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Inmate, 95, loses his bid for release

A jury needed only about five minutes to decide that a 95-year-old child molester was a sexual predator and should be committed to a mental institution indefinitely.

After the verdict, Ellef Ellefson, the oldest prisoner in Wisconsin and perhaps the United States, was ordered by a judge to undergo psychiatric treatment at the Wisconsin Resource Center near Oshkosh, a state facility that treats sex offenders.

Ellefson, who has an arrest record dating to 1937, can petition every six months for his release.

Later, his attorney, James Ritland, told reporters that his client wants to appeal the verdict.

"He wants to get out," said Ritland. "He came to me after the verdict and said that for him, it was a life sentence."

Assistant Attorney General William Hanrahan said the jurors' decision Tuesday ensured that the public would be protected from Ellefson's deviant behavior while he continues to receive treatment for his mental disorder.

In July, Ellefson completed a prison sentence for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy with developmental disabilities.

Six more weeks of winter

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. _ Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil _ weather prophet without peer _ saw his shadow shortly after sunrise Wednesday, predicting six more weeks of winter.

With 11-degree temperatures and wind blowing over fresh snow, even a groundhog could see that winter wasn't departing right away.

Forget that there was little sunlight in the overcast skies to cast a shadow.

The Groundhog Day tradition is based on a German superstition that an animal casting its shadow on Feb. 2 _ the Christian holiday of Candlemas _ means another six weeks of winter is coming. Otherwise, it suggests an early spring.

In this central Pennsylvania town of 6,700 people, Phil sees his shadow most years. Wednesday was the 90th time Phil has seen his shadow in the past 114 years.

Canyon stamp is wrong again

WASHINGTON _ First, the U.S. Postal Service had to destroy 100-million Grand Canyon stamps because the caption put the natural wonder in Colorado, not Arizona.

Now that the corrected version is on sale, postal officials have admitted another glitch: The dramatic photograph on the stamp is flipped, giving a mirror image of the real view.

This time, there are no plans to recall or destroy the 60-cent air mail stamps, Postal Service spokesman Don Smeraldi said Wednesday.

"We're sticking with it," Smeraldi said. "No matter how you look at it, the Grand Canyon makes a beautiful postage stamp."

The stamps, part of a series highlighting American landmarks, went on sale Jan. 20.

The photographer who took the picture, Tom Till of Moab, Utah, could have caught the error if he had received an advance copy of the stamp design, said Ann Carter of Till's office.

"All we saw was a teeny, tiny picture that was faxed," Carter said.

A push for biennial budget

WASHINGTON _ A bipartisan group of lawmakers pressed Wednesday for adoption of a two-year budget cycle, saying it would give Congress more time to oversee programs and ensure that federal money is spent wisely.

Congress now spends much of its time on the annual process of drawing up a budget and passing the 13 appropriations or spending bills. Lawmakers rarely finish by the Oct. 1 beginning of the fiscal year; last year they completed their work 50 days late.

Resistance to the biennial budget generally comes from members of the appropriations committees and others unwilling to surrender their annual shot at influencing federal spending.

OFFICER LAID TO REST: Officers lift the casket of Sgt. Cornel Young Jr., 29, who was gunned down by two white officers who mistook him for a suspect. Thousands of mourners streamed to a Baptist church in Providence, R.I., in frigid weather Wednesday to honor Young, son of the highest-ranking black officer in the police department.