Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kettles take credit cards

COLORADO SPRINGS | The Salvation Army is experimenting with a plastic alternative for folks who don’t have cash to throw into a holiday red kettle.

This season, five bell-ringers in El Paso County will accept debit and credit cards along with money. Salvation Army officials say the kettle tradition needs to be tweaked as consumers increasingly carry only plastic.

Bell ringers are giving the credit card-kettles mixed reviews. But some shoppers who saw the new kettles liked them, saying they’ve walked past kettles in the past and wanted to donate but had no cash.

3 Chicago teens drown at retreat

ALGONQUIN, Ill. | Authorities say three Chicago high school students have drowned while paddle-boating on a river during a leadership retreat.

Fire official John Greene in suburban Algonquin said chaperones likely were asleep Friday morning when students took four or five paddle boats into the Fox River.

The students attended North Lawndale College Prep. Only one of the bodies has been pulled from the river. The bottom plugs of the boat had been removed and the boats taken out of service for the winter.

Ex-slaughterhouse CEO arrested

DES MOINES, Iowa | Federal prosecutors in Iowa say a former CEO for a kosher slaughterhouse has been arrested on a bank fraud charge.

Sholom Rubashkin was arrested Friday morning at his home in Postville, Iowa. It’s the second arrest for the former manager in less than a month. He was arrested Oct. 30 on allegations that he helped illegal immigrants get fake documents.

Agriprocessors was the site of a May 12 immigration raid in which 389 people were arrested.

Big Dig contractor will pay damages

BOSTON | There’s been another settlement in the problem-plagued Big Dig highway project in Boston.

Modern Continental, one of the massive project’s largest contractors, has agreed to pay $21 million in damages and not perform any more Big Dig work.

The agreement announced Friday settles tens of millions in claims related to construction contracts between Modern Continental and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. The project has been plagued by cost overruns and a tunnel collapse that killed a woman in 2006.

Modern Continental has filed for bankruptcy, so the agreement must be approved by a bankruptcy court. The project manager, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, already has agreed to a $407 million settlement.

34th child given up under safe-haven law

OMAHA, Neb. | A 5-year-old boy has been dropped off at an Omaha hospital, just a day before the state Legislature met to change the state’s safe-haven law.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said Friday the boy was left at Immanuel Medical Center about 9 p.m. Thursday. He’s from Sarpy County near Omaha.

Nebraska’s safe-haven law was intended to protect unwanted newborns, but unlike similar laws in other states, Nebraska’s doesn’t include an age limit. As of Friday, 34 children have been abandoned under the law, five from out of state.

Trial delayed In Palin hacking case

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. | A federal magistrate is postponing the trial of a student charged with breaking into the e-mail account of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys want more time to prepare for the trial of 20-year-old University of Tennessee student David Kernell. Both say they will need computer experts to understand the evidence. The trial will be pushed to April.

Mr. Kernell is accused of tapping into Mrs. Palin’s personal e-mail account in September, resetting her password and posting his exploits on the Web. He’s the son of a Democratic Tennessee state lawmaker.

Texas cracks down on dogfighting ring

HOUSTON | Law enforcement officials in Texas say they’ve cracked down on one of the nation’s largest dogfighting operations. They filed charges against 55 people and seized more than 100 dogs.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said Harris County fights have been staged weekly or twice a month at one of eight secluded sites. The fights were attended by crowds of up to 100 spectators who bet on the outcomes.

Officials said 41 felony charges were filed.

Powder at Mormon offices not toxic

SALT LAKE CITY | The FBI says the white powder that spilled onto a mail clerk’s hand at the Utah headquarters of the Mormon church is nontoxic.

FBI spokesman Juan T. Becerra said Friday that tests came back negative. The powder was in an envelope that was sent to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. Another letter with a suspicious powder arrived at a Mormon temple in Los Angeles. It also has been determined to be nontoxic.

The temples were the sites of recent protests against the church’s support for California’s gay marriage ban.

From staff and wire reports

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