- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2006

Mumps epidemic sweeps across Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa — A mumps epidemic is sweeping across Iowa in the nation’s biggest outbreak in at least 17 years, baffling health officials and worrying parents.

As of Thursday, 245 confirmed, probable or suspected cases of the viral infection of the salivary glands had been reported since mid-January.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is the nation’s only outbreak, which the CDC defines as five or more cases in a concentrated area.

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and swelling of the glands close to the jaw. It can cause serious complications, including meningitis, damage to the testicles and deafness.

Sixty-six percent of those infected had had the recommended two-shot vaccination introduced in 1967.

Gonzales outlines plan to fight gang violence

LOS ANGELES — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales yesterday announced a $15 million plan aimed at combating deadly gang violence in six urban areas.

The program will focus on prevention, prosecution and prisoner re-entry, and will be overseen by federal prosecutors.

Six areas of the United States — Los Angeles, the Ohio hub of Cleveland, the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas, Milwaukee in Wisconsin, the Florida city of Tampa and an area of Pennsylvania near Philadelphia — were awarded $2.5 million each to fight the scourge of gangs.

“In these six communities, gangs are shattering the hopes of young people who succumb to their false promises,” the nation’s top justice official said.

FBI probing theft of Katrina donations

NEW ORLEANS — The FBI is looking into accusations of theft and other wrongdoing by American Red Cross volunteers who distributed relief supplies after Hurricane Katrina.

A task force probe — which includes state, local and federal authorities — began after the Red Cross conducted its own investigation and turned over information to authorities, said Jim Bernazzani, the agent in charge of the FBI’s New Orleans office.

Mr. Bernazzani and U.S. Attorney Jim Letten in New Orleans yesterday confirmed the FBI’s involvement in the investigation.

“It’s important to note that we have no preconceived notion of criminal wrongdoing,” Mr. Bernazzani said.

City coyote dies while being set free

ALBANY, N.Y. — Hal, the coyote who paid a visit to New York City and was captured as he loped around Central Park, died as he was being tagged for release in the wild, a state official said yesterday.

The coyote stopped breathing Thursday night during the routine tagging procedure and biologists could not revive him, said Gabrielle DeMarco, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Pathologists were trying to determine whether the stress of his capture or captivity or something else contributed to the death of the year-old, 35-pound coyote.

The coyote, nicknamed Hal by park workers, led dozens of police officers on foot and in a helicopter on a wild chase through the urban greenery March 21 and 22. He jumped into the water, ducked under a bridge and leaped an 8-foot-high fence.

Buttafuoco ordered to stand trial

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. — Joey Buttafuoco, the Long Island body shop owner who gained notoriety in the 1990s when his teenage girlfriend shot his wife, has been ordered to stand trial on a felony charge of illegally possessing ammunition.

Authorities said Buttafuoco, who has pleaded not guilty, violated terms of his probation by possessing ammunition found during a search last August of his San Fernando Valley home. On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Sanjay Kumar ordered him to trial.

Buttafuoco was sentenced to a year in prison and five years’ probation in March 2004 after pleading guilty to insurance fraud.

He was running an auto body shop on New York’s Long Island in 1992 when his 17-year-old lover, Amy Fisher, shot his wife as she answered the door at the couple’s home.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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