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American Scene

- - Thursday, August 18, 2011

ARIZONA

MDA telethon making changes without Lewis

PHOENIX | Comedian Jerry Lewis' conspicuous absence will not be the only change at the Muscular Dystrophy Association's telethon this year.

The Tucson, Ariz.-based association is making major changes to the telethon, slashing it from a nearly 22-hour show to six hours of prime-time television in an effort to boost audience numbers, raise more money and make sponsors and celebrities happy.

The association announced many of the changes Thursday as it moves on from a 45-year partnership with Mr. Lewis.

Mr. Lewis and the association have not said why they've parted ways, but the move doesn't appear to be hindering MDA's plans for the Sept. 4 telethon.

Association spokesman Jim Brown said that while Mr. Lewis' legacy for MDA lives on, the show "will go on" without him.

GEORGIA

Archaeologists comb Civil War POW camp

SAVANNAH | A Civil War prison camp in southeastern Georgia is still yielding archaeological treasures a year after its discovery was revealed.

The latest artifacts unearthed at Camp Lawton outside Millen were displayed Thursday at a news conference at Georgia Southern University. They include a Union prisoner's ring bearing his unit's insignia and a payment token stamped with the name of a grocery store in Michigan.

Camp Lawton was built by the Confederacy to house about 10,000 prisoners of war. However, it was abandoned after being used for just about six weeks in 1864 before Union Gen. William T. Sherman's army arrived and burned the camp.

David Crass, Georgia's state archaeologist, said prisoners were evacuated before they could collect many belongings, but scholars long ignored Camp Lawton because of its brief life span.

NEW YORK

Body found accidentally at Niagara Falls is ID'd

NIAGARA FALLS | Authorities in the Niagara Falls region have identified the body of a man found while they searched for a Japanese woman swept over the waterfall.

Dental records revealed the body is that of a man from Hamilton, Ontario, who had been reported missing. Regional police said Thursday that no foul play is suspected, and as a routine matter they did not release his name.

The body was found by a helicopter while authorities searched for a 19-year-old student who tumbled off a railing Sunday on the Canadian side of the falls.

Niagara Parks Police in Ontario told the Buffalo News in New York that they're scaling back the search for the young woman because currents are too strong.

Authorities haven't released her name but have said she was a student in Toronto. The Canadian man's death appears unrelated.

PENNSYLVANIA

Foreign students protest outside Hershey facility

HERSHEY | The chocolate maker Hershey Co. is facing questions about the working conditions for foreign students in warehouse jobs.

About 150 people picketed Wednesday outside a distribution center at a protest organized by the National Guestworker Alliance. Students who participated said their program had been pitched as a way for them to see America.

However, the students said they're isolated and left with little money after rent for company housing is deducted from their paychecks.

One joked with the Patriot-News of Harrisburg that he had hoped to improve his language skills but that English isn't among the five languages spoken in the warehouse.

Hershey officials said the warehouse is run by a subcontractor and is expected to treat workers fairly. A spokeswoman for the subcontractor said another company handles its guest-worker program.

RHODE ISLAND

Georgia man arraigned in Navy kickbacks case

PROVIDENCE | A Georgia man has made his first appearance in federal court in Rhode Island to face charges stemming from a kickback scheme that prosecutors said cost the Navy $7 million to $20 million.

A not-guilty plea was entered Thursday on Patrick Nagle's behalf as a formality. He agreed in July to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and cooperate with prosecutors. Nagle was an executive at Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow, a defunct company that had Navy contracts.

Prosecutors said the 50-year-old Marietta, Ga., resident made payments on invoices that were inflated by two subcontractors given Navy work by his firm.

Another man, Anjan Dutta-Gupta, already has pleaded guilty. A third man, Ralph Mariano, is awaiting trial.

SOUTH DAKOTA

American-Indian activist Means says he has cancer

PORCUPINE | Russell Means, a former American Indian Movement activist who led the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee, says he has inoperable throat cancer.

The 71-year-old said doctors told him the cancer was too advanced for surgery, the Rapid City Journal reported. Mr. Means, who also is an actor known for his role in "The Last of the Mohicans," said he would not have chosen surgery anyway because it would have meant the removal of his tongue and his ability to speak.

Mr. Means is forgoing mainstream medical treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, saying that being fed through a tube and being confined to a wheelchair by extreme fatigue are "unacceptable options."

"I'm not going to hang on to life under those conditions," he said. "No way am I going to hang on for that."

Mr. Means said he'll turn to alternative treatments and traditional American Indian remedies. Herbal teas and other plants with cancer-fighting properties have come to him from tribes in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota, he said. He also is receiving cancer treatments approved in Europe and Canada but not in the United States at an alternative cancer center in Arizona.

He said he knows his prognosis isn't good but he is at peace with the possibility that he might die.

"I'm not going to argue with the Great Mystery," he said. "Lakota belief is that death is a change of worlds. And I believe like my dad believed. When it's my time to go, it's my time to go."

TEXAS

Judge throws out suit in teenager's death

EL PASO | A judge in West Texas has dismissed a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a 15-year-old Mexican boy killed by a Border Patrol agent.

Senior U.S. District Judge David Briones on Aug. 11 threw out the lawsuit against the U.S. government over the June 7, 2010, shooting of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

The El Paso Times reported Thursday that Judge Briones dismissed the case because the boy was not shot on U.S. soil.

Family attorney Bob Hilliard told the Associated Press that he'll appeal.

A lawyer for agent Jesus Mesa Jr. didn't immediately return a message asking for comment. U.S. investigators have said the agent was trying to arrest illegal immigrants when he was targeted by rock throwers.

VERMONT

Police: Dozens of teens involved in sexting ring

MILTON | Police in Vermont said nearly two dozen teenagers used school computers and a special email account to access indecent photos and videos taken by female classmates.

Authorities said Thursday that 22 students have admitted to using the school computers in February to view 30 to 40 images and three videos, many of which were sent by cellphone. The Milton Independent first reported the story Wednesday.

Milton Police detective Cpl. Paul Locke said girls took photos of themselves and sent them to boys, who forwarded them to the email account. He said 17 girls aged 14 to 17 were identified in the photos, many of which qualify as child pornography.

The students will not face charges but must attend mandatory sessions with a community board.

School officials have not returned a message seeking comment.