- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

FRESNO — Yosemite officials have told 1,700 past visitors they may have been exposed to a rodent-borne disease already blamed for the deaths of two people who stayed at the park.

The email alerts Tuesday involve hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which can be carried in the urine, saliva and feces of infected deer mice.

All of the at-risk visitors had stayed in the “Signature Tent Cabins” in Yosemite National Park’s Curry Village.

Yosemite officials warned those who stayed there from mid-June through this week to beware of any symptoms of hantavirus, which can include fever, aches, dizziness and chills.

Park officials told people to seek medical help immediately for such symptoms. There is no specific treatment for the respiratory illness.

Two other people were infected and were expected to survive.

Federal epidemiologists learned over the weekend of the second fatality.


Punitive damages reduced in case against evangelist

LITTLE ROCK — A federal appeals court Tuesday ordered punitive damages against an evangelist who ordered two boys to be beaten to be reduced from $60 million to $24 million.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an additional $3 million award each for the two men, now in their 20s, who grew up in Tony Alamo’s ministries.

The court’s decision comes after a jury last year found Alamo liable for battery, outrage and conspiracy and awarded the two men $30 million each in punitive damages, plus another $3 million each for the abuse they suffered.

The appeals court said Tuesday that the men should get $12 million each instead of $30 million each in punitive damages.

“Despite the exceptionally reprehensible nature of Alamo’s conduct, it would be unconstitutional to let the punitive damages — and their 10:1 ratio to compensatory damages — stand,” Judge Duane Benton wrote in an opinion for a three-judge panel.

Alamo, who was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman, is serving a 175-year prison term after being convicted in 2009 of taking girls across state lines for sex. He has asked the court to vacate that sentence, too.

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