U.S. plans endangered status for sea otters
Southwest Alaska's sea otters, which have undergone dramatic and mysterious declines in recent years, will receive Endangered Species Act protection under an Interior Department proposal announced Thursday.
Interior Secretary Gale Norton said scientists were not yet certain what was driving the sea otters around the Aleutian Islands toward extinction. "But," she said, "listing this population as 'threatened' under the Endangered Species Act will be an important step in discovering the reasons and reversing the decline."
Mother gets 17 years for allowing abuse of girl
A mother was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison Thursday for letting an Illinois man molest her daughter in their St. Louis home in exchange for cash.
The woman, who is not being identified by The Associated Press to protect the child's privacy, was convicted of conspiring with the man and of aiding him in crossing state lines to have sex with the girl.
Joseph Champion, 55, of Granite City, Ill., pleaded guilty in July to molesting the girl in 1997, when she was under age 12. Champion was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he agreed to testify against the mother, who was convicted in November.
Women eating more calories than in 1970s
Americans, especially women, are getting fatter because they eat much more of everything than they did 30 years ago, and carbs are the biggest culprit, the government said Thursday.
In the year 2000, women ate the equivalent of one more large chocolate chip cookie every day -- 335 more calories -- compared with what they ate in 1971.
Men ate 168 more calories -- slightly more than a 12-ounce Pepsi -- each day, according to the study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The majority of the increase in calories is from an increase in carbohydrate intake," said Jacqueline Wright, a CDC epidemiologist and study author.
Three charged in plot to defame FBI chief
Three men plotted to ruin the head of the FBI's Detroit office by falsely accusing him of leaking sensitive information to drug dealers, authorities said Thursday.
Willie T. Hulon, who had been recalled to FBI headquarters in Washington during the investigation, will return to his duties in Detroit, said FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Mueller said Hulon deserved praise for his "patience and perseverance" during the internal investigation.
Myron Strong, 33, and Andre Boone, 26, both of Port Huron, and Richard K. Ready, 32, of Detroit, were accused in a plot that involved making false statements about Hulon during telephone calls that they knew were being monitored by the FBI. Strong was an FBI informant.
Call centers slow to install enhanced 911
Half of the emergency 911 centers still will not be able to track cell calls by next year's deadline for wireless companies to outfit their phones with locator technology, according to a group that represents call center administrators.
State and local governments would have to more than double their annual spending to $1.7 billion to meet the deadline, the National Emergency Number Assn. said in a report Thursday. That is an unlikely prospect given the budget shortfalls facing many local governments.
When someone calls 911 from a regular home or business phone, the address automatically is displayed on the screen of one of 6,000 call centers. But a traditional cell phone cannot be tracked without the new feature.
Robert Blake trial postponed indefinitely
The Robert Blake murder case was thrown into disarray Thursday when the judge relieved the actor's defense attorney because of "irreconcilable differences" with his client.
The action forced an indefinite postponement of Blake's trial, which had been scheduled to enter the final phase of jury selection Feb. 17.
"I'm sorry," Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp said. "I just did not have a choice in the matter."
Schempp set a hearing for Feb. 23, by which time she said she hoped Blake would find a replacement for Thomas Mesereau Jr.
Blake, 70, is charged with shooting his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, to death as she sat outside an Italian restaurant.