- - Friday, March 19, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Fess Parker, TV’s ‘Davy Crockett,’ dies

LOS ANGELES — Actor Fess Parker, who became every baby boomer’s idol in the 1950s and launched a craze for coonskin caps as television’s Davy Crockett, died Thursday of natural causes. He was 85.

Family spokeswoman Sao Anash said Mr. Parker, who was also TV’s Daniel Boone and later a major California winemaker and developer, died at his Santa Ynez Valley home. His death comes on the 84th birthday of his wife of 50 years, Marcella.

The first installment of “Davy Crockett,” with Buddy Ebsen as Crockett’s sidekick, debuted in December 1954 as part of the “Disneyland” TV show.

GEORGIA

NASA, cruise line got flu shots first

ATLANTA — Last fall, as swine flu cases mounted and parents desperately sought to protect their children, the hard-to-get vaccine was handed out in some surprising places: the Royal Caribbean cruise line, the headquarters of drug giant Merck, the Johnson Space Center and a Department of Energy office in Idaho.

In some cases, financial institutions and other recipients got doses before some county health departments and doctors’ offices, according to records obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Even though the federal government spent more than $1.6 billion to manufacture and distribute the vaccine, there is no complete record of where it went.

At least 85 percent of the doses given in the first six weeks went to groups most at risk for flu complications — children and other young people, pregnant women and those with certain health problems, according to an estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wall Street banks and cruise ship companies accounted for a tiny fraction of the 30,000 or so sites getting vaccine in those desperate early days.

Overall, U.S. health officials and a number of outside experts say the vaccination effort went very well.

“It was a remarkable logistical success,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. “As with many things in public health, the things that work really well, nobody notices.”

He said that the imperfect database is because of limited money and that the agency’s top priority at the height of the epidemic was to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible.

PENNSYLVANIA

Accused ‘Jihad Jane’ denies terror plot

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania woman accused of trolling the Internet as “Jihad Jane” while she cared for her boyfriend’s father denied in court Thursday that she sought to kill a Swedish artist targeted by radical Muslims or agreed to marry a terrorism suspect to help him get travel documents.

Colleen LaRose, 46, of Pennsburg, appeared in federal court wearing a green jumpsuit. She smiled at the public defenders for her arraignment. The judge set a May 3 trial date on charges in the four-count indictment, unsealed last week.

Miss LaRose was accused of conspiring with fighters overseas and pledging to commit murder in the name of a Muslim holy war, or jihad. She was arrested Oct. 15 returning to Philadelphia from Europe and remained in federal custody while authorities pursued the investigation.

RHODE ISLAND

Obama effigy hung at failing school

CENTRAL FALLS — A teacher at a failing Rhode Island school where he and all his colleagues were fired hung an effigy of President Obama in his classroom, apparently in reaction to Mr. Obama’s support of extreme measures to ensure accountability in schools.

The teachers union on Thursday condemned the effigy, discovered Monday in the teacher’s third-floor classroom at Central Falls High School, saying it was wrong and cannot be condoned under any circumstances.

The effigy was found in the unidentified teacher’s classroom by Superintendent Frances Gallo, according to Nicole Shaffer of the Rhode Island Department of Education. Miss Shaffer told the Associatd Press that the department would have no further comment.

WASHINGTON

Walgreens: No new Medicaid patients

SEATTLE | Walgreens has told Washington state officials that it will no longer fill prescriptions for new Medicaid patients as of April 16 because it isn’t being reimbursed enough by the state.

The Deerfield, Ill.-based drugstore chain, which has 121 pharmacies in Washington, said it will continue to serve its existing Medicaid patients, but can’t take additional losses due to reductions in the state’s payments.

State Medicaid Director Doug Porter told the Seattle Times that Medicaid recipients should be able to easily find another pharmacy, and the state will help them locate one if needed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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