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POSTED June 12, 2012 9:12 p.m.

NJ YACHT HOAX RESPONSE COST MORE THAN $300,000: NEW YORK (AP) — Rescue officials say a search operation after a fake report of a yacht explosion off the New Jersey coast cost agencies including the Coast Guard more than $300,000 and took about five hours.

The hoax was called in Monday afternoon. The caller said in a calm voice there were three dead people and nine injured people aboard a sinking yacht called the Blind Date after an explosion. He said he was calling from a solar-powered radio and there were 20 people in the water.

Coast Guard vessels and New York City police helicopters scrambled to search for people and wreckage but found nothing.

Authorities said Tuesday hoax emergency calls cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars a year but there's little they can do to prevent them.

NURSES SET TO STRIKE AT 9 SF BAY AREA HOSPITALS: OAKLAND  (AP) — Hundreds of nurses at nine Northern California hospitals are set to strike to protest stalled contract negotiations.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that as many as 4,400 registered nurses at Bay Area hospitals operated by Sutter Health could walk off the job.

Wednesday's walkout will be the fourth strike organized by the California Nurses Association since September.

Nurses and managers at Sutter Health have been negotiating for a new contract for more than a year, but the two sides have clashed over sick pay and cuts in employee benefits.

Sutter Health officials say all hospitals will to stay open during the strike, but elective procedures will be rescheduled.

The hospitals have hired replacement nurses for five days, when striking nurses will not be allowed to return to work.

SPECIAL ELECTION IN ARIZONA TO REPLACE GIFFORDS: PHOENIX (AP) — Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' hand-picked Democratic candidate squared off Tuesday in a special House election in Arizona against the Republican she narrowly beat just months before she was shot. It was a hard-fought preview of the broader fall campaign to come.

Both the GOP and the Democrats were using the race to hone and test their political arguments for the November elections, when everything from the White House on down will be on the ballot.

Republicans, sensing a chance to capture the former congresswoman's seat in southern Arizona, sought to make the contest a referendum on President Barack Obama and his handling of the economy. They argued that Democrat Ron Barber, a former Giffords aide asked by the lawmaker to pursue the seat, would fall in line behind the White House.

Democrats, in turn, played to the senior vote by contending that Republican Jesse Kelly, who narrowly lost to Giffords in 2010, would not protect Medicare and Social Security.

BOOK OF MORMON STOLEN IN ARIZONA RECOVERED IN DC : MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Federal authorities have arrested a man in the theft of a rare first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon from a suburban Phoenix bookstore.

Mesa police said Tuesday that FBI and U.S. marshals searched the apartment of Jay Linford in Washington, D.C., and recovered the book that's valued at about $40,000.

The edition is one of 5,000 printed in 1830.

The owner of Rare and Out of Print Books and Art in Mesa reported the book stolen on May 28 and said it wasn't insured. Helen Schlie says it's known throughout Mesa's Mormon community that her store had an original copy.

Police say the store owner knows Linford and he allegedly was in the store at the time of the theft.

Police say Linford is being held on $40,000 bond pending extradition to Arizona

GEORGIA DENIES KKK APPLICATION TO ADOPT HIGHWAY: ATLANTA (AP) — A Ku Klux Klan group in Georgia lost its bid Tuesday to join the state's highway cleanup program, but a legal challenge to the decision may be looming. Similar groups in other states have won legal battles after initially being turned down for highway cleanup programs.

The International Keystone Knights of the KKK in Union County applied last month to the "Adopt-A-Highway" program, hoping to clean up along part of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains. The state program enlists civic groups, companies and other volunteers to pick up trash, and the groups are recognized with a sign along the road they adopt.

Transportation Department officials met with lawyers from the state Attorney General's Office on Monday and also consulted with Gov. Nathan Deal. The agency said Tuesday it would deny the KKK group's application, adding that the program is aimed at "civic-minded organizations in good standing."

"Participation in the program should not detract from its worthwhile purpose," the department's statement reads. "Promoting an organization with a history of inciting civil disturbance and social unrest would present a grave concern to the department. Issuing this permit would have the potential to negatively impact the quality of life, commerce and economic development of Union County and all of Georgia."

The statement went on to explain that motorists who drive past signs promoting the KKK or who see members picking up trash could be distracted — creating a safety issue — and that the section of highway the group wanted to adopt is ineligible because of its 55 mph speed limit.

WOMEN ACCUSED OF FLASHING AT ILLINOIS GOLF COURSE: EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Two Missouri women are accused of showing off more than their putting skills at a southwestern Illinois golf course.

Madison County Sheriff's Capt. T. Mike Dixon says investigators responded to complaints of lewd behavior Monday at the Woodlands Golf Course in Foster Township and saw the women displaying their breasts.

Now, authorities in Madison County have charged 45-year-old Shelly Lewis and 43-year-old Alicia Binford of O'Fallon, Mo., with public indecency.

Binford and Lewis couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday. Binford's home telephone number has been disconnected. Lewis hasn't returned a message left at her home. Court records don't show if they have an attorney.

Both women are free on bond.

 

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