Pacific walruses make TV debut
JUNEAU — Wallowing and snorting as they jockey for position on the rocks, the two-ton walruses aren’t the prettiest reality-show stars.
But two cameras installed at the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary off Alaska’s southwestern coast are giving scientists and Web surfers the chance to watch the mammals rest and play in their natural environment at www.alaskasealife.org.
Joe Meehan, a Department of Fish and Game lands and refuges coordinator, said the “walrus cams” on Round Island in the Bering Sea provide an essential research tool for wildlife biologists and entertainment for wildlife enthusiasts.
The department has staff on the island counting walruses every day.
Newborn twins need new hearts
LOS ANGELES — Nicole Draper was 7 months pregnant when she learned that the twin sons she was carrying would come into the world with heart muscles too weak to pump the blood they need to survive.
Her sons — Nicholas and Nathaniel — are 2 weeks old, and doctors say their chances of survival are good, but only if they receive heart transplants within the next three to six months.
While the boys remained hospitalized at the University of California at Los Angeles’ Mattel Children’s Hospital, Mrs. Draper and her husband, Michael, pleaded Monday for organ donations that could save their lives.
Mom pleads guilty to holding sex parties
GOLDEN — A woman who told police she wanted to be a “cool mom” pleaded guilty to sexual-assault charges Monday for having sex with high school boys at parties where authorities said she supplied drugs and alcohol.
Silvia Johnson, 40, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of sexual assault and nine felony counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped two counts of distribution of methamphetamine.
Police said the investigation began after one of the boys told his mother about the encounters, and she reported it to authorities.
Boy, 14, kills 11-year-old sister
MIAMI — A 14-year-old Florida boy killed his 11-year-old sister at their home Monday, tried to cover up the crime and then confessed, police said.
The boy had a history of mental problems and had threatened to kill members of his family, they said.
The crime took place in South Miami, when the children’s father, Samuel Salazar, took a 12-year-old daughter to a school event, leaving the other two children at home.
“When he comes back, he finds the 14-year-old son outside the neighbor’s house, and he told the father that they’ve been robbed, that two men with ski masks entered the house and they robbed, and they might be still inside,” said Alvaro Zabaleta, a spokesman for Miami-Dade County police.
Boy, 3, dies in hit-and-run
ATLANTA — A 3-year-old boy staying with family friends after his mother gave birth to his new sister was killed by a hit-and-run driver Monday when he went outside by himself, police said.
Anthony Lloyd Oscar Littrean apparently unlocked the front door of the apartment where he was staying in suburban Norcross and slipped outside.
Authorities found his body along a nearby street after he was reported missing at 4:30 a.m., police said.
Statewide system of colleges proposed
IDAHO FALLS — State Rep. Ann Rydalch proposed a statewide community college system in hopes that it would boost the number of students who continue their education beyond high school.
She drafted a bill for the 2006 Legislature that would put as many as four community colleges under state control. One estimate puts the price to taxpayers at about $11 million annually.
Man mistakenly gets $160,000 check
WEST LAFAYETTE — Robert Theodorow could scarcely believe his eyes when he opened a piece of mail and found a $160,000 check tucked inside.
The check — for a sum large enough to pay off his house, buy a car, go on a six-month vacation — had everything — his name, address and his company’s name.
Once his champagne dreams dissipated, Mr. Theodorow soon realized that the $160,294.40 check was sent in error by Winnipeg, Canada-based Cargill Ltd. So he called the company’s Winnipeg headquarters.
Cargill asked for the check to be voided and returned, and Mr. Theodorow said he put it in the mail Thursday. The company is giving Mr. Theodorow a $100 gift certificate to a local restaurant for turning in the giant check.
Law targets safety at railroad crossings
BATON ROUGE — Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has signed a bill that’s intended to improve safety at railroad crossings. The measure puts $25 of all fines for violating traffic laws at railroad crossings in a special fund.
The money will be used to install safety devices such as bells, lights and crossing gates at up to 36 crossings a year. The law takes effect Aug. 15.
Tremor shakes state; no injuries reported
HELENA — An earthquake measuring magnitude 5.6 struck southwestern Montana on Monday night, rattling windows, nerves and buildings, but there were no immediate reports of any serious damage or injuries.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was centered about 13 miles northwest of Dillon, but residents across a wide swath of Montana, Idaho and Washington reported feeling the temblor at about 10:10 p.m.
State moving ahead with rebate plan
CARSON CITY — The state is moving ahead with a plan to pay Bank of America nearly $1.4 million to issue $300 million in rebates to Nevada motorists by October. The 2005 Legislature approved the rebates of surplus state funds.
The plan calls for Bank of America to subcontract with Moore Wallace, the world’s largest mailing company, to issue the checks.
County to remove victims memorial
LUBBOCK — County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to remove a victims monument that was recently placed near a courthouse entryway, a memorial that defense lawyers said could prejudice jurors.
The black-granite monument, funded with a federal grant to a regional victims group, depicts a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
Lubbock County Commissioners had approved placing the monument outside the courthouse this spring.
Man, 82, climbs Mount Rainier
PARADISE — William Painter’s record as the oldest man to reach the top of Mount Rainier has been broken — by Mr Painter himself.
By making it to the 14,411-foot summit at 82, the retired plutonium worker from the Hanford nuclear reservation beat the mark he set more than a year earlier.
From wire dispatches and staff reports