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Economic crisis has cities growing

Reversing a decade-long trend, many of America's largest cities are now growing more quickly than the rest of the nation, yet another sign of an economic crisis that is making it harder for people to move. Census data released Wednesday highlight a city resurgence in coastal regions and areas of the Midwest and Northeast, due to a housing crunch, recession and higher gas prices that have slowed migration to far-flung suburbs and residential hot spots in the South and West. "Cities are showing a continued vitality as hubs of activity even as some suburban and exurban areas go through tough times," said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. "It emphasizes the buoyancy of large, established cities with diverse economies and populations." Frey and other demographers said many of the population shifts could be longer-lasting. They noted that while the Sunbelt region is still growing, it is unlikely to return to the torrid growth rates of earlier in the decade before the housing bubble burst. "Suburban sprawl may not be dead, but it's certainly on hiatus," said Mark Mather, associate vice president of the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau. "Even if the economy recovered tomorrow, it might take a while for people to change their behavior. Attitudes just don't change overnight."

It's easier to get a drink in Utah

For the past 40 years, dropping into a bar in Utah has been a complicated affair: Patrons have to fill out an application, pay a fee and become a member before they could go in for a drink. But some of that will change today when a new state law kicks in eliminating the need for people to become members of bars to go inside. Bars and drinkers are so thrilled by the new rules that they are planning what is expected to be the largest pub crawl in state history, complete with free shuttle buses and taxis to 16 bars. State officials wanted to change the law to help generate more tourism and convention business.

A hero again, son in critical condition

Kyle Landa, 20, who family members say has saved his father's life twice in the past year, is in critical condition from burns suffered when he pulled his dad out of a burning home in Griswold, Conn. Officials say Landa collapsed after dragging his mother and quadriplegic father out of their burning home on Saturday. Last July, Landa pulled his father out of the family pool and resuscitated him.

Man gets wallet back 63 years later

Bill Fulton doesn't remember losing his wallet, but getting it back more than 60 years later helped him remember the past. The leather stayed smooth and the zipper moved as easily as in 1946, when he apparently dropped it behind the bleachers during a basketball game in a gym in Baker City, Ore. Fulton's Social Security card and a bicycle license for his job as a drugstore delivery boy were apparently untouched since the year after World War II ended. The wallet was found this month when the bleachers were moved for a renovation project. "Where did all the time go?" Fulton said. "It's hard to believe that the times have gone so fast."

Fans of the giant Palouse earthworm are once again seeking federal protection for the rare, sweet-smelling species that spits at predators, filing a petition Tuesday with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting the worm be protected as an endangered species.

"The giant Palouse earthworm is critically endangered and needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act to have any chance of survival," said Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The worm has been seen only four reported times in the past 110 years, but supporters contend it is still present in the Palouse, a region of about 2 million acres near the Idaho-Washington border south of Spokane.

The worm can reach 3 feet in length, is white in color and reportedly possesses a unique lily smell, said Greenwald. It is the largest and longest-lived earthworm in North America.

Most earthworms found in the Northwest originated in Europe, arriving on plants or in soil shipped to the New World. The giant Palouse earthworm is one of the few native species.

Associated Press

Economic crisis has cities growing 06/30/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 9:02pm]
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