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ARKANSAS

TB patient found, returned to isolation

LITTLE ROCK — A man with tuberculosis who fled medical isolation at a hospital was found yesterday off Interstate 30 near Little Rock, authorities said.

Franklin Greenwood, 50, was being taken back to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital, said Pulaski County Sheriff's Office spokesman John Rehrauer.

A district judge ordered Mr. Greenwood placed in isolation on June 29 after he was seen coughing up blood outside the city's traffic court. Mr. Greenwood fled on July 1.

Health officials said Mr. Greenwood is contagious but has a form of TB that can be controlled with treatment. They don't think his TB is drug-resistant, but they want to test him further to determine whether he is a safety risk.

CALIFORNIA

Wildfire threatens Neverland Ranch

LOS OLIVOS — Residents of several hundred homes in the mountains of Santa Barbara's wine country, including Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, were asked to evacuate as a shift in the wind threatened to push a wildfire their way.

The 43-square-mile blaze in the Los Padres National Forest had come within about two miles of some homes when more than 1,000 residents living in and around Los Olivos were advised to leave Monday night, said Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow.

The notice covered a swath of land where Mr. Jackson's ranch sits. The pop star has not been living at the ranch, and it was unknown whether residents or staff members had heeded the voluntary evacuation.

The fire, which was 35 percent contained, has charred 27,600 acres of dry and brittle wilderness since it started July 4. The steep, rocky terrain has complicated efforts to surround the blaze. Firefighters also have had to contend with spotty communications deep in the canyons.

COLORADO

Traveler with TB undergoes surgery

DENVER — Andrew Speaker, the tuberculosis patient who caused an international public-health scare in May, underwent successful surgery yesterday to remove a diseased portion of his right lung, hospital officials said.

The surgery was performed at the University of Colorado Hospital in suburban Aurora by Dr. John D. Mitchell, chief of general thoracic surgery at the hospital, and took about two hours.

"Doctors say it went well, and everything was routine," the hospital said.

Mr. Speaker, a 31-year-old Atlanta lawyer, became the focus of a federal investigation and prompted an international uproar when he went ahead with a wedding trip in Europe after health officials said they had advised him not to fly. He also became the first American quarantined by the federal government since 1963 before being taken to National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, which specializes in TB.

Mr. Speaker told CNN that the operation would remove the upper lobe of his right lung with the expectation that it would rid him of the disease.

LOUISIANA

$1.63 tax bill costs couple their home

SLIDELL — A missing property tax bill for $1.63 has given Kermit and Dolores Atwood "seven years of emotional hell" in a fight to keep their home.

The bill was sent to a defunct address in 1996 and returned undelivered to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office. The Atwoods weren't looking for it because they had owned the four-bedroom house mortgage-free since 1968 and had been exempt from the state tax.

The Atwoods' home was sold at a sheriff's auction in 1997 to American Land Investments because of the delinquent bill. The couple have won several court challenges since then and hope to withstand one more appeal over the property.

The State Tax Commission eventually nullified the 1997 sale, but when the Atwoods tried to sell the house in 2002, they discovered that American Land Investments had sold the property rights to Jamie Land Co., which then sued the Atwoods.

James A. Lindsay II, the company's president, said his rights were violated when the tax commission didn't inform him of its decision.

Now, Jamie Land plans to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to take up the case.

NEW JERSEY

Ex-Philippine officer sentenced in spy plot

NEWARK — A former Philippine National Police officer was sentenced yesterday to six years and four months in prison for his role in a plot in which he obtained secret U.S. documents in an effort to undermine the Philippine government.

Michael Ray Aquino apologized as he addressed the court.

"I am sorry for what I did," the former intelligence officer said. "I never had the intention to harm the United States. I love this country."

Federal prosecutors sought the maximum 10-year term for Aquino. They maintained that the "serious disruption" he caused to the American government outweighed any benefit he should receive for pleading guilty in the conspiracy.

Aquino, 41, pleaded guilty last July in a deal that spared him a life term if convicted of espionage. He admitted possessing secret documents containing information on confidential U.S. intelligence sources and methods, as well as information on terrorist threats to U.S. military personnel in the Philippines.

NEW YORK

Bloomberg assails lawmakers' inaction

NEW YORK — With his traffic-fee proposal all but dead, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg lashed out yesterday at lawmakers who blocked it, saying they were gutless and had jeopardized a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

A day earlier, the city missed a deadline to qualify for hundreds of millions of federal dollars for the so-called congestion-pricing program. Mr. Bloomberg blamed the state Legislature for failing to act on the proposal before adjourning.

"New York City is today poorer because of Albany's inaction yesterday, and I think sadly it appears that we jeopardized, at best, and probably lost, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Mr. Bloomberg said.

Mr. Bloomberg pushed for the plan as part of a wide-ranging package of environmental proposals that attracted national attention at a time when he is said to be contemplating a presidential bid.

The plan called for an $8 toll for cars and a $21 toll for trucks entering Manhattan's most heavily traveled business district during workdays.

OHIO

Cincinnati Post to cease publication

CINCINNATI — The E.W. Scripps Co. said yesterday that it will end publication of the Cincinnati Post and the Kentucky Post on Dec. 31, when a joint operating agreement with Gannett Co. and the Cincinnati Enquirer expires.

The Cincinnati Post dates to 1881, and once had a circulation 10 times greater than the current 27,000 weekday subscribers.

Gannett, a newspaper and broadcasting company based in McLean, Va., gave notification three years ago that it would not renew the 1977 agreement, in which it was responsible for business operations of the Post newspapers, including advertising and subscription sales, production and distribution.

Changing reader habits, pushed by the rise of television news and other media sources, have taken a toll on afternoon newspapers in the United States. Scripps said paid circulation for the Post newspapers has fallen from about 188,000 when the agreement started to 27,000 Monday through Friday, and 37,000 on Saturday.

PENNSYLVANIA

13-year-old charged with killing brother

LANSDOWNE — A 13-year-old boy fatally stabbed his brother with a steak knife after the 16-year-old refused to turn over a video game controller, authorities said.

Jahmir Ricks was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Antwan Ricks at their home outside Philadelphia. The older boy died of a single stab wound to the chest, police said, and a bent and bloody knife was recovered from the home.

Lansdowne police said the younger boy told them, "I just stabbed my brother," when they arrived at the home Sunday.

Police think the argument started when Antwan would not turn over the game controller after losing a game to his brother. Police Chief Daniel Kortan said the rules of the house were that the person who lost had to give someone else a chance to play.

The argument escalated into a brawl, and the younger boy grabbed the knife, Chief Kortan said.

Mr. Ricks, who was charged as an adult, was being held without bail.

WISCONSIN

500-pound man rescued on river

MILWAUKEE — A 500-pound man injured while tubing down a shallow stretch of the St. Croix River was pulled to safety yesterday by dozens of rescue workers who spent hours carrying him to a navigable part of the waterway.

Martin Rike, 39, of Pine City, Minn., was treated for chest pain at the Burnett Medical Center in Grantsburg yesterday morning and discharged in the afternoon, his mother said.

Mr. Rike and three friends were floating down the river on the Minnesota state line in inner tubes Monday afternoon when Mr. Rike's tube hit a rock and deflated, said Chief Deputy Steve Ovick of the Pine County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota.

Mr. Rike's group called 911 shortly after 8 p.m. to report that he was having chest pains. A paramedic who arrived by helicopter stabilized Mr. Rike, but the pilot couldn't take him to a hospital, saying he was too heavy.

Rescuers got Mr. Rike to an ambulance about 8:15 a.m. yesterday, more than 12 hours after the 911 call.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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