Nation/World Briefs

Pope’s foot-washing angers traditionalists

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has won over many hearts and minds with his simple style and focus on serving the world’s poorest, but he has devastated traditionalist Catholics who adored his predecessor, Benedict XVI, for restoring much of the traditional pomp to the papacy.

Francis’ decision to disregard church law and wash the feet of two girls – a Serbian Muslim and an Italian Catholic – during a Holy Thursday ritual has become something of the final straw, evidence that Francis has little or no interest in one of the key priorities of Benedict’s papacy: reviving the pre-Vatican II traditions of the Catholic Church.

One of the most-read traditionalist blogs, “Rorate Caeli,” reacted to the foot-washing ceremony by declaring the death of Benedict’s eight-year project to correct what he considered the botched interpretations of the Second Vatican Council’s modernizing reforms.

“The official end of the reform of the reform – by example,” “Rorate Caeli” lamented in its report on Francis’ Holy Thursday ritual.

Ex-Nev. lawmaker arrested after chase

LAS VEGAS – Hours after he became the first person in Nevada history to be kicked out of the state Legislature, an embattled former lawmaker led police on a chase on a freeway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles that ended with a violent struggle with uniformed officers.

Steven Brooks was subdued with punches and a Taser, arrested at gunpoint and jailed in California’s San Bernardino County after police say he attacked a police dog with a wrench.

“It’s hard to know where he was going, what he thought he was doing and why he would be involved in a high-speed chase,” Brooks’ attorney, Mitchell Posin, told The Associated Press on Friday. “I think he feels the world is against him. But I’m just piecing together bits of information.”

Brooks’ arrest Thursday near the California city of Victorville was his third since January, and came just hours after colleagues in the Legislature deemed the Democrat from North Las Vegas too dangerous and unpredictable to serve his elected term. Lawmakers wept Thursday as they cited concerns about their own safety and evidence collected about an increasingly bizarre series of public incidents.

Public works projects are Obama’s focus

MIAMI – Trying to show that the economy remains a top priority, President Barack Obama promoted a plan Friday to create construction and other jobs by attracting private money to help rebuild roads, bridges and other public works projects.

Obama fleshed out the details during a visit to a Miami port that’s undergoing $2 billion in upgrades paid for with government and private dollars. The quick trip was designed to show that the economy and unemployment are top priorities for a president who also is waging high-profile campaigns on immigration reform and gun control.

Obama said the unemployment rate among construction workers was the highest of any industry, despite being cut nearly in half during the last three years.

“There are few more important things we can do to create jobs right now and strengthen our economy over the long haul than rebuilding the infrastructure that powers our businesses and economy,” Obama said.

Investor arrested in insider trading case

NEW YORK – A senior portfolio manager for one of the nation’s largest hedge funds was arrested Friday, accused of joining an insider trading conspiracy that the government said made more than $6 million illegally for the powerhouse investment company founded by billionaire businessman Steven A. Cohen.

The arrest broadens the government’s probe of trading practices at SAC Capital Advisors, which manages $15 billion.

Two weeks ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission said that two affiliates of SAC Capital would pay more than $614 million in what federal regulators called the largest insider trading settlement ever. The settlement is subject to court approval.

In the latest development, Michael Steinberg, 41, pleaded not guilty Friday to insider trading charges only hours after being arrested at his Manhattan apartment. The charges were lodged in an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in New York City.

‘Harry Potter’ actor Griffiths dies at 65

LONDON – Richard Griffiths was one of the great British stage actors of his generation, a heavy man with a light touch, whether in Shakespeare or Neil Simon. But for millions of movie fans, he will always be grumpy Uncle Vernon, the least magical of characters in the fantastical “Harry Potter” movies.

Griffiths died Thursday at University Hospital in Coventry, central England, from complications after heart surgery, his agent, Simon Beresford, said. He was 65.

Associated Press