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American Scene: OSHA: Sandy contamination below permissible limits

- - Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NEW JERSEY

NEWARK — Tests done at Superstorm Sandy cleanup sites show that the level of contaminants does not exceed federal workplace exposure limits.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released initial results from tests of dozens of cleanup sites in New York and New Jersey. The agency tested for employee exposure to contaminants.

While some of the sites showed the presence of contaminants including asbestos, carbon monoxide and lead, none was above OSHA's permissible exposure limits.

The sites will continue to be monitored. The agency warned that the results aren't an "all clear" to employers. OSHA didn't test sites that were previously known to be contaminated.

The agency says that at sites with known chemical spills, it's up to the employer to report exposure and assess the situation before employees return to work.

MAINE

1865 baseball card found in New England up for bids

PORTLAND — An auction house expects six-figure bids when it sells a rare 148-year-old baseball card discovered at a yard sale in rural Maine.

Saco River Auction Co. in Biddeford says a man found the card by chance in a photo album he bought in Baileyville, on the Canadian border.

It's not the same as a modern baseball card. Instead, it's a photograph of the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club mounted on a card. Saco River manager Troy Thibodeau says he's aware of only two such cards in existence, the other at the Library of Congress.

Saco River sold a rare 1888 card of Hall of Fame baseball player Michael "King" Kelly last summer for $72,000. Thibodeau expects the Brooklyn Atlantics card to fetch at least $100,000 at its Feb. 6 auction.

CALIFORNIA

Closing arguments made in neo-Nazi father case

RIVERSIDE — A judge has heard closing arguments in the trial of a Southern California boy accused of murdering his neo-Nazi father.

The 12-year-old defendant appeared to listen intently Wednesday as lawyers argued in Riverside County court over whether he knew the difference between right and wrong when he killed his father at age 10.

The defense contended the boy was damaged by a violent home and was seeking to protect himself and his family when he shot 32-year-old Jeff Hall.

The prosecutor said the boy knew what he was doing and should be found guilty of murder. The prosecution also contended the father's affiliation with a neo-Nazi group should not be considered.

The judge will decide the case Monday.

OKLAHOMA

Former teacher pleads no contest to porn charges

SHAWNEE — A retired college professor pleaded guilty Wednesday and a former third-grade teacher pleaded no contest to child exploitation and pornography charges after prosecutors said the Oklahoma teacher took photos of her students dancing in their underwear and shared them with the man in Pennsylvania.

Kimberly Crain of Shawnee and retired professor of early childhood development Gary Doby of Bloomsburg, Pa., entered pleas in Pottawatomie County District Court. They had been scheduled to go to trial on the charges Monday.

The judge sentenced Doby to life in prison on each of the exploitation counts. Crain faces sentencing March 22; the judge says she faces a minimum of 25 years.

They were ordered to stand trial in May on multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a child younger than 12 as well as conspiracy to commit sexual exploitation and lewd molestation. Crain was also charged with multiple counts of possession of juvenile pornography.

At a preliminary hearing, nine students ages 9 to 11 testified that Crain took photos of them in her classroom in McLoud and during a pizza party at her home in nearby Shawnee while they were wearing tank tops and underwear. Prosecutors said Crain then shared the images with Doby. McLoud is 30 miles east of Oklahoma City.

KENTUCKY

Coroner: 5 dead in rural house fire

PIKEVILLE — An early-morning blaze at a home in rural eastern Kentucky killed four children and their father Wednesday, and investigators were still waiting for the wreckage to cool before entering the scene.

The fire at the small home in southern Pike County began around 2:30 a.m., Trooper Tony Watts said. The child's mother was taken to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington with injuries.

A relative who lives nearby said she woke up early Wednesday morning to find the house fully engulfed by flames.

"There was nothing I could do, I got second-degree burns just getting close to it," said Glema Blair, the children's great aunt.

Ms. Blair, who lives behind the home, ran to the home and saw the children's mother, Tammie Tucker, and Ms. Tucker's father attempting to get inside to find the children. Ms. Tucker was taken to UK Medical Center with severe burns, Ms. Blair said.

"She was trying her best," said Ms. Blair, who was fighting back tears.

Hospital spokeswoman Julie Phillips said Ms. Tucker was in critical condition Wednesday afternoon.

Another neighbor, Evelyn Mullins, said the deadly fire shocked the small community of Jonancy, which is nestled in Kentucky's eastern coalfields.

"It's just such a tragedy," Ms. Mullins said.

ILLINOIS

Police question cyanide victim's wife for hours

CHICAGO — Chicago police investigating the mysterious cyanide death of a lottery winner questioned his wife for more than four hours and executed a search warrant on their home.

Shabana Ansari's attorney, Steven Kozicki, says Ms. Ansari was subjected to a long session of questioning at a police station in November and that detectives searched the home.

Police have not said if Ansari is considered a suspect. Mr. Kozicki says she vehemently maintains she had nothing to do with the July death of her husband, Urooj Khan. Police have not spoken publicly of any suspects.

Khan died just days before he was to collect $425,000 in lottery winnings.

Authorities initially ruled the death a result of natural causes, but further tests showed he was poisoned and his death was reclassified as a homicide.

From wire dispatches and staff reports