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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mom signs ‘Help’; daughter tells 911

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Westhampton, N.Y. A mother’s decision to teach her 3-year-old daughter sign language may have saved her life.

Kristin Comeau began to cough uncontrollably and have difficulty breathing on Wednesday. The Long Island mother dialed 911, but her throat closed up and prevented her from speaking when the operator answered.

Comeau, who had taught her daughter, Ruby, sign language as a hobby, said she signed the word “help” to her daughter, and the little girl repeated it to the 911 operator.

Ruby also gave the operator her address, as she had been taught by her father.

Comeau was taken to a hospital, where she recovered from what she believes was a severe allergic reaction.

“I couldn’t believe how well she did,” Comeau told Newsday.

Ruby’s 8-month-old brother, Nick, also is being taught sign language. He “can sign ‘milk’ to me. You take your hand and just squeeze it like you’re pumping it out of a cow,” Comeau said.

$18 million restitution after man ignited blaze

Redding, Calif. A lost hunter who started a forest fire in northern California while trying to keep warm was ordered to pay $18.2 million in restitution Wednesday.

The fire in the Mendocino National Forest burned 6,058 acres and cost $33 million to suppress, authorities said. The restitution covers the U.S. Forest Service’s cost of fighting the fire and restoring the burned area, prosecutors said.

Jason Hoskey, 26, of Willows, lit a campfire when he got lost hunting on Sept. 27, 2003. The fire spread after he fell asleep.

Flames had been banned in the area because of extreme fire danger. Prosecutors said Hoskey also violated the ban by smoking several cigarettes.

Hoskey pleaded no contest in September to a federal misdemeanor of leaving a fire burning or unattended.

Besides the restitution ordered at his sentencing, Hoskey was banned from the Mendocino National Forest for five years.

Candy showing run-over critters sparks criticism

Trenton, N.J. Animal rights activists are disgusted by a new candy from Kraft Foods Inc. that’s shaped like critters run over by cars – complete with tire treads.

The fruity-flavored Trolli Road Kill Gummi Candy – in shapes of partly flattened snakes, chickens and squirrels – fosters cruelty toward animals, according to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“It sends the wrong message to children, that it’s OK to harm animals. And that’s the wrong message, especially from a so-called wholesome corporation like Kraft,” said society spokesman Matthew Stanton.

The society is considering petition drives, boycotts and letter-writing campaigns to get the candy pulled from the market, Stanton said.

After receiving a complaint from the NJSPCA Wednesday, Kraft officials pulled an animated advertisement from Trolli’s Web site that featured car headlights and animals. No other decisions on changes have been made, said Kraft spokesman Larry Baumann.

“If you look across the Gummi category we certainly have many products that are offbeat, and that’s what we were doing in this case,” Baumann said. “We didn’t mean to offend anyone.”

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