National briefs: Novelist Lee's royalties suit

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NEW YORK -- Harper Lee, the 87-year-old author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," sued her former literary agent, claiming he took advantage of her age and infirmity to deprive her of royalties from the novel.

Ms. Lee, of Monroeville, Ala., sued Samuel Pinkus, the agent, and others in seeking to ensure her ownership of the copyright to the 1960 novel and to compel forfeiture of the agent's commissions, according to a complaint filed Friday in federal court in New York City.

Ms. Lee, who has failing eyesight and hearing, was residing in an assisted-living facility in 2007 after suffering a stroke when she signed a document assigning her copyright to Mr. Pinkus' company, according to the complaint. While the copyright was reassigned to Ms. Lee last year after legal action and Mr. Pinkus was discharged as her agent, he was still receiving royalties from the novel as of this year, according to the complaint.

Prof apologizes for slur

NEW YORK -- Niall Ferguson, a Harvard history professor and author, apologized on Saturday for saying economist John Maynard Keynes was less invested in the future because he was gay and had no children.

Mr. Ferguson said his remarks at an earlier conference were "as stupid as they were insensitive."

During a question-and-answer session after a prepared speech at the Altegris Strategic Investment conference in Carlsbad, Calif., on Thursday, Mr. Ferguson was asked to comment about Keynes, an influential 20thcentury British economist who advocated government spending as a way to make up for lagging demand in a down economy.

Under-insured plant

McALLEN, Texas -- The Texas fertilizer plant that exploded last month, killing 14 people, injuring more than 200 others and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to the surrounding area had only $1 million in liability coverage, lawyers said Saturday.

Tyler lawyer Randy Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer's owners were told Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant's insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount Saturday in an email to The Associated Press, after the Dallas Morning News first reported it.

9/11 museum fee planned

NEW YORK -- Faced with hefty operating costs, the foundation building the 9/11 museum at the World Trade Center has decided to charge an admission fee of $20 to $25 when the site opens next year.

The exact cost of the mandatory fee has not yet been decided. Entry to the memorial plaza with its twin reflecting pools will still be free.

Solar plane's first leg

PHOENIX -- Bertrand Piccard is fresh off a 20-hour flight from San Francisco to Phoenix, marking the first leg of the trip across the U.S. in the solar airplane.

Mr. Piccard landed the craft at Sky Harbor Airport at about 12:30 a.m., Saturday having used only three-quarters of the plane's battery power.

Also in the nation ...

Four people were killed and six others injured Friday night in a drive-by shooting in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. ... A big cool-down in weather calmed a huge wildfire burning in Southern California coastal mountains Saturday, and firefighters worked to cut miles of containment lines while conditions were favorable.



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