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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Vehicle sparks caused fatal fire

From Wire Reports

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – Sparks from a vehicle caused a wildfire at the edge of Yosemite National Park that led to the death of a firefighting air-tanker pilot this week, officials said Thursday.

Fire investigators found that the blaze broke out Tuesday because of hot metal fragments from a vehicle creating sparks, authorities said in a statement. Investigators had not determined what type of vehicle or what part may have caused the sparks, saying it “could be the result of several things such as trailer safety chains dragging on the pavement, vehicle brake parts generating a spark or other sources.” They didn’t immediately say what evidence led them to the cause of the fire that had burned 245 acres and was 10 percent contained.

A state fire air tanker crashed into a canyon wall on Tuesday, killing 62-year-old pilot Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt, of San Jose.

Comedic actress Hooks dies at 57

Actress Jan Hooks, best known for her work on “Saturday Night Live” and “Designing Women,” died Thursday, a spokeswoman of Innovative Artists, the agency that represented her, confirmed. She was 57.

A cause of death was not released.

Hooks was in a variety of other television shows and movies, including a role in the 1992 blockbuster “Batman Returns.”

She also had roles on “Third Rock from the Sun,” “The Simpsons” and “30 Rock.”

Court lets Texas abortion law stand

AUSTIN, Texas – A federal appeals court Thursday declined to reconsider a March decision that allowed Texas to require abortion doctors to gain admitting privileges in a nearby hospital.

Abortion providers had asked the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the unanimous decision by a three-judge panel, arguing that some doctors have been unable to comply, forcing clinics to close and placing an unconstitutional burden on women seeking an abortion.

That request was denied, without elaboration, 12-3.

Abortion providers are expected to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Auction features Darwin letter

NEW YORK – A letter by Charles Darwin on the sex life of barnacles and a vintage Apple computer are among the unusual pieces of science history going up for auction in New York.

Buyers at the Oct. 22 auction at Bonhams will need deep pockets. The 1976 Apple 1 computer, one of 50 built in Steve Jobs’ garage in 1976, is estimated to bring $300,000 to $500,000.

Potential buyers can also fork over an estimated $150,000 to $250,000 for a 1,500-pound viewing window that protected scientists working to produce the first atomic bombs.

Wisconsin and Texas voter ID laws blocked

MADISON, Wis. – The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked Wisconsin from implementing a law requiring voters to present photo IDs. A federal judge did the same in Texas.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday declared the law constitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union followed that up the next day with an emergency request to the Supreme Court asking it to block the ruling. On Thursday night the high court did so, vacating the appeals court ruling.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision.

Also Thursday, a federal judge blocked a voter ID law in Texas, barring that state from implementing the voting requirement.

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