Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pro-life activist held at Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. | Pro-life activist Randall Terry has been arrested while protesting President Obama’s upcoming commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame just hours after he was ordered off school grounds.

University spokesman Dennis Brown says campus police arrested Mr. Terry on Friday on a trespassing charge. Mr. Terry was released from the St. Joseph County Jail on $250 bond.

The Operation Rescue founder is in South Bend protesting the school’s invitation to Mr. Obama to speak at the May 17 commencement. The protest Friday involved demonstrators pushing carriages with dolls covered in fake blood.

Mr. Brown says the school issued a no-trespassing order after a protest Thursday and that the order is in effect until it’s rescinded by Notre Dame.

Efforts underway to control fungus

CHARLESTON, W.Va. | The U.S. Forest Service is preparing to close thousands of caves and former mines in national forests in 33 states in an effort to control a fungus that has already killed an estimated 500,000 bats.

Forest Service biologist Becky Ewing said an emergency order was issued last week for caves in 20 states from Minnesota to Maine. A second order covering the Forest Service’s 13-state Southern region should be issued later this month.

The sites will be closed for up to a year, she said.

The orders follow a March request by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for people to voluntarily stay out of caves in 17 states.

Bats have been dying at alarming rates from what scientists call “white-nose syndrome,” so-named because it appears as a white powder on the face and wings of hibernating bats. The problem was first spotted in New York and within two years has spread to caves in West Virginia and Virginia.

Researchers believe the fungus is spread from bat to bat, but they have not ruled out a human connection, said Dennis Krusac, a biologist with the service’s Southern region.

“We don’t have the answers at this point,” he said. “If we have answers in a year or sooner, we can open them back up.”

Resorts hiring heavily among unemployed

PROVIDENCE, R.I. | The guy running the Tilt-A-Whirl this summer might be a laid-off accountant instead of a bored teenager.

Summer businesses nationwide are getting swamped with applications from out-of-work Americans, including professionals.

They are competing for jobs usually filled by young people and foreigners. Those might include serving brunch, mowing lawns, and operating carnival games and rides.

Ramon Villanueva was laid off last year from a Philadelphia audio-visual company where he earned $50,000 a year. Now he makes $8 an hour running the Frog Bog game on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J.

The 22-year-old has a wife and two young children and says that he never thought he’d be working there, but that it pays the bills.

Student hit, killed by school bus

WARWICK, R.I. | Police in Rhode Island say a 15-year-old girl has been struck and killed by a school bus carrying students on their way to a suburban Providence high school.

Police Capt. Matthew Costello says the Pilgrim High School student was crossing the street at the time of the 7 a.m. accident on Friday. She was hit by the bus as it turned left at an intersection near the school in Warwick.

Police say the girl was pulled underneath the bus after she was struck.

A spokeswoman for the Ohio-based First Student bus company says the driver has been put on administrative leave.

Former sheriff pleads guilty in drug case

McALLEN, Texas | A former south Texas sheriff has pleaded guilty to a federal drug trafficking charge for sharing law enforcement information with a Mexican drug ring.

Former Starr County Sheriff Reymundo Guerra entered his plea Friday. He could face as much as life in prison, though that appears unlikely because he reached a plea agreement.

Sentencing is scheduled for July.

Federal prosecutors said Guerra helped the Mexican Gulf Cartel to operate in his county and endangered fellow law enforcement agents by sharing names of confidential informants.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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