Specter says Gonzales would quit before a vote of no confidence

WASHINGTON - Sen Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, said yesterday he believes Gonzales could step down before a no-confidence vote sought this week by Senate Democrats.

Specter said he believed a "sizable number" of GOP lawmakers would join Democrats in expressing their lack of confidence in the Gonzales.

Five Republicans have urged Gonzales to resign over his firing of federal prosecutors, while several other Republicans have expressed criticism of his actions.

"Votes of no confidence are very rare," Specter said. " . . . I think that if and when he sees that coming, he would prefer to avoid that kind of a historical black mark."

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said yesterday Gonzales would not be affected by a potential no-confidence vote.

Specter's comments yesterday raised the pressure on Gonzales and Bush, who has indicated Gonzales would not be leaving anytime soon.

Fewer vets go to jail, but they're

likely to be there for sex offenses

WASHINGTON - Military veterans are more than twice as likely to be in prison for sex crimes than are people without military experience, the government reports, but researchers cannot say why.

A study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics compared the populations of inmates who served in the military and those who did not. Veterans are less likely to be incarcerated, researchers found, but nearly one in four veterans in state prison was a sex offender, compared with one in 10 nonveteran inmates.

The study found that veterans in prison were older, more educated, more likely to have been married and more likely than nonveterans to be incarcerated for violent crimes or offenses against women or children.

The veterans population has declined as the prison population has risen. Of the more than 2 million prisoners in 2004, an estimated 140,000 were veterans. That number is down from 153,100 in 2000.

Carter-Bush smackdown: One's the 'worst,' the other's 'irrelevant'

CRAWFORD, Texas - In a biting rebuke, the White House yesterday dismissed former President Jimmy Carter as "increasingly irrelevant" after his harsh criticism of President Bush.

Carter was quoted in Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette as saying "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."

The Georgia Democrat said Bush had overseen an "overt reversal of America's basic values" as expressed by previous administrations, including that of his own father, former President George H.W. Bush.

"I think it's sad that President Carter's reckless personal criticism is out there," White House spokesman Tony Fratto responded from Crawford, where Bush spent the weekend.

"I think it's unfortunate," Fratto said. "And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."

Falwell's sons and parishioners

mourn him at church he started

LYNCHBURG, Va. - The Rev. Jerry Falwell's son told thousands of parishioners packed in a church yesterday that the man they remembered as a mighty force in conservative Christianity would want them to continue what he began.

Jonathan Falwell tried to rally the tearful crowd of 5,000 at the second of two services at Thomas Road Baptist Church, telling them that if his father were alive he "would wrap his arms around us and say, 'Guys, it's going to be OK.'

"He would say, 'I have finally - I have finally - reached glory.' He would say, 'You have a world to reach,"' said Falwell, the church's executive pastor. The elder Falwell died Tuesday at age 73.

After the later service, mourners lined the streets around the church and applauded as a horse-drawn hearse carried Falwell's body to the sanctuary for a viewing. Falwell's grieving relatives followed his casket inside.

Parishioners filed in to view the preacher's body, which lay in a casket strewn with dozens of red roses on the church's pulpit. Falwell was dressed in a navy blue suit, a copy of the Bible pressed into his hand.

Bigamist minister freed from jail, but can't leave the ladies alone

ATLANTA - A traveling minister who served two years in prison on bigamy charges has been jailed again after at least four women said he proposed to them. Officials also say there is no evidence that Bishop Anthony Owens, 35, divorced the eight wives he had married before going to prison. A judge will decide whether Owens should go back to prison.

Midwest gets ready to be bugged

by billions and billions of cicadas

CHICAGO - Coming soon: Brood

XIII.

It sounds like a bad horror movie. But it's actually the name of the billions of cicadas expected to emerge this month in parts of the Midwest after spending 17 years underground.

The red-eyed, shrimp-sized, flying insects don't bite or sting. But they are known for mating calls that produce a din that can overpower ringing telephones, lawn mowers and power tools.

Brood XIII is expected across northern Illinois, and in parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. Cicadas live only about 30 days as adults, and their main goal is mating.

They don't harm humans, although they are clumsy and might fly into people. Birds, squirrels and pets, especially dogs, love to eat them; they are high in protein.

They are periodical cicadas, which are only found in the eastern half of North America. The annual, or dog-day cicadas, that appear every summer are common around the world.

The last massive emergence of periodical cicadas was in 2004, when Brood X emerged after 17 years underground in parts of 15 Eastern states. Some broods emerge after 13 years. *

- Daily News wire services