- - Thursday, April 21, 2011

ALABAMA

State sorry for 1944 rape case handling

MONTGOMERY | The Alabama Legislature has officially apologized to an elderly black woman who was raped nearly seven decades ago by a gang of white men as she walked home from church.

The Senate gave final approval Thursday on a voice vote to a resolution that expresses “deepest sympathy and deepest regrets” to Recy Taylor, now 91 and living in Florida. She told the Associated Press last year that she thinks the men who attacked her in 1944 are dead but that she still wanted an apology from the state of Alabama.

The House approved the resolution last month. It now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley, who said Thursday he’s not personally familiar with details of the case but sees no reason why he wouldn’t sign it.

Reached by phone Thursday by the AP, Ms. Taylor said she welcomed the Legislature’s action.

“I think that’s nice,” she said. “It’s been a long time. I’m satisfied.”

COLORADO

Bomb, propane tanks found at mall

LITTLETON | Investigators want to question a person of interest about a pipe bomb and two propane tanks that failed to detonate at a Colorado mall. They were found after a security guard extinguished a fire.

Investigators released a third photo of the person on Thursday. In two photos, he is seen entering a stairwell and carrying a white plastic bag. The latest shows him on an escalator inside the Southwest Plaza Mall.

Firefighters found the devices after the fire, which prompted the evacuation of the mall around noon Wednesday. No one was injured.

Authorities are investigating the source of the fire, including whether it was caused by the failed detonation of a bomb, said West Metro Fire Rescue spokeswoman Cindy Matthews.

Wednesday was the 12th anniversary of the shooting rampage at nearby Columbine High School, and officials expressed concern that it could be linked somehow.

The mall is about two miles from the school, where two student gunmen killed 13 people and themselves on April 20, 1999.

GEORGIA

CDC: Smoking bans in every state by 2020

ATLANTA | U.S. health officials predict that by 2020, the entire nation could be covered by smoking bans in workplaces, bars and restaurants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that’s a possibility if state and local bans continue to be enacted at the rate they have been. A CDC report released Thursday says the number of states with comprehensive indoor smoking bans went from zero in 2000 to 26 in 2010.

Another 10 states have laws than ban smoking in workplaces, bars or restaurants, but not in all three.

Gary Nolan, director of a smokers rights group, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the prediction came true. He said public health officials and others are putting tremendous pressure on bars and businesses to stamp out smoking.

IDAHO

No sign of miner in seventh day after cave-in

The effort to rescue a silver miner trapped a mile underground entered its seventh day Thursday, with still no sign of Larry Marek.

Friends expressed confidence that Mr. Marek, 53, could still be alive deep in the dark, wet bowels of the Lucky Friday Mine. Officials for Hecla Mining Co. also pushed forward with fevered efforts to drill through solid rock toward where they think Mr. Marek is located after a cave-in sealed him more than 6,100-feet down in the mine.

“We are 100 percent still focused on rescue efforts,” said Melanie Hennessey, a spokeswoman for the company, which is based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Mr. Marek has been trapped with little food and water, likely in the dark, in temperatures well over 100 degrees, since Friday afternoon. He may have been injured when the ceiling in his work area collapsed. A tiny camera that has been searching an open area behind the cave-in since Tuesday has found no sign of him.

NEW YORK

Bloomberg promotes heating-oil phaseout

NEW YORK | The city will phase out the use of polluting heavy oils to heat buildings and will begin building solar power plants on capped landfills, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday in his first update to a 4-year-old environmental plan that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.

Under the plan, the phaseout of heavy oils from the city’s boilers would start right away and be completed by the 2030 deadline. It would reduce the presence of airborne fine particulate matter, which the city says is killing 3,000 residents each year and forcing 6,000 to seek emergency asthma treatment.

The use of the heaviest heating oil, known as No. 6, would end by 2015. A lighter heating oil known as No. 4 would be eliminated by 2030. They would be replaced in part by natural gas and low-sulfur oil, the city said.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Army, Navy add citizenship option to boot camp

FORT JACKSON | Military service has long been one route to U.S. citizenship. Now the Army and Navy, in need of specialists and language skills in wartime, are speeding things up by allowing recruits to wrap up the process while they’re still in basic training.

It means a change in a no-visitors policy during boot camp to allow federal immigration officers access to the recruits. However, military officials say it’s a well-deserved break for volunteers who otherwise would have to slog through the bureaucratic ordeal during deployments around the world, often far from U.S. embassies.

The military route is not a shortcut for foreigners abroad to get into the U.S. Only legal immigrants can apply, officials stress, and they must complete five years of honorable service or chance having their citizenship revoked.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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