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Published Dec. 10, 2006

Taco Bell said Saturday tests have ruled out all its ingredients except scallions as a possible source of a harsh strain of E. coli that has sickened more than 60 people in the Northeast. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it expected the number of cases to grow. As of Saturday, the agency had counted 61 confirmed cases in five states, most in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Forty-nine of those who got sick were hospitalized, and seven developed a type of kidney failure, the CDC said. Health officials said symptoms of E. coli infection include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps or vomiting, but usually not fever.


Witness to beating is under protection

Police are guarding a witness who said she saw a beating at a Halloween block party after what authorities describe as several acts of intimidation, and a judge has taken the unusual step of ordering that her name not be used in court. The 18-year-old black witness had been afraid to testify against a group of black teens she said she saw attack three white women but told prosecutors she wanted "to do the right thing." Keeping witnesses' identities concealed can be difficult because of defendants' constitutional rights to confront their accusers, said Jean Rosenbluth, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at the University of Southern California. A boy and nine girls, ranging in age from 12 to 17, have pleaded not guilty to charges of felony assault by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury. Eight have been charged with a hate crime enhancement. Two 15-year-old boys face trial later on charges of felony assault with the hate-crime enhancement. Kathleen Moreno, an attorney for one girl charged, denied her client or the other defendants had anything to do with threatening the witness.


Women's college gets new name

Randolph-Macon Woman's College will change its name to Randolph College when it admits men for the first time next year, officials said Saturday. Trustees of the 115-year-old private college voted in September to make the school coeducational, and the new name takes effect July 1. The school is going co-ed in an effort to achieve more financial stability, although nine students have filed a lawsuit seeking to delay male enrollment until at least after current freshmen have graduated.


Man hiked 16 miles looking for help

A San Francisco man who was stranded with his family in the snowy wilderness walked more than 16 miles in search of help before he died - 6 more miles than originally thought, a search official said Saturday. James Kim, 35, his wife and their two daughters were about 7 miles from a fishing lodge stocked with food, not the 1 mile authorities earlier thought, said Phil Turnbull, a fire chief in Josephine County. A mapping error led to the incorrect figures but did not affect the search for Kim, Turnbull said. The Kims were returning to San Francisco on Nov. 25 and had gotten stuck in snow after taking a wrong turn down a logging road that is normally blocked by a gate. Kim's wife, Kati, 30, and their two young daughters were rescued Monday, two days after he struck out on foot. James Kim was found dead of exposure Wednesday.