Nation briefs 12/31/04

Friday, December 31, 2004

Mad cow scare in Canada not detering U.S. imports

WASHINGTON -- Expressing confidence in the safety of Canadian beef, the Bush administration said Thursday it would stand by its decision to renew Canadian beef imports beginning in March despite a possible new case of mad cow disease. The Agriculture Department said that even if the Canadian cow is confirmed positive for mad cow disease it believes public health measures in Canada and the United States will protect U.S. livestock and consumers.

Star bandleader of swing era Artie Shaw dies at 94

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Artie Shaw, the clarinetist and bandleader whose recording of "Begin the Beguine" epitomized the Big Band era, died Thursday at his home. He was 94. Shaw had been in declining health for some time and apparently died of natural causes, his attorney and longtime friend Eddie Ezor said. Shaw's caregiver was with him when he died, Ezor said. At his peak in the 1930s and 1940s, Shaw pulled in a five-figure salary per week and ranked with Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller as the bandleaders who made music swing.

California sees tornado in series of storms

LOS ANGELES -- A slow-rolling series of storms that battered the West this week brought snowfall and high wind Thursday to parts of California, where weather-weary residents have already endured lashing rain, heavy snowfall and a destructive tornado. Since the wild weather began slogging ashore Monday, five deaths in California and two in Colorado have been blamed on storms. Two canoers were missing in Arizona.

Judge: Ban on gay foster homes oversteps authority

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A judge struck down a state ban on placing foster children in any household with a gay member, ruling that the state agency enforcing the rule had overstepped its authority by trying to regulate "public morality." The state promised Thursday to appeal the ruling, which came Wednesday from Judge Timothy Fox in a case brought by the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

McDonald's will consider more selective slaughter

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's Corp. may require its processors to use a method for slaughtering poultry that animal rights groups say is more humane. The fast-food giant said it is studying the possibility of "controlled atmosphere killing," in which chickens are killed by replacing oxygen in the air they breathe with an inert gas. It would replace a slaughtering process in which chickens are hung by their legs on a moving conveyor line and pulled through an electrified vat of water. The electrical charge stuns the chickens, and then their throats are cut.

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