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American Scene

- - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ARIZONA

Border Patrol agent suspected of smuggling pot

YUMA | Border Patrol officials say an agent working the Yuma sector has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs.

The Yuma Sun reported that the unidentified agent is accused of smuggling several bundles of marijuana across the border from Mexico in a marked Border Patrol truck.

The Border Patrol has not released the agent's name or the amount of marijuana found in the truck.

He was arrested Monday and is being held in the Yuma County Adult Detention Center.

The Sun reported that the discovery was made by two other Border Patrol agents who were patrolling along the international boundary with Mexico when they encountered the suspect.

The acting chief patrol agent praised what he said was the swift and appropriate actions taken by the arresting agents.

COLORADO

Misbehaving boy, 8, pepper-sprayed by police

LAKEWOOD | The mother of an 8-year-old boy pepper-sprayed by suburban Denver police as he threw a violent tantrum at his elementary school said Wednesday that she wishes authorities had chosen to talk him down instead.

Police said they pepper-sprayed 8-year-old Aidan Elliott twice Feb. 22 at Glennon Heights Elementary School after he refused to drop a piece of wooden wall trim that he was trying to stab them with.

"I wanted to make something sharp, like if they came out, 'cause i was so mad at them," the boy said on NBC's "Today" show. "I was going to try to whack them with it."

His mother, Mandy, said she wants police in Lakewood to get special training in dealing with children. She said her son has a history of behavioral problems and has responded to rationalization in previous outbursts.

"I don't think a child should get pepper-sprayed," the woman said.

Asked on ABC's "Good Morning America" whether he meant it when he told police he wanted to kill them, the boy responded: "A little."

Police said pepper-spraying the boy was the safest option.

LOUISIANA

New canal planned to fix damage from old ones

MERAUX | On a wedge of Louisiana where criss-crossing canals have killed off native plants and sped erosion, the Army Corps of Engineers has a controversial proposal for undoing environmental damage: They want to dig another canal.

The trench is part of a $3 billion plan to fix damage left by the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a 78-mile shipping channel dug in the 1960s. The corps said the work will help protect New Orleans from hurricanes by restoring wetlands, the natural buffer Louisiana is losing along this low-lying coast.

Scientists and many residents of St. Bernard Parish agree that its marshes need an infusion of nourishing Mississippi River water and the land-building sediment it carries. But after a century of flooding and environmental damage caused by misguided water projects — many built by federal engineers — the corps is having trouble selling its latest one.

MONTANA

Ex-billionaire hit with forced bankruptcy petition

BILLINGS | Taxing authorities from three states have filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against former billionaire Tim Blixseth.

The petition said the real estate baron owes $2.3 million in California, Idaho and Montana. It was filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Nevada.

Mr. Blixseth rose to fame and fortune after founding Montana's ultraexclusive Yellowstone Club. He left the winter playground for Bill Gates and others before its 2008 bankruptcy. Creditors say he made off with $286 million.

Earlier allegations of unpaid taxes in Montana have been contested by Mr. Blixseth as unfounded.

He told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the bankruptcy petition stemmed from Montana's "bogus" claims and pledged to fight it.

Mr. Blixseth's value was once pegged by Forbes magazine at $1.3 billion. Court documents now put the figure at roughly $230 million.

OHIO

Full-standing Jesus to replace ruined statue

MONROE | A giant statue of a full-standing Jesus with arms outstretched will replace a mammoth, partial depiction destroyed by lightning outside an Ohio church.

Administrator Ron Carter at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe showed a model of the new, 51-foot statue to the Middletown Journal on Tuesday. Mr. Carter said construction will be completed by the end of the year at the site overlooking Interstate 75, where the original had been one of southwest Ohio's most familiar landmarks.

That statue showed Jesus from the chest up and had been nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised outward, like a referee's. It burned down after a lightning strike on June 14.

Work on the replacement will begin in May or June.

From wire dispatches and staff reports