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Fire prompts declaration

California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi speaks on the phone during a visit to the Lockheed Fire command center on Friday.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi speaks on the phone during a visit to the Lockheed Fire command center on Friday. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Davenport, Calif. – California’s acting governor Friday declared a state of emergency in Santa Cruz County, site of one of two large coastal fires burning out of control and forcing residents to flee their homes.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi issued the order because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was out of state attending the funeral of his mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The governor is expected to tour the fire zone in Santa Cruz County, a mountainous coastal area south of San Francisco, today.

The state of emergency is considered a first step in Santa Cruz County obtaining federal aid. Officials said two structures have burned in a 2,800-acre brush fire that has forced evacuations in the hillside communities north of Santa Cruz.

Ex-prison guard’s speech canceled

Washington – A lecture by the woman who became the public face of the Abu Ghraib scandal was canceled Friday at the Library of Congress after threats led to concerns about staff safety.

Former Army reservist Lynndie England had been scheduled to discuss her biography as part of a veterans forum on Capitol Hill. The book by author Gary S. Winkler is called “Tortured: Lynndie England, Abu Ghraib and the Photographs That Shocked the World.”

Members of the Library of Congress Professional Association, the employee group holding the talk, received an e-mail from president Angela Kinney saying the event was canceled due to staff safety concerns.

The group had received “numerous expressions of protest” about the lecture from its members, the e-mail said.

Mother guilty in mutilation case

Houston – A Houston mother was convicted Friday of mutilating her infant son by cutting off his genitals two years ago during an attack she blamed on the family dog.

A Harris County jury deliberated for about three hours before finding Katherine Nadal guilty of first-degree felony injury to a child.

Nadal had claimed the family dog, a 6- to 7-pound dachshund named “Shorty,” was responsible for mutilating her then-5-week-old son as she slept next to him.

But prosecutors told jurors the 28-year-old mother was high on drugs when she mutilated the infant with an unknown sharp instrument in their suburban Houston apartment in March 2007.

Nadal had no visible reaction to the verdict. She faces up to life in prison.


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Kim Jong Un says Koreas are on starting line of a new history

UPDATED: 9:53 p.m.

updated  With a single step over a weathered, cracked slab of concrete, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made history Friday by crossing over the world’s most heavily armed border to greet South Korean President Moon Jae-in for talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Kim then invited Moon to cross briefly back into the north with him before they returned to the southern side.