Panel expands probe of Rangel

WASHINGTON - The House ethics committee is expanding its investigation of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D., N.Y.), chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

The ethics panel said yesterday that it had voted to expand a far-ranging probe of Rangel to examine whether he protected an oil-drilling company from a big tax bill when the head of that company pledged a $1 million donation to a college center named after Rangel.

The panel said it was expanding the probe after Rangel, 78, asked it to do so.

The development means the ethics cloud over Rangel is likely to follow him and Democratic leaders into the next Congress as they seek to pass major stimulus legislation to buoy the economy.

The congressman, who has been in office for 40 years, has maintained he did nothing improper.

- AP

Change of heart over NAACP job

BALTIMORE - Three weeks after announcing he would not seek another term as chairman of the NAACP's national board, veteran civil rights activist Julian Bond said yesterday that he has changed his mind.

He said on

The Tom Joyner Morning Show

that he had been flooded with calls from board members and others asking him to remain at the helm of the civil rights group. "I've changed my mind," he said, "and I am going to offer for reelection in February."

Bond, 68, has been board chairman since 1998.

- AP

4 from O.J. trial given probation

LAS VEGAS - Four former O.J. Simpson codefendants who took plea deals and testified against the ex-football star were sentenced yesterday to probation for their roles in the 2007 gunpoint robbery of two sports-memorabilia dealers.

Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass accepted a state recommendation that the four - Michael McClinton, 50; Walter Alexander, 47; Charles Ehrlich, 54; and Charles Cashmore, 41 - serve no prison time. Instead, she imposed terms of probation ranging from three to eight years.

Simpson was sentenced Friday to nine to 33 years in prison on 10 counts, including kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy. He was transferred Monday to a Nevada state prison.

- AP

Elsewhere:

The 460-foot-long ramp

that has provided Sept. 11 mourners and dignitaries with a pathway in and out of the former World Trade Center site in New York is coming down. It needs to be removed to make way for cranes that will build the steel foundation of the Sept. 11 memorial.

A toddler was found dead

yesterday in the San Diego home where her mother, grandmother and baby sister died Monday when a military jet crashed into the home. Both engines failed when the jet tried to land at a nearby Marine base. The pilot ejected.

Sen. Larry Craig (R., Idaho)

lost his latest attempt to withdraw his guilty plea in the 2007 Minneapolis airport men's-room sex sting that effectively ended his Senate career. A three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals yesterday rejected his bid to have his disorderly-conduct conviction tossed out.