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Nation in brief: PETA suggests robotic groundhog

Punxsutawney, Pa. – An animal rights group wants organizers of Pennsylvania’s Groundhog Day festival to replace Punxsutawney Phil with a robotic stand-in.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it’s unfair to keep the animal in captivity and subject him to the huge crowds and bright lights that accompany tens of thousands of revelers each Feb. 2 in Punxsutawney, a tiny borough about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. PETA is suggesting the use of an animatronic model.

But William Deeley, president of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, says the animal is “being treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania.” The groundhog is kept in a climate-controlled environment and is inspected annually by the state Department of Agriculture.

Deeley says PETA isn’t interested in Phil from Feb. 2 on and is looking for publicity.

Worker shot in posh N.Y. shop

New York – A jewelry store worker was shot to death in a brazen midday robbery Wednesday in a shop on posh Madison Avenue, police said.

Two people were working at R.S. Durant at about 12:25 p.m. when a man in his 30s wearing a blue overcoat, gray slacks, sunglasses, a black wool hat and a scarf around his face came into the Upper East Side store and said he was robbing the place, police said.

The workers refused to fill two canvas bags the gunman brought, police said. The suspect took out the clip from his semiautomatic pistol and showed it to the employees, saying, “You think I’m kidding? This is real” before putting the clip back in and firing once, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

Henry Menahem, 71, was hit once in the chest. The second worker, a 49-year-old man, asked if he could call 911 to help Menahem, but the gunman refused.

The store is only about 12 feet wide and about 20 feet deep and had jewelry cases hanging on the walls. The gunman smashed one of the cases and loaded bags with diamond necklaces and other jewels before fleeing south on Madison Avenue. No customers were in the store at the time.

Police were still looking for the suspect. The victim was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.


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