- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Companies sued for calling bottles biodegradable

LOS ANGELES | The California attorney general’s office has sued three companies over allegations that they misled consumers and violated state law by marketing plastic water bottles as biodegradable.

It is illegal to label a plastic food or drink container as biodegradable under California law when such materials can take thousands of years to break down if at all. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris’ office says it’s the first government action to enforce the environmental marketing law.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, names Enso Plastics, a Mesa, Ariz., bottle maker, along with companies that sell the water, including Aquamantra, of Dana Point, Calif., and Balance Water, of West Orange, N.J.

Enso did not return a call for comment. Officials of Balance Water and Aquamantra say their bottles are biodegradable, but the labeling will be removed.

ILLINOIS

X-rays found useless to stop lung cancer deaths

CHICAGO | Routine chest X-rays do not prevent lung cancer deaths, not even in smokers or former smokers, according to a government study challenging a once common type of screening.

In the study of more than 150,000 older Americans, those who had four annual chest X-ray screenings were just as likely to die of lung cancer as participants who didn’t have those tests.

The results from the National Cancer Institute-funded research confirm smaller X-ray studies. They follow another big study from that institute favoring a newer, more sophisticated imaging test. That found fewer lung cancer deaths among current or former heavy smokers who had special CT imaging scans versus those who had chest X-rays.

CT scans provide much more detailed images than X-rays, and while no major medical group recommends any type of routine lung cancer screening, several are preparing new guidelines.

MISSOURI

Campus drug testing awaits judicial ruling

ST. LOUIS | A Missouri college’s comprehensive drug-testing plan for students will stay on hold after a ruling by a federal judge.

Linn State Technical College’s program calls for screening all first-year students and some returning students for cocaine, methamphetamines, oxycodone and other drugs. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit last month, challenging the constitutionality of the tests.

U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey in Jefferson City granted a temporary restraining order in September and issued a ruling Tuesday that extends that order through Nov. 8.

An attorney for the college says the board of regents will consider its options.

The school has 1,200 students and campuses in three mid-Missouri towns. It says the tests help ensure student safety since its programs include aircraft maintenance, heavy engine repair and nuclear technology.

NORTH CAROLINA

Blackbeard’s cannon salvaged from shipwreck

BEAUFORT | Researchers have raised a 2,000-pound cannon from the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard’s ship, which has been on the ocean floor off the North Carolina coast for nearly 300 years.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project brought the massive gun ashore Wednesday. Onlookers cheered as the 8-foot-long gun was raised above the water’s surface.

The project is named after the flagship and has been working since 1997 to salvage artifacts from the wreck.

The gun was on public display Wednesday in front of the state Maritime Museum in Beaufort before being taken to a laboratory for further study.

The cannon is encased in a cementlike shell of sand, salt and barnacles. It could take years for researchers to learn exactly what the shell contains in addition to the gun.

PENNSYLVANIA

Former U.N. inspector gets prison for sex-sting case

STROUDSBURG | A former United Nations weapons inspector convicted in an online sex sting has been sentenced to up to 5 1/2 years behind bars.

Scott Ritter, 50, exchanged explicit messages with a detective posing as a 15-year-old girl, then performed a sex act on himself in front of a webcam.

He testified in his own defense that he believed the person he met in a Yahoo chat room in 2009 was an adult acting out her own fantasy.

But a northeastern Pennsylvania jury convicted Ritter in April. On Wednesday, a Monroe County judge sentenced him to 18 to 66 months in state prison. Ritter was arrested immediately.

Ritter was one of the chief U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq from 1991 to 1998.

WEST VIRGINIA

Ex-security official convicted in mine probe

BECKLEY | The former head of security at a West Virginia mine has been convicted of impeding the investigation into a 2010 explosion that killed 29 men.

A federal jury in Beckley found Hughie Elbert Stover, 60, guilty Wednesday of lying to investigators and disposing of thousands of security-related documents after the explosion. He was the first person criminally prosecuted in the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in decades.

The jury began deliberating Wednesday morning after hearing two days of testimony in which prosecutors painted Stover as an obstructionist and defense attorneys claimed he was a scapegoat.

The jury was told that investigators retrieved boxes of security documents that Stover ordered dumped into the trash. Stover testified that he did not know he was committing a crime when he ordered that the documents be thrown out.