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ILLINOIS: Blagojevich ploy alleged

A former government insider testified Thursday that then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich told him two years ago of an alleged deal under which a lawmaker would stop passage of an ethics bill if Blagojevich would appoint him to Barack Obama's Senate seat. Alonzo Monk, Blagojevich's chief of staff for three years, said the bill would have sharply limited the governor's ability to raise campaign funds. Monk testified at Blagojevich's corruption trial that the governor told him state Senate President Emil Jones of Chicago had agreed to block the bill. "Blagojevich told me that if Emil did not pass the bill and Obama became president, then Rod would name him to the seat," Monk testified. But he said his successor as chief of staff, John Harris, told him later that Jones had "gone back on the deal."


UTAH: Firing squad? Now he asks pardon

Ronnie Lee Gardner, set to be executed by firing squad next week, said Thursday he wants the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole to spare his life so he can help troubled kids avoid the kind of problems that landed him on death row. Gardner told the board he and his brother are developing 160 acres in northern Utah for an organic farm and residential program for children. Gardner, 49, was sentenced for the fatal shooting of attorney Michael Burdell during a botched escape attempt in 1985. He was on his way to court on charges of murdering bartender Melvyn Otterstrom a year earlier.


CONNECTICUT: Self-amputation bid saves man

Jonathan Metz had been trapped for two days in his West Hartford basement with his left arm stuck in a broken furnace. Smelling rotting flesh, he decided amputation was his only hope. He fashioned a tourniquet near his shoulder and began cutting, making it almost all the way through, but wasn't able to free himself. He was rescued Wednesday after three days when worried friends called police, and firefighters cut the furnace apart. Doctors said Thursday the self-amputation attempt probably saved his life. Metz, 31, had been replacing the furnace boiler fins when his arm got trapped.


ARIZONA: McCain tweets Snooki

Sen. John McCain is taking to Twitter to slam the president. He heard Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi of MTV's hit reality series "Jersey Shore" lamenting that she doesn't use tanning beds anymore because "Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning." She said, "McCain would never put a 10 percent tax on tanning, because he's pale and he would probably want to be tan." McCain replied on Twitter, saying "u r right, I would never tax your tanning bed! Snooki replied: "Haha Yes!!"

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