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American Scene

- - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Touch-screen Nano part of new lineup

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs announced a new line of iPods on Wednesday, including a Nano model that has a touch screen and lacks buttons.

Like previous versions, the Nano has a built-in FM tuner and can display photos. But instead of buttons, controls for playing, pausing and selecting music are right on the screen. It will cost $149 for the 8 gigabyte version and $179 for 16 gigabytes.

In a refresh to the iPod Touch, Apple is adding video-chat features similar to the newest iPhone. It has a front-facing camera for conducting video chats with other iPod Touch and iPhone users over Wi-Fi using Apple's FaceTime program. A camera on the back can be used for taking snapshots and recording video. Prices range from $229 to $399.

INDIANA

Lindh seeks group prayer in prison

INDIANAPOLIS — American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh and another Muslim inmate have asked a judge to overturn a rule limiting group prayer in the highly restrictive unit at a federal prison in Terre Haute where they are being held.

The American Civil Liberties Union made the request on behalf of Lindh and fellow inmate Enaam Arnaout.

The inmates claim that a rule limiting them to praying alone in their cells except for once a day during Ramadan violates an Islamic requirement that they pray five times a day, preferably in a group.

Lindh wrote in a legal declaration that the Koran requires a clean place for prayer and he's forced to kneel in his cell in close proximity to his toilet.

The government denies it is violating the prisoners' rights.

MICHIGAN

U.S. auto sales turn frail in August

DETROIT — Auto sales, once a bright spot in the economic recovery, grew fainter last month.

The pain was widespread. Big car companies General Motors, Ford and Toyota saw sales slip. Smaller automakers like Subaru suffered, too, as did companies that appeal to the budget-minded, such as Kia and Hyundai.

Buyers are nervous about the economy's health and stayed away from showrooms, a worrisome sign since August is typically a strong month. Total industry sales could fall below 1 million new vehicles once automakers finish reporting sales on Wednesday, making it the worst August in 27 years.

GM's August sales fell 7 percent from July, and an even sharper 25 percent from August of 2009, when they were boosted by the government's Cash for Clunkers rebates. All four of GM's remaining brands saw sales drop from July. Cadillac and Buick lead the way, falling 15 percent. Chevrolet and GMC sales also fell.

Ford saw sales slip 5 percent from July, while Toyota's fell 12 percent. Subaru sales slipped 7.2 percent. Kia Motors Corp. sales fell 8 percent and Hyundai Motor Co.'s were essentially flat.

NEW YORK

Ellis Island immigrants' oral histories go online

NEW YORK — History buffs are getting a chance to hear all about Ellis Island's immigration story from the people who lived through it.

A collection of oral histories from about 1,700 people who passed through Ellis Island starting in the late 1890s is going online.

The histories had been available to visitors at the immigration museum on Ellis Island in New York, but this is the first time they'll be available to a wider audience. They can be found in the immigration section of the Ancestry.com website.

VIRGINIA

Settlement on bad peanuts OK'd

LYNCHBURG — A federal judge has approved a $12 million settlement for those sickened or killed in last year's salmonella outbreak tied to a Virginia-based peanut processor.

U.S. District Judge Norman Moon issued his ruling Wednesday to pay more than 120 personal injury claims related to the outbreak.

The outbreak was traced to Lynchburg-based Peanut Corp. of America's plants in Georgia and Texas. It was linked to at least nine deaths and 700 illnesses.

Peanut Corp. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to dissolve amid fallout from the outbreak.

From wire dispatches and staff reports