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Lautenberg urges return of fugitive

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) urged the Portuguese government to return an American fugitive who escaped from a New Jersey prison in 1970 and spent more than 40 years on the lam before being captured in September in Portugal.

Lautenberg said Monday that he sent a letter to Portugal's prime minister asking him to send George Wright, 68, back to the United States to serve the rest of his 15- to 30-year sentence for the 1962 killing of a gas station attendant in Wall Township, Monmouth County. Wright had served eight years behind bars when he escaped from Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, Cumberland County; two years later, he and his associates hijacked a Delta jet, with Wright disguised as a priest.

Portugal's government has refused to extradite Wright, saying that he was now a citizen of Portugal and that the statute of limitations on the New Jersey murder had expired. The U.S. government is appealing the decision. - AP

Brown asks voters for tax increases

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Jerry Brown filed a ballot initiative Monday asking California voters to increase taxes on themselves to generate more money for schools and public safety.

Brown posted an open letter to Californians on his website, saying he wants to temporarily raise taxes on the rich and raise the statewide sales tax by half a cent, to 7.75 percent. The proposal would raise $7 billion a year for five years.

"The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts, the Democratic governor wrote.

He said he was going directly to voters because he did not "want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year" in the Legislature, where he failed to reach a tax compromise earlier this year as the state faced a $26.6 billion deficit. - AP

Russian tanker to carry fuel to Nome

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The iced-in city of Nome on Alaska's western coast may be in luck: A Russian tanker that can plow through thick ice will try to deliver 1.5 million gallons of home heating fuel, gasoline and diesel fuel after a massive storm kept a barge from getting in before winter.

The vessel - certified to travel through ice four feet thick for long distances - delivers fuel to communities in the Russian Far East. The plan is for it to leave Russia this week and go to South Korea, where it will be loaded with fuel, and then travel to Nome, where it should arrive by late December. If it can't make it into port, the tanker, owned by Russian company Rimsco, is equipped with a hose more than a mile for offloading fuel.

It could save the 3,500 residents of the coastal city from a costly winter, including predictions of $9-a-gallon gas if fuel had to be flown in. - AP


The U.S. Department of Agriculture pledged $50 million Monday to a program designed to restore seven river basins from Florida to Texas, to try to show that a blueprint for rebuilding the Gulf Coast's fragile ecosystem is more than just another federal report.