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American Scene

- - Sunday, December 18, 2011

NEVADA

Activists file lawsuit against horse castration

RENO — A coalition of environmentalists and wild-horse activists is suing the government to block its implementation of a precedent-setting plan to castrate hundreds of wild stallions in eastern Nevada.

The lawsuit, filed by the Western Watersheds Project and Cloud Foundation, follows the Bureau of Land Management's decision in July to back off a similar plan to castrate hundreds of wild stallions in Wyoming.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., challenges the bureau's plans to remove 1,800 wild horses from the sprawling Pancake Complex near Ely over the next six to 10 years, and to castrate 200 stallions before releasing them back to the complex as geldings.

ALASKA

City scraps tradition of solstice fireworks show

FAIRBANKS — Plans for a solstice fireworks show in downtown Fairbanks have been scrapped this year, with downtown representatives saying the change is part of a shift toward a longer holiday event.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that the Downtown Association of Fairbanks decided to overhaul the one-day solstice festival this year into a three-week event.

The "21 Days of Solstice" promotion kicked off Dec. 1 and runs through Wednesday. It's part of an effort to attract people downtown for a longer time.

Association spokeswoman Amy Nordrum said some residents have complained about the shift away from solstice-day fireworks.

MAINE

Police search for missing toddler

WATERVILLE — Police say a toddler has been missing from her Waterville home in Maine since a family member saw her asleep in her bed Friday night.

Federal, state and local officials were helping in a search Sunday for 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds. The girl's father called police Saturday morning to report that his daughter was not in her bed and couldn't be found.

Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey said police interviewed the father, Justin DiPietro, the mother, Trista Reynolds, and other family members and they were cooperative. Ayla's parents live separately.

Ayla is described as 2 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 30 pounds. She has blond hair. She was last seen wearing green one-piece pajamas with polka dots and the words "Daddy's Princess" on them. She had a soft cast on her left arm.

WASHINGTON

Justice Dept.: Seattle police used excessive force

SEATTLE — Inadequate supervision and training has led Seattle police officers to too quickly resort to the use of weapons such as batons and flashlights, and to escalate confrontations even when arresting people for minor offenses, the Justice Department said Friday.

The department launched an investigation last spring after the fatal shooting of a homeless American Indian woodcarver and other reported uses of force against minority suspects. The probe was aimed at determining whether Seattle police have a "pattern or practice" of violating civil rights or discriminatory policing, and if so, what they should do to improve.

Federal investigators said they found Seattle police have engaged in excessive force that violated federal law and the Constitution.

The Justice Department is conducting 20 investigations of police departments across the country and the use of force is a prominent issue in most of them, authorities said.

CALIFORNIA

Son of Bermuda ex-leader gets 12 1/2 years in abuse case

LOS ANGELES — The physician son of Bermuda's former premier was sentenced Friday to 12 1/2 years in state prison for fondling female patients during breast and pelvic exams.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said Kevin Antario Brown preyed upon vulnerable patients and had very "serious character flaws."

Brown, however, denied any wrongdoing and said at the hearing he's not a sexual deviant.

"I know who I am," Brown said. "I am not the man they made up."

Brown, 40, was found guilty in August of 21 counts, including sexual battery, sexual exploitation and committing a lewd act. A jury deadlocked on eight other charges. He attacked 11 patients over five years at three of his clinics, and the women were given unnecessary breast or pelvic exams for unrelated complaints such as lightheadedness or flulike symptoms, prosecutors said.

Among his victims were a 15-year-old girl and an undercover police officer.

From wire dispatches and staff reports