WASHINGTON – The House voted Thursday to cut taxes on inherited estates and relieve thousands of heirs from paying tax collectors during the next decade. The vote, just a few months before an election with control of Congress at stake, saw majority Republicans temporarily setting aside their ambition to abolish the tax. Instead, the House voted 269-156 to exempt many more estates from taxation and blunt the impact on still others. The compromise measure now goes to the Senate.
Cheney says he may be trial witness
Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday he might have to testify in the CIA leak trial of his former chief of staff. Cheney made the comment in a CNN interview. Lewis Libby is “one of the finest men I’ve ever known,” Cheney said, then declined further comment. “I may be called as a witness.” Cheney’s state of mind is directly relevant to whether Libby lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about how Libby learned CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity and what he later told reporters, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has said in recently filed court papers.
Group rips laser-smoking therapy
Smokers who pay hundreds of dollars to be zapped by lasers to help them quit are victims of fraud, a watchdog group alleged Thursday in seeking a federal crackdown. Public Citizen petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to halt five companies from promoting low-power laser therapy for smoking cessation. The companies do not have FDA clearance to market the lasers for that purpose, nor is there any scientific evidence they are safe or effective, said the director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.
North Carolina: Bill of Rights ruling
A federal appeals court in Raleigh agreed Thursday that North Carolina was entitled to reclaim the state’s original copy of the Bill of Rights, seized three years ago from two men in Connecticut. The document had been missing since it was stolen from the state Capitol at the end of the Civil War and privately sold to various people for nearly 140 years until antiques dealer Wayne Pratt and businessman Robert Matthews bought it in 2000 for $200,000. The copy of the document listing the rights enjoyed by United States citizens was one of 14 made in 1789.
Florida: Civil War currency sells
Two 19th-century pieces of U.S. currency, including a $100 note issued during the Civil War, have sold for $2.1 million each. An anonymous buyer purchased the bills last week from the collection of Edward and Joanne Dauer of Fort Lauderdale. The $100 note is a 1863-series gold certificate signed Dec. 13, 1866. The note was part of a series of currency the Union issued to help finance the Civil War, a Heritage Auction Galleries spokesman said. The other bill was an 1891 treasury note for $1,000.
New York: Hickey-slaying sentence
A man who noticed a hickey on his girlfriend’s neck and then killed her lover was sentenced in Rochester Wednesday to 40 years in prison. Oscar Garcia-Gual, 29, pleaded guilty to shooting Pedro Figueroa, 46, in October. He was sentenced for first-degree manslaughter and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Garcia-Gual told police that he fired after Figueroa tried to hit him with a broken bottle. Crime-scene photos showed no evidence of a bottle, police said.