National Roundup: May 23, 2014

May 23, 2014
ARIZONA
Cooler weather helps fight against wildfire

Firefighters took advantage of cooler, calmer weather Friday to get an upper hand on a blaze burning in a scenic Arizona canyon as Memorial Day travelers were forced to alter their plans because of the fire.

Hotshot crews marched along a winding highway that is a key front in their effort and set small fires to rob the wildfire of fuel and keep it from crossing the road. Helicopters dropped explosive chemicals in the steepest parts of the canyon that firefighters cannot reach on foot. Crews were also busy widening a line that would keep the fire from burning toward residential areas.

The human-caused Slide Fire started Tuesday and by Friday had burned more than 11½ square miles in and around Oak Creek Canyon, a scenic recreation zone that normally would be filled with tourists as Memorial Day approaches.

— Associated Press

OREGON
E. coli in water spurs boil alert in Portland

A citywide boil notice was issued for Portland after E. coli was detected in the city’s water supply.

The Portland Water Bureau said Friday that residents should bring to a boil for at least one minute all tap water used for drinking, preparing food, brushing teeth and making ice. Ice or any beverages prepared with un-boiled tap water on or after Tuesday should be dumped.

The notice, which also covers several suburban cities, affects about 670,000 people. It will remain in effect until tests show the water system is clean. That could be Saturday.

The boil notice produced the expected public response: The city Web site crashed from heavy traffic, and bottled water flew from supermarket shelves.

— Associated Press

COLORADO
22 years for cruel guard from Ethiopia

A brutal Ethiopian jail guard who tortured and killed dozens of people in the 1970s during government-sponsored violence should spend 22 years in prison for immigration crimes, a federal judge ruled Friday, saying the United States cannot become a refuge for human-rights violators.

“The risk that this country becomes regarded as a safe haven for violators of human rights is such that the maximum sentence is required,” U.S. District Judge John L. Kane said in sentencing Kefelgn Alemu Worku for immigration fraud.

Worku was convicted of assuming another man’s identity and lying on U.S. immigration forms by denying he committed acts of political persecution.

He had lived quietly in the Denver area for eight years until 2011, when another Ethiopian recognized him outside a cafe and confronted him.

— Associated Press

NEW JERSEY
5 men charged with plot to force divorces

Four Orthodox Jewish rabbis and one of their sons conspired to kidnap and force Jewish men into granting their wives religious divorces, according to a federal indictment handed up Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said several of the men charged Thursday are among a larger group previously charged in the alleged plot.

Rabbi Mendel Epstein and his son, David Epstein, both of Lakewood, N.J., Rabbi Martin Wolmark of Monsey, N.Y., and Rabbis Jay Goldstein and Binyamin Stimler, both of Brooklyn, N.Y., are charged with kidnapping conspiracy and related charges.

The U.S. attorney’s office alleges the rabbis charged Jewish women and their families tens of thousands of dollars to obtain religious divorces, known as “gets,” from unwilling husbands through the threat of force.

Attorneys for Goldstein, Wolmark and Stimler said their clients denied the charges.

— Associated Press

Hawaii governor approves minimum-wage plan: Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) on Friday approved a gradual hike in the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The new law, approved overwhelmingly by lawmakers in April, will raise Hawaii’s base wage in stages to reach $10.10 by January 2018 from a current level of $7.25, which is also the federal minimum.

Highway crash during dust storm kills 6: Several vehicles were involved in a crash on Interstate 10 in southwestern New Mexico during a dust storm, killing at least six people, the state police said.

— From news services

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