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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Dogs find scent in Garridos’ yard

From Wire Reports

ANTIOCH, Calif. – Authorities investigating two missing girl cases said cadaver dogs have picked up a scent that may indicate there are buried remains in the backyard of a Northern California couple already charged in a kidnapping.

Alameda County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said Thursday two dogs alerted at a site in the backyard of Phillip and Nancy Garrido. The couple is charged with the 1991 kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard.

Nelson is not saying where in the yard the dogs picked up a scent. He also cautioned about false positives.

Investigators plan to scan the site today with high-tech equipment.

House passes bill on Kennedy seat

BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday allowing Gov. Deval Patrick to name an interim appointment to the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Edward Kennedy.

The House voted 95-58 in favor of the bill. The bill now moves to the state Senate for its consideration.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Democrat, said the change is needed to ensure Massachusetts continues to be represented by two senators until voters can choose a replacement during a Jan. 19 special election.

“I just want to make sure that Massachusetts has a say … that Massachusetts has their voice heard on health care, on the environment, on clean energy,” DeLeo said.

Patrick, a Democrat and ally of President Barack Obama, also supports the change.

Cheney has back surgery

WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Dick Cheney underwent elective back surgery Thursday, a procedure his office said “went well.”

“He is having dinner in his hospital room with Mrs. (Lynne) Cheney and expects to be released soon,” Cheney spokeswoman Lucy Tutwiler said in a statement Thursday evening.

Cheney, 68, underwent the operation at George Washington University Hospital to deal with lumbar spinal stenosis, a common cause of lower back pain in older adults. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal – the passage for the spinal cord – which in turn puts pressure on nerves, causing pain. Surgery is done to widen the passage and ease that pressure, typically by removing a bit of the vertebra.

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