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MICHIGAN

Council silences embattled mayor

DETROIT — The City Council rebuffed embattled Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's attempts to propose a budget yesterday, the latest sign of increasingly frosty relations between the mayor and city leaders.

Mr. Kilpatrick, who is fighting criminal charges, walked into the council chambers, sat down and prepared to speak. Council President Ken Cockrel then informed him that he had discussed the matter with other members over the weekend, and they agreed not to hear from the mayor.

The relationship between Mr. Kilpatrick and the council has been deteriorating for months. The panel voted 7-1 in March to ask Mr. Kilpatrick to resign.

Mr. Kilpatrick and former chief of staff Christine Beatty are awaiting a June 9 preliminary examination on perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice charges.

NEW YORK

Rumsfeld to publish memoir in 2010

NEW YORK — Donald H. Rumsfeld, the powerful defense secretary and architect of the Iraq war who left office in late 2006 as he faced rising criticism, is working on a memoir to be published by Penguin Group (USA) in 2010.

"This will be a story that will span my lifetime," Mr. Rumsfeld, 75, told the Associated Press yesterday. "It will be something that I will try hard to ... be very fair and honest and useful. I hope it adds to people's information about these times."

The book is currently untitled.

Mr. Rumsfeld met with several publishers and received "big bids" for his book, said a publishing official who asked not to be identified, but the former defense secretary accepted no advance, only money for expenses. Any profits will be donated to a foundation Mr. Rumsfeld has established to fund such projects as grants for "promising young individuals" interested in public service.

CALIFORNIA

Big quake called likely by 2037

LOS ANGELES — California faces an almost certain risk of being rocked by a strong earthquake by 2037, scientists said yesterday in the first statewide temblor forecast.

New calculations reveal there is a 99.7 percent chance a magnitude-6.7 quake or larger will strike in the next 30 years. The odds of such an event are higher in Southern California than Northern California, 97 percent versus 93 percent.

The last time a jolt this size rattled California was the 1994 Northridge disaster, which killed 72 people, injured more than 9,000 and caused $25 billion in damage.

"It basically guarantees it's going to happen," said Ned Field, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena and lead author of the report.

California is one of the most seismically active regions in the world. More than 300 faults crisscross the state, which sits atop two of Earth's major tectonic plates, the Pacific and North American plates. About 10,000 quakes each year rattle Southern California alone, although most of them are too small to be felt.

ILLINOIS

Statins found to lower blood pressure

CHICAGO — Popular cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins also can lower blood pressure, U.S. researchers said yesterday, helping to explain why statins have been shown to prevent strokes as well as heart attacks.

They said patients who took two different types of statins saw modest but rapid declines in both their top and bottom blood-pressure readings.

"It really looks very clearly that there is a consistent but modest improvement," said Dr. Beatrice Golomb of the University of California at San Diego, whose work was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Statins fight heart disease primarily by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein, the so-called "bad" cholesterol that can clog arteries and cause heart attacks.

"LDL cholesterol shows really no consistent relationship to stroke, and yet statins have lowered stroke risk in many studies," Dr. Golomb said.

"Blood pressure, in contrast to LDL cholesterol, is a very powerful contributor to stroke, and this may help explain some of the reduced risks of stroke," she said.

IOWA

Store clerk foils would-be robber

DES MOINES — A cigarette-store cashier has snuffed out a robbery.

Police said a masked man flashed a knife at the Cigarette Outlet on Friday and forced one employee to the floor, then demanded money from another worker, Ruth Wright.

Instead of cash, Miss Wright threw two cans of chewing tobacco at the robber, and one hit him in the face.

Officers said a customer then tackled the man, but the robber broke free and bolted out the door.

A cashier, Kittie Peacock, said the store had been robbed at least once before.

KENTUCKY

City mulls allowing goat as pet

FRANKFORT — A central Kentucky planning board won't get Gale Warfield's goat, but the City Commission might.

Officials in Frankfort are discussing whether goats are livestock or pets.

The issue came up in October, when Miss Warfield received a violation notice about the goat and duck she keeps as pets on her residential property. Miss Warfield said the letter informed her that Szokie the goat had to go.

Then she received a second letter saying he could stay while officials decide what he is.

Last month, the city's planning commission proposed an amendment that would have allowed up to two farm animals to live in the city on land of five acres or more. A public meeting on the proposed changes was scheduled last week, but the meeting was canceled and the amendment withdrawn. The members of the zoning committee said the proposed changes were unnecessary.

Miss Warfield will plead her case one last time to the City Commission on April 28. If Miss Warfield is forced to get rid of Szokie, she said, she'll try and find him a good home that will love and care for him.

LOUISIANA

Boat collides with barge; 18 hurt

NEW ORLEANS — Hundreds of state prison employees were left scrambling for a way to work yesterday after a boat that carries them there collided with a barge on the Mississippi River upstream from Baton Rouge, injuring 18 people.

The Coast Guard was investigating what caused the vessels to collide Sunday as the crew boat was taking workers who had just ended their shifts across the swollen river. Officials could not immediately say whether high water played a role.

Normally, the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola uses a ferry to take workers and their vehicles back and forth from the west side of the river to the prison on the east side. But crew boats — typically used to move workers to offshore petroleum platforms — had been used recently because of the high water, prison spokeswoman Angie Norwood said.

James LeBlanc, secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, told the Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge that the service would be suspended until river levels drop, forcing prison employees to find other means of travel.

The prison's warden, Burl Cain, said the setting sun may have played a role in the collision.

"The pilot indicated that the sun was in his eyes, and he just didn't see the barge," he said.

NEW YORK

Window installer dies in 9-story fall

NEW YORK — A man installing windows at a building under construction died yesterday when he fell nine stories, apparently after a nylon safety strap failed, city officials said.

Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said the man fell from the 23rd floor to a 14th-floor balcony at the building on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

The worker was identified as Kevin Kelly, 25, who lived in the Queens borough.

The Buildings Department said 25 violations warranting penalties had been issued since construction on the building began last year, though none involved the safety strap that was cited as the possible cause of the worker's fall.

The department halted work at the site and was reviewing how the straps were used.

Colleen Rugg, a spokeswoman for general contractor Hunter Roberts, said, "Our hearts go out to the family affected by this tragedy."

The building at East 67th Street near First Avenue is about two blocks from a building where two window washers plunged 47 stories in December. One died; the other miraculously survived.

PENNSYLVANIA

Girls face ouster in school attack

ERIE — The city's school superintendent is recommending the board expel two girls accused of brutally attacking a 10-year-old girl on an elementary school playground.

Superintendent Jim Barker said he wants to ensure that the two girls, ages 10 and 11, do not attend classes with the girl who suffered a broken hip in the April 3 attack.

School board president Jim Herdzik said he favors expulsion.

"We have to be harsh," Mr. Herdzik said. "They have to learn. Ten- or 11- or 12-year-olds should know the difference between right and wrong."

The attack did not occur during school hours, but district officials will consider that it happened on school property in reviewing possible expulsions, Mr. Barker said. The board's next meeting is scheduled for May 14.

If the girls are expelled, they still would be entitled to an education in the Erie School District by attending a charter school or alternative education programs.

The girls face aggravated assault and other charges.

SOUTH CAROLINA

College cancels classes after slaying

CONWAY — Coastal Carolina University officials have canceled classes and are advising students to stay indoors because of a fatal shooting near campus in South Carolina.

University spokesman Doug Bell said it is not clear whether the victim in yesterday's shooting was a student. The assailant has not been caught.

Horry County Police Sgt. Bob Carr said the shooting victim is male.

Mr. Bell said the neighborhood where the shooting took place is not affiliated with the university, but students live there. Classes have been canceled until today.

Coastal Carolina University has about 7,800 students at its campus about 15 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach.

TEXAS

Plea is guilty in human smuggling

HOUSTON — The last of 14 people indicted in the nation's deadliest human-smuggling attempt pleaded guilty yesterday, federal prosecutors said.

Octavio Torres-Ortega, 42, was accused of leading one of the subordinate rings involved in the smuggling attempt that led to the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants packed in a sweltering tractor-trailer five years ago.

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to harbor and transport immigrants aliens illegally in the United States resulting in death and serious bodily injury, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

More than 70 immigrants were being transported to Houston from Harlingen in southern Texas when the truck driver abandoned the trailer at a truck stop near Victoria, about 100 miles southwest of Houston, in 2003. The victims died of dehydration, overheating and suffocation.

Torres-Ortega faces life in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Truck driver Tyrone Williams was sentenced to life in prison. Other defendants have been convicted, pleaded guilty or won dismissal of charges. Those convicted have been sentenced to terms of up to 23 years in prison.

WASHINGTON

Insanity defense disputed at trial

SEATTLE — The man accused of shooting up the Seattle Jewish Federation two years ago, killing one woman and wounding five, was not insane, but had a deliberate plan to make a blood-soaked political point, prosecutors said yesterday as his trial opened.

Naveed Haq, 32, of Tri-Cities, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of murder and attempted murder in the July 2006 attack. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.

Prosecutor Erin Ehlert said Mr. Haq stalked through the office, shooting one victim after another, in one case reaching over a cubicle wall before pulling the trigger. She said he chased Pamela Waechter toward an exit, fatally shooting her as she ran down the stairs.

Miss Ehlert told jurors yesterday that Mr. Haq carefully planned his attack, making four separate trips to gun shops and using the Internet to map the 227-mile trip from his parents' home in Pasco, Wash., to the Jewish Federation in Seattle.

John Carpenter, Mr. Haq's defense attorney, called the shooting "the acts of a madman." He said the defense would present volumes of mental health files, showing Mr. Haq's bipolar schizophrenic and psychotic tendencies, including grandiose thoughts, hearing voices from walls and paranoid delusions.

WEST VIRGINIA

Search disappoints Bigfoot believers

MILL POINT While they didn't see hide nor hair of the beast itself, 20 people taking part in a four-day search for Bigfoot in West Virginia say they found tracks believed to have been made by the elusive creature.

Members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization's 2008 West Virginia expedition also claim to have heard sounds made by a sasquatch.

Steve Willis, a Cowen native now living in Virginia, led the Pocahontas County expedition.

Mr. Willis says the tracks are believed to have been made by a Bigfoot female and juvenile. He says the group also heard sounds described as being like someone knocking a baseball bat against a tree.

The organization estimates there are up to 6,000 sasquatches living in the U.S. and Canada. But skeptics cite the lack of physical evidence.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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