- - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ARKANSAS

21 children seized from Alamo group

TEXARKANA — State officials on Tuesday seized 21 children associated with the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, taking them into protective custody because they were purportedly abused and neglected.

The children were taken into state care as hearings were being conducted on whether six girls seized in September should remain under state protection or be returned to their parents.

Three boys seized Tuesday were taken from the courthouse, where they were with their parents for the other hearings.

Eighteen of the children were found in two vans that were stopped in traffic by state police in Miller County. Department of Human Services spokeswoman Julie Munsell said she didn’t know what the children were doing in the van.

The children were still being processed Tuesday afternoon, and Miss Munsell didn’t have a breakdown of gender and ages, though all were 17 or younger.

An order by Circuit Judge Joe Griffin, which authorized the children to be seized, said there were allegations of neglect and physical abuse. Miss Munsell would not detail the allegations.

Alamo was arrested in September, days after his compound in Fouke was raided by state and federal agents. The six girls, between ages 10 and 17, were seized for their own protection.

CONNECTICUT

State increasing anti-smoking efforts

HARTFORD — Two legislative committees approved a plan Tuesday to spend millions of dollars more on helping people quit smoking and preventing others from taking up the habit.

The state’s Tobacco and Health Trust Fund proposed spending $6.8 million in 2009. The plan includes $2 million for the state’s “Quitline” telephone counseling service so it can resume offering nicotine replacement therapies.

The plan also is to spend $2 million for a new statewide anti-smoking media campaign and $1.2 million for smoking cessation programs for people with serious mental illness.

The plan includes $500,000 for a new school-based smoking prevention pilot program for 10 to 20 school districts, and $250,000 for a lung cancer tissue repository and database to identify high-risk groups.

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