Wildfire danger to Los Alamos lab subsiding

Posted July 01, 2011, at 8:30 p.m.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. —  Firefighters held their ground Friday on the flank of a massive wildfire that burned near the nation’s premier nuclear weapons laboratory, and officials at the lab and in the surrounding town began planning for the return of thousands of residents and employees who fled the area earlier this week.

Officials gave no timetable for when they would lift the 5-day-old evacuation order for the northern New Mexico town of Los Alamos, normally home to 12,000 residents. But some county workers were back Friday to prepare for the eventual rush of utility service calls, as well as possible flooding from surrounding mountainsides denuded by the wildfire.

With the fire burning several miles upslope from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, officials were confident the blaze no longer posed an immediate threat to the lab, where experiments on two supercomputers and studies on extending the life of 1960s-era B61 nuclear bombs have been put on hold.

Feds won’t give assurance on medical pot

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department says marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical marijuana laws could face prosecution for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws.

In a policy memo to federal prosecutors obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said a 2009 memo by then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden did not give states cover from prosecution.

Starting in February, 10 U.S. attorney’s offices have asserted they have the authority to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical marijuana laws. Prosecutors, the states complained, are not even willing to declare that state employees who implement such laws are immune from prosecution.

State officials say that following a two-year period in which federal prosecutors gave breathing room to state medical marijuana laws, the Justice Department is now toughening up its position as more states move toward opening facilities to dispense marijuana.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of marijuana, with programs in various phases of development. The states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Judge: Ride’s over for Mich. boy, 7, who drove car

BAD AXE, Mich. — A judge has told a 7-year-old Michigan boy who took his stepfather’s car on a 20-mile journey that his “driving days are over for a while.”

The boy agreed, saying simply, “Yes,” when addressed Thursday by Judge David Clabuesch.

Last week, Huron County Prosecutor Timothy Rutkowski signed a petition for the boy’s parents to appear before Clabuesch in the circuit court’s family division. In the petition, Rutkowski charged the 7-year-old with unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

The Huron Daily Tribune reports that the boy now will undergo a psychological examination, in the hope it will provide an explanation as to what compelled him to take his stepfather’s car for the ride that ended following a police chase in Caseville Township.

Syrian tanks fire on demonstrators near Turkish border

BEIRUT — Syria’s army carried out attacks on anti-government demonstrators near the border with Turkey and detained hundreds at rallies across the country Friday, a human-rights activist said.

At least 60 tanks were sent north to the border province of Idlib, part of a deployment that includes helicopters, Mahmoud Merhi, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, said by phone from Syria’s capital, Damascus. At least 10 people were killed and as many as 50 wounded in Idlib in the past day in raids on the village of Rameh, with more deaths reported today in Halab, he said. The Associated Press put the total at 12.

Three people died during rallies in the central province of Homs Friday, Ammar Qurabi, head of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, said by phone from Cairo.

Security forces have killed more than 1,500 people since the start of the unrest, according Qurabi. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that President Bashar al-Assad is “running out of time” to meet protesters’ demands. A U.S.- led effort to get the United Nations Security Council to condemn the violence was blocked by China and Russia.

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