December 20, 2005 in Nation/World

Plastic explosives, caps, cord stolen

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review
 

Albuquerque, N.M. About 150 pounds of commercial plastic explosives has disappeared from a private storage site, along with 2,500 blasting caps and 20,000 feet of explosive detonation cord, authorities said Monday.

“In the hands of the wrong person, this material can be very, very destructive,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said at a news conference.

Wayne Dixie, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the missing material was enough to level a building. Two containers, both stored inside two bunkers southwest of Albuquerque, were burglarized sometime between Dec. 13 and Sunday, authorities said.

Dixie cautioned there was no evidence to suggest a link to terrorism but said investigators had no leads or suspects. Authorities offered a reward of up to $50,000 for information that helps them recover the goods.

California to stop racial segregation of prisoners

Sacramento, Calif. Ending a long-standing practice, California prison officials have agreed to stop using race as a principal criterion in segregating inmates.

The prison system’s settlement of a case filed by a black inmate comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in February that California prisons cannot automatically house inmates by race, even temporarily.

Starting in March, prison officials will end their use of an unwritten policy that dates back a quarter century. Inmates arriving at the state’s 11 reception centers had been bunked automatically with inmates of the same race for 60 days, a measure taken in part to reduce the risk of racial violence.

Beginning in March, corrections officials in the reception centers will house inmates based on new criteria. That will include interviews to determine inmates’ compatibility with members of another race, their age, the type of crime they committed and their physical characteristics.

The department will train its personnel and create a tracking system to determine if future violence in reception areas is based on race.

NYC commuters brace for possible transit strike

New York A strike deadline came and went early today with no word of a walkout, but prospects remained dim that negotiators would reach a deal to avert a crippling shutdown of the city’s subway and bus system.

Talks broke down about an hour before the midnight strike deadline, and the Transport Workers Union and Metropolitan Transportation Authority offered bleak assessments of the possibility of avoiding a strike.

The 12:01 a.m. deadline passed with no word on whether transit workers would strike, however. The union board was meeting at its headquarters to discuss its next move.

More than 7 million daily riders would be forced to find new ways to get around if the 33,000-member Transport Workers Union shut down the nation’s largest transit system.

The two sides were divided over wages and an MTA proposal to raise the age at which new employees become eligible for a full pension from 55 to 62.

Schwarzenegger tells town not to use name

Sacramento, Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday told officials in his hometown in Austria to remove his name from a sports stadium and stop using his identity to promote the city.

The governor’s request came after politicians in Graz began a petition drive to rename the stadium, reacting to Schwarzenegger’s decision last week to deny clemency to condemned inmate Stanley Tookie Williams. Opposition to the death penalty is strong in Austria.

In a letter that began “Dear Mister Mayor,” Schwarzenegger said he decided to spare the Graz city council “further concern” should he be forced to make other clemency decisions while he’s governor. Another inmate is scheduled to be executed in California Jan. 17.

The stadium was renamed for the former Hollywood star in 1997. He asked that the lettering be removed by year’s end.

In the letter, Schwarzenegger also said he would no longer permit the use of his name “to advertise or promote the city of Graz in any way.”


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