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American Scene

- - Monday, July 25, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Law opens private aid to Illegal students

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a bill that will let students who entered the country illegally receive private financial aid at California's public colleges, even as debate continues over a more contentious bill that would allow access to public funding.

Mr. Brown, a Democrat, signed AB130 at Los Angeles City College. It is the first of a two-bill package referred to as the California Dream Act, which is aimed at getting financial aid for college students who entered the country illegally.

Mr. Brown did not address the second bill in the package, which is more contentious because it would allow illegal immigrants to receive state-funded scholarships and financial aid. That bill, AB131, is in the state Senate.

The legislative package authored by state Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, a Democrat, differs from the federal Dream Act, which would include a path to citizenship for those bought to the country illegally as children.

Critics of the package say granting public or private financial aid to illegal immigrants will force citizens and students who are here legally to compete with them for limited resources. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican, said California's public colleges and universities have already had to raise tuition fees in the face of recent budget cuts.

MICHIGAN

Cryonics pioneer's body frozen after his death

TRAVERSE CITY — Robert Ettinger, pioneer of the cryonics movement that advocates freezing the dead in the hope that medical technology will enable them to live again someday, has died. He was 92.

Mr. Ettinger died Saturday at home in the Detroit suburb of Clinton Township after weeks of declining health, son David Ettinger said. His body became the 106th to be stored in at the Cryonics Institute, which he founded in 1976.

"My father devoted himself to doing what he could to enable his family, his friends and others to come back and live again," David Ettinger told the Associated Press. "Whether he will achieve that nobody knows at this point, but we think he has a good shot."

Robert Ettinger, who taught physics at Wayne State University, was seriously wounded during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II and spent years in hospitals. The bone graft surgery that spared his legs inspired his optimism about the future prospects of preserving life through technology, a Cryonics Institute statement said.

NEW JERSEY

Cybercrime specialist is victim of hostage hoax

NEWARK — Authorities on Monday sought a man responsible for calling in a fake hostage report that targeted a well-known Internet security specialist and encumbered about 30 police officers and SWAT officers for three hours Saturday.

The caller claimed to be in a house in Wyckoff, a suburb about 15 miles west of New York City, belonging to Parry Aftab, a lawyer specializing in Internet privacy and security and a frequent media commentator.

The man said he was armed and had two hostages. Police and SWAT officers surrounded the home for about three hours and eventually shot tear gas canisters inside. Only Miss Aftab's cat was found inside.

Wyckoff police Chief Benjamin Fox said the call received at the police department was from a nonvalid number, leading investigators to think it was made using a computer that could generate the number. Chief Fox said agencies including the FBI had offered assistance in tracing the call.

Miss Aftab said Monday that some leads were being probed but declined to be specific.

NEW YORK

Fines for overdue books waived if children read more

NEW YORK — The New York Public Library will waive the outstanding fines of some 143,000 children now barred from borrowing new items if they do one thing: Read.

Under the program that began Monday, children enrolled in the library system's summer reading program are able to knock $1 from their bill for every 15 minutes of reading they complete.

"The country is in a pretty tough financial climate right now, and we know that kids more than ever need to use the library because their parents might not be able to afford to buy books or not be able to afford Internet access at home," said Jack Martin, the library's assistant director.

Anyone who owes $15 or more to the system is usually barred from borrowing new items. But the library would rather have children reading than hold out for the possibility of reaping fines that might never be paid.

Because the library will not be monitoring children during their 15-minute reading sessions — the reading can even be done at home — an honor system will be in place.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

NORTH CAROLINA

Convicted killer pleads not guilty in couple's slaying

ASHEVILLE — A drifter convicted of gruesome hiker slayings in two states pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he killed two more people on a national forest trail in North Carolina.

Prosecutors say Gary Michael Hilton camped out waiting for victims before he encountered Irene and John Bryant and killed them in October 2007. Hilton made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Asheville on charges of kidnapping, robbery and murder in the deaths of the retired couple. The case is being handled in federal court because the Bryants were killed in a national forest.

Hilton, 65, wore a white Buncombe County jail jumpsuit and said nothing during his brief appearance. One of his attorneys entered his plea for him. A trial date of Sept. 6 was set.

From wire dispatches and staff reports