- - Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ARIZONA

3 tornadoes derail cars, damage homes

BELLEMONT | Two tornadoes touched down in northern Arizona early Wednesday, derailing 28 cars of a parked freight train, blowing semis off the highway and smashing out the windows of dozens of homes. A third touched down later, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The first tornado hit Bellemont — west of Flagstaff — about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, and the second touched down east of the small community a short time later. The third was reported along Interstate 17 just south of Flagstaff about noon.

Fifteen homes in Bellemont were damaged so badly that they were uninhabitable, and the estimated 30 people who lived in them were evacuated. Authorities set up a shelter Wednesday, said Coconino County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Gerry Blair.

About 30 recreational vehicles were damaged at a business in Bellemont that sells them and runs a campground for RVs.

No serious injuries or deaths were reported. Two crew members were on the train when it was cast off the tracks about 6:30 a.m., said Burlington Northern-Santa Fe spokeswoman Lena Kent, but neither was hurt.

CALIFORNIA

Feds: ‘Shrek’ glasses a hazard in 8 touches

LOS ANGELES | Federal regulators leaned on McDonald’s to quickly recall 12 million “Shrek”-themed drinking glasses this spring because they concluded that a typical 6-year-old could be exposed to hazardous levels of the metal cadmium by touching one of the glasses just eight times in a day, according to documents obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Of the four collectibles in the series tied to the hit movie “Shrek Forever After,” the glass depicting the character Puss in Boots, with a predominantly orange design, prompted the recall push.

The investigatory file shows how the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission aggressively turned a tip that the glasses contained cadmium in their colored exterior designs into an assessment that the Puss in Boots glasses posed an unacceptable risk to some kids.

It was a first-of-its-kind recall for the agency, which wasn’t accustomed to testing for cadmium in glassware and had no official level at which results would represent a health hazard. Yet within a week, McDonald’s agreed to urge its customers to return all the glasses even though the fast-food giant didn’t think they posed a serious health danger — and the agency thought only one from the set did.

DELAWARE

Retired chemist wins Nobel Prize

NEWARK | Retired University of Delaware chemist Richard F. Heck and two Japanese scientists won the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for finding new ways to bond carbon atoms together, methods now widely used to make medicines and in agriculture and electronics.

Mr. Heck was honored along with Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki for their development four decades ago of one of the most sophisticated tools available to chemists today, called palladium-catalyzed cross coupling. Their work lets chemists join carbon atoms together, a key step in the process of building complex molecules.

Mr. Heck, 79, who retired and moved to the Philippines with his Filipino wife, said from his home there that he was glad to have won.

“I published this work in the early days; it just took a while for it to get appreciated,” he said.

NEW YORK

Naked Cowboy says he’s running for president

NEW YORK | New York’s “Naked Cowboy” is looking for some new exposure as a presidential candidate.

Robert Burck is familiar to any Times Square tourist as the man standing in the heart of the “Crossroads of the World,” playing a guitar and wearing only tighty-whiteys, boots and a cowboy hat.

But he wore a suit and tie Wednesday as he announced his intention to run for president in 2012 as a member of the conservative “tea party” movement.

He proclaimed he was running “in defense of individual liberty” and criticized President Obama for the direction of the country.

“America is rapidly transforming into a government-run enterprise,” he said, adding that “American politicians are selling out America and its most cherished institution, that being capitalism.”

Mr. Burck said he was registered as a Republican in Ohio.

Among his policy goals, he listed closing borders, requiring drug tests for welfare recipients, abolishing unions for government workers and cutting capital-gains and income taxes. He also said he would work to reverse the recently passed health care law.

SOUTH CAROLINA

ACLU sues jail over Bible policy

COLUMBIA | A South Carolina jail was sued Wednesday over its policy barring inmates from having any reading materials except the Bible.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the policy on behalf of Prison Legal News, a monthly journal on prison law. The 16-page complaint says officials at the Berkeley County jail in Moncks Corner, about 100 miles southeast of Columbia, are violating several of the magazine’s and inmates’ constitutional rights, including free speech, freedom of religion and right to due process.

Since 2008, the publishers of Prison Legal News have tried to send magazines, letters and self-help books about prison life to several inmates at the jail, the complaint says. Some were sent back, and in July, a jail official wrote an e-mail to the publishers referencing the jail’s policy.

“Our inmates are only allowed to receive soft-back bibles in the mail directly from the publisher,” 1st Sgt. K. Habersham noted in the e-mail. “They are not allowed to have magazines, newspapers, or any other type of books.”

The jail confirmed Wednesday that it doesn’t have a library and the only reading materials inmates are allowed are paperback Bibles.

From wire dispatches and staff reports