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Oil cleanup at its limit, Coast Guard says

NEW ORLEANS — The cleanup of oiled beaches along the Gulf of Mexico has reached a point where crews, heavy equipment and thorough scrubbing can cause more damage to the ecosystem than good, the Coast Guard said Friday.

Birds, sea turtles, fish and other species are more likely to be harmed by an aggressive cleanup than by simply leaving remnants of oil and letting it slowly degrade, the Coast Guard said.

The report was designed to guide the cleanup of the BP PLC spill from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. There are 4,265 people still involved in the cleanup and response on 544 miles of coast.

Recent oil samples show weathered oil found along beaches has lost the majority of the toxic compounds in it and the oil left on shores meets federal safety thresholds for people, the Coast Guard said.

Arizona reports on fund to defend law

PHOENIX — Arizona has received more than 43,000 contributions totaling nearly $3.7 million for the legal defense of its controversial law targeting illegal immigration.

Responding to a public records request from the Associated Press, Gov. Jan Brewer's office says the state spent nearly $1.6 million on credit-card fees and legal bills for work through Nov. 30.

That leaves $2.1 million as of Friday in the fund set up to pay for defending the law signed by Brewer last year.

The case now includes a counterclaim filed by Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne against the federal government as part of the state's response to the federal lawsuit challenging parts of the law.

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