Call for warnings on cell phones

AUGUSTA, Maine - A Maine legislator wants to make the state the first to require cell phones to carry warnings they can cause brain cancer, although there is no consensus among scientists they do and the industry disputes the claim.

Maine Rep. Andrea Boland (D., Sanford) said she had persuaded legislative leaders to allow her proposal to come up for debate in the 2010 session that begins next month.

Boland uses a cell phone, but with a speaker to keep it away from her head. At issue is radiation emitted by cell phones. Under her bill, manufacturers would have to put labels on phones warning of the potential for brain cancer associated with electromagnetic radiation.

A spokesman for the industry group CTIA-The Wireless Association said scientific evidence "overwhelmingly" indicates no health risk. The Federal Communications Commission has set a standard for the "specific absorption rate" of radio-frequency energy, but it does not require handset makers to divulge radiation levels. - AP

Cargo ship adrift in stormy seas

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A 740-foot cargo ship was disabled and adrift 544 nautical miles southwest of Adak, Alaska, yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The ship was encountering 30-foot seas and winds higher than 60 m.p.h., the Coast Guard reported.

The ship, the APJ Suryavi, registered in India, was heading empty from China to the Columbia River in Oregon when its main engine failed and would not restart, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Michelle Melino in Juneau, Alaska. There are 28 people on board, she said.

The ship is not taking on water and has life rafts, survival suits, and an emergency locator beacon, Melino said. The Coast Guard has sent a C-130 plane to check out the scene and drop life rafts, extra food and water, she said.

- McClatchy Newspapers

Fire briefly shuts New York Macy's

NEW YORK - Hundreds of holiday shoppers were evacuated from the flagship Macy's store in New York's Herald Square yesterday after a fire in an escalator spread smoke through the building. No injuries were immediately reported.

The fire occurred in an escalator between the third and fourth floors, said Elina Kazan, a Macy's spokeswoman. The sirens of numerous police and fire trucks on 34th Street blared long after the fire was reported at 4 p.m. on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Kazan said the fire did not occur within the store's wooden-stair escalators but instead occurred in one of the newer, metal models.

The store reopened and, Kazan said, would stay open until midnight. It was to reopen at 7 this morning and will stay open 24 hours a day until 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. - AP

Elsewhere:

Citadel Broadcasting Corp., the nation's third-largest radio broadcasting company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday in an effort to restructure its hefty debt load as it continues to face declining advertising revenue.