In Washington Powell says ouster of consular chief...

NATIONAL DIGEST

July 12, 2002

In Washington

Powell says ouster of consular chief unrelated to fraud

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that his request that the head of consular services retire was unrelated to revelations that at least 71 fraudulent visas were issued in a Persian Gulf embassy.

"There was a time to make a change, and it was done without any acrimony whatsoever," Powell said at a news conference, disputing public reports that he had forced out Mary Ryan over the visas.

Ryan is the most senior career foreign service officer. As an assistant secretary of state, she was required to submit her resignation at the start of the Bush administration last year. Powell said he had asked Ryan then to stay on "until we got up to speed." But, he said, it was always clear that she would retire at some point.

Tomato pies are recalled for milk not listed on label

A Pennsylvania company is recalling tomato pies sold in four states, including Maryland, after a child suffered a serious allergic reaction to milk not listed on the product's label.

The 1,400 Don Berto's Tomato Pies are supposed to be basically pizza without cheese, but Romano cheese containing milk was added to the recalled pies' sauce, said the Food and Drug Administration. Don Berto's Baking Co. had used a small amount of cheese as "a spice," not listing it as an ingredient, but now will remove all the cheese, said owner Albert Incollingo.

Consumers who are allergic to milk should not eat the recalled pies but return them to the place of purchase for a refund. Those with questions may call Don Berto's at 215-533-7777.

In the Nation

U.S. says it has deported or freed most detainees

NEWARK, N.J. - The government said yesterday that it has released most of the detainees it picked up as part of its investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks.

Of the more than 1,100 detainees, only 74 remain in custody, Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said. Most have been deported, though some were released after being cleared of criminal involvement in the attacks.

Russ Bergeron, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said 38 of the remaining detainees are on the verge of being deported. That would leave 36 people being held by the government.

Woman who started fire says she was desperate

PHOENIX - A woman reviled for setting one of Arizona's devastating wildfires said yesterday that she had been lost in the wilderness for two nights and was desperate to get the attention of a passing TV helicopter. "You can't blame me for saving my life," she said.

In her first extensive interview since she was rescued by the helicopter June 20, Valinda Elliott said she couldn't believe it when the signal fire she started with her lighter became part of the inferno that destroyed at least 467 homes and scorched nearly 469,000 acres before being contained.

The blaze she started, named the Chediski fire, merged with another to the east called the Rodeo fire, creating the biggest wildfire in Arizona history. The combined blazes burned through several communities last month and forced the evacuation of about 30,000 people.

Delay sought in trial for bomb in mailbox

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The lawyer for a college student accused of planting pipe bombs and anti-government letters in mailboxes in five states wants more time to prepare for the trial.

Luke Helder's trial in U.S. District Court was scheduled for Sept. 16. Defense attorney Jane Kelly filed a motion asking for a delay.

Helder, 21, pleaded innocent June 7 to federal charges of using a pipe bomb to destroy Delores Werling's mailbox in rural Tipton on May 3. Werling, 70, was injured in the face and arms by flying shards of metal. She also suffered some hearing loss.

Smart family ex-handyman is charged with burglary

SALT LAKE CITY - Burglary and theft charges were filed yesterday against a handyman who once worked in the home of Elizabeth Smart.

Police said the charges against Richard Albert Ricci are not related to the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth. On June 5, the teen was taken from her bedroom at gunpoint as her younger sister watched, authorities say.

Ricci faces one count of theft for allegedly stealing $3,500 worth of items - jewelry, a perfume bottle and a wine glass filled with sea shells - from the Smarts' home in June 2001. They were found during a search of Ricci's home last month, according to charging documents.

Colo. lawmakers OK letting juries decide death penalty

DENVER - State lawmakers approved a bill yesterday to bring Colorado law in line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling by letting juries, rather than judges, decide whether a convicted killer should live or die.

Gov. Bill Owens is expected to sign it by the end of the week.

In Colorado and four other states - Arizona, Montana, Nebraska and Idaho - judges alone determine whether the death penalty is appropriate. The high court ruling threw into doubt death sentences handed out to 168 killers in those five states. Among them are three inmates in Colorado.

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