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American Scene

- - Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ALABAMA

Woman with gun ready for intruder

DECATUR | A pistol-packing woman in northern Alabama says intruders will think twice before messing with her again.

Ethel Jones, 69, shot an 18-year-old man in the stomach when she found him inside her bedroom at her home in Decatur, police said.

Mrs. Jones said she sleeps with her gun under a pillow next to her. She said she grabbed it after hearing a door rattle shortly before 3 a.m. Monday.

Police said the suspect removed a window air conditioner to get inside the home. He has been hospitalized and faces a charge of second-degree burglary.

ARKANSAS

3 die in medical helicopter crash

LITTLE ROCK | A helicopter ambulance crashed early Tuesday amid the hills of central Arkansas, killing three crew members who were trying to reach a person injured in a traffic accident.

The Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter went down near the Scotland community in Van Buren County at about 4 a.m., according to the company and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Bell 206 helicopter, built in 1978, was registered to Air Evac EMS Inc., based in West Plains, Mo., according to the FAA.

Air Evac spokeswoman Julie Heavrin said pilot Kenneth Robertson, flight nurse Kenneth Meyer Jr. and flight paramedic Gayla Gregory were killed in the crash.

CALIFORNIA

Golf swing sparks 12-acre fire

IRVINE | "Fire" was the cry of the day for a golfer whose off-target swing sparked a 12-acre blaze in Southern California.

The golfer, at the Shady Canyon Golf Course in Irvine, landed a shot in the rough Saturday.

On his next swing, his club snagged a rock, causing a spark that lit the rough ablaze and eventually attracted 150 firefighters to the scene.

Officials said the fire burned through the rough, into vegetation next to the course and over two dry, brushy hillsides.

No charges were filed against the golfer.

MASSACHUSETTS

Court upholds permit for wind farm

BOSTON | Massachusetts' highest court has rejected claims by opponents of a wind farm off Cape Cod that the project sidestepped proper permitting.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday backed a 2009 decision by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board to grant the Cape Wind project permission to build power transmission lines through state waters.

A different finding could have threatened the entire project, which would be the nation's first offshore wind farm.

Cape Wind applied to the state board after a local board, the Cape Cod Commission, rejected its request.

Project opponents argued that the state board exceeded its authority. They also argued that the board should have considered the entire project's impact on Massachusetts.

The court said that would have wrongly given the board power to reject the whole project.

NEW YORK

Poll: Most residents want mosque moved

ALBANY | A poll released Tuesday found that 71 percent of New Yorkers want the developers of an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero to voluntarily move the project.

The Quinnipiac University poll finds the same percentage of New Yorkers want Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate sources of funding for the project in Lower Manhattan.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat running for governor, has said little about the issue. He said the mosque project is protected by the Constitution, although he will investigate if concerns are found.

The poll finds 53 percent of registered voters feel the Muslim developers shouldn't be allowed to build a couple of blocks from ground zero. About the same number said they have a right to proceed.

The poll mirrors the findings of other polls, which show New Yorkers agree that the Muslims have a constitutional right to build a mosque anywhere they want. But a majority of New York voters polled so far say ground zero, the site of nearly 3,000 deaths on Sept. 11, 2001, is different.

The poll finds 54 percent of New Yorkers agree that the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion allows the mosque to be built near ground zero. Forty percent disagree.

But 53 percent feel that because of the "sensitivities of Sept. 11 relatives," Muslims shouldn't be allowed to build a mosque near ground zero. Thirty-nine percent disagree.

NORTH CAROLINA

Army to probe deaths of infants

FORT BRAGG | Two unexplained infant deaths at the same address last year have prompted the Army to review all unexplained infant deaths of infants at North Carolina's Fort Bragg in the past four years.

Brig. Gen. Michael Garrett said Tuesday that the military is determined to solve the anomaly of the deaths of children younger than 1 year.

The infants who died in April and July 2009 were not identified and were from different families, but lived at the same address.

Since January 2007, eight other infants have died in base housing. Investigators have found no common factor in the causes of death.

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command is looking for contributing factors, such environmental or structural problems.

PENNSYLVANIA

Priest accused as dad faces defrocking

PHILADELPHIA | The Vatican will determine whether to defrock a priest accused of fathering a child with a high school graduate, a relationship that became public after the girl's parents captured the couple on a video camera secretly set up in the parents' basement.

Meanwhile, the Berks County district attorney said Tuesday that his office won't press charges against the Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito because a police investigation determined that the relationship started when the girl was 18.

Over the weekend, the church began putting together paperwork for the process known as "removal from the clerical state," popularly known as defrocking, said Matt Kerr, a spokesman for the Diocese of Allentown. The information will be sent to the Vatican for a decision. A timetable was not known.

Father Bonilla, 41, is not on assignment and has not functioned as a priest since November, when the diocese found out about the relationship, Mr. Kerr said.

TEXAS

'Gone with the Wind' gown goal is met

AUSTIN | The University of Texas Harry Ransom Center says it has met its $30,000 fundraising goal to pay for restoring five of Scarlett O'Hara's gowns from the multiple Oscar-winning Civil War drama "Gone with the Wind."

Ransom Center officials announced Tuesday that contributions came from more than 600 people in 44 states and 13 countries.

The gowns worn by actress Vivien Leigh in the 1939 film include a green curtain dress.

The Ransom Center is planning an exhibit to mark the movie's 75th anniversary in 2014.

UTAH

Deseret News to cut its staff in half

SALT LAKE CITY | Utah's longest publishing daily newspaper said Tuesday that it will cut nearly half of its staff and consolidate breaking news operations with affiliated television and radio operations.

The Deseret News announced that 85 newsroom positions are being eliminated, although some staffers will be enlisted for a transition period. The layoffs include 57 full-time and 28 part-time employees.

Clark Gilbert, chief executive and president, said Deseret News is combining operations with KSL-TV and KSL Radio and will move to the broadcast networks' building about five blocks away.

From wire dispatches and staff reports