Briefs from Tribune news services
Group fails in bid to recall Arizona sheriff
Phoenix • A campaign to force a recall election against the polarizing sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix failed on Thursday after recall organizers said they couldn't collect enough voter signatures to bring the lawman to the ballot again.
Organizers of the recall effort against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio needed to turn in more than 335,000 valid voter signatures by 5 p.m. Thursday to force a recall election.
"It is a sad day," said recall campaign manager Lilia Alvarez. "It is a disappointment."
Recall organizers won't reveal the number of signatures they gathered. That said, the last update they gave on their numbers five weeks ago was that they gathered 200,000 signatures.
"The count at this point doesn't matter," Alvarez said in deciding not to reveal the number of signatures gathered.
Arpaio issued a statement suggesting that recall organizers aren't revealing the number of signatures they gathered because they are embarrassed by the level of their failure. "This effort failed because the good people of Maricopa County, whom I'm honored to serve, rejected the wrong-headed idea of overturning an election," Arpaio said.
Japan suspends wheat imports
Washington • Japan has suspended some imports of U.S. wheat after genetically engineered wheat was found on an Oregon farm.
The Agriculture Department announced the discovery of the modified wheat on Wednesday. No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for U.S. farming.
Japan is one of the largest export markets for U.S. wheat growers. Katsuhiro Saka, a counselor at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, said Thursday that Japan had canceled orders of western white wheat from the Pacific Northwest and also of some feed-grade wheat. He said the country was waiting for more information from the Agriculture Department as it investigates the discovery.
"In most countries the unapproved genetically modified wheat would be a target of concern," Saka said. "The Japanese people have similar kinds of concerns."
USDA officials said the wheat was the same strain as a genetically modified wheat that was designed to be herbicide-resistant and was legally tested by seed giant Monsanto a decade ago but never approved. Monsanto stopped testing that product in Oregon and several other states in 2005.
Ricin-tainted letters contain gun threats
New York • New York City's police commissioner says angry letters mailed to President Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his gun control group contained threats about shooting people in the face.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says he won't quote directly from the letters, because he doesn't want to do the author's bidding.
But he summarized the letters as complaining about gun control. Kelly says the letters say, in so many words, "anyone who comes for my guns will be shot in the face."
Two of the letters were opened last week in New York and Washington and were found to have traces of the deadly poison ricin. They were postmarked in Shreveport, La.
The third was intercepted by the White House mail facility and is being analyzed.
Boy, 10, finds $10,000 in Kansas City hotel
Kansas City, Mo. • A 10-year-old boy found $10,000 in a drawer at a Kansas City hotel room and turned the money over to police.
Tyler Schaefer found the money Saturday in the room at the Hilton airport hotel where he and his father, Cody Schaefer, were staying.
The Kansas City Star reports that Cody Schaefer, a truck driver from Rapid City, S.D., said Tyler likes to look for things. After they checked into their room, Tyler began opening all the drawers. It wasn't long before he found the neatly stacked bills.
Schaefer told his son they couldn't keep the cash because it didn't belong to them.
Police said Thursday no one has come forward so far to claim it.