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* Pesticide Fears Along California’s Central Coast

Activists claim that hundreds of people became sick after officials sprayed a type of pesticide along parts of California’s Central Coast.

In a pair of studies released last week, a group calling itself California Alliance to Stop the Spray says that 643 residents of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties became ill last fall after state agriculture officials sprayed the area with a synthetic pheromone known as CheckMate LBAM-F.

Symptoms listed include eye and throat irritation, shortness of breath, skin rashes, asthma attacks and interruptions in menstrual cycles, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

“The spray affected people in different ways,” said the reports’ compiler, Pacific Grove resident Mike Lynberg, according to the Sentinel. “But they all had one thing in common. It was like nothing they had ever experienced before and it happened after the spraying.”

State agricultural officials deny that the chemical is responsible for the health complaints, and say the spray is necessary to eradicate the light brown apple moth, a pest that could potentially cause millions of dollars in damage to local crops.

The moth has been found in different areas of California, but the largest number trapped has been in Santa Cruz County.

The Sentinel quoted an official as saying: “The chemicals have, in fact, been reviewed. And they found the pheromone doesn’t kill anything. It doesn’t even kill the moth, it only confuses its mating.”

The controversy over the spraying has been much talked about around Monterey Bay, with newspapers in Santa Cruz and Monterey naming it one of the top stories of 2007.

–Will Crain/


“Group alleges hundreds got sick after moth spraying”
Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 5, 2008

“2007 Newsmaker of the Year: Moth had county atwitter”
Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 30, 2007

Free After 20 Years on Death Row

A Scottish man who spent 20 years on Ohio’s death row has been freed following a new plea.

Kenny Richey was convicted and sentenced to death in 1987 for setting a fire that led to the death of 2-year-old Cynthia Collins.

He has always claimed to be innocent, and his conviction was overturned in August.

The case was often delayed by Richey’s health problems. The 43-year-old has suffered multiple heart attacks.

On Monday, he was released after he pleaded no contest to charges of attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and breaking and entering, and was sentenced to time served.

He was told not to return to Putnam County, Ohio, and by some accounts was told to leave the country.

He was expected to head home to Edinburgh almost immediately.

After leaving the courtroom, he again protested his innocence to reporters.

At the hearing on Monday, Cynthia Collins’ aunt, Valerie Binkley, broke down as she was trying to read a statement against Richey.

“How do you put into words what a 2-year-old … means?” she said, according to the BBC. “I want you to know you fooled no one. … You will burn in hell.”

The trial has long fascinated the United Kingdom, where the death penalty does not exist and where Richey’s ex-fiancee was a vocal advocate for his release.

The Daily Mail reported that Richey once came within an hour of his execution before courts intervened.

Scotland on Sunday reported Dec. 23 that Richey’s 22-year-old son was arrested when he tried to visit his father.

Sean Richey, a resident of Minnesota, was arrested in Putnam County, Ohio, on an outstanding warrant relating to allegations of assault.

Because his court hearing would not be held until later in January, the younger Richey would not get to see his father before he returned to Scotland.

–Will Crain/


“Richey freed after court hearing”, January 7, 2008

“Brit who has spent two decades on death row is freed after missing execution by an hour”
Daily Mail, January 7, 2008

“Richey’s son is arrested in the US”
Scotland on Sunday, December 23, 2007

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