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Jan. 10, 2013 at 10:00 PM   |   Comments

Pastor out of inaugural for gay sermons

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The pastor initially booked to offer the invocation at U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration has withdrawn after anti-gay sermons surfaced, officials said.

The Rev. Louie Giglio, an Atlanta minister, advocated for reparative gay therapy and encouraged followers not to let the "homosexual lifestyle" become accepted, NBC News said Thursday.

The New York Times said Giglio called on opposition to the gay rights movement's "aggressive agenda."

The Presidential Inaugural Committee said it was unaware of Giglio's comments, made in the 1990s.

"We were not aware of Pastor Giglio's past comments at the time of his selection and they don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural," said Addie Whisenant, a spokeswoman for the committee.

A replacement who reflects "the administration's vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans" will be sought, Whisenant said.

The selection of pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation in 2008 drew criticism from many Obama supporters because of his views on homosexuality, same-sex marriage and abortion.


Ferry captain reported reverse thrust fail

NEW YORK, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Investigators said the captain of a ferry that crashed in New York, injuring 85 people, reported its thrust controls did not respond "as anticipated."

Robert Sumwalt, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters Thursday the captain told investigators there was no problem with the steering on the Seastreak Wall Street before the vessel crashed Wednesday as it approached Pier 11 in Highlands, N.J.

"He tried to move a thrust control into reverse but the vessel did not respond as anticipated," Sumwalt said.

The New York Post said the captain has been identified as Jason Reimer, 36, of New Jersey, who has worked for the ferry company since 1997, and has worked as a captain for 12 years.

Sumwalt said drug and alcohol tests on the captain and crew showed everyone a blood alcohol content of 0.00 percent -- "just where we want to see it." Drug tests results were not yet available, Sumwalt said.


Student opens fire at Calif. high school

BAKERSFIELD, Calif., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A student shot and critically wounded another student at a Southern California high school but was stopped by a teacher before he could hurt more, police said.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said the 16-year-old shooter, armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, hit one of two students he had targeted, the Bakersfield Californian reported.

One student was critically injured and airlifted to Kern Medical Center, where he was listed in critical but stable condition. A second student was injured when he fell over a table, and a teacher, identified as Ryan Heber, suffered a pellet wound to the head.

The incident began about 9 a.m. PST Thursday at Taft Union High School when a student who had been marked absent showed up in a classroom and opened fire. A neighbor saw the student approaching the school with a gun and called 911, Youngblood said.

Youngblood said the student in critical condition was the intended target of the shooting, and he and the shooter had had words before the shooting.

Youngblood said, however, he did not know whether bullying was involved, the newspaper reported.

"We really want to commend a teacher and campus supervisor who brought this to a fast resolution," police Chief Ed Whiting said.

He said the teacher and supervisor talked to the student and convinced him to put the gun down before police arrived.


Lottery winner's in-law had IRS trouble

CHICAGO, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The father-in-law of Illinois lottery winner Urooj Khan, who died of cyanide poisoning, denied Thursday he had anything to do with Khan's death.

Fareedun Ansari, 71, owes $124,000 in back taxes, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing records that show the Internal Revenue Service placed liens on Khan's house in Chicago nearly two years ago, as well as liens against Ansari in February and March 2011 for taxes related to a small business.

Ansari told reporters Thursday he had "absolutely nothing" to do with Khan's death, the Chicago Sun-Times said. Ansari's attorney, James Pittacora, said detectives had not interviewed his client.

Ansari was living at Khan's residence when Khan died suddenly in July at age 46, weeks after winning the lottery.

Khan's death initially was believed to have been the result of natural causes, but after a relative raised questions, extensive toxicological tests were performed and showed Khan died of cyanide poisoning. A hearing was expected Friday on exhuming Khan's body for autopsy, the Tribune said.

Police and prosecutors are investigating the death as a homicide and have not ruled out the possibility the killing was prompted by the lottery win.

A law enforcement source told the Tribune Khan died before he could collect his winnings, amounting to $425,000 after taxes.

Records show Khan's wife, Shabana Ansari, has been approved as the administrator of his estate, which, including the lottery winnings, is estimated to be worth $2 million.

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