Across The Nation

Specter meets with Weaver before Ruby Ridge hearing

DES MOINES, Iowa - Sen. Arlen Specter met with white separatist Randy Weaver yesterday as part of a planned congressional probe into a deadly standoff in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

The August 1992 raid by law-enforcement agents on Weaver's cabin resulted in the death of Weaver's wife and son and an FBI agent. Weaver was later acquitted of murder-conspiracy charges in connection with the incident.

On Friday, four top FBI officials were suspended as part of an investigation into the matter, and a federal criminal inquiry into a possible coverup was opened.

Specter, who will begin Senate hearings on the Ruby Ridge incident Sept. 6, said the probe will include groups such as the Aryan Nation and militia organizations.

Scientologists sue to stop posting of texts on Internet

WASHINGTON - U.S. marshals seized computer equipment and files yesterday from a Virginia man accused by the Church of Scientology of posting its most sacred texts on the Internet.

Marshals also served Arnaldo Lerma, 44, with a restraining order barring him from revealing more of the church's copyrighted documents in a federal copyright infringement suit filed by the church Friday.

Last September, Lerma began placing court documents alleging wrongdoing by the church, as well as some of Scientology's most sacred texts, on international computer bulletin boards.

Lerma's postings described abuse by former Scientology officials, claims that Scientology brainwashes and defrauds members, and details of the path to theological growth that the church says will transform people into near-gods.

Founded 40 years ago by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology teaches that technology can expand the mind and solve human problems. Initiates pay thousands of dollars to progress through the church's teachings and counseling.

Newest L.A. commuter line opens to fanfare, criticism

LOS ANGELES - A trumpet fanfare, Beach Boys music and political speeches heralded the opening of Los Angeles' latest commuter rail line yesterday, but critics doubted it would have much effect on the area's crowded freeways.

The 20-mile line, which will carry commuters across southern Los Angeles County, stopping at 14 communities, cost $950 million to build - three times more than originally estimated - and opened more than a year behind schedule.

It has been criticized as the railroad to nowhere because it does not carry passengers to the downtown business area and stops short of Los Angeles International Airport.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority estimates 10,000 riders a day will use the new line, one-tenth of the originally projected figure.

The new line runs from Norwalk in the southeast region of the county to Redondo Beach in the southwest. It will cost commuters $1.35 each way.

Study: Soccer players risk losing acuity by using heads

NEW YORK - Soccer players who repeatedly use their heads to whack the ball risk losses in mental skills, a study says.

Players who said they "headed" the ball more than 10 times a game showed lower average scores than other players on tests of concentration and overall mental functioning.

Evidence of harm from less frequent heading was inconsistent, suggesting that some other influence, such as proper technique, might help protect against the effect, said researcher Adrienne Witol.

The study, which included 60 players from high school, college and a professional team, did not test children younger than 14.

Witol is a neuropsychology fellow in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Medical College of Virginia.