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National Briefing

South Carolina: Ethics panel wants hearing on Gov. Sanford / Florida: Brothers sentenced in terrorist plot / Connecticut: Navy blames submarine leaders for Strait of Hormuz crash

November 19, 2009

SOUTH CAROLINA

Ethics panel wants hearing on Sanford

An ethics panel says that South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford should face a hearing on potential violations of state law found during an investigation into his travel and campaign finances.

Questions about the Republican's use of state, private and commercial planes arose after he disappeared in June and later admitted that he had been in Argentina visiting his mistress.

The decision by the State Ethics Commission follows a three-month investigation. Commissioners did not reveal details about their findings or how they concluded there was probable cause for an ethics hearing early next year.

FLORIDA

Pair sentenced in terrorist plot

Two Miami men have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a plot to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard ordered Burson Augustin, 24, to spend six years behind bars. His brother Rotschild Augustine, 26, was sentenced to seven years. Prosecutors had sought maximum 30-year sentences for both men. But Lenard found that they were not major players in the plot targeting the FBI offices and Sears Tower, now known as Willis Tower.

Three other men also convicted in May of supporting Al Qaeda, conspiring to wage war on the U.S. and other charges will be sentenced this week.

CONNECTICUT

Navy blames sub leaders for crash

The crew of a U.S. submarine made dozens of errors before the vessel collided with an American warship in the Persian Gulf, a Navy review has found. The accident exposed lax leaders who tolerated sleeping, slouching and a radio room rigged with music speakers, the review said.

Navy investigators blamed the collision on the submarine's "ineffective and negligent command leadership," including what they called a lack of standards and failure to adequately prepare for navigating the busy Strait of Hormuz.

The Hartford, a nuclear-powered submarine based in Groton, Conn., collided with the New Orleans, a San Diego-based Navy amphibious ship, on March 20 in the strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

The New Orleans' fuel tank was ruptured, and 15 sailors on the Hartford sustained minor injuries. The collision caused $2.3 million in damage to the New Orleans, and the cost of repairs to the Hartford has been $102.6 million to date.

AND FINALLY . . .

Tortoise's secret is out of the shell

A tortoise's zookeepers in Cleveland are the ones feeling slow after discovering after more than 50 years that "Mary" is actually a male.

Officials at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo say it can be tough to establish the sex of a Aldabra giant tortoise because the reproductive organs normally aren't visible. But Mary's maleness was revealed this month during a routine exam. A spokesman says the zoo is renaming the tortoise Terry.

When the reptile arrived at the zoo in 1955, it was assumed he was a she because of a flatter shell, shorter tail and smaller size than most males. He is estimated to be 75 to 100 years old.

-- times wire reports

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