Originally created 10/31/06

Across the southeast



Guardsmen survive war, killed in U.S.

JACKSON, MISS. - October has been a deadly month for Mississippi Army National Guard soldiers, with two men surviving tours overseas only to meet violent ends once back in this country.

Conrad Hollis returned from Iraq with his Guard unit - the 114th Field Artillery - in December.

Police say the 19-year-old University of Alabama freshman was gunned down Friday night after leaving a concert on the Tuscaloosa campus.

Robert Langley, a 30-year-old Afghanistan war veteran and University of Mississippi police officer, was killed Oct. 21 during a traffic stop on the Oxford campus. Mr. Langley, a father of four, returned in April from a tour in Afghanistan with the Guard's 1st Battalion of the 114th Field Artillery.

Lt. Col. Tim Powell, a Guard spokesman, said "both instances were terrible tragedies."

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family members," the officer said Monday.

State can collect from Little Tobacco

LOUISVILLE, KY. - Kentucky can continue to enforce laws requiring small cigarette companies to make payments to help cover smoking-related health costs, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The ruling means the state can continue collecting escrow payments from small cigarette companies that did not participate in the 1998 master settlement agreement between tobacco companies and 52 states and U.S. territories. Attorneys said it was the first ruling by a federal appeals court addressing the issue of whether states can force smaller companies to make the payments.

The landmark 1998 agreement required payments over 25 years and settled the state's lawsuits over the public costs of treating smokers. More than 30 states passed laws requiring nonparticipating cigarette-makers to make escrow payments.

A three-judge panel turned away a challenge from three companies.