- - Friday, August 7, 2009

ALASKA

Mom gets jail for letting son, 7, drive

FAIRBANKS — An Alaska woman who let her 7-year-old son drive while she was passed out drunk in the passenger seat has been sentenced to 20 days in jail.

District Court Judge Raymond Funk also sentenced Karen Koch, 37, to three years of probation and six months of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Mrs. Koch pleaded guilty to one count of reckless endangerment in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of allowing an unauthorized person to drive. She has three previous convictions for drunken driving and did not speak at Wednesday’s court hearing.

A neighbor called troopers in May after seeing a young boy driving a car with an unconscious passenger.

CALIFORNIA

History-making federal judge dies

LOS ANGELES — Judge Robert M. Takasugi, the first Japanese-American appointed to the federal bench, has died in Los Angeles. He was 78.

His son, Superior Court Judge Jon Takasugi, said he died Tuesday at a nursing home after a number of illnesses.

Judge Takasugi was a much-honored jurist who presided over the high-profile trial of automaker John Z. DeLorean in 1984 and authored groundbreaking opinions. He was appointed to the federal bench in 1976 and remained active as a judge until last April.

He was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1930 and was interned as a child with his family during World War II.

He began representing indigents and civil rights protesters in the 1960s and became a key figure in the Asian-American legal community and mentored minority law students.

FLORIDA

Former federal judge pleads guilty to fraud

TAMPA — A former Florida appeals court judge who resigned amid controversy over his financial and personal relationship with a stripper has pleaded guilty to bank fraud.

Thomas E. Stringer appeared in Tampa federal court Thursday morning. He is expected to be sentenced in two to three months. It’s unlikely he will receive jail time.

Prosecutors say Stringer falsified his mortgage application for a home in Hawaii.

Stringer resigned from the 2nd District Court of Appeal in February, months after a stripper came forward claiming he helped her hide from creditors by letting her put money into his bank accounts.

GEORGIA

Rapid tests often wrong about flu

ATLANTA — The government’s first study of how well rapid tests diagnose swine flu finds they’re wrong at least half the time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at rapid tests made by three companies. The tests correctly confirmed swine flu infections only 10 percent to 51 percent of the time. The tests were better at diagnosing seasonal flu.

What should doctors do if a test comes back negative for a patient they think has the flu? The CDC says doctors should order a more precise lab test but in the meantime prescribe medicines like Tamiflu.

The results of the study were released Thursday.

ILLINOIS

4 former cemetery workers indicted

CHICAGO — A grand jury has handed down a seven-count indictment against four former workers at a historic black cemetery near Chicago that accuses them of theft and desecrating human remains.

Prosecutors in Cook County announced the indictment at a court appearance Thursday. The charges also include dismembering human remains, removal of a gravestone or marker, removal of multiple deceased human beings and conspiracy to dismember human bodies.

The three former gravediggers and a former administrator at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip were arrested last month. They’re accused of digging up and dumping remains as well as stacking burial vaults on top of each other in order to resell plots.

Authorities say the scheme netted the suspects about $300,000.

NEW YORK

Hacker attack disables Twitter

NEW YORK — A hacker attack shut down Twitter on Thursday morning, and Facebook also said it was “looking into” possible site problems.

Twitter said in its status blog Thursday that it was “defending against a denial-of-service attack,” in which hackers command scores of computers to a single site at the same time, preventing legitimate traffic from getting through.

For users of the fast-growing messaging service, the outage meant no tweeting about lunch plans, the weather or the fact that Twitter is down.

Facebook also seemed to be experiencing problems, at least intermittently. Facebook spokeswoman Brandee Barker said the company was looking into it and would have an update “as soon as possible.”

WISCONSIN

Soldiers cautioned about identity theft

MADISON — The Army National Guard is warning 131,000 soldiers to take steps to protect themselves against identity theft after a laptop containing their personal information was stolen.

Guard officials say the data loss happened when a personal laptop owned by one of their contractors was stolen on July 27.

In a statement issued this week, the Guard said the laptop had personal information on current and former soldiers enrolled in the Army National Guard Bonus and Incentives program. The information included names, Social Security numbers and payment amounts.

From wire dispatches and staff reports