Arnold orders worker furloughs
SACRAMENTO | Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday brought back furloughs for thousands of state workers until California passes a budget.
Mr. Schwarzenegger released a new executive order requiring state workers to take three unpaid days off per month starting next month. State workers were furloughed a total of 46 days when Mr. Schwarzenegger issued a similar order in February 2009, which translated to a pay cut of about 14 percent for workers.
It's unclear how long the latest round of furloughs could last, as Mr. Schwarzenegger and lawmakers enter the fifth week of the new fiscal year without a balanced budget.
"Without a budget in place that addresses our $19 billion budget deficit, every day of delay brings California closer to a fiscal meltdown," Mr. Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Our cash situation leaves me no choice but to once again furlough state workers until the Legislature produces a budget I can sign."
State Controller John Chiang has warned he will start issuing IOUs in August or September if the budget stalemate drags on in the Legislature.
Tiller colleague to face charges
TOPEKA | The doctor who provided second opinions for several of Dr. George Tiller's late-term abortions could face disciplinary action next year from a state regulatory board.
An evidentiary hearing is set for Jan. 11 for Dr. Ann Neuhaus, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts (KSBHA) said this week.
Earlier this year, the board filed an 11-count disciplinary complaint against Dr. Neuhaus, who signed off on abortions of fetuses that were aged 25 to 29 weeks. Kansas law prohibits the abortion of fetuses older than 21 weeks except in extreme circumstances, and requires an independent second opinion for such an abortion to proceed.
The 11 female patients ranged in age from 10 to 18.
Dr. Tiller was facing a similar KSBHA complaint when he was fatally shot in May 2009.
5 relatives accused of gory elder abuse
BOSTON | An 80-year-old woman lay uninterrupted for a month in a recliner soaked with her waste, her long toenails curling back into her skin and suffering from deep bedsores, authorities said in announcing charges against five family members.
The woman was in critical condition at St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River on Wednesday, said Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter. Authorities did not release the woman's name.
She had a bacterial infection in her bloodstream and was covered with bedsores, including one so deep that tendons could be seen through her decomposing skin, Mr. Miliote said. She also had 1-inch facial hair around her mouth, he said.
"This is just a horrendous set of facts. The condition she was in is something none of us have seen," Mr. Miliote said.
Her daughter, Karen Cabral, and her husband, Duarte, were charged with multiple counts of elderly abuse. Three of the woman's grandsons, Scott Cabral, Corey Cabral and Keith Cabral, also were charged. All five were arraigned Tuesday and were being held at the Bristol County House of Correction on Wednesday.
Bear kills 1, hurts 2 at Yellowstone camp
HELENA | At least one bear rampaged through a campground near Yellowstone National Park before dawn Wednesday, killing one person and injuring two others before campers sought shelter in their cars, wildlife officials said.
Tents were smashed in the 4 a.m. attack that left a man dead at the Soda Butte campground. A woman suffered severe lacerations from bites on her arms, while another man was bitten on his calf and taken to a hospital in Cody, Wyo. Wildlife officials did not release the identities or ages of the victims.
Authorities will set traps and seek bear hair, saliva and droppings while measuring the bite wounds of victims to determine the type and number of bears involved in the attack.
"Obviously, the bear's gone now. Will it come back tonight? That's the question," Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said.
Immigrant-law case put on hold
OMAHA | A judge says she's not sure whether lawsuits filed to block a Nebraska city's ban on hiring and renting to illegal immigrants should be heard in federal or state court.
U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp on Wednesday gave attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund two weeks to submit briefs explaining why their suits belong in federal court.
The move delays any ruling about whether to block the city of Fremont's voter-approved ban. But it still won't go into effect this week. The city council has temporarily suspended the ordinance until the lawsuits are resolved.
Some in Fremont say the ordinance makes up for what they call lax federal law enforcement. Others argue it could fuel discrimination.
Man set leg on fire with crack pipe
LAS CRUCES | A New Mexico man who investigators say set his prosthetic leg on fire with a pocketed crack pipe has been arrested.
Deputies say they found 47-year-old Randy Malone naked along U.S. 70 with his prosthetic right leg in flames July 5. He was treated for burns to his leg, back and buttocks.
A witness later told authorities he agreed to give Mr. Malone a ride into Las Cruces, but dropped him off after the passenger lit a crack pipe inside the vehicle.
Dona Ana County deputies arrested Mr. Malone on Sunday at his home after the man's brothers tipped investigators. Mr. Malone was being sought on a warrant for making a false report.
No cover-up charges sought for governor
ALBANY | New York Gov. David A. Paterson will not face criminal charges for calling a woman who later dropped domestic violence charges against a top aide, though the aide could still face prosecution, according to an investigative report issued Wednesday.
Retired Judge Judith Kaye, asked by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to examine Mr. Paterson's role in the assault case, said the Democratic governor's actions did not constitute witness tampering.
However, she criticized him for failing to inquire about what actually happened that night beyond the account of his friend and aide David Johnson, and she wrote that he also didn't try to confirm a report that an order of protection was issued. After the confrontation between Mr. Johnson and his then-girlfriend Sherr-una Booker on Oct. 31 in the Bronx, Mr. Paterson called Miss Booker and endorsed a press statement that said the incident was not violent.
"It is hard to reconcile this conduct with the governor's expressed commitment to the cause of domestic violence prevention," Judge Kaye wrote. Her investigation found no interference by State Police, including a trooper who contacted the woman, into the criminal investigation by New York City police.
Judge orders rethink on flame retardants
GRANTS PASS | A federal judge in Montana has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to take a tougher look at the possibility that routinely dropping toxic fire retardant on wildfires from airplanes will kill endangered fish and plants.
U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy in Missoula, Mont., ruled in a case brought by Oregon-based environmentalists, that the current environmental assessment is inadequate in light of federal biologists' findings that fire retardant that lands in creeks and on rare plants jeopardizes the survival of endangered species and their habitat.
Judge Molloy did not restrict the use of fire retardant this summer, but in a sternly written order gave the Forest Service until the end of 2011 to do a tougher environmental impact statement. He warned the agency could be found in contempt for failing to meet the deadline and refused to hear further arguments on the issue.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports.
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