- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 6, 2003

ARIZONA
Poultry tests positive for disease
PHOENIX The governor declared a state of emergency Tuesday after a deadly bird virus was found in chickens at an Indian reservation in western Arizona.
The state Department of Agriculture was expected yesterday to quarantine Yuma County, La Paz County and part of Mohave County south of the Grand Canyon, said Lori Faeth, natural-resources adviser to Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat.
"It's highly contagious," she said.
A USDA lab announced that the birds had contracted Exotic Newcastle Disease, which has led to the slaughter of 1.7 million chickens in Southern California and about 1,600 birds in Nevada.
The disease was discovered in Arizona after a farmer on the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation near the California border reported last week that about 30 chickens had died suddenly.

ARKANSAS
City finds scraps buried near reservoir
BENTON The contractor for the Hubert Chenault Reservoir project apparently ignored a city engineer's instructions and buried debris near the structure.
The Benton Courier reports that Bill Warford, owner of Saline Crushing and Excavating, denied the action Monday.
Mr. Warford said the materials left over from installing the reservoir's plastic liner were removed last week and disposed of at a Saline County landfill.
A trip to the site Monday afternoon revealed this had not been done. Two stacks of plastic cylinders were located adjacent to an approximately 75-foot-wide area where plastic scraps had been covered with a dirt mound.

CALIFORNIA
Bridge gives nudists access to resort
PALM SPRINGS Venice, Italy, has the Bridge of Sighs. Now Palm Springs has the "bridge of thighs."
A pedestrian bridge that will connect two parts of a nudist resort while crossing over a busy public street has drawn national attention since construction began last month.
"I've heard it all: bridge of thighs, naked bridge, nudist bridge, you name it. I'm sure I'm going to hear more of it before it's over," said Stephen Payne, co-owner of the Desert Shadows Inn Resort and Villas, considered one of the world's most upscale nudist resorts. "I really don't understand all the attention. It's just a bridge, isn't it?"
The 110-foot span, set to open later this month, has become an instant landmark in a city known as a playground for the rich and famous, with its expansive resorts, high-end boutiques and laissez-faire attitude.

DELAWARE
Police charge teacher with offensive touching
FELTON A first-grade teacher at Lake Forest North Elementary School was arrested Monday for reportedly taping a student's mouth shut.
The Dover Newszap reports that Felton police charged John A. Duffy Jr., 24, of Rehoboth Beach, with offensive touching in connection with the Jan. 29 incident.
Felton Police Chief Levi Brown said Mr. Duffy was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 6 in Harrington and released on $500 unsecured bond.
The incident was brought to the school's attention by the student's parents. Mr. Duffy was placed on administrative leave.
According to court documents, the victim told authorities that Mr. Duffy had warned him stop talking in class or he would tape his mouth shut.

FLORIDA
Deported Palestinian reunites with family
TAMPA A former Palestinian academic who was jailed on the basis of secret evidence and then deported for reported terrorist ties was reunited with his family yesterday in an overseas location, a relative said.
Mazen Al-Najjar was joined by his wife, Fedaa, and his three American-born daughters ages 7, 12 and 14 in a U.S.-friendly Arab nation, said Al-Najjar's brother-in-law, Sami Al-Arian.
He would not identify the country.
Mr. Al-Najjar was jailed 3 years in the United States on the basis of secret evidence prosecutors said linked him to terrorism. He was released in 2000, then arrested again in 2001 and held until his deportation.

IDAHO
Pricey burger creates a stir
BOISE A $41 Kobe beef hamburger at the Old Homestead Steak House in New York City has done wonders for Idaho-based Snake River Farms and other producers.
Snake River Farms and other Kobe producers have been raising Japanese Wagyu cattle in the United States for a decade. The breed provides what the Boise company labels "butter-knife beef."
Old Homestead put a $41 hamburger on its menu, creating a media stir. Snake River provided the burger.
"The $41 hamburger really jolted our business. The phone has been ringing off the hook," said Jay Theiler, marketing director of Snake River Farms. "We had no idea it would get this crazy. We thought: Who would be silly enough to pay $41 for a burger?"
But many are.
In one day alone, the New York restaurant said, it sold more than 200 of the 20-ounce gourmet burgers to customers, including "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini and New York Mets star Mike Piazza.

ILLINOIS
Officials cannot account for missing children
CHICAGO State officials said yesterday that they cannot account for 201 children placed with foster parents or in treatment centers. Many are teenage runaways, officials said.
Most of the missing children are 14 to 17 years old. Seventeen were classified as abducted, probably by their biological parents, said Jerry Slomka, deputy director of operations at the Department of Children and Family Services.
Since the disappearance of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson in Florida was discovered in April, states across the country have reported thousands of missing children, most of them runaway teens.
Rilya had been missing 15 months before state officials realized it. The state said in December that 87 other children also were missing.

IOWA
State leads nation in electronic tax-filing
DES MOINES Iowa leads the nation in state income-tax returns filed electronically, a report on taxes says.
The Federation of Tax Administrators says 46 percent of Iowa's 1.4 million taxpayers filed their 2002 tax returns electronically, over the Internet or by a telephone filing system.
State Sen. Joe Bolkcom, Iowa City Democrat, says electronic filing saves the state money and its taxpayers get their refunds faster.
MISSOURI
Man sentenced for theft of actor Cage's car
HILLSBORO A man who helped steal a 1989 Porsche 911 belonging to actor Nicolas Cage has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Michael Gramling, 20, of Arnold, a St. Louis suburb, pleaded guilty last year. He was sentenced Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
In January 2002, Missouri Water Patrol divers found the $100,000 car at Lake of the Ozarks, submerged in 12 feet of water. It had been stolen a month earlier from a parking lot in Arnold while aboard a transport trailer on its way from California to Pennsylvania.
Another defendant, Scott Air Force Base Airman Robert Clerkin, 21, was previously tried on stealing charges in a military court and sentenced to six months in the stockade.

NEW JERSEY
Coast Guard rescues 7 from fishing vessel
ATLANTIC CITY Seven persons forced to abandon a sinking fishing vessel in the Atlantic Ocean were rescued yesterday by Coast Guard helicopters.
The seven had been aboard the Ranger, a 107-foot vessel that was about 80 miles east of Atlantic City when the Coast Guard received an electronic distress signal before 5 a.m., Cmdr. Jim Sommer, a spokesman for the agency's Group Air Station said.
Two helicopters were dispatched from the station, as were C-130 Hercules aircraft from Elizabeth City, N.C.., and a Falcon jet and H-60 helicopter from Cape Cod in Massachusetts. About 15 Coast Guard personnel were aboard the aircraft.
Five of the fisherman were lifted onto a helicopter and returned to shore around 7 a.m. The remaining two were flown in about 45 minutes later on a second helicopter.

NEW YORK
Investigators say workers were secretly taped
ALBANY A state agency secretly recorded phone calls between its unionized workers and members of the public and denied to an employee that the tapes existed, investigators said.
The taping by the state Higher Education Services Corp., which administers student loans, was done despite a stern warning against the practice by its own attorney, according to a report by the state inspector general obtained Tuesday.
The investigation covers recordings made from the summer of 2000 to January 2001 that were intended to monitor the quality of calls between the agency's employees and holders of student loans.
The workers, their unions and often the loan holders were not told when the calls were being recorded. New York law requires at least one of the parties in a telephone conversation to be aware of any taping.

OKLAHOMA
Corps cutting jobs to fund projects
TULSA The Army Corps of Engineers is cutting 120 jobs to free money for overdue repairs at some of its 38 lakes in Oklahoma, northern Texas and southern Kansas.
The Oklahoman reports the agency is trimming its payroll through attrition and retirement incentives. The money saved will be used to replace promised, yet undelivered federal appropriations for maintenance and repair to dams and other structures.
Corps spokesman Ross Adkins said no one will be fired.
Letters were sent to employees this week outlining the corps' retirement incentives. The Tulsa district is reducing from 11 to five the number of field offices that oversee the lakes . By August, the district expects to have reduced its overall work force by 120 employees.

PENNSYLVANIA
Death-row inmates on hunger strike
PHILADELPHIA Death-row inmates at the state prison in Graterford were staging a hunger strike to protest visitation policies and privileges enjoyed by killers jailed on the other side of the state.
About half of the 50 death-row inmates at Graterford appeared to be participating in the strike, some on pace to miss their ninth consecutive meal, said prison spokesman Jerry Galinski.
Authorities said a core demand involved differences between visitation rules at Graterford, in suburban Philadelphia, and the State Correctional Institute at Greene, 50 miles south of Pittsburgh.
Last year, the Department of Corrections decided to extend weeklyvisiting hours for death-row prisoners from a weekly two-hour visit to a weekly all-day visit.

SOUTH DAKOTA
City readies automated trash pickup
RAPID CITY This city is changing the way it collects garbage as it moves to an automated trash-collection system.
The new self-covered trash containers with wheels will soon be picked up by new trucks, equipped with an electronic arm to lift the cans, empty the contents and return them to the ground.
The new containers will be delivered to homes during the last week of February.
City officials will determine which size container is needed at each home, based on the current volume of trash. But residents may request a different size if they believe the container provided by the city is too small or too large.

TEXAS
2 charged with theftof shuttle debris
HEMPHILL Two persons have been indicted for stealing debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia, federal authorities said yesterday.
A federal grand jury in Tyler returned one-count indictments against Merrie Hipp, 43, of Henderson, and Bradley Justin Gaudet, 23, of Nacogdoches, said Matthew Orwig, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.
Mr. Hipp was charged with stealing a circuit board from the wreckage and Mr. Gaudet was charged with stealing thermal-barrier fabric. If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
The shuttle disintegrated Saturday, killing all seven crew members as it was headed for landing after a largely trouble-free, 16-day mission.
Mr. Orwig said the amnesty period would last until 6 p.m. EST tomorrow for people to turn in any pieces of the shuttle.

WASHINGTON
Environmentalists protest Arctic drilling
NISQUALLY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE Environmentalists met Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton with protest signs as she touted President Bush's proposal to boost spending on national refuges.
Mr. Bush's $402 million budget proposal for the nation's 540 refuges in 2004 includes a $25.5 million increase, following up the $56.5 million increase he sought for the this year, Mrs. Norton said. Congress must still approve the proposal.
But a handful of environmentalists protested during her tour of the refuge, some holding up signs reading "Preserve the Arctic," a reference to Mr. Bush's longtime advocacy for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the refuge system, begun by President Theodore Roosevelt.

WISCONSIN
Sentence upheld in smothering case
WAUSAU A state appeals court has ruled that a Green Bay woman received a fair sentence when she was given to two years in prison for helping a cancer patient die by smothering him with a pillow.
Donna Trautman argued her sentence was unduly harsh. But the appeals court ruled that the trial judge was right to believe that a probation-only sentence would reduce the seriousness of the crime.
Trautman had faced up to 10 years in prison.

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