Three young boys charged with rape

Three boys – an 8-year-old and two 9-year-olds – were being held Monday in a detention center on charges of kidnapping and raping an 11-year-old girl near a suburban apartment complex, officials said.

The alleged attack happened Thursday and the girl’s mother reported it to authorities Sunday, Acworth police Capt. Wayne Dennard said.

The three boys appeared in juvenile court Monday afternoon, dwarfed by the courtroom chairs and wearing navy blue jump suits and shackles. Their names were withheld because of their age.

Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head said the boys could not be charged with felony crimes because of their age but could be tried for alleged delinquent acts that could place them in a juvenile facility for up to five years.


N-weapons lab faces layoffs

Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the nation’s premier nuclear weapons labs, is preparing to lay off hundreds of people in anticipation of federal budget cuts, a lab spokesman said Monday.

The laboratory may have to cut between 500 and 750 positions, said Kevin Roark, a spokesman for the northern New Mexico lab. About 12,000 people work at the lab.

The cuts are part of a restructuring plan the lab submitted to the federal government. If approved, the lab would ask employees to leave voluntarily, with severance packages based on their years of service, Roark said.

The announcement comes after another of the nation’s premier nuclear weapons labs, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., announced last week that it plans to cut about 500 of its 8,000 employees because of rising costs stemming from a changeover in management and potential federal budget cuts.


EPA considers poisoning devices

The Environmental Protection Agency took a first step Monday to ban two poisons used to protect livestock against wild animals.

The agency called for public comment on a proposal to end the use of sodium cyanide and sodium fluoroacetate, poisons that are placed on or near livestock to kill any wild animal that attacks it.

The poisons are distributed by the Wildlife Services agency, an arm of the Agriculture Department, and last year were reported to have killed an estimated 14,000 wild animals including coyotes, foxes and dogs.

The EPA’s request for public comment came in response to a petition by a coalition of conservation groups and public health organizations, which demand that the poisons no longer be used.

Supporters of the poisoning devices argue that they are a relatively humane way to kill predatory animals and, because the poison is contained in specific delivery device, reduce the risk to non-target animals.


Group fined for ‘04 election violations

A union-financed advocacy group that played a major role in the 2004 elections has agreed to pay a $580,000 fine after the Federal Election Commission concluded it illegally ran advertising against President Bush and in favor of Democrat John Kerry.

In an agreement announced Monday, the FEC said the now inactive Media Fund spent $53.4 million during the contest on television, radio and newspaper ads and direct mail that made reference to Bush or Kerry. The FEC said the fund violated campaign finance laws because it accepted unlimited donations from labor unions and expressly advocated the defeat or victory of a political candidate.

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