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New England in brief

House OK's two-day sales-tax holiday

The House voted yesterday to approve a two-day sales-tax holiday next month. By a margin of 144-8, representatives agreed to suspend the state's 5 percent sales tax on purchases up to $2,500 during the Aug. 11-12 weekend. Representative John Binienda, a Worcester Democrat and cochairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue, advocated for the tax holiday, saying it helps retailers amid summer sales doldrums. Officials estimate it will cost the state $30 million to $50 million in revenue. The measure will probably be voted on in the Senate next week. (AP)

Firm says it cautioned on epoxy use
The company that supplied the epoxy that failed in last year's Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse released documents yesterday showing that company officials had warned the state before construction began that using a fast-drying type of the epoxy to hold up a ceiling could be dangerous. The National Transportation Safety Board has faulted Powers Fasteners in the accident that killed a Jamaica Plain woman, saying company officials should have done more to prevent workers from mistakenly using fast-set epoxy to secure ceiling bolts. Powers employees did not detect the mix-up during visits to the Interstate 90 connector tunnel during construction in 1999 to investigate loose ceiling bolts. State highway officials had no immediate comment.

Destroy recalled food product, state says
Massachusetts health authorities yesterday advised consumers to discard any recalled products made by Castleberry's Food Co., even if the canned products look and smell safe. Four people in Indiana and Texas fell ill with botulism after eating Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce; no botulism cases have been reported in Massachusetts. The company is recalling a long list of products sold under a variety of brand names, including chili with and without beans, beef stew, corned beef hash, and barbecue beef. Some dog food made by the company is also being recalled. For a full list, go to

Doctor's license revoked for inattention
The Board of Registration in Medicine revoked the medical license of Dr. Thomas Ho Wednesday, finding that he fell asleep during a surgical procedure in December 2005 and inhaled anesthetic gas while on lunch break the following month. Both incidents occurred during a rotation at Children's Hospital Boston. Ho had taken a prescription drug that caused him to doze off, the board said, and when he fell asleep he was the only anesthesiologist in the operating room. Ho can apply for a new license if he complies with a contract for monitoring of chemical dependency.


MIT senior dies after building fall in NYC
A 21-year-old MIT senior died last weekend after falling off a building in New York City, institute officials said. James T. Albrecht, a math and physics major, apparently fell about 8 p.m. Sunday onto a second-story rooftop on the 200 block of East 14th Street in Manhattan, police said. They are investigating the fall but said alcohol may have been a factor. A native of Naperville, Ill., Albrecht was living in the East Village and working as a summer intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., an investment and technology development firm.

Firm pleads not guilty in patient death
Life Care Centers of America, the corporation that owns Life Care Center of Acton, entered a plea of not guilty yesterday at its arraignment in Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge. The corporation was indicted last month on charges of manslaughter, abuse, and neglect of a long-term care resident and making a false Medicaid claim in the death of Julia McCauley, 74. McCauley was found dead in 2004 after having fallen down stairs in the center. She was not wearing the bracelet she was supposed to wear at all times that set off an alarm and locked the doors if she got too close to exits.


Spokeswoman says Tsongas misspoke
A spokeswoman for congressional candidate Niki Tsongas said Tsongas simply misspoke when she said during a recent debate that she had represented the Fifth District in Washington for 10 years. Tsongas has never held elected office, but has made similar inferences in the past, trying to tie herself to the time that her husband, the late Paul Tsongas, represented the district. But this was her most direct assertion to date. "Niki clearly misspoke at that event," said spokeswoman Katie Elbert.