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American Scene: This year’s flu vaccine guards against new strains

- - Thursday, September 27, 2012

REGION

Time to get your flu vaccine. And remember: Last year's shot won't protect you this year.

Federal health authorities said Thursday that this year's vaccine contains protection against two strains that have begun circling the globe. And just because flu was mild last winter, doesn't mean it won't bounce back with its usual ferocity this winter.

With 135 million doses expected, there's plenty of vaccine to go around. The government says just 42 percent of Americans were immunized last year.

CALIFORNIA

Mars rover Curiosity finds signs of ancient stream

LOS ANGELES — Scientists say NASA's newest Mars rover has found signs that a stream once flowed across the surface near the place where it landed.

Curiosity touched down in a crater near the Martian equator last month. The Red Planet today is dusty and dry but scientists think it was once warmer and wetter.

Evidence of the ancient stream came from analyzing the size and shapes of pebbles and gravel near Gale Crater. Mission scientists said Thursday it appeared the water was fast-moving and deep.

IOWA

$202 million Powerball ticket sold in suburban Des Moines

BONDURANT — A winning $202 million Powerball ticket was purchased at a convenience store in the suburban Des Moines city of Bondurant, but nobody had claimed it by midday Thursday.

The ticket is the second for a giant Powerball jackpot sold in Iowa this year.

NEW YORK

Hunt is on for Va. man wanted in schools leader's slaying

MAYVILLE — A nationwide search has begun for a Virginia man thought to have driven to upstate New York last week to kill the superintendent of a small school district, police said Thursday.

Police in Clymer think Anthony Taglianetti II, 42, of Woodbridge, Va., went to New York last Friday night to shoot Keith Reed Jr., 51, then returned to Virginia.

The slaying was not connected to Mr. Reed's job as school superintendent, officials said. They think they know the motive, but they would not divulge it.

Police have ruled out murder for hire or a drug-related killing, Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace said.

Authorities settled on Mr. Taglianetti after collecting evidence and witness statements; they say he acted alone.

Mr. Reed had been superintendent of the single-building Clymer Central School District and its 468 students since November.

CALIFORNIA

Deal with water authority gives go-ahead for desalination plant

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Water Authority has announced a tentative agreement to buy the entire output of what will be the Western Hemisphere's largest seawater desalination plant.

Thursday's deal clears the way for construction to begin on the $900 million plant in Carlsbad.

When completed the plant is expected to produce 50 million gallons a day, enough to supply about 7 percent of the San Diego region. The plant is expected to be ready in 2016

OKLAHOMA

Pastors protest store's fight against morning-after pill

OKLAHOMA CITY — A coalition of liberal Christian groups has come out against Hobby Lobby's lawsuit challenging federal health care guidelines that require companies to provide insurance that covers the morning-after pill.

The Rev. Lance Schmitz says more than 80,000 people signed petitions opposing the Oklahoma-based arts and crafts chain's lawsuit. The Oklahoma City pastor tried to deliver the petitions Thursday to Hobby Lobby headquarters but was ordered to leave the property. He says he will mail the petitions instead.

Hobby Lobby, which operates more than 500 stores in 41 states, says providing coverage for the morning-after pill violates its Christian owners' "deeply held religious beliefs."

The petitions say Hobby Lobby's owners shouldn't use their beliefs to deny women access to birth control.

The company says it has no objection to preventive contraceptives.

CALIFORNIA

Chef found guilty of murder in boiled-body case

LOS ANGELES — A chef who told police he boiled his wife's body for four days to hide evidence of her death was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder.

David Viens showed no reaction, but his wife's sister burst out sobbing as the verdict was read.

In a recorded interrogation presented by prosecutors during the trial, Viens, 49, can be heard saying he cooked the body of his 39-year-old wife, Dawn, in late 2009 until little was left but her skull.

The chef spoke to authorities from a hospital bed in March 2011 after leaping off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes. Authorities say he jumped after learning he was a suspect in her disappearance.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports