You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

American Scene

- - Monday, December 5, 2011

ALASKA

Russian tanker to get fuel to Nome

ANCHORAGE — The iced-in city of Nome on Alaska's western coast may be in luck: A Russian tanker that can plow through thick ice will try to deliver 1.5 million gallons of home heating fuel, gasoline and diesel fuel after a massive storm kept a barge from getting in before winter.

The vessel, which is certified to travel through ice 4 feet thick for long distances, delivers fuel to communities in the Russian Far East. The plan is for it to leave Russia this week and go to South Korea, where it will be loaded with fuel, and then travel to Nome, where it should arrive by late December.

If it can't make it into port, the tanker is equipped with a hose more than a mile long for off-loading fuel.

It could save the 3,500 residents of the coastal city from a very costly winter, including predictions of $9-a-gallon gasoline if fuel had to be flown in.

IOWA

Mom gets life term for killing neighbor

FORT DODGE — A woman convicted of killing her northwest Iowa neighbor as part of an elaborate plot to frame her husband maintained her innocence Monday as she was sentenced to life in prison during an emotional hearing.

Tracey Richter, 45, claimed she shot Dustin Wehde, 20, in her home in 2001 after he and another man broke in and choked her with pantyhose. She appeared on national television soon after the shooting, telling how she killed Mr. Wehde to protect herself and her three children.

Jurors sided with prosecutors, who said Richter made up the story as part of a convoluted plot to frame her former husband. They said Richter shot Mr. Wehde to keep him quiet.

She was convicted Nov. 7 of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Richter said she plans to appeal. Iowa has no death penalty.

RHODE ISLAND

Governor gets 3,600 calls opposing 'holiday' tree

PROVIDENCE — Thousands of people have lodged complaints over independent Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee's decision to call a spruce erected at the Statehouse a holiday tree and not a Christmas tree.

Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said his office has received 3,600 telephone calls of protest since Fox News included his office number in a piece on the tree squabble last week. All but 700 of the calls were from out of state. Ninety-two callers supported Mr. Chafee.

Mr. Chafee said the word "holiday" is inclusive and reflects Rhode Island's origins as a haven for religious diversity. Previous governors also used the term to describe Statehouse trees.

Mr. Chafee will host a tree-lighting ceremony Tuesday evening. A Republican state lawmaker upset with Mr. Chafee's terminology plans to decorate a Christmas tree outside her Statehouse office at the same time.

MICHIGAN

Man pleads guilty to firearms in militia case

DETROIT — A member of a Midwest militia accused of conspiring to rebel against the government and use weapons of mass destruction has pleaded guilty to a firearm charge, the first plea in the case, the government said Monday.

Joshua Clough, 29, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Detroit. A message seeking comment was left Monday for the Lenawee County man's lawyer.

During a series of raids in late March, authorities arrested Clough and eight other alleged members of a southern Michigan group called Hutaree. Federal prosecutors claim Hutaree members were scheming to kill a police officer, then attack law enforcement who attended the funeral, in the first steps toward a broader rebellion.

The remaining eight defendants are scheduled to stand trial beginning Feb. 7 before U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts.

As part of his plea, Clough acknowledged he was a member of Hutaree and in February of last year participated in a training session that "focused on an upcoming covert reconnaissance exercise," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said. She said Clough "used and carried a firearm" during the training session.

He faces a mandatory five years in federal prison.

GEORGIA

Authorities: Body found in search for missing girl

CANTON — A body found in a trash container is thought to be that of a 7-year-old girl who went missing last week from an apartment complex playground north of Atlanta, authorities said Monday.

GBI spokesman John Bankhead said that "everything points to it being" 7-year-old Jorelys Rivera of Canton. He said officials are awaiting results of an autopsy to confirm the identity and a cause of death.

Mr. Bankhead told the Associated Press the body appeared to have been severely beaten and sexually assaulted. He said the girl's mother had been notified.

No suspect was in custody, Canton Police Lt. Jeff Hall said Monday afternoon.

REGION

FDA revisits safety of newer birth control

Birth control drugs that were heavily promoted as having fewer side effects and the ability to clear up acne and other hormonal bothers are under new scrutiny from safety regulators.

Research suggesting that newer birth control formulations are more likely to cause blood clots than older drugs has prompted the Food and Drug Administration to consider new safety measures in meetings later this week. The increased risk is slight, but significant, because blood clots can cause potentially fatal heart attacks, strokes and blockages in lungs or blood vessels.

Regulators could order new warning labels on several contraceptives that gained popularity in the past decade, including Bayer's pill Yaz, which was the best-selling birth control pill in the U.S. for 2008 and 2009.

Yaz, Yasmin and similar drugs use a version of a female hormone that appears to reduce side effects found in older drugs, including bloating and mood swings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports