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Nation in brief

Feuding Hatfields, McCoys sign truce

PIKEVILLE, Ky. - A pen and ink sealed the end of Appalachia's most infamous bloody feud instead of a shotgun and bullets.

By Times Wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 15, 2003

Descendants of the Hatfield and McCoy families gathered Saturday in Pikeville to sign the truce, making a largely symbolic and official end to a feud that had claimed at least a dozen lives from the two mountain families.

"We ask by God's grace and love that we be forever remembered as those that bound together the hearts of two families to form a family of freedom in America," says the truce, signed by more than 60 descendants.

Reo Hatfield of Waynesboro, Va., came up with the idea as a proclamation of peace.

The broader message it sends to the world, he said, is that when national security is at risk, Americans put their differences aside and stand united. If these two feuding families can come together, anyone can, he said.

"We're not saying you don't have to fight because sometimes you do have to fight," Hatfield said. "But you don't have to fight forever."

The more than a century of feuding between the McCoys of Kentucky and Hatfields of West Virginia is believed to have its origins in a dispute over a pig. A court battle over timber rights escalated the tension in the 1870s, and by 1888, as many as a dozen lives were lost.

Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton and West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise also signed proclamations declaring June 14 Hatfield and McCoy Reconciliation Day.

1 prairie dog linked to half of suspected pox cases

MADISON, Wis. - A single prairie dog infected with monkeypox before health officials identified the virus may have been responsible for spreading monkeypox to half of the human cases in Wisconsin, a state health official said Saturday.

"A lot of people got exposed over time," said Robert Ehlenfeldt, acting state veterinarian.

State epidemiologist Jeff Davis said Friday that the prairie dog had been linked to three confirmed human cases, six probable cases, nine suspected cases and a case of monkeypox in a rabbit, which infected one of the humans.

It had been handled by a distributor, a household and two veterinarian clinics before it died, Ehlenfeldt said.

Former deputy admits to shuttle debris theft

LUFKIN, Texas - A former Angelina County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of stealing debris from the space shuttle Columbia.

Jeffrey Dean Arriola, 35, was originally set to stand trial on Tuesday in Beaumont on two felony charges, which each could have brought 10-year prison sentences. Instead, on Friday he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of taking government property worth less than $1,000. The sentence is now capped at a year, his attorney said, and the total maximum fine Arriola now faces was reduced from $250,000 to $100,000.

Last week, a jury acquitted a Harrison County constable on similar charges.

Stephen F. Austin State University student Bradley Justin Gaudet, also charged with stealing shuttle debris. His trial has been postponed.

Two other people also have been charged with stealing debris and are awaiting trial.

Funding cuts expected for AmeriCorps programs

WASHINGTON - AmeriCorps is planning to cut funding for some of the more than 2,000 nonprofit and other groups that rely on grants from the community service organization, a spokesman said Saturday.

On Monday, the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, will announce its first round of program grants for the coming year, leaving off the list some programs that have received funding in the past, said Sandy Scott, spokesman for the corporation.

The program currently has about 50,000 participants, but depending on how the accounting dispute is worked out, AmeriCorps could see its rolls whittled down to about 35,000 volunteers. Guidant Corp. faces possible class-action suit

INDIANAPOLIS - Medical device manufacturer Guidant Corp. was hit with a lawsuit a day after one of its subsidiaries pleaded guilty to criminal charges for covering up problems with one of its products.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Indianapolis, accuses Guidant of "material misrepresentations to the market" in the handling of the Ancure aortic abdominal graft.

The lawsuit was filed by the New York firm of Bernstein, Liebhard & Lifshitz on behalf of a Guidant stockholder. Attorneys are seeking class-action status.

Guidant subsidiary Endovascular Technologies Inc. on Thursday admitted covering up problems with the Ancure "stent-graft" device that may have led to 12 deaths.

Microsoft agrees to settle N.C. antitrust suit

RALEIGH, N.C. - Microsoft Corp. has agreed to settle a class-action antitrust lawsuit in North Carolina by setting up an $89-million fund to reimburse customers and buying computer technology for poor schools.

The proposed settlement was made public Friday at a court hearing in Raleigh before Judge Ben F. Tennille.

The lawsuit accuses Microsoft of driving up prices by destroying competitors and monopolizing the market with software tied into its operating system.

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