- - Thursday, July 12, 2012


SAN DIEGO — An incomplete tunnel designed to smuggle drugs into the U.S. has been found in Tijuana, Mexico, U.S. officials said Thursday, marking the second such underground passage discovered in less than a week along the southern border.

The approximately 220-yard tunnel with lighting and ventilation began under a bathroom sink inside a warehouse and did not cross the border into San Diego, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack told the Associated Press.

The Mexican army entered the tunnel Wednesday, Miss Mack said. No drugs were found and no arrests were reported.

Elsewhere, a 240-yard completed passage was discovered less than a week ago near Yuma, Ariz. U.S. authorities say that tunnel was operational.


1 chimpanzee dead, 1 tranquilized after escape

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas police say they had no choice but to kill one chimpanzee and tranquilize another after the agitated animals escaped a home.

Officer Marcus Martin told KLAS-TV that a caller reported a chimp atop a vehicle, and another caller reported a primate banging on a police car after the escape was reported at about 10 a.m. Thursday.

Officer Martin said the chimps were very large and estimated they weighed 170 pounds or more.

Police sent out tweets calling the animal dangerous and urging residents to stay inside their cars or homes.

By noon, the chimps were both stopped. Video showed one of the animals lying facedown in the middle of a road surrounded by animal control and police cars.


Terrorism suspect agrees to plead guilty

CHICAGO — A 29-year-old Chicago man accused of plotting a suicide bombing overseas has agreed to change his plea to guilty, bringing to an end one of the last terrorism trials pending in the city’s federal court.

An attorney for Shaker Masri, whose plea deal was announced at a Thursday status hearing, told reporters that the agreement hammered out with his counterparts at the U.S. Attorney’s Office was favorable to his client, though he declined to elaborate.

Mr. Masri, who was born in Alabama and lived abroad before returning to the U.S. at age 18, was arrested in 2010 before boarding a scheduled flight from Chicago to Los Angeles - allegedly the first leg of a trip to a training camp for Islamic jihadists in Somalia.

In court, lawyers left open the possibility the deal could unravel, but defense attorney Thomas Durkin told U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman he was confident enough to cancel the Sept. 12 trial date. Instead, Judge Coleman set July 20 as the day for Mr. Masri to change his plea.

None of the government lawyers spoke to reporters after the hearing.

Mr. Masri was charged with attempting to provide material support to a violent extremist and trying to offer material support by use of a weapon of mass destruction outside the U.S. Those charges could carry a sentence of several decades in prison.


Paramedics turn to expired drugs due to shortages

SALEM — Emergency responders in various jurisdictions have reported struggling to deal with a shortage of drug supplies created by manufacturing delays and industry changes.

Some paramedics are injecting expired medications, despite a risk they won’t work as intended. Others are scrambling to train paramedics to use alternative medications. In some cases, ambulance crews have simply gone without drugs they can’t buy.

One central Oregon fire department reported using expired supplies of 11 medications at the peak of the crisis earlier this year. Another in Arizona went three weeks without any drugs to treat seizures.

The University of Utah’s Drug Information Service reports a shortage of 275 medications.

The drug industry and the federal Food and Drug Administration say they’re working on solutions. Oregon has eased restrictions on the use of expired drugs.


Jewelers admit to illegal ivory sales

NEW YORK — Two jewelers peddled reams of ivory bangles, beads and statues made from the tusks of endangered and threatened elephants, prosecutors said Thursday as the men admitted to a wildlife crime.

Mukesh Gupta, Johnson Jung-Chien Lu and their companies pleaded guilty to illegal commercialization of wildlife, forfeited a combined total of more than $2 million in ivory and paid a total of $55,000 to aid the Wildlife Conservation Society’s efforts to help elephants.

The jewelers’ attorneys emphasized that the men admitted only to selling and offering ivory without a permit establishing it came from before the animals were protected in the 1970s.

But authorities and conservation experts said that much of the ivory was doubtless more recent and that stocking it in stores in Manhattan’s diamond district inherently contributes to a worrisome boom in the illegal ivory trade.

Despite international efforts to clamp down on ivory harvesting, it is still in demand for jewelry, carved art and other items, authorities said. While the estimates and calculations are complicated, a June report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora said findings showed a rise in elephant poaching in the last decade.

New York state environmental law bans selling or offering to sell ivory without a special permit.


Father charged in daughters’ deaths

MADISON — A North Dakota man was charged Thursday with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of his three young daughters in northwestern Wisconsin.

Police discovered the bodies of 11-year-old Amara Schaffhausen, 8-year-old Sophie Schaffhausen and 5-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen in the home they shared with their mother in River Falls on Tuesday.

Authorities have not said how the girls were killed, but when police entered the home they noted the first-floor gas fireplace was on and the basement smelled of a flammable liquid they have yet to identify.

Investigators said their father, Aaron Schaffhausen, 34, of Minot, unexpectedly contacted the girls’ mother - his ex-wife - on Tuesday and asked for an unplanned visit with the children. The mother, who wasn’t home, agreed, and when Mr. Schaffhausen showed up at the house, the girls’ baby sitter left.

Mr. Schaffhausen later called the mother, Jessica Schaffhausen, and told her he had hurt the girls. She called police en route to the house.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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