- - Sunday, April 22, 2012

IOWA

SIOUX CITY — An Iowa newspaper devoted the entire front page of its Sunday edition to an anti-bullying editorial after a teen in its community committed suicide.

The move by the Sioux City Journal is highly unusual. Editor Mitch Pugh says the newspaper has run front-page editorials before but has never devoted the entire page to one.

The opinion piece calls on the community to be proactive in stopping bullying. The editorial cites the death last week of Kenneth Weishuhn Jr., a freshman at South O’Brien High School in Paullina whose family says he was bullied for being gay.

Mr. Pugh says that the newspaper has a responsibility to be a strong community advocate, and that Kenneth’s death, and the opening of the movie “Bully,” which features a Sioux City school, provided an opportunity.

ALASKA

Japanese tsunami debris reaches state’s shores

ANCHORAGE — Federal scientists say that a volleyball and soccer ball that washed ashore on an island may be the first pieces of debris to arrive in Alaska from last year’s tsunami in Japan.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the balls were spotted by a radar technician on Middleton Island. His wife traced the writing on the balls to a Japanese school in an area hit by the tsunami.

Doug Helton of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the balls are among the first pieces of debris that can be traced to Japan – and make it possible to return them to the owner.

Middleton Island lies almost due south of Cordova in the Gulf of Alaska, 70 miles from the mainland.

LOUISIANA

Mother charged with negligent homicide in children’s deaths

Four unattended children died in a mobile-home fire and their mother was charged Sunday with four counts of negligent homicide for purportedly leaving them alone, authorities said.

Capt. Doug Cain, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety, told the Associated Press that the fire began just before midnight Saturday in the town of Rayne, about 70 miles west of Baton Rouge.

Capt. Cain said the children were ages 2, 5, 7 and 8. He said their mother, Shaqueta McDade, 26, was arrested and charged with four counts of negligent homicide. She was being held at the Acadia County Jail.

Rayne police officers interviewed the mother after the fire and arrested her because “she is suspected of leaving the children unattended,” Capt. Cain said, though he was not sure where the mother was when the fire happened.

NEW YORK

Woman going on trial in 2009 Novack killings

WHITE PLAINS — A Florida woman is going on trial three years after the killings of her millionaire husband and mother-in-law.

Prosecutors say Narcy Novack of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and her brother orchestrated the 2009 fatal beatings of Ben Novack Jr. and Bernice Novack.

Ben Novack was the son of the man who built the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach. The U.S. attorney says he and his mother were killed so Narcy Novack could inherit a $10 million estate.

Mrs. Novack and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, have denied the charges. They face possible life prison sentences if convicted.

Bernice Novack was killed in her Florida home. Ben Novack was killed three months later in a New York hotel room.

WASHINGTON

Police suspect foul play in house fire that kills two

NORTH BEND — Two women were found dead in a house fire and detectives are investigating their deaths as a double homicide.

Firefighters had to force their way into the house Sunday morning because the door had been blocked with a couch and other furniture, said Sgt. Cindi West with the King County Sheriff’s Office. “It was clearly and intentionally barricaded,” she said.

Fire crews also found at least five gas cans in the east King County house that appeared to be full of gasoline, Sgt. West said.

Detectives with the major crimes unit are investigating the deaths, which Sgt. West called suspicious. Autopsies will determine the cause.

ARIZONA

First clue found in case of missing 6-year-old

TUCSON — A police spokeswoman says investigators found “suspicious circumstances around a possible entry point” at the home of a 6-year-old Arizona girl who has gone missing from her Tucson home.

Police Sgt. Maria Hawke wouldn’t comment Sunday on whether the entry point was a bedroom window or a door.

However, family friend Mary Littlehorn says she heard from others close to the family that a window screen in the girl’s bedroom had been knocked down.

The disappearance of first-grader Isabel Mercedes Celis has prompted a massive search, with more than 150 law enforcement officers trying to figure out whether she has been abducted.

Sgt. Hawke says the girl’s parents say they last saw their daughter in her bedroom at 11 p.m. Friday and discovered her missing at about 8 <ttiny_mce_markergt;a.m. Saturday. [R]The parents phoned 911 minutes later.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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