- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jet’s engine pulled out of Hudson River

NEW YORK | The battered, twisted left engine of the US Airways plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River was recovered Friday, after an eight-day struggle to find the wreckage and pull it from the murky water.

Using a large, floating crane, salvage crews gently placed the engine on a barge. Shards of metal and wiring hung from the engine, and a large portion of the outer shell appeared to be missing as it was lifted from the river bottom, 65 feet below the surface.

Charlotte, N.C.-bound Flight 1549 splashed down in the river Jan. 15 after hitting a flock of birds and apparently losing power in both engines shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.

All 155 people on board survived.

Plant in salmonella probe issues layoffs

BLAKELY, Ga. | A Georgia peanut butter plant at the center of a probe of a nationwide salmonella outbreak has laid off most of its roughly 50 workers.

Production is shut down at the Peanut Corp. of America plant in Blakely, which made peanut butter and peanut paste blamed for sickening at least 486 people in more than 40 states since the fall. Six have died.

More than 125 products - from energy bars to cookies to dog biscuits - have been recalled because of possible contamination.

Peanut Corp. President Stewart Parnell confirmed the layoffs Friday through a public relations firm. It’s not clear when the plant will be running again and whether the workers will be brought back.

Investigators have found salmonella contamination at the plant.

Mom not guilty in daughters’ deaths

CLEVELAND | A three-judge panel in Cleveland has ruled that a mother is not guilty by reason of insanity in the drowning deaths of her two young daughters in a bathtub.

The judges returned the verdict Friday in the murder case against 23-year-old Amber Hill. The judges say evidence showed the woman didn’t understand the wrongfulness of her actions.

Miss Hill was charged with aggravated murder in the deaths of 4-year-old Janelle Cintron and 2-year-old Cecess Hill in October 2007.

She had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Her attorney says Miss Hill heard voices telling her to “do it, do it!”

Wildfire destroys 6 rural Texas homes

HAWLEY, Texas | A wildfire destroyed six homes and forced the evacuation of others in a rural area west of Dallas, authorities said Friday.

Officials estimate that about 2,600 acres have burned, Texas Forest Service spokesman Nick Harrison said. They had thought the fire covered 5,800 acres but reduced that figure after a helicopter flyover Friday, he said.

The blaze was about 50 percent contained by late Friday afternoon, Mr. Harrison said. Firefighters used bulldozers to dig up the ground and cut down grass and brush that helped fuel the fire.

No injuries have been reported, and the cause was unknown, he said. The six homes that burned down were scattered across a rural area near Hawley, a town of nearly 600 residents just northwest of Abilene, Mr. Harrison said.

Judge tosses charge in hypothermia death

SHOSHONE, Idaho | An Idaho judge has dismissed charges against one of two men accused in the death of an 11-year-old girl who was allowed to walk 10 miles in the snow.

The judge agreed with a defense attorney Friday that Kenneth Quintana shouldn’t be charged because he didn’t have custody of Sage Aragon and her 12-year-old brother, Bear.

Mr. Quintana is their cousin.

Robert Aragon, the children’s father, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony injury to a child. Mr. Quintana had faced the same counts.

Prosecutors say the two were driving the children to their mother’s house on Christmas when their car got stuck in a snowdrift. Mr. Aragon is accused of allowing the children to try to walk home.

The boy was found in a rest area, but his sister died.

Unreturned library book leads to arrest

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa | An Iowa woman has been arrested because add failed to return a library book.

Shelly Koontz, 39, was arrested Thursday night on a fifth-degree-theft charge. She is accused of keeping “The Freedom Writers Diary,” which she checked out from the public library in nearby Jesup in April.

Police say the book - which is about a high school teacher’s effort to inspire students to write - is valued at $13.95.

Court records show library employees tried repeatedly to contact Miss Koontz by phone and mail. A police officer even visited her home in September.

Officials at the Buchanan County jail say Miss Koontz was released after posting $250 bond.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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