Nation briefs: GM loses suit ruling

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MARIETTA, Ga. — General Motors on Saturday was unable to persuade a judge in Georgia to dismiss a case that helped set in motion the company’s worldwide recall of 2.6 million cars with a deadly ignition defect and that touched off the worst safety crisis in the automaker’s 106-year history.

The parents of Brooke Melton, a 29-year-old woman who was killed in 2010 after her Chevrolet Cobalt’s ignition switch failed, settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against GM last year. But in May, after it emerged that the automaker failed to report the defect to the public for more than a decade, the family revived the case, claiming that the company fraudulently concealed evidence.

Doctor’s terror case

PHILADELPHIA — A 62-year-old Afghan doctor detained in Philadelphia last week on immigration fraud charges received and passed along coded messages from an anti-Western terror group with ties to al-Qaida, federal prosecutors said.

At a court hearing Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said FBI agents discovered the documents written in Pashto and hidden between glued pages of religious tracts mailed to Hayatullah Dawari’s home.

Brady’s death: homicide

WASHINGTON — Trying to bring a case against John Hinckley Jr. in the homicide of James Brady, a former White House press secretary, could prove difficult for prosecutors, given the three decades that have passed since he was shot in an assassination try on President Ronald Reagan and because a jury ruled that Hinckley was insane when he opened fire, an attorney and law professor said.

A medical examiner determined that Monday’s death of Mr. Brady at age 73 was a homicide, with an autopsy revealing the cause to be the gunshot wound to the head he suffered in 1981 and its health consequences, District of Columbia police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said in a news release Friday.

Federal prosecutors said only that they are reviewing the ruling.

Contractor data lagging

WASHINGTON — Most of the top federal government agencies have not complied with regulations requiring them to report contractors’ performance to a central database used by government purchasers, according to a recent report by Congress’s watchdog.

Although the agencies showed improvement, only two of the 10 departments surveyed by the Government Accountability Office met their goal, investigators found, which stymies the government’s ability to know if it is dealing with reputable firms.

Hawaii primary

HONOLULU — Hawaii voters went to the polls Saturday for the state's primary election as authorities, as residents rushed to clean up debris from one tropical storm with only a day to prepare for a hurricane that was on its way.

Voters are to decide a Democratic primary contest between Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who has a thriving economy on his side, and state Sen. David Ige, who has surged to a double-digit edge in polls despite raising less campaign cash.

Also in the nation ...

Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, who lost all four limbs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, jumped from an airplane Saturday along with the wife of Maine Gov. Paul LePage, first lady Ann LePage, with a parachute team to raise money for a veteran center and museum in Fort Kent. ... A 15-year-old boy died from injuries sustained in a Friday climbing accident on a popular Phoenix mountain that claimed the life of an off-duty firefighter, police said Saturday.

— Compiled by news services

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