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NATIONAL BRIEFS


NORTH DAKOTA: Electricity a flooding byproduct

The torrents of water pounding through the Missouri River's six dams are generating surplus electricity across the upper Great Plains, but ratepayers can mostly forget about seeing any benefit on their monthly bills. Utility officials say prices are already low, and the federal agency that markets the electricity has to make up losses from years of drought. Heavy spring rains and a mammoth Rocky Mountain snowpack have set up the Missouri for a summer of flooding, with temporary levees being thrown up and permanent dikes checked along the river's length.


FLORIDA: Drought across the South

A severe drought across vast swaths of Florida is wilting crops, sparking wildfires and sinking one of the country's largest lakes to historically low levels. The majority of the state is experiencing the drought, prompted by La Niña conditions of unusually cold ocean temperatures causing similar dry spells across the southern United States, from New Mexico to the Atlantic coast and north to Delaware. The first week of Florida's rainy season has been bone dry, and showers can do only so much to reverse months of below-normal precipitation. Lake Okeechobee, the backup reservoir for 5 million people, stood at just 9.81 feet Wednesday, 3.32 feet below normal and approaching its all-time low of 8.82 feet set in July 2007.


CALIFORNIA: Guilty in murder of editor

A jury found the leader of a financially troubled community group and another man guilty of murder Thursday in the brazen daytime shooting of the first American journalist killed on U.S. soil for reporting a story in more than a decade. Yusuf Bey IV, former head of Your Black Muslim Bakery, also was convicted in the murders of two other men in a monthlong spree of violence that culminated with the August 2007 shooting of Chauncey Bailey, 57, while he walked to The Oakland Post, where as editor he was investigating the financial woes of Bey's group.

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