- - Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ARIZONA

Wildfire becomes 2nd largest in state history

SPRINGERVILLE — A ferocious wildfire that has driven thousands from their homes in eastern Arizona spread to 486 square miles Tuesday and headed toward its biggest target yet — two of the most populous towns in the fire-scarred mountains.

The blaze, now the second-largest in state history, started more than a week ago, casting smoke as far east as Iowa and forcing some planes to divert from Albuquerque, N.M., some 200 miles away.

The fire has grown most on the north side, as winds whipped flames through ponderosa pine in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, said fire incident command spokeswoman Dellora Guager.

CALIFORNIA

Feds accuse gang of targeting blacks

LOS ANGELES — A Hispanic gang conspired to rid a Southern California city of its black residents through intimidation, threats and violence dating back to the early 1990s to exert its influence and show its loyalty to the Mexican Mafia prison gang, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.

More than 50 people were charged as authorities made early morning raids targeting the Azusa 13 gang. Federal prosecutors said the gang engaged in offenses ranging from drug trafficking to hate crimes that have hobbled Azusa, a city of about 45,000 residents near Los Angeles.

Sixteen of the people named in the indictment were arrested Tuesday, while another 23 were already in custody, U.S. attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek said. Authorities were seeking another 12 suspects.

CONNECTICUT

City: People used fountain as toilet

NEW LONDON — Officials in New London turned off the water at the city’s new waterfront fountain over the weekend because people have been using it as a toilet.

The fountain was activated last month and features a sculpture of a whale’s tail with water spilling over it, which visitors are encouraged to run through.

City Councilor Michael Buscetto III told the Day of New London that since the fountain opened, police have responded to calls of people urinating, defecating and showering in the fountain water. He said some people who have cut themselves have also used the fountain to rinse off blood.

City Manager Denise Rose said police are developing a plan to better keep an eye on the area.

GEORGIA

CDC: Food poisoning from salmonella up in U.S.

ATLANTA — Health officials say more Americans got food poisoning last year, primarily because of salmonella.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports a rise in illnesses caused by some strains of E. coli. That increase may reflect more testing. There were no reports of the E. coli strain behind the current large outbreak in Europe.

Tuesday’s CDC report is based on 10 states and is thought to be a good indicator of food poisoning trends throughout the country. More than 19,000 cases were reported in those states last year, up from 17,500 cases the previous year.

HAWAII

Navy ship that buried bin Laden makes a stop

PEARL HARBOR — The aircraft carrier that buried Osama bin Laden’s body at sea arrived in Hawaii on Tuesday, making its first stop on U.S. soil since its historic six-month deployment to waters in and around the Middle East.

The ship arrived in Pearl Harbor for a port visit before heading home to San Diego.

More than 100 family and friends greeted sailors at the pier.

The USS Carl Vinson was in the North Arabian Sea last month when it received a Navy SEAL team carrying the body of the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Pentagon officials have said bin Laden’s body was placed in a weighted bag on the carrier. Then an officer made religious remarks and the body was put on a board and tipped into the sea.

MISSOURI

Shop told to stop selling cicada ice cream

COLUMBIA — A public health official in central Missouri has asked an ice cream shop to cease selling cicada ice cream, even though customers apparently can’t get enough of it.

Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream in Columbia sold out of its only batch of the insect-filled dessert within hours of its June 1 debut.

Employees collected the cicadas in their backyards and removed most of the dead bugs’ wings. They then boiled the bountiful bugs and covered them in brown sugar and milk chocolate. The base ice cream is brown sugar and butter flavor.

Gerry Worley, an environmental health chief with the Columbia County Department of Public Health, says the agency’s food code “doesn’t directly address cicadas” and that he has advised against their use as an ingredient.

NEW JERSEY

Recycling center to melt guns into art

JERSEY CITY — Workers at a recycling plant in northern New Jersey figuratively turned guns into plowshares Tuesday, accepting more than 900 illegal weapons that will be shredded and melted for use in the creation of a “Peace Angel” statue.

The statue will be donated to the New York City Police Department’s Lower Manhattan headquarters. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was on hand at Sims Metal Management in Jersey City on Tuesday as the confiscated weapons were delivered to the metal recycling plant.

“New York is the safest big city in America, but there are still far too many guns on our streets,” Mr. Kelly said, adding that he hoped the statue would remind people to stay away from guns or inspire them to give up their weapons at local buyback programs.

“It’s a big problem,” he said, referring to illicit weapons on city streets. “We need to battle it, and we have a long way to go.”

NEW YORK

Early Hitler letter about Jews unveiled

NEW YORK — A Jewish human rights organization has acquired a letter by Adolf Hitler thought to contain his first written comments detailing his belief that Jews were a threat and should be removed.

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday that the center paid $150,000 to a private dealer last month to obtain the 1919 letter.

Mr. Hier said the letter was typed on a German army typewriter. He said it “set the gold standard” for man’s inhumanity to man.

The letter called for a strong government that could handle the “Jewish threat” and bring about the “removal of the Jews altogether.”

Mr. Hier unveiled the letter in New York. The center plans to put it on view at its Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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