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Friday 10/29/2010
2 wildfires prompt evacuations in Boulder, Colo.
Posted: October 29, 2010 - 5:56 pm


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Wednesday 10/06/2010
Shell applies for exploration drilling in Beaufort
Posted: October 06, 2010 - 6:37 pm


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Monday 09/27/2010
Obama presses for longer school years
Posted: September 27, 2010 - 8:44 pm


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Wednesday 09/01/2010
Police kill gunman who held 3 at Discovery Channel
Updated: September 01, 2010 - 9:28 pm

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — A man who railed against the Discovery Channel's environmental programming for years burst into the company's headquarters with at least one explosive device strapped to his body Wednesday and took three people hostage at gunpoint before police shot him to death, officials said.

The hostages — two Discovery Communications employees and a security guard — were unhurt after the four-hour standoff. Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said tactical officers moved in after officers monitoring Lee on building security cameras saw him pull out a handgun and point it at a hostage.

An explosive device on the gunman's body detonated when police shot him, Manger said. Police were trying to determine whether two boxes and two backpacks the gunman had also contained explosives.

A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing said authorities had identified James J. Lee as the likely suspect.

County Police and firefighters Wednesday night looked at a laptop screen that showed an image of a body lying face-up, surrounded by blood. Authorities also sent in a robot to disarm the explosive on the gunman's body.

NBC News reported that after its producers called Discovery's general number, a man identifying himself as James J. Lee got on the phone and said he had a gun and several bombs.

"I have several bombs strapped to my body ready to go off. I have a device that if I drop it, if I drop it, it will ... explode," the man told NBC.

He said he built the bombs in about three weeks. "I did a lot of research. I had to experiment," he said.

Manger said the suspect held the hostages in the lobby area of the first floor. Authorities said they will methodically go through the building and identify any suspicious items.

The "building is still a crime scene," Manger said. "We still have work to do."

Manger said police spent several hours negotiating with the armed man after he entered the suburban Washington building about 1 p.m. None of the 1,900 people who work in the building were hurt, and most made it out before the standoff ended.

Lee was convicted of disorderly conduct for a protest he organized outside Discovery's offices in February 2008. According to court records, he paid homeless people to carry signs and set off a scramble when he threw fistfuls of cash into the air, calling it "just trash."

Lee served two weeks in jail after his arrest during which doctors evaluated his competency to stand trial. County State's Attorney John McCarthy said Lee was ordered to stay 500 feet away from Discovery headquarters as part of his probation, which ended two weeks ago. A magistrate ordered a doctor's evaluation, but the result was not immediately available Wednesday.

"The Discovery Channel produces many so-called 'Environmental Programs' supposedly there to save the planet," Lee said in an ad he took out in a Washington newspaper to promote the protest. "But the truth is things are getting WORSE! Their programs are causing more harm than good."

In court and online, Lee faulted the Discovery Channel for shows as varied as "Future Weapons," ''It Takes a Thief" and "Planet Green."

A lengthy posting that could be seen Wednesday on a website registered to Lee said Discovery and its affiliates should stop "encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants," a possible reference to shows like "Kate Plus 8" and "19 Kids and Counting." Instead, he said, the network should air "programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility."

Discovery Communications Inc. operates U.S. cable and satellite networks including The Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet. Discovery shows include "Cash Cab" and "Man vs. Wild," and TLC airs "American Chopper" and "Kate Plus 8."

David Leavy, Discovery's executive vice president for corporate affairs, said all employees had been accounted for. "We're relieved that it ended without any harm to our employees," he said.

Melissa Shepard, 32, of Peterborough, N.H., a consultant who works in the building, said she was on the third floor with several other workers when someone announced over a loudspeaker that there was a situation in the lobby and people should stay at their desks.

After some time, they were told to move to the other end of the building. She said she was among a dozen workers who went into an office, shut the door and turned off the lights.

Then she said someone knocked on the door and told them to leave the building. She said there was some confusion as they were told to go to an upper floor or down the stairs.

"Finally, I screamed, 'Tell us where we need to go! ... I just want to get out of there,'" she said. "I was shaking. ... I was like, 'What do we do? What do we do?'"

Adam Dolan, a sales director in Discovery's education division, said that when he got to the bottom floor he saw shattered glass near the company's day-care center and suspected it was broken to get the children out. He later got an e-mail saying the children were safe and had been taken to a McDonald's.

Dolan said the company has unarmed security guards who won't let anyone into the building without a badge.

Leavy said Discovery hopes and expects to be open Thursday. "The priority is going to be nurturing and responding to employee needs over the coming days as this is a scary event," he said.

Discovery officials are familiar with the suspect and his past protest at the building, Leavy said.

At Lee's trial, he said he began working to save the planet after being laid off from his job in San Diego.

He said he was inspired by "Ishmael," a novel by environmentalist Daniel Quinn, and by former Vice President Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

Quinn told The Associated Press from his home in Houston that he found out about the standoff in Maryland from the media. Just a few hours later, he said he was feeling "a bit ragged" after getting calls from reporters across the country.

He said he had never heard of Lee and was stunned that Lee's manifesto advocated things like human sterilization and an end to farming, ideas Quinn said he would never support.

"He wants to get more exposure ... and he thinks that he can get it ... by occupying Discovery," Quinn said. He added that if he could talk to Lee, he would tell him "he's giving a bad name to the ideas that he's trying to espouse."


Associated Press Writer Kathleen Miller and Associated Press Photographer Jacquelyn Martin in Silver Spring; Matthew Barakat in Rockville, Md.; Matt Apuzzo, Eileen Sullivan and Nafeesa Syeed in Washington; Ben Nuckols in Baltimore; Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston; and Jacob Jordan in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Thursday 08/19/2010
UFO sightings once common in rural Kansas
Updated: August 20, 2010 - 2:31 pm

DIGHTON, Kan. (AP) — One can see for miles across the flat High Plains. There are few houses. Few people. And with small towns dotting the landscape, there are few streetlights obstructing the view of a starry night.

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Tuesday 08/17/2010
NY son of jailed radical lawyer in legal run-in
Updated: August 18, 2010 - 12:37 pm

New York (AP) — For years, the radical lawyer Lynne Stewart was a thorn in the government's side, until a judge sent her to prison for helping a terrorist client communicate with followers.

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Tuesday 08/03/2010
Crews begin effort to plug leaking Gulf oil well
Posted: August 03, 2010 - 5:53 pm


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NYC panel clears way for mosque near ground zero
Posted: August 03, 2010 - 5:56 pm


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9 killed in shooting at Conn. beer distributorship
Posted: August 03, 2010 - 5:49 pm

MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — Police say a driver at a beer warehouse was being escorted from the property after a disciplinary hearing when he started shooting, killing eight people and wounding two before killing himself.

Manchester Police Chief Marc Montminy says 34-year-old Omar Thornton had been offered the chance to quit or be fired. Montminy says Thornton was being led away from the meeting when he pulled out a handgun and started shooting.

A union official says Thornton had been caught on video stealing beer from Hartford Distributors.

Thornton was black. The mother of his girlfriend says he complained of racial discrimination, saying he found a picture of a noose and a racial epithet written on a bathroom wall.

The union says Thornton had not filed a complaint of racism.

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Monday 08/02/2010
Gulf seafood declared safe; fishermen not so sure
Posted: August 02, 2010 - 6:37 pm


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Wednesday 07/28/2010
N.Y. Senate may lack votes to pass late budget
Posted: July 28, 2010 - 1:28 pm

ALBANY (AP) — The New York Legislature may end up responsible for the latest budget in state history after all.

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Monday 07/26/2010
Power outages hit D.C. area after storms, 2 dead
Posted: July 26, 2010 - 1:38 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Crews were working Monday to restore electricity to thousands after powerful storms barreled through the nation’s capital and downed power lines and countless trees, killing two people.

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Wednesday 07/21/2010
New temporary memorial opens in Pa. for Flight 93
Posted: July 21, 2010 - 8:19 pm

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A new temporary memorial has opened in western Pennsylvania at the site where Flight 93 crashed during the 2001 terror attacks.

The National Park Service unveiled the indoor space featuring posters and exhibits on Thursday.

A previous temporary memorial was outside and included a fence with mementos attached. It had to be relocated as construction continues on the permanent memorial.

Park Service Site Manager Jeff Reinbold says a portion of the fence and some mementos will be showcased in the new temporary facility.

Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when hijackers took it over on Sept. 11, 2001. It crashed in a field near Shanksville, killing everyone aboard.

The permanent memorial is expected to be finished in time for the 10th anniversary.


Information from: WJAC-TV,

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Tuesday 07/20/2010
Police: Alleged freeway shooter was targeting ACLU
Updated: July 20, 2010 - 10:08 pm

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A California man known for his anger over left-leaning politics said after a freeway shootout with CHP officers that he had been planning an attack on the ACLU and another nonprofit group, police said Tuesday.

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Thursday 07/15/2010
Service pedals passengers along Frederick streets
Updated: July 15, 2010 - 8:52 pm

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — MacFawn's Green Rides has taken to the streets of downtown Frederick, offering tourists and patrons an unusual way to see the city.

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Wednesday 07/14/2010
Iowa billboard linking Obama, Hitler removed
Updated: July 14, 2010 - 5:57 pm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa tea party group on Wednesday replaced a billboard comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin, calling the sign a bad decision that reflected poorly on the organization.

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Tuesday 07/13/2010
Madison County bridges to get high-tech scan
Updated: July 13, 2010 - 9:29 pm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Laser technology will be used to record four of Madison County's six remaining covered bridges for historical reference and so they can be rebuilt if any more are destroyed.

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Monday 07/12/2010
Chicago's tough new gun ordinance goes into effect
Updated: July 12, 2010 - 9:48 pm

CHICAGO (AP) — An ordinance allowing Chicago residents to own handguns took effect Monday, two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court made the city's outright ban unenforceable — but people may still be four months and a couple hundred dollars away from actually having one legally.

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Friday 07/09/2010
Budget cuts more painful at inner-city LA schools
Posted: July 09, 2010 - 8:14 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When state budget cuts imperiled city schools, a group of parents fought back by enlisting Hollywood stars to spread a message targeting one of their own, Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar.

The satirical video featuring actors Megan Fox and fiancee Brian Austin Green highlights how funding shortfalls have killed jobs for librarians, nurses, translators, janitors and teachers.

While the video was filmed in the affluent hills above Hollywood where Green's son attends Wonderland Avenue Elementary School, the cuts are more deeply felt at an inner-city school like Markham Middle School.

Both schools have been highlighted as the Los Angeles Unified School District has grappled with $1.5 billion in budget cuts and nearly 3,000 teacher layoffs during the past two years. But comparing the two schools shows a remarkably uneven impact, and just how much depends on factors ranging from income and parent involvement to teacher tenure.

The state's education funding crisis, now entering its third school year, only promises to widen the breech between the haves and have-nots in the nation's second-largest school district.

Nestled in leafy, secluded Laurel Canyon, Wonderland is more than just a top school in the city — it's one of the best in the state. In addition to the video that has been viewed more than one million times, Wonderland second graders were featured on CNN writing to Schwarzenegger to protest budget cuts.

Serving gang-plagued Watts and two of the city's largest housing projects, Markham is one of the city's lowest performers with test scores 34 percent below the acceptable mark.

The ACLU sued the school system this spring charging that Markham students weren't learning from substitutes who replaced laid-off teachers. Schwarzenegger himself held up Markham as an example of how the teacher tenure system backfires because layoffs disproportionately strike younger teachers eager to work in the inner-city.

The two schools have been long divided by more than freeways.

The year before Tim Sullivan became Markham principal two years ago, 142 students were arrested around the 1,500-pupil campus. The assistant principal went to prison for sexually abusing female students.

To keep kids safe on their way to school and maintain Markham free of gang graffiti, Sullivan decided to meet regularly with local gang leaders. "This isn't the place for the weak and fainthearted," said the 43-year-old principal.

A more basic problem was finding teachers. Sullivan didn't get a single inquiry at district job fairs so he recruited recent graduates keen for the challenge at annual salaries averaging $45,000.

When budget cuts rolled around last year, Markham lost half its teaching staff — 35 teachers — because they hadn't reached tenure. They were replaced by substitutes at a daily salary of $173 — more than a fulltime probationary teacher earns, but without benefits. In some cases, the subs served as little more than babysitters. Several gave all students a C grade because they didn't have enough schoolwork to grade adequately, according to the ACLU lawsuit.

Another 34 teachers, including 10 long-term subs, got pink slips this year, spurring the ACLU's successful injunction to halt the layoffs.

"A high moral calling can only last so long before you feel like the butt of a joke," said English teacher Nicholas Melvoin, who was laid off last year but returned as a long-term substitute.

The layoffs have stripped the curriculum to basics, without electives.

Markham's plight drew the attention of Schwarzenegger, who used the school as backdrop to announce his support of tenure reform that would allow schools flexibility in layoffs.

Across town, Wonderland Principal Don Wilson's problems are far different.

A pile of resumes sits on his desk for a job opening next year. Electives are not subject to district funding whims. The school has full-time art, music and gym teachers, plus teaching assistants for each teacher, paid for by parents through the PTA's fundraising nonprofit, which raises $350,000 a year.

Boosters have paid for elaborate playgrounds, cutting-edge equipment in classrooms, field trips and professional development for teachers.

But Wilson must work to keep that revenue flowing. He spent a recent Saturday night in a tent on the playground to help raise $500 per child in a sleepover fundraiser.

"You become a developer," Wilson said. "That's a huge part of what I do here."

Parents are asked to contribute $700 a year per child and many donate more in cash and other initiatives such as buying mugs embossed with children's art work.

"Parents really value the public school opportunity because they're not paying the big tuition bill," said PTA President Terri Levy as she organized an appreciation event to provide breakfast, lunch and a car wash for each teacher.

Wilson knows he's fortunate, although he, too, has lost personnel and is down to having a nurse only one day per week at his 550-pupil school.

The principal, who spent much of his career in the sprawling city's more urban schools, said suburban and inner-city parents want the same for the children. But Wonderland parents possess not only a huge amount of resources, including those to make the slickly produced video opposing cuts, they also have high expectations. That's the key difference, Wilson said.

"They bring expectations as to what an education should be," he said. "At other schools, parents and teachers come with a limited vision of high expectations."

Markham's Sullivan doesn't begrudge more affluent schools in the district. He does wish the system was more equitable. "Just give us an even playing field to show what we can really do," he said.



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No political certainty for aging SF landmark arena
Posted: July 09, 2010 - 8:12 pm

DALY CITY, Calif. (AP) — There was a time when the Cow Palace, a cavernous exposition hall built near San Francisco's old beef slaughterhouses, was a revolving door for the country's most famous personalities.

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Disgraced ex-Calif. sheriff got $215,000 pension
Posted: July 09, 2010 - 7:34 pm

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A disgraced former Orange County sheriff convicted of witness tampering received about $215,000 in pension checks last year, one of hundreds of former employees to get big payouts as the county's retirement system faces a huge shortfall.

Michael Carona was among 400 former county employees who received more than $100,000 in pension payments in 2009, according to documents released by the Orange County Employees Retirement System.

Also on the list was former treasurer-tax collector Robert Citron, whose investments — made while consulting psychics and astrologers — led Orange County into bankruptcy in 1994. Citron collected about $142,000 last year.

The county's retirement system is facing a $3.7 billion unfunded liability.

The California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility filed a lawsuit against the system to get the list. The agency had claimed that pensioner privacy would be compromised by the release. A judge approved the release and the documents were released late last month.

In January of 2009, Carona was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for witness tampering. He was acquitted of charges he took bribes in exchange for the power of his office in a sweeping public corruption case that stretched back to 1998. The conviction involved a secretly recorded conversation in which Carona attempted to persuade a businessman to match his and other defendants' stories in front of the grand jury.

He is free on bail pending an appeal.

Citron funneled billions of public dollars into questionable investments, and at first the returns were high and cities, schools and special districts borrowed millions to join in the investments.

But the strategy backfired, and Citron's investment pool lost $1.64 billion. Nearly $200 million had to be slashed from the county budget and more than 1,000 jobs were cut. The county was forced to borrow $1 billion.

The release of the documents has reopened debate on the pension plan for retired public safety workers approved in 2001 when Carona was sheriff.

Called "3 percent at 50," it lets deputies retire at age 50 with 3 percent of their highest year's pay for every year of service. Before it was approved and applied retroactively, employees received 2 percent.

"It was right after Sept. 11," said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach. "All of a sudden, public safety people became elevated to god status. The Board of Supervisors were tripping over themselves to make the motion."

He called it "one of the biggest shifts of money from the private sector to the public sector."

Moorlach, who was not on the board when the plan was approved, led the fight to repeal the benefit. A lawsuit, which said the benefit should go before voters, was rejected in Los Angeles County Superior Court last year and is now under appeal.

Carona opposed the lawsuit when it was filed, likening its filing to a "nuclear bomb" for deputies.

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Monday 07/05/2010
Bill Cosby on education, responsibility at Essence
Posted: July 05, 2010 - 9:06 pm


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Old Ohio landfills creating unwelcome new problems
Posted: July 05, 2010 - 8:23 pm

CINCINNATI, Ohio (AP) — Some old Ohio landfills are creating new problems as methane levels render land useless and jeopardize nearby property values.

The Ohio EPA identified about 50 such old landfills in greater Cincinnati but says the list is incomplete and doesn't include landfills operated before 1972.

"The records are sketchy on some of these," said Chuck DeJonckheere, director of waste management for Hamilton County Public Health. "There are others out there we don't know about or just don't have enough information on."

Residents in the suburban Cincinnati community of St. Bernard have sued, saying the city did not properly monitor a former eight-acre dump turned into a park.

The city has been reporting fluctuating levels of methane gas at the dump since 2000, and last year the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency brought in federal officials to investigate. The city has said the issue is being overblown and residents weren't at risk.

Nine homes sit within 200 feet of the former landfill and 234 homes within 1,000 feet.

Mindy Rickenbaugh, who bought her St. Bernard home in 2006, knew the park used to be a landfill but said she was never told the city had been reporting gas levels to the EPA. She said she put her house up for sale but hasn't had any offers.

"We're destroyed now," Rickenbaugh said. "We have dead property and even my 11-year-old is a nervous wreck about all this."

Many of the dumps in the Cincinnati area were turned into parks and ball fields and must be monitored by local municipalities.

In Loveland, a ball field replaced the Harper Avenue landfill, which began taking in demolition debris and yard waste in 1968 and closed in 1991 after the facility's license was revoked over concerns about volatile gases.

Loveland regularly monitors the area for gas levels, said city Manager Tom Carroll.


Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer,

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Ex-Raiders QB Russell arrested on Ala. drug charge
Posted: July 05, 2010 - 8:10 pm

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell has been charged with possession of a controlled substance — codeine syrup — after being arrested at his home in Alabama on Monday, authorities said.

The 24-year-old former LSU star and the No. 1 draft choice in 2007 was arrested as part of an undercover narcotics investigation, said Mobile County Sheriff's spokeswoman Lori Myles. She would not say what led to his arrest. She said he did not have a prescription for the codeine.

Russell, who graduated from high school in Mobile, was booked into the city jail and released soon afterward on $2,500 bond, online records show.

The Raiders released Russell, considered one of the NFL's biggest draft busts, in May after he won only seven of his 25 starts and was benched. He completed just 52.1 percent of his passes in his career with 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles and a passer rating of 65.2.

Oakland paid Russell about $36.4 million through the 2009 season. Since the start of the common draft in 1967, only one other No. 1 pick was released this quickly in his NFL career. Indianapolis cut 1992 top pick Steve Emtman after three seasons, but that was more because of injuries than production.

Russell and his agent did not immediately return calls for comment.

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WWII air show making stop in Salina
Posted: July 05, 2010 - 8:04 pm

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Fans of World War II aircraft have a chance to tour several planes and watch them in flight next week in Salina.

The Wings of Freedom Tour features a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber, a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber and a P-51 Mustang fighter plane.

KSAL-AM reports the tour will be based at Salina Municipal Airport next Monday through Wednesday. Visitors can tour the planes inside and out, and flights of 30 to 60 minutes are offered for a fee.

Airport officials describe Wings of Freedom as a flying tribute to those who built, flew and maintained the planes during World War II.

Donations are requested for tours of the aircraft, but World War II veterans may tour them for free.

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Guardian of the past
Posted: July 05, 2010 - 7:59 pm


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Wildfire evacuations lifted in Kalama Valley
Posted: July 05, 2010 - 7:28 pm

HONOLULU (AP) — Residents of Kalama Valley were being allowed back into their homes Monday after a 200-acre wildfire briefly threatened the area.

The blaze started around 9:30 p.m. Sunday at the base of Kamehame Ridge, east of Honolulu, and quickly spread up and around the mountain, fueled by strong winds and dry conditions.

Residents of about three dozen homes were told to evacuate, as flames crept as close as 100 yards to some structures on the valley floor, said Honolulu Fire Capt. Terry Seelig. The winds also pushed the blaze up the mountain, threatening homes at the top of the ridge, Seelig said.

The Red Cross set up an emergency shelter at Koko Head District Park, where about 15 people spent the night. It closed Monday morning after the evacuation orders were lifted around 7 a.m.

Firefighters worked through the night to control the blaze, which caused no injuries or damage to homes.

The wildfire was about 85 percent contained by late morning.

"We have ground crews working to extinguish smoldering hot spots, and we have a helicopter dropping water," Seelig said.

The cause of the Kalama Valley blaze remains under investigation, but investigators believe it was caused by illegal fireworks, Seelig said.

The blaze capped a busy July 4th weekend for fire officials, who responded to several dozen calls on the holiday.

Seelig said firefighters were helped by recent wet weather, although the season still is unusually dry. "This past week, we did have rain, so I think that did help with this holiday period," he said.

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1 killed, 1 hurt in McDuffie County, Ga. explosion
Posted: July 05, 2010 - 7:31 pm

THOMSON, Ga. (AP) — Officials say one man is dead and another seriously burned in a fire that erupted after a backhoe hit a propane gas line in McDuffie County.

Insurance and fire commissioner's office spokesman Glenn Allen identified the man killed in the Monday morning fire as Jason McCorkle and said he was working on his brother John McCorkle's property when the accident occurred. The men are sons of McDuffie County Commission member Paul McCorkle, who Allen says was transported to the Augusta burn center for treatment.

Allen says the explosion and fire destroyed John McCorkle's home and also started fires in nearby woods.

He says fire crews from surrounding areas are still battling hot spots.

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World Series of Poker main event begins in Vegas
Posted: July 05, 2010 - 7:20 pm

LAS VEGAS (AP) — More than 1,000 card players have flocked to Las Vegas for the start of the World Series of Poker main event, each gambling $10,000 on hopes of winning millions at the game's richest no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament.

Greg Raymer, the tournament's winner in 2004, gave the famous "shuffle up and deal" order on Monday before promptly being eliminated during the first level of play.

Raymer lost the bulk of his chip stack within the first 10 hands of play, when he gambled on hitting a flush but missed and lost to three 10s.

Raymer lost the rest of his chips later when his pocket eights couldn't beat an opponent's pocket aces.

Monday's field was the first of four to begin the main event between now and Thursday.

Last year's winner, Joe Cada, won $8.55 million.

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Medical group pushes awareness of PTSD in veterans
Posted: July 05, 2010 - 7:13 pm

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana State Medical Association is working to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder to ensure that returning soldiers receive the help they need.

The group recently distributed information about the disorder to 1,300 primary-care physicians across the state, who experts say are often the first line of defense for troubled veterans.

"The family doctor is going to be more likely to be able to talk to them than anybody else," said Silouan Green, a former Marine who suffered PTSD after a stateside jet crash and now travels the U.S. helping others deal with the condition. "There's a natural fear and cynicism among soldiers' families of the VA."

Camille Pond, who led the Indiana effort to distribute PTSD information to doctors, says medical providers who don't have contact with the military might not have experience with PTSD.

"A whole host of things might bring a patient into the doctor's office, and they need to be able to connect the dots, that this is in response to stress," said Pond, whose husband, Dr. William Pond, is a colonel in the Indiana Air National Guard.

The awareness effort could benefit thousands. Indiana has about 27,000 National Guard members, and statistics estimate that 15 percent to 25 percent of returning soldiers suffer from PTSD.

Many of the symptoms commonly associated with the disorder, such as nightmares, flashbacks and fear of crowds, often pass with time. But those with PTSD may require multiple medications and therapy to help them cope with the condition.

People with the disorder are more likely to recover the sooner their condition is diagnosed and treatment is started, experts say. But diagnosing the disorder can be difficult.

William Pond, a Fort Wayne anesthesiologist, interviews returning Guard members to assess their physical and mental health. Some don't show signs of PTSD until weeks after their return.

"What we found was that we were doing a pretty good job of getting people initially, but after they leave, we felt that we needed to have a better ability to keep track of them," he said. "That's why we wanted to ... make this more of a communitywide approach."

The push could help people like Indiana Air National Guard Maj. David Cox, who spent months wrestling with PTSD symptoms before finally being diagnosed.

Cox, 59, of Highland, Ind., served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2007, spending only 90 days at home during that time.

A skilled nurse, he flew hundreds of missions as a member of a critical-care air transport team, accompanying the most severely wounded soldiers to military hospitals — often under heavy enemy fire.

"When we would drop them off, we would try to get out of there as quick as we could so we didn't have to meet up with their families," he said. "It was terrible for us to meet them, knowing that somebody wasn't going to make it."

Cox began suffering insomnia and nightmares. A trip to a combat zone stress clinic yielded a relaxation CD that he often could not hear over the mortar explosions nearby.

He had a breakdown on the flight home and was hospitalized in Qatar; it took four to six months once he was back in the United States before he could begin treatment.

"I expected to be hospitalized right away and given treatment when I got back or at least seen right away, but that didn't happen," he said.

Cox and his wife, Kim, are coping now, but life is different. David Cox can no longer work, and his wife retired to provide him full-time support.

David can't watch TV medical dramas or handle his own medications. He uses a GPS device when he walks his dog in case he loses his way. Even cutting the grass has become an exercise in heightened vigilance.

"I mow the lawn and have to shut it off 20 times and look around me, just to make sure that nobody's there," he said.


Information from: The Indianapolis Star,

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Tuesday 06/29/2010
Pa. city fights crime with soccer, strict curfews
Posted: June 29, 2010 - 7:39 pm


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NYC lawmakers pass next year's $63B spending plan
Posted: June 29, 2010 - 7:35 pm


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Missing plane was reportedly flying too low
Posted: June 29, 2010 - 7:16 pm


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Sunday 06/27/2010
Immigrant farm workers' challenge: Take our jobs
Posted: June 27, 2010 - 1:02 am

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In a tongue-in-cheek call for immigration reform, farm workers are teaming up with comedian Stephen Colbert in a challenge to unemployed Americans: Come on, take our jobs.

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NYC mayor, major CEOs lobby for immigration reform
Posted: June 27, 2010 - 12:57 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Chief executives of several major corporations, including Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Disney and News Corp., are joining Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form a coalition advocating for immigration reform — including a path to legal status for all undocumented immigrants now in the United States.

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Bodies of 5 Americans received at Dover mortuary
Posted: June 27, 2010 - 12:29 am

DOVER, Del. (AP) — The bodies of five American servicemen arrived at the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base on Tuesday, even as violence claimed the lives of more NATO forces in Afghanistan.

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Friday 06/25/2010
Petraeus to attend Purple Heart tribute in NY
Posted: June 25, 2010 - 5:41 pm

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. (AP) — Gen. David Petraeus (peh-TRAY'-uhs) has arrived at a gathering of 400 veterans — including 100 recipients of the Purple Heart — in upstate New York .

The Army general picked by President Barack Obama to replace the U.S. military's top commander in Afghanistan will be the keynote speaker at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Tribute in New Windsor, Orange County.

He arrived shortly before 3 p.m.

Obama tapped Petraeus for the top job in Afghanistan after accepting Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation Wednesday. He currently oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as head of U.S. Central Command.

New Windsor is home to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor. Andrew Komonchak, chairman of the tribute, says Petraeus canceled a tour of the hall planned for earlier Friday.

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Prince Harry to mix with cadets at West Point
Updated: June 25, 2010 - 9:19 pm

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Britain's Prince Harry will join cadets training at the U.S. Military Academy as he starts a three-day visit to New York.

Harry, third in line to the British throne, will take part in live-fire drills and watch field exercises at Camp Buckner, a cadet training facility at West Point.

The drills are being held some 40 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley, but they may seem familiar to the 25-year-old British prince. Harry attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and was commissioned an officer in the Army.

Harry's three-day visit will highlight ways British and American veterans charities can support wounded soldiers. He'll participate in the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Sunday.

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Thursday 06/24/2010
Nuke dump funding vote appealed to TX high court
Updated: June 24, 2010 - 6:08 pm

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Two West Texas sisters opposed to a new radioactive dump site are asking the state's highest court to reverse the results of an election that narrowly approved $75 million in bonds for the project.

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Lake Michigan shipwreck found after 112 years
Posted: June 24, 2010 - 5:43 pm


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Wednesday 06/23/2010
Calif. resolution urges Arizona economic boycott
Posted: June 23, 2010 - 8:24 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A group of California lawmakers is urging the state to boycott of Arizona over its controversial immigration law.

Cities around the country have approved boycotts, but California could be the first state to do so if it adopts a resolution introduced Wednesday.

Sen. Gil Cedillo's resolution calls on the state to issue a travel advisory, cease state investments in Arizona and urge Major League Baseball to reconsider having Arizona host the 2011 All-Star Game.

More than 40 lawmakers, all Democrats, have signed the Los Angeles Democrat's resolution as co-authors. It now goes to a legislative committee for approval.

Arizona's law requires law enforcement officers to check the citizenship of anyone they believe might be in the country illegally.

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Monday 06/21/2010
La. companies ask judge to end drilling moratorium
Posted: June 21, 2010 - 7:23 pm

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Companies that ferry people and supplies to offshore oil rigs asked a federal judge Monday to lift a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects imposed in the aftermath of the massive Gulf spill.

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Armed man, gunshot sounds cause NJ base lockdown
Posted: June 21, 2010 - 7:17 pm

LAKEHURST, N.J. (AP) — Something that sounded like gunfire and a delivery driver with a gun led to a one-hour lockdown at a Navy base Monday. A base official said there were no injuries and no real danger.

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Wednesday 06/16/2010
Board begins work on training for Ariz. officers
Posted: June 16, 2010 - 4:49 pm


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Wednesday 06/09/2010
Company, Boise partner to build solar power plant
Posted: June 09, 2010 - 8:31 pm

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A renwable energy company has agreed to partner with Boise to build a $45 million solar power plant.

Mayor Dave Bieter announced the deal Wednesday with Sunergy World, an Idaho company that specializes in wind, solar and biomass energy projects.

Officials say once built, the power plant will be the first, large-scale solar facility in the state. Developers say it is expected to produce 10 megawatts of power, enough to power 1,200 homes annually.

The location for the facility is at a brownfield site near the Boise Airport. Construction is expected to begin this fall.

Bieter says he hopes the project will serve as a catalyst for the construction or relocation of more renewable energy projects and developers to the region.

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Restored sheep wagon earns Wyo. preservation award
Posted: June 09, 2010 - 8:03 pm

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The green wagon parked on Tim Ellis' lawn looks like it has never been off the sheep trail.

An oil lamp hangs above a cast iron stove. Light filters through a polished back window. And blankets and pillows hug a sturdy platform bed.

But the early 20th century home on wheels looked quite different when Ellis rescued it from his parents' ranch near Casper six years ago. Some of the wood had rotted through, the paint had peeled away and a family of mice had claimed the interior.

Ellis said it took a year to restore the sheep wagon, which had sheltered his grandfather, his father and himself for hundreds of miles on the sheep trail.

His attention to detail also earned him the Wyoming State Historical Society's 2010 Outstanding Preservation Project Award.

"There's more to slapping paint on something and calling it 'preservation,'" said John Waggener, chairman of the Wyoming State Historical Society's 2010 Historic Preservation Committee.

He added that sheep wagons became an icon of the Wyoming range as sheepherding became a larger part of the state's economy. And even though modern camper trailers have replaced most of the original sheep wagons, some ranchers still use an original home on the range.

"There's definitely a nostalgia attached to the sheep wagon," Waggener said.

Ellis said he and his father, T.J. Ellis, had planned to refurbish a trio of sheep wagons as a father-and-son project. But after his father died, Ellis decided to complete the restoration on his own.

He said he disassembled and reassembled the first sheep wagon, referring to the other two when he couldn't figure out where to return a certain piece.

Ellis rebuilt the bows that framed the roof of the wagon as well as the interior's bed, benches and cupboards. A local blacksmith supplied new rivets to replace the door while another shop helped him match worn slivers of paint with counterparts for the original colors.

"I started with the hardest one," Ellis said. "Now it's downhill from here."

He added that he and his father didn't want to see the sheep wagons disappear into history. Looters had snagged the antique stoves from some of the other wagons. And the trio that remained sat alongside a barn in the condition they were last used as modern camper trailers replaced the ranch's sheep wagons in the early 1980s.

Ellis said the job would have gone faster with the help of his father. But he chose to complete the project in his father's memory and even donated the award's cash prize to his father's favorite Casper museum.

He also hopes to get the completed sheep wagon into this year's CFD parade, adding that relatives have already reserved the restored sheep wagon as a place to sleep during the celebration.


Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle - Cheyenne,

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Film, TV industry hoping NJ keeps tax credit
Posted: June 09, 2010 - 6:37 pm

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — The entertainment industry is hoping its pitch to save New Jersey's film tax credit meets with good reviews from the governor's office.

Producers, actors and others involved in "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Mercy," two series that film in the Garden State, spoke Wednesday at a public hearing held by state Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo.

The hearing was held in the Secaucus warehouse where "Mercy" was filmed.

Industry representatives say New Jersey's 20 percent tax credit has attracted millions of dollars in business and tax revenue to the state that would otherwise have gone to states that provide better incentives.

New Jersey has offered the tax break since 2006, but Christie's proposed budget would eliminate it on July 1.

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At inmate's request, Utah prepares firing squad
Posted: June 09, 2010 - 6:29 pm


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FBI: Mexicans chased away US agents after shooting
Posted: June 09, 2010 - 6:23 pm

FBI: Mexicans chased away US agents after shooting

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Tuesday 06/08/2010
Texting while driving ban now law in Vermont
Posted: June 08, 2010 - 7:11 pm

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — It's now illegal to text while driving in Vermont.

Gov. Jim Douglas signed the ban into law Tuesday at the Montpelier High School, joining at least 25 states that have banned the practice.

The measure also bans the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving for 16- and 17-year-old drivers.

Douglas says texting dramatically reduces drivers' reaction time. He says at 65 miles per hour, drivers who text are not looking at the road for 500 feet for each message.

Under the bill, anyone caught sending or reading text messages while driving could face a $100 fine for a first offense and a $250 fine for each subsequent offense within a two-year period.

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