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Traps endangering N.Y. firefighters

Firefighters trained to handle smoke and flames are now facing a new hazard: sadistic booby traps set by drug dealers to protect their cash and drugs. Razor blades embedded in bannisters, used hypodermic needles glued upright to the floor and bear traps set under a window are just a few of the dangers firefighters have encountered while responding to calls in the last 18 months. "It costs them next to nothing and it's horrendous," said Capt. Mike Rowley, head of the department's teaching and evaluation unit. Firefighters have been injured by the traps, but statistics are not available, the department said.Permit okayed for theater near park

SPRINGDALE, Utah _ The Town Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to grant a conditional use permit for construction of a 300-seat, big-screen indoor theater at the entrance to Zion National Park, the most popular of Utah's five national parks. Officials with the developer, World Odyssey Co., said they expect construction to begin immediately. In addition to the theater, the developer plans a 12,000-square-foot retail complex and a 169-stall parking lot across the Virgin River from the park's main campground. The approval came despite a storm of protests from environmentalists and others worried that the project would detract from the majestic scenery of the 146,000-acre park, which drew 2.3-million visitors last year.

Toxic gases leak at geothermal plant

PAHOA, Hawaii _ Toxic gases spewed unchecked Thursday after a well exploded at a geothermal energy plant on the island of Hawaii, causing the evacuation of some residents. Trade winds spread hydrogen sulfide gas and steam released from the plant being built in the Puna rain forest, but no serious injuries were reported. The well blew late Wednesday after a drill hit steam under high pressure at 3,475 feet below ground, according to the owners, Ormat Energy Systems of Nevada. Ormat workers and Hawaii County authorities fought to contain the blown well that was pouring a toxic cloud 60 feet into the air Thursday. The well was expected to remain out of control at least into today.

Dismissal sought in Smith rape case

WASHINGTON _ Attorneys defending William Kennedy Smith on rape charges claimed Thursday that Palm Beach police and prosecutors have "intentionally coached and assisted the complaining witness in the fabrication of her story." The charge, contained in a motion to dismiss the charges against the nephew of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., marked the sharpest attack so far on the prosecution and seemed to signal the defense that his lawyers plan to present. Smith's trial is scheduled for Aug. 5 in Palm Beach County.

Wilder, Robb agree to discuss tape

RICHMOND, Va. _ Gov. L. Douglas Wilder offered Thursday to meet with Sen. Charles Robb to discuss the controversy over a tape of a Wilder phone conversation that Robb kept for 2{ years. Robb accepted. Robb and Wilder, Democrats with a longstanding rivalry, spoke on the telephone Wednesday night for the first time since Wilder disclosed the recording last week. Robb has said his office kept the tape for 2{ years until he ordered it destroyed recently. He said he has no idea who made the tape and mailed it to his office anonymously. The FBI and Virginia State Police are conducting a joint investigation. Intercepting and recording telephone calls is a crime under state and federal law.

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