BIRMINGHAM, Ala.: Terrorist group targets Latinos

Six members of the “Free Militia,” armed with automatic weapons, 2,500 rounds of ammunition, 130 grenades, 70 improvised explosive devices, a grenade launcher and two silencers, planned to attack a group of Latino workers in rural Remlap, Blount County, but an April 26 raid by police short-circuited the plot.

According to an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the militia was targeting Latino workers and had orders to open fire on federal employees. During a search of a group member’s home, agents found armed booby traps. ATF agents said the group had enough firepower to “outfit a small army.”

One member of the militia, Wayne Bobo, 30, was arrested in his adoptive parents’ $600,000 home.

All six were indicted by a federal grand jury, May 3. Charges against five of them include unlawful possession of guns and making grenades. They are being held without bail. Bobo, indicted for illegally possessing 10 guns and possessing illegal drugs, was granted bail.

In a recently released study, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that hate groups — organizations that promote hostility against persons based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity/national origin — expanded by 40 percent, from 602 to 844, between 2000 and 2006.

“If you look at this nationally, there are 100,000 to 200,000 people involved in a fairly direct way with these groups,” said Mark Potok, director of the center’s Intelligence Project. “The trend shows a very significant growth in hate groups and that growth is driven by immigration issues.”

With 63 hate groups, California leads the country, followed by Texas with 55, Potok said.

The Council of Conservative Citizens, which chafes at the “hate group” designation, is recruiting members at the fastest rate, with chapters in 28 states, including five in Alabama.

The center’s report said the neo-Nazi movement was splintering, with skinhead groups breaking off from the main organization. The so-called National Socialist Movement, based in Minnesota, remained the largest, with 81 chapters in 36 states.

WASHINGTON: Impeach Cheney, say lawmakers

“I believe that Mr. Cheney deliberately manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the Congress of the United States and the American people,” wrote Missouri Congressman William Lacy Clay. Clay joined House members Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio in introducing a resolution initiating impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney.

Clay’s statement continued, “The arrogant abuse of power and the complete disregard for the truth needs to stop.”

JUNEAU, Alaska: Oil company buys tax breaks

For what amounts to chicken feed, VECO Corp., a multinational oil services company, bought a state legislator and two former lawmakers to gain support for a tax abatement scheme, which passed, and to obtain state contracts, which failed.

VECO executives Bill J. Allen and Rick Smith pleaded guilty May 7 to bribery, extortion and conspiracy to impede the Internal Revenue Service. If convicted, they face 10 years in prison and a fine of $150,000.

The charges stem from an investigation of state Rep. Victor Kohring and former Reps. Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch, who were also in court. They are charged with bribery and extortion and each faces 55 years in jail plus a $1 million fine. All three pleaded not guilty.

Kohring allegedly accepted $2,600 from the company and a $3,000 job for a relative.

Kott is accused of selling influence for $8,993, getting another $2,750 in polling expenses, and winning a promise of a job as a prison warden in a facility the company was building in Barbados.

According to the indictment, in a phone conference, Kott told VECO officials, “You’ll get your gas line, the governor gets his bill and I’ll get my job in Barbados.”

VECO only promised Weyhrauch, an attorney, future legal work.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696