s hiding behind executive privilege, which is exactly what (President) Bush and (Vice President Dick) Cheney are doing,” said Steve Murphy, campaign manager for Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt. “I don’t know how you expect to beat them when you’re using the same arguments. It also begs the question of what are they hiding?”

Kerry, Edwards question terror alert
WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards are questioning whether the higher terror alert level is enough to help communities prepare for such threats.

Howard Dean, the Democratic front-runner who is often more critical of the Bush administration than his rivals, had no comment Monday on the heightened threat but said last week that local emergency officials need more financial support to do their jobs. Wesley Clark said the decision shows Osama bin Laden remains a threat.

Kerry, who was in the midst of 24 hours of campaigning in Iowa, proposed an “Orange Alert Fund” to help local governments pay for increasing security.

Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts, said cities and counties have been hit hard by budget cuts.

“When the threat of terrorism is increasing, I’ll do more than simply issue an Orange Alert,” said Kerry. “As president, I’ll make sure that towns and cities don’t have to bear all the burdens of increasing security.”

Reputed mobster shoots man for heckling singer
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The scene in one of New York's fabled Italian restaurants would have done "The Sopranos" TV scriptwriters proud -- a reputed mobster shot a man dead for heckling a woman singer.

Police said Broadway chanteuse Rena Strober was singing "Don't Rain on My Parade" at Rao's, an East Harlem restaurant, Monday night when a patron, Albert Circelli, criticized her performance.

Reputed Luchese crime family associate Louis Barone told him to watch his mouth but when Circelli swore in response, Barone pulled out a .38 caliber revolver and shot him in the back, police said.

A second shot fired by Barone hit another diner, Al Petraglia, 57, in the foot, police said. Barone dropped the revolver, walked out of the restaurant and was arrested by police officers.

Circelli, 37, died of his wounds and Petraglia was treated in the hospital, police said.

Rao's is a 10-table restaurant that accommodates only 40 people. It has a reputation for exclusivity and a Mafia mystique, but police said the shooting was not a mob "hit."