Nation briefs 1/8/04

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Cattle herd that included diseased cow put down

WILBUR, Wash. -- Federal workers using a vacant slaughterhouse in rural eastern Washington killed a herd of calves that included the offspring of a Holstein infected with mad cow disease whose bloodlines were traced to Canada. The entire herd of 449 bull calves, ranging in age from 1 month to several months, was sedated and given lethal injections Tuesday, Nolan Lemon, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Wednesday.

Evacuations continue near chemical plant

CONWAY, Ark. -- Dozens of people were kept from their homes for a second day Wednesday as authorities searched the burned-out site of a chemical plant for clues about a series of explosions that injured two people and forced thousands to evacuate. The explosions at the Detco Industries plant Tuesday morning shot fireballs into the sky and sent up a plume of smoke so thick it could be seen 30 miles away in Little Rock. Everyone within a mile of the plant was ordered to evacuate. Wednesday morning, residents were still being kept from trailer homes near the plant, but schools and several businesses in the area reopened. One worker injured in the blast was hospitalized in critical condition; the other was in stable condition in a hospital burn unit.

ACLU asks Pa. judge to reverse child porn law

PHILADELPHIA -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania asked a judge to throw out a state law aimed at fighting Internet child pornography, arguing it also blocks access to thousands of legitimate Web sites. The group, along with the Washington-based Center for Democracy & Technology, filed a federal lawsuit in September, and the case went to trial this week. Pennsylvania officials have forced Internet providers to block access to more than 800,000 legal Web sites, group spokesmen said.

Cautious scientists delay rover's movement on Mars

PASADENA, Calif. -- The air bags that cushioned the landing of the Mars rover are obstructing the vehicle's path and will delay the start of its trek across the planet's rust-colored surface, NASA said Wednesday. Further complicating the mission, new images from the Mars rover suggest its landing site is not the pristine dry lake bed that scientists originally had hoped. That means the rover's hunt for evidence that Mars was once a wetter place conducive to life might be more difficult than expected. The earliest the six-wheeled Spirit rover will roll off the spacecraft that brought it to Mars is Jan. 14, or about three days later than originally planned, NASA said. Further delays of one or two days are possible.

Bustamante sued over Indian gambling cash

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A state commission sued Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante on Wednesday, alleging the recall election candidate took in $3.8 million more than state campaign finance laws allow. The allegations by the Fair Political Practices Commission echo criticism that followed the Democrat throughout his failed campaign for governor: that he wrongly used a committee from an earlier campaign to sidestep new laws that applied to last year's gubernatorial recall election. Bustamante already has been ordered by a judge to return money -- which came from Indian tribes, one of the Democrat's biggest backers -- that exceeded state limits on contributions.

-- From wire reports

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