In brief: Report leads to searches for giant snake in New Jersey lake
JEFFERSON, N.J. – Reports of a 16-foot-long exotic snake – possibly an anaconda – slithering through New Jersey’s largest lake have stoked fears among residents and led to searches and questions about what exactly is in the water.
Traps have been set in Lake Hopatcong, while animal control officers and a private reptile expert have been hunting for the snake, first spotted earlier this month.
A spokesman for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection said there have been no confirmed sightings of the snake and no evidence that it’s actually there.
“We’ve been trying to take this seriously, because if there is a dangerous creature we want to help capture it,” spokesman Larry Ragonese said. “At this point, we’ve gone a couple weeks now with a growing story of an exotic creature roaming the lake, and there’s hundreds of eyes now trained on it. If there was to be something, you would think that that someone would have seen it.”
Gerald Andrejcak, assistant director of New Jersey’s Common Sense for Animals, said he spotted the head and part of a body of what he estimated as a 16-foot-long anaconda last week. He said he cornered it before it escaped by slithering between his legs.
Quarantine in place after plague death
BEIJING – Parts of a northern Chinese city have been quarantined after state media said a man there died of bubonic plague.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua said Tuesday that 151 people were under observation in the city of Yumen in Gansu province after authorities determined they had come in contact with a man who had died of the plague July 16.
Xinhua said investigators believed the man had contracted the bacterial infection after contact with a marmot. The report said all the people under quarantine were in good health, but 10 checkpoints were still blocking off parts of the city.
Bubonic plague killed millions of people in Europe in the 14th century and tens of thousands in China in the 19th century. It is spread largely through flea bites and can cause gangrene, seizures and fever.
Death-row inmate’s argument denied
TUCSON, Ariz. – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed an Arizona execution to go forward amid a closely watched First Amendment fight over the secrecy surrounding lethal injection drugs in the U.S.
The court ruled in favor of Arizona officials in the case of Joseph Rudolph Wood, who was convicted of murder in the 1989 shooting deaths of his estranged girlfriend and her father. The state plans to execute him today.
Wood, 55, argued he has a First Amendment right to details about the state’s method for lethal injections, the qualifications of the executioner and who makes the drugs. Such demands for greater transparency have become a new legal tactic in death-penalty cases in recent months.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had put Wood’s execution on hold, saying the state must reveal the information. That marked the first time an appeals court has acted to delay an execution based on the issue of drug secrecy, said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C.
The 9th Circuit gave new hope to death-penalty opponents. While many death-row inmates have made the same First Amendment argument as Wood, other appeals courts have shot them down. But the Supreme Court has not been receptive, ruling against them each time the transparency issue has come before the justices.