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CALIFORNIA

Latest quake related to April temblor

LOS ANGELES — An earthquake that briefly halted rides at Disneyland and toppled wine bottles at desert resorts happened on one of two faults that are under increased pressure because of the powerful Easter Sunday temblor in Mexico, seismologists said.

Wednesday's magnitude 5.4 quake, centered in mountain wilderness 30 miles south of Palm Springs, rattled buildings more than 100 miles away in downtown Los Angeles, but no major damage or injuries were reported.

The latest quake occurred in the San Jacinto fault zone — one of two fault lines where researchers have noticed increased pressure since April's magnitude 7.2 quake, which killed two people in Baja California. More than 5,000 aftershocks have rattled the border region since then.

LOUISIANA

ACLU: Prisoners kept in 'squirrel cages'

NEW ORLEANS — A civil liberties group says a Louisiana jail humiliates suicidal prisoners by forcing them to wear skimpy shorts that say "Hot Stuff" on the rear and confines them in tiny cells narrower than a dog's cage.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana says it is unconstitutional for the St. Tammany Parish Jail to confine prisoners in cages that are 3 feet wide, 3 feet long and 7 feet tall. The ACLU says guards and prisoners refer to them as "squirrel cages."

A local code requires dogs to be kept in cages at least 6 feet wide and 6 feet deep.

The ACLU also claims suicidal prisoners are forced to wear bright-orange "short shorts" with "Hot Stuff" scrawled in pen on the rear.

MISSOURI

Person of interest in girl's abduction dies

ST. LOUIS — A registered sex offender who shot himself as officers approached him for questioning about the disappearance of 4-year-old northeastern Missouri girl was almost certainly the man who took her, police said Thursday.

Authorities on Thursday said Paul S. Smith, 38, of Hawk Point, Mo., was the suspect in the Monday abduction of Alisa Meier, who was found alive and unharmed the following evening.

Smith died late Wednesday at a St. Charles hospital.

Smith was convicted in 1995 of sodomy in a case involving a 10-year-old boy, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol's registry of sex offenders. He served about 11 years in prison.

NEW JERSEY

New Tylenol recall announced

TRENTON — Sales of Johnson & Johnson pain relievers are collapsing as a string of recalls appears to have made consumers wary of once-sterling brands such as Tylenol and Benadryl.

An eighth recall, announced Thursday, could worsen consumer reaction. That wariness and the huge amount of products pulled off store shelves together appear to be costing J&J tens of millions of dollars a month.

Thursday's recall by Johnson & Johnson's McNeil consumer health care unit covers 21 lots of products, including Children's Tylenol. Those were recalled because of a musty or moldy smell, extending a large Jan. 15 recall tied to a nauseating chemical on shipping pallets.

The company said the new lots were added to the recall as a precaution after an internal review found those lots, shipped and stored before Jan. 15, had been on the same type of wooden pallets.

An April 30 recall of more than 130 million bottles of children's and infants' liquid medicines involved products J&J said "may not meet required quality standards," may contain tiny metal particles or may have too much active ingredient.

PENNSYLVANIA

Company: Boat showed no problems

PHILADELPHIA — The company that owns a duck boat that caught fire on the Delaware River in Philadelphia and was struck by a barge said the boat had shown no sign of mechanical problems.

Ride the Ducks President Chris Herschen said Thursday that the Norcross, Ga.-based company hopes to pull the vessel from the bottom of the river soon.

The company suspended duck-boat tours nationwide after the accident Wednesday. Police and Coast Guard officials are searching for two people. Others suffered minor injuries.

Mr. Herschen said the duck boat's captain appears to have followed all proper procedures during the emergency.

He said that to his knowledge, no problems had been reported on the 10-year-old ship.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Boy's remains encased in concrete

MONCKS CORNER — A South Carolina toddler's remains have been found encased in concrete in a trash bin, and a man and his girlfriend have been charged in the boy's death.

Investigators were awaiting a DNA test before positively identifying the boy as 2-year-old Rodricus Williams, but Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said Thursday the body matched the description given to police when Rodricus was reported missing in Charleston Tuesday night.

Sheriff DeWitt said Roger Williams, 29, and Grace Nichole Trotman have been charged with homicide by child abuse.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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