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NATION -- NTSB official: Ferry accident not a criminal act

NTSB official: Ferry accident not a criminal act

NEW YORK -- The investigation into a Staten Island ferry that slammed into a pier over the weekend has turned up no evidence of a crime, according to a federal official, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday indications pointed to mechanical failure.

The ferry's assistant captain, Maqbool Ahmed, was piloting the Andrew J. Barberi, with the captain nearby in the bridge, when it crashed at Staten Island's St. George Ferry Terminal on Saturday, injuring about three dozen people.

Ariz. referendum drives targeting new law dropped

PHOENIX -- The two proposed referendum drives challenging Arizona's new sweeping law targeting illegal immigration are being abandoned, organizers said Monday.

Andrew Chavez, a professional petition circulator involved in one of the efforts, said its backers pulled the plug after concluding they might not be able to time their petition filings in such a way as to put the law on hold pending a 2012 public vote.

Jon Garrido, the chief organizer of the other drive, attributed its end to a belief that the law would have been subject to legal protections under Arizona's Constitution if approved by Arizona voters.

Another recall of kids' jewelry announced

LOS ANGELES -- Federal regulators announced another recall of children's jewelry with high levels of the toxic metal cadmium Monday, also saying they've expanded their investigation in an effort to keep dangerous items off store shelves in the first place.

A spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said its inspectors are now screening children's jewelry for cadmium.

California judge mulls dismissing banana lawsuit

LOS ANGELES -- Attorneys for Dole Food Co. launched an attack in court Monday against six Nicaraguan men and their lawyers, saying fraud led to a $2.3 million verdict in a lawsuit that claimed exposure to pesticides made the men sterile.

Judge Victoria Chaney, who presided over the 2007 trial and has since been elevated to the state's appellate court, returned to Superior Court to hear evidence and arguments.

Toyota waited months to issue steering recall

MIAMI -- Toyota waited nearly a year in 2005 to recall trucks and SUVs in the United States with defective steering rods, despite issuing a similar recall in Japan and receiving dozens of reports from American motorists about rods that snapped without warning, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The lengthy gap between the Japanese and U.S. recalls triggered a new investigation Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Woman pleads guilty to murder of 8-year-old

TRACY, Calif. -- A California Sunday school teacher accused of kidnapping, raping and killing an 8-year-old playmate of her daughter, then stuffing the body in a suitcase, pleaded guilty Monday to murder.

Melissa Huckaby, 29, entered the plea in San Joaquin County Superior Court.

BP sprays more chemicals into main Gulf leak

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO -- A remote-controlled submarine shot a chemical dispersant into the maw of a massive undersea oil leak Monday, further evidence that authorities expect the gusher to keep erupting into the Gulf of Mexico for weeks or more.

Crews using the deep-sea robot attempted to thin the oil, which is rushing up from the seabed at a pace of about 210,000 gallons per day.

Chimp attack victim evaluated for transplant

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Hospital officials say a Connecticut woman mauled by a chimpanzee is undergoing a preliminary evaluation in Massachusetts to determine if she is a potential candidate for a face and hand transplant.