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In brief: 850 snakes found at home of animal-control officer

SHIRLEY, N.Y. – An animal-control officer had hundreds of snakes, including two 6-foot Burmese pythons, at his home, where he ran an illegal side business selling them, authorities said Thursday.

There were 850 snakes worth half a million dollars in a detached garage at the home of Richard Parrinello, including the Burmese pythons, which are illegal in New York state, officials said.

Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross said Burmese pythons can grow to 30 feet long and are “an accident waiting to happen.”

Parrinello has worked on and off as an animal-control officer for the town of Brookhaven since 1988, town spokesman Jack Krieger said.

Supreme Court asked to hear birth control case

OKLAHOMA CITY – The federal government asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to decide whether Hobby Lobby and a Christian bookstore chain have to provide a wide range of birth control options for workers as part of the federal health care law.

The 251-page appeal was filed Thursday by U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli and other government attorneys.

The Oklahoma businesses have operated under a court order that allows them to avoid fines while they challenge a portion of the new law requiring them to provide the coverage.

Company attorneys object to offering such plans based on religious grounds.

Indian Health to give Plan B without prescription

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Native American women seeking emergency contraception at Indian Health Services facilities managed by the federal government now can get it without a consultation or prescription.

The agency had come under fire from women’s health advocates who said it needed to make the morning-after pill more accessible to American Indian and Alaska Native women. IHS has no retail pharmacies, and critics said Native women faced long wait times for Plan B because they had to compete with all the other patients seeking emergency care at clinics, urgent care centers or at emergency rooms.

IHS said that all agency facilities run by the federal government are now under a verbal directive to provide Plan B to women 17 years and older at pharmacy windows without a prescription.

Quake recorded near Fukushima nuclear plant

DENVER – A 5.3-magnitude earthquake has hit the Japanese prefecture that is home to the nuclear power plant crippled in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck at a depth of about 13 miles under Fukushima Prefecture and about 110 northeast of Tokyo.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue an alert.

The Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported that the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., observed no abnormality in radiation or equipment after the quake.

The 2011 disaster caused three reactors to melt and damaged a fuel cooling pool at another.

Renoir art, personal items fetch $1.3 million at auction

NEW YORK – Nearly $1.3 million worth of art and personal items belonging to the French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir have sold at a New York City auction.

Heritage Auctions says 143 lots sold Thursday including Renoir’s prized “Large Venus Victorious,” a life-size statue of the Roman goddess Venus elegantly holding a drape in one hand and an apple in the other. It sold for $545,000.

Heritage said personal items belonging to the Impressionist icon also sold, such as a polka-dot scarf for $3,750; spectacles for $6,250; and a cigarette holder for $1,600.


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