- - Thursday, April 14, 2011

ARIZONA

Medical pot applications made available online

PHOENIX | Medical marijuana is online in Arizona.

On Thursday morning, patients could begin to apply to get the drug to help treat cancer and other diseases.

Voters approved the legislation in November, making Arizona the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana.

The Department of Health Services said the application system will be entirely online, and anyone trying to apply in person or by phone will be turned away.

Department Director Will Humble sympathizes with people who aren’t computer-literate, but he said the system must be online to be efficient and cost-effective.

He said Arizona’s program is aimed at avoiding problems other states have experienced, such as large numbers of unqualified people obtaining pot.

Once approved, patients will be allowed to buy 2½ ounces of marijuana every two weeks or grow a limited amount themselves if they live at least 25 miles from a dispensary.

FLORIDA

Toddler is served sangria, not juice

LAKELAND | Olive Garden restaurants are making changes after a toddler was served alcoholic sangria instead of orange juice at a Florida location.

Before the incident, an Applebee’s in Michigan accidentally served a margarita to another toddler.

Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants says the mix-up happened March 31 in Lakeland.

Jill VanHeest said she took her 2-year-old son, Nikolai, to a hospital after his eyes turned red and dilated and he began acting up. She said he was given fluids and released a couple of hours later with no lasting effects.

Mrs. VanHeest’s attorney contacted the news media in Florida after reports of the Applebee’s incident this week.

Olive Garden said it will start mixing sangria individually to order, instead of in batches as it had before.

ILLINOIS

CDC: Suicides rise, fall with economy

CHICAGO | Suicides in the U.S. ebb and flow with the economy, rising in bad times and falling in good, researchers at the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Their study, published online in the American Journal of Public Health, is the first to look at suicide trends by age and business cycles, and it found that working Americans ages 25 to 64 are significantly more prone to suicide in tough economic times.

Researchers looked at the impact of business cycles on U.S. suicide rates from 1928 through 2007. They found a general correlation among suicide rates and major shifts in the U.S. economy.

For example, suicides famously spiked during the Great Depression to a record high of 22 suicides per 100,000 people in 1932, up from 18 per 100,000 in 1928.

The suicide rate also increased during other slowdowns, including the end of the New Deal (1937-1938), the oil crisis (1973-1975), and the double-dip recession (1980-1982.)

Suicide rates tended to fall during other periods, such as during World War II and the decade-long expansion from 1991 to 2001, in which the economy flourished and unemployment rates were low.

KENTUCKY

FBI: KFC founder received death threat

LOUISVILLE | As it turns out, Colonel Harland Sanders wasn’t the only one keeping secrets.

Newly released documents from the 1970s show the FBI investigated a death threat against the iconic KFC founder and pitchman, creator of the secret recipe for the chain’s fried chicken.

The warning came from someone identified as “The General.” A handwritten note addressed to Sanders and his wife told the restaurant entrepreneur from Kentucky that he was in “grave danger of being murdered.”

The documents show that the envelope containing the threat was postmarked Dec. 5, 1973, and had a return address in Los Angeles. The threat wasn’t reported to the FBI until February 1974 by someone at KFC. The informant’s name was blacked out.

Sanders died in 1980 at the age of 90 after being stricken with leukemia. His secret blend of 11 herbs and spices launched the KFC chain, and the recipe remains one of the world’s most enduring corporate secrets.

KFC spokesman Rick Maynard said Thursday that Sanders received millions of letters during his life and that virtually all were positive. KFC is owned by Louisville-based Yum Brands Inc., which also owns Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

The threat was likely little more than a prank, Mr. Maynard wrote in an email.

MASSACHUSETTS

Man convicted in Obama-church fire case

SPRINGFIELD | A 26-year-old white man was convicted Thursday in what prosecutors said was the racially motived burning of a predominantly black church in the hours after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

An all-white, 12-member jury found Michael Jacques guilty of all the charges he faced in the burning of Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield.

Prosecutors portrayed Jacques and two friends who pleaded guilty as racists who were upset at the election of the nation’s first black president.

Jacques, his lawyer and family said, he is not racist and only confessed during a police interrogation because he suffered withdrawal from painkillers.

Jacques was convicted of conspiracy against civil rights, damage to religious property and use of fire to commit a felony.

PENNSYLVANIA

Altoona sells naming rights for filmmaker

ALTOONA | Later this month, there will still be a city with roughly 31,000 residents in the Allegheny Mountains east of Pittsburgh. What there won’t be is a city named Altoona.

That’s because the city has sold its name to make some money — and to help independent filmmaker Morgan Spurlock make a point.

City Council on Wednesday approved a deal to change Altoona’s name to “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” for 60 days. Mr. Spurlock will pay the city an unspecified amount that will benefit its police department.

The film skewers the proliferation of advertising in American life. POM Wonderful is a juice company that paid to be the movie’s title sponsor.

The film will screen in Altoona on April 27, the day the name change takes effect.

TENNESSEE

Search on for woman seen dragged from home

PARSONS | Hundreds of searchers combed woods and fields in western Tennessee on Thursday looking for a nursing student who was last seen being dragged from the carport of her home by a man wearing camouflage clothing.

Authorities said the 911 center received two phone calls when Holly Bobo, 20, was abducted Wednesday morning. One was from her 25-year-old brother, who was in the home, and the other was from a woman police did not identify.

The search area was widened Thursday and covers rugged terrain with trees and brush so thick that at least one search dog had to be carried by its handler on Wednesday afternoon, police said. Authorities also were using a helicopter to scan from the sky.

Law enforcement officers were being helped in the search by people who turned out because they are concerned about Miss Bobo’s fate.

Miss Bobo was taken from a one-story, ranch-style house, faced in brown brick. The houses are not close together, and some are on parcels large enough for the owners to keep livestock.

Investigators say the brother is helping with the investigation, and they are looking into the possibility that someone may have checked out her home before the abduction. Police are asking neighbors to report any unusual people or cars in the area.

Miss Bobo is a cousin of country singer Whitney Duncan, who tweeted Thursday morning that “I feel like I’m walking in a nightmare.”

WISCONSIN

One lawsuit challenging union law thrown out

MADISON | A judge has dismissed one of three lawsuits challenging Wisconsin’s divisive law that restricts union collective bargaining rights.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Democratic Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.

The judge said Miss Falk doesn’t have standing to sue because state law forbids an agency or arm of government like a county to challenge the constitutionality of state laws.

Another lawsuit brought by the Dane County district attorney remains. In that case, Judge Sumi blocked enactment of the law earlier this month while she considers whether state open meetings law was violated in the process of passing the bill.

A third lawsuit challenging the law pushed by Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, has been brought by firefighters and other public workers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports