Seattle officials ban plastic bags

SEATTLE - The Seattle City Council voted Monday to ban single-use plastic bags from groceries and other retail stores, joining a growing trend among cities that embrace green values.

The ordinance, approved unanimously after months of discussion and debate, takes effect in July. It includes a provision to charge a nickel fee for the use of paper bags, to encourage people to bring their own bags when they shop.

The ban is expected to reduce pollution, free up landfill space, and improve the environment. Seattle's residents use 292 million plastic bags and 68 million paper bags a year.

The council voted in 2008 to charge a 20-cent fee on paper and plastic bags, but the plastics industry spent $1.4 million backing a referendum to overturn that. Voters defeated that fee in 2009. - AP

U.S. will screen Arizona inmates

PHOENIX - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would use immigration agents to screen jail inmates in Arizona's Maricopa County after it revoked Sheriff Joe Arpaio's authority to use its systems.

The 50 agents will "screen, identify, apprehend, and remove criminal aliens" in the county jails, Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Nelson Peacock said Monday in a letter to Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.).

The agency revoked the authority last week after a Justice Department investigation concluded that Arpaio's office committed wide-ranging civil rights violations against Latinos, including racial profiling and heavy-handed immigration patrols. Arpaio said that the letter was meant to pacify the public and that agents would not be in the jails and would not deport all illegal immigrants. - AP

Women get boost in strategy roles

WASHINGTON - President Obama issued an executive order Monday on an initiative to ensure that perspectives of women are included in U.S. diplomatic and development strategy.

The order spells out steps the administration will take to increase U.S. support for women in international efforts to prevent and resolve conflict and in development of war-torn areas.

The U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security is the product of U.S. diplomats, development experts, and the military, according to the administration. The order applies to the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security, and it also includes the U.S. mission to the United Nations, the Agency for International Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Office of U.S. Trade Representative. - Bloomberg News

Elsewhere:

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, accused of trying to kill President Obama by firing several shots at the White House from long range must remain in custody without bond to protect the public and the president, a federal judge said Monday.

Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, will partner to build an applied-sciences campus in New York City that officials hope will transform the city into a center for entrepreneurship and technology innovation to rival California's Silicon Valley, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.