- - Sunday, April 22, 2012

VERMONT

MONTPELIER — Vermont is embroiled in a debate about ending the philosophical exemption that allows parents to have their children skip childhood immunizations required for attending school.

The state Senate voted 25-4 recently to end the exemption, while the House has voted 93-36 to preserve it.

Vermont has among the highest number of parents who exempt their children from immunizations. State health officials say Vermont had 102 pertussis cases from January through the first week of April, more than were reported in the state all last year.

Opponents of the exemption say vaccines have eradicated diseases such polio in the United States.

But some vocal vaccine skeptics say it should be up to parents whether to get their children immunized.

IMMIGRATION

Arpaio speech made fun of federal investigations

PHOENIX — An audio recording has surfaced of an Arizona sheriff joking at a Texas fundraiser for an anti-illegal immigration group about his refusal to cooperate in a racial-profiling investigation.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ridicules politicians who sought the probe and displayed contempt toward federal authorities who were — and are still — investigating him on two fronts.

In the September 2009 speech in Houston, Sheriff Arpaio boasted of arresting hundreds of illegal immigrants after politicians and federal investigators started to pick apart his patrols. “After they went after me, we arrested 500 more just for spite,” the self-proclaimed “America’s toughest sheriff” said.

In an interview Thursday, Sheriff Arpaio defended his comments before Texans for Immigration Reform as a collection of humorous off-the-cuff remarks intended merely to show that he wasn’t going to back down to critics. “These are not official, under-oath speeches,” Sheriff Arpaio said.

Elsewhere in the speech, Sheriff Arpaio makes the Justice Department the butt of his jokes, saying, “It usually takes them two years to open a letter up and then another two years to buy the airline ticket.”

The dismissive comments in 2009 came as the U.S. Justice Department already had launched a civil rights probe of his trademark immigration patrols, and the FBI already was examining abuse-of-power accusations concerning the sheriff’s investigations of political foes.

CAMPAIGN

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