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washingtonag chief rejects stiffer meat fines

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer told Congress on Thursday that he would not endorse an outright ban on "downer" cows entering the food supply or back stiffer penalties for regulatory violations by meat processing plants in the wake of the largest beef recall in the nation's history.

Appearing at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Schafer said the department is investigating why it missed the inhumane treatment of cattle at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. in Chino, Calif., and announced interim steps such as more random inspections of slaughterhouses and more unannounced audits of the nearly two dozen plants that process meat for federal school lunch programs. But Schafer said downer cattle could occasionally enter the food supply safely, in accordance with USDA rules, after an additional inspection by a veterinarian.

ST. LOUIS

States reach deal for $640M span over river

Missouri and Illinois ended years of bickering over how to pay for a new Mississippi River bridge and at what cost, announcing a deal for a four-lane, $640-million span meant to ease congestion at one of the nation's busiest crossings. The bridge, scheduled to be open by about 2015, would have two lanes in each direction as the fifth span between St. Louis and its Illinois suburbs. The bridge will be toll free.

st. Paul, minn.

Bridge disaster leads to official's ouster

Legislators threw Minnesota's transportation commissioner out of office Thursday, nearly seven months after the Minneapolis bridge collapse crystallized discontent over her leadership. State senators voted 44-22 against confirming Carol Molnau, who remains lieutenant governor.

WASHINGTON

Blamed in backlog, vets' aide steps down

The Veterans Affairs Department said Thursday that its undersecretary responsible for benefits is leaving. The agency has been besieged by complaints about its backlog in claims, which have escalated, in part, because of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking assistance.

Daniel Cooper, a retired Navy vice admiral, departs April 1. A VA spokesman said Cooper, who faced criticism by veterans' advocates for the backlog, was leaving for personal reasons.

washington

Housing aid plan stalls in Congress

Using their filibuster powers, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bid to let bankruptcy courts ease the burden on borrowers who can't make mortgage payments.

Also

Cribs recalled: Safety officials recalled 24,000 Indonesia-made cribs and warned parents not to put babies to bed with pillows and other soft bedding. The cribs were imported by Munire Furniture and sold from November 2005 to November 2007. No injuries have been reported.

Drifter charged: Gary Michael Hilton, a drifter serving life in prison for killing a hiker in Georgia, was indicted in the slaying of a nurse whose body was found decapitated in Florida's Apalachicola National Forest on Dec. 15.

Times wires

washingtonag chief rejects stiffer meat fines 02/29/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:19am]
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  1. Chris Archer, 25,000 Cubs fans and Tampa Bay's painful truth

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The biggest ovation inside Tropicana Field on Tuesday night was not for Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who was returning for the first time since managing the Rays.

    "W" flags fly in the stands after the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Rays Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  2. A rendering of the Bucs' indoor practice facility.
  3. Poorly assembled 'Lego Ninjago Movie' waters down Lego movie franchise

    Movies

    Well, that didn't take long.

    After only three movies, the Lego franchise is already a shadow of its original self, less irreverent and go-for-broke bricky. The watering down of an ingenious formula comes with The Lego Ninjago Movie, the sort we expected all along from plastic construction toys.

    A scene from "The Lego Ninjago Movie." (Warner Bros.)
  4. Irma slows curbside trash service in Pasco

    Hurricanes

    Hurricane Irma brought a hiccup to twice-weekly curbside trash service in Pasco County.

    s
Pasco officials are asking for patience about the slow pace of residential trash service from private haulers. In some areas, trash hasn't been collected since Friday, Sept. 8, because of the volume of waste left after Hurricane Irma.
  5. Clemson reunion for Bucs' Adam Humphries, Vikings' Mackensie Alexander

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver Adam Humphries will have a familiar face lining up against him Sunday when he's in the slot and the Vikings have Mackensie Alexander guarding him as their nickel defensive back.

    Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries (10) makes a reception before being tackled by Chicago Bears defensive back Marcus Cooper (31) Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]