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American Scene

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CALIFORNIA

Law to teach gay history signed by governor

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a landmark bill adding lessons about gay history to social studies classes in California's public schools.

Mr. Brown, a Democrat, signed the bill Thursday, making California the first state in the nation to require public schools to include the contributions of gays and lesbians in social studies curriculum.

The Democratic-majority Legislature passed the bill last week on a largely party-line vote.

The bill has drawn criticism from some churches and conservative groups that argue such instruction would expose students to a subject that some parents find objectionable.

Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco, the bill's author, has said that teaching gay history in public schools will teach students to be more accepting of gays and lesbians.

FLORIDA

Anthony's account gets a boost by donors

ORLANDO — Supporters from as far away as Canada have sent money to Casey Anthony's jailhouse commissary account since she was acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

Records released Thursday show Miss Anthony's account has gone from around $264 just before the jury verdict last week to more than $470.

Supporters are sending the checks and money orders to the Orange County Jail, where Miss Anthony is scheduled to be released Sunday.

Miss Anthony was found guilty of four counts of lying to police, but with time served and good behavior credits, she won't serve out her four-year sentence.

MASSACHUSETTS

Cardinal O'Malley to sell 6 churches

BOSTON — Cardinal Sean O'Malley has paved the way for the Boston Archdiocese to sell six churches, including three where parishioners have been holding protest vigils since their parishes were closed in 2004.

The decision announced Thursday after several weeks of "consultation, reflection and prayer" means the churches are no longer holy places, but secular buildings.

The church term for the move - "relegation for profane use" - means the churches can be sold and used for other purposes in line with Roman Catholic values, including as places of worship by other denominations, affordable housing or community centers.

The churches deconsecrated are St. James the Great in Wellesley; St. Jeanne D'Arc in Lowell; Star of the Sea in Quincy; Our Lady of Lourdes in Revere; St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Scituate; and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston.

Vigils are still being held at the Wellesley, Scituate and East Boston churches.

MISSOURI

Late-term abortion bill to become law

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon says he will let a measure restricting late-term abortions take effect without his signature.

Mr. Nixon said he would not sign the bill by the Thursday deadline, but will allow it to become law.

Missouri already bans abortions of viable fetuses except to preserve the life or health of the woman. The new law removes the general health exception and allows such abortions only to save the woman's life or when pregnancy poses a serious risk of substantial physical impairment to a major bodily function.

The law is part of a trend among states to limit abortions past the point when a fetus may be able to live outside the womb. Unlike in some other states, Missouri's proposal allows doctors to determine viability on a case-by-case basis.

MONTANA

Oil spill cause could take months to find

It will likely be months before investigators know what caused an ExxonMobil oil pipeline to rupture near Billings spilling about 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, a federal safety official said Thursday.

Thus far, investigators are unaware of any safety violations by ExxonMobil related to the spill, Cynthia Quarterman, administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration told a congressional hearing. The spill has fouled shoreline and contaminated backwaters along dozens of miles of the scenic river.

The oil giant is working on a plan to lay a new section of pipe 30 feet below the river to replace the damaged pipe responsible for the spill, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company President Gary Pruessing said. The flow of oil through the pipeline has been shut off since the July 1 accident.

NEVADA

Police: 208 pounds of meth found, suspects caught

LAS VEGAS — At least 10 illegal immigrants from Mexico were arrested on drug trafficking charges after federal and Las Vegas law enforcement officials seized 212 pounds of illegal drugs, mostly methamphetamine, worth $5.7 million in the largest methamphetamine bust in Nevada history, law enforcement officials announced Thursday.

Police also seized $280,000 in cash, six guns and nine vehicles used for drug trafficking after searching nine residential properties in Las Vegas and Henderson on Tuesday.

NEW MEXICO

Kids checked after syringes found at preschool

ALBUQUERQUE — Children at a city-run preschool program in Albuquerque were examined by doctors after teachers learned they had pricked themselves with hypodermic needles that were mistakenly donated to their classroom.

Officials say two syringes were in a box containing a stethoscope, medical gloves and other medical supplies intended to be used by the kids to play doctor. At least four children were pricked by the needles Tuesday.

The city's chief administrative officer, Rob Perry, says the syringes are being tested by state health officials, but it appears they were empty. He says officials don't know how the syringes ended up in the box.

Mr. Perry says teachers learned of the incident at the Governor Bent Pre-Kindergarten Center when the children complained about puncture wounds Wednesday morning, and letters are being sent to parents. The children are all about 5 years old.

NEW YORK

Police: Boy possibly tied up before killed

NEW YORK — Investigators think an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy who was abducted and dismembered may have been tied up and tried to fight off his alleged captor before he was killed, police officials said Thursday.

At a news conference, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the man charged in the killing, Levi Aron, had scratches on his arms and wrists - a sign "there was some kind of struggle." There also were marks on the victim's remains that could have been caused by restraints, the commissioner added.

A preliminary medical examination indicates Leiby Kletzky was "smothered or suffocated," Commissioner Kelly said.

He also confirmed reports that Aron had given a written confession in the boy's gruesome slaying, which concluded with, "I'm sorry for the hurt that I caused."

The boy vanished late Monday afternoon after getting lost during what was supposed to have been a seven-block walk from his day camp to a meeting spot with his mother.

PENNSYLVANIA

Tug pilot agrees to plead guilty in boat crash

PHILADELPHIA — A tug pilot involved in a crash between a barge and a tour boat that killed two Hungarian students last summer was charged Thursday with involuntary manslaughter and has agreed to plead guilty, federal prosecutors said.

The tug pilot, Matt Devlin of Catskill, N.Y., was repeatedly on his cell phone dealing with a family emergency as he steered the huge barge toward the stalled duck boat, federal investigators have found.

In about 2 1/2hours at the wheel, Mr. Devlin made and received 21 cellphone calls and also surfed the Internet on a laptop owned by his employer, K-Sea Transportation Partners, they found.

Mr. Devlin also moved from an upper to a lower wheelhouse on the tug to do so, obscuring his ability to see the stalled 33-foot duck boat. Investigators think the lower wheelhouse offered him more privacy and less noise as he talked on the phone and did research on a company laptop - both violations of company policy.

TENNESSEE

Woman arrested at airport during screening

NASHVILLE — Authorities say a woman who refused a full-body scan and a pat-down at the Nashville airport was arrested for verbally abusing security workers.

Police reports say Andrea Abbott, 41, did not want her and her teenage daughter to walk through the scanners.

She told Transportation Security Administration officers on Saturday that she did not want them to see her and her daughter naked.

Then she refused a pat-down, telling officers she did not want them to grab her daughter's crotch.

She eventually let her daughter get a pat-down, but tried to film it with her cell phone.

Police say Ms. Abbott was using profanity. She was arrested for disorderly conduct.

Ms. Abbott was released on $500 bond.

UTAH

Girl dies, father hurt in road collapse crash

TABIONA — A teenage girl is dead and two people injured after a road collapsed, leaving a 40-foot wide gap in an eastern Utah highway.

The Utah Highway Patrol says heavy rainfall opened the hole more than 30 feet deep along State Highway 35 late Wednesday.

It happened near Tabiona, a town about 80 miles east of Salt Lake City.

The highway patrol says Justine Barneck, 15, died after the SUV she was riding in crashed as it approached the hole a few minutes after the collapse.

Her father, Michael Barneck, 59, was injured in the accident.

The driver of a second car that plunged into the gap, Heidi Paulson, 37, also was hurt.

The road remained closed Thursday. An investigation is under way.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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