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NATIONAL BRIEFS


CALIFORNIA: Cross burned near blacks' home

An 11-foot cross was stolen from a church and set on fire next to the home of a black family, igniting anger and disbelief in a prosperous, mostly white Central California community that hasn't seen a hate crime in nearly a decade. Police assigned extra patrols to the neighborhood in Arroyo Grande and rewards were offered for information leading to an arrest. "I was horrified," said the Rev. Stephanie Raphael, president of the San Luis Obispo Ministerial Association. "We live in a paradise, and I think the first thought was, this can't really be real."


13 suspects in Marine garb

Border Patrol agents in San Diego say they caught 13 illegal immigrants wearing U.S. Marine uniforms. Agency spokesman Michael Jimenez said Tuesday that a van with a U.S. government license plate, its number altered, was stopped at a border checkpoint March 14 along Interstate 8. He said two U.S. citizens with the immigrants were arrested on suspicion of alien smuggling. Three of the illegal immigrants were held in federal custody as witnesses. The others were returned to Mexico.


SOUTH DAKOTA: Tough abortion law signed

Women who want an abortion in South Dakota will face the longest waiting period in the nation, three days, and have to undergo counseling at pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions under a measure signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Abortion rights groups said they plan to sue, challenging the measure, which one said could create particular hardships for women who live in rural areas hundreds of miles from the state's only abortion clinic in Sioux Falls.


PENNSYLVANIA: 5 die in Altoona home fire

The worst fire in Altoona since the 1970s tore through a second-floor apartment and killed five people early Tuesday, spewing flames visible across the city, officials said. The victims died of smoke inhalation, Blair County Coroner Patricia Ross said. The cause was under investigation.

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