GOP wants a vote against Murtha

WASHINGTON - Republicans will seek a House vote next week admonishing Rep. John P. Murtha (D., Pa.), who they say threatened a GOP member's spending projects in a noisy exchange in the House chamber, Minority Leader John A. Boehner said yesterday.

During a series of votes Thursday, Murtha walked to the chamber's Republican side to confront Rep. Michael J. Rogers of Michigan. Rogers had tried unsuccessfully this month to strike a Murtha earmark, a $23 million allocation for the National Drug Intelligence Center, which is in Murtha's district.

According to Rogers' account, which Murtha did not dispute, the Democrat angrily told Rogers he should never seek earmarks of his own because "you're not going to get any - now or forever." In an interview yesterday, Rogers said: "This was clearly designed to try to intimidate me."- AP

Padilla trial hears of al-Qaeda camp

MIAMI - A convicted terrorist testified yesterday that he prepared for jihad at an al-Qaeda training camp that prosecutors said was attended by Jose Padilla, one of three men being tried on charges of supporting Islamic extremists.

Yahya Goba, 30, a Yemeni American, said in federal court that he filled out a "mujahedeen data form" identical to the one allegedly completed by Padilla for the remote al-Farooq camp outside Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Prosecutors say Goba's testimony is critical because it describes what went on at the camp, which the government alleges Padilla, held for 31/2 years as an enemy combatant, attended in summer 2000. It also links the defendants to the al-Qaeda group, even if indirectly. - AP

Pentagon regains authority on labor

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court said yesterday that the Pentagon had the authority to pick and choose which labor issues it would negotiate with unions representing more than 600,000 civilian employees.

The policy has been on hold since early last year when a federal judge said it eroded collective-bargaining rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned that ruling yesterday, saying in a 2-1 decision that Congress temporarily authorized the policy change until 2009.

The policy gives Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates greater flexibility to change workers' assignments and refuse to negotiate over certain issues.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A rocket payload that flew briefly into space with the ashes of astronaut Gordon Cooper and Star Trek actor James Doohan was recovered yesterday in the New Mexico mountains.

A man who spent 26 years in an Ohio state prison for a bank robbery and murder he did not commit settled his wrongful-incarceration lawsuit against the state for $1.5 million.

A jury in Mineola, N.Y., found the nation's sixth-largest Roman Catholic diocese and a church parish negligent yesterday in a case involving a youth minister who repeatedly raped and sodomized teenagers in his care.