- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

MAINE

Apple tree jams traffic

NORTHEAST HARBOR — Motorists endured a 10-hour traffic jam on Mount Desert Island, and it was all because of an apple tree.

San Antonio billionaire Charles Butt had the tree trucked from Ellsworth to his Northeast Harbor estate on a flatbed truck Thursday, and the 20-mile trip left traffic backed up in both directions as far as the eye could see.

The problem was the tree’s 20-foot height, which meant that power lines had to be lifted so that it could pass. It also took up two lanes.

MICHIGAN

Woman awaits birth of 102nd great-grandchild

REESE — Angeline DuRussel has 101 great-grandchildren, and a 102nd one is on the way.

Mrs. DuRussel, who turned 97 on Saturday, became a great-grandmother for the 101st time after the birth of her latest great-grandchild Sunday. Deborah Shamel, of Vassar, delivered Sunday morning.

The family is now awaiting the next birth. Baby No. 102 is on the way, with a due date in September.

ALABAMA

Fraternity suspended over hazing claims

TUSCALOOSA — The University of Alabama suspended its oldest black fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, for two years yesterday after it pleaded guilty to hazing violations.

A university statement did not include any details of the charges, and a spokeswoman declined comment.

The student newspaper, the Crimson-White, reported that the fraternity was also suspended by its national organization, will be off campus until spring 2005 and be on probation for two years after that. The organization also will lose its house, the newspaper reported.

Kappa Alpha Psi in 1975 became the first black Greek-letter organization chartered at Alabama.

ALASKA

Quake jolts Aleutian Islands

ANCHORAGE — An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale shook the Aleutian Islands about 1,400 miles west of Anchorage early yesterday, seismological experts said.

The temblor, the epicenter of which was 18 miles below sea level, hit the Rat islands chain of the Aleutians at 12:12 GMT, the United States Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center said.

No damage was reported as a result of the quake, which was focused around the Mount Kiska Volcano in the Bering Sea between Alaska and northern Japan, the U.S. earthquake monitor based in Virginia said.

A second quake, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, rocked the same area at 6:55 p.m. GMT, the agency said.

ARKANSAS

Fraternity, sorority complex approved

RUSSELLVILLE — The Arkansas Tech board has approved plans to proceed with a four-building Greek complex.

Trustee Sean McDougal said he voted against the proposal because the percentage of students in fraternities and sororities is so small.

Officials said they intend to get commitment from at least four groups before proceeding with the project.

CALIFORNIA

Protesters march on food conference

SACRAMENTO — Hundreds of protesters, some wearing face masks and protective gear, yesterday rallied outside California’s Capitol building and prepared to march against an international farm conference in opposition to genetically modified foods.

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman opened the conference with the release of a report promoting the role of technology in increasing farm productivity and incomes in developing regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.

Protesters, who charge that such food technology programs threaten biodiversity and the livelihood of small farmers, welcomed arriving delegates on Sunday with a series of demonstrations that sparked 36 arrests.

“The future of agriculture is increasingly being determined by technology,” Miss Veneman said in a statement.

FLORIDA

12 persons hurt in plane evacuation

TAMPA — Flame shot from an engine of a Delta Air Lines jet as it pushed away from the gate yesterday, causing some passengers to deploy the emergency evacuation chute in a scramble to get off the plane. Twelve persons suffered minor injuries.

Delta Flight 1036 to Atlanta was leaving the gate at Tampa International Airport about 7:15 a.m. when some passengers saw the flame come out of the Boeing 757’s right engine, said Delta spokeswoman Peggy Estes.

The fire was believed to be the result of a “hot start,” which happens when fuel accumulates in the fuel line and ignites when the engine starts, Miss Estes said. She said the engine did not malfunction on the plane, which had 167 passengers.

A 16-year-old boy broke his wrist and other passengers suffered sprained ankles and other minor injuries when they slid down the chute, Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade said. Eight persons were taken to local hospitals.

Miss Estes said the remaining passengers were put on another flight to continue their trip to Atlanta. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

HAWAII

Governor eases pet quarantine rules

HONOLULU — The governor signed new rules Sunday allowing pets arriving in Hawaii to pass through state quarantine in five days or less — easing a strict system that required all cats and dogs be confined for at least one month.

Under the new rules, Hawaii residents for the first time ever will be able to travel with their pets and return to the islands without their animals being quarantined.

The regulation changes were hailed by many pet owners who criticized the previous system as an emotional and financial burden.

“It will change people’s lives here,” Gov. Linda Lingle said before hundreds of people participating in the Hawaiian Humane Society’s PetWalk 2003 at Magic Island. “We were able to devise a system that allows pets to enter the state without quarantine and still provide the islands with a high level of protection from the introduction of rabies.”

ILLINOIS

Medical advice for diabetics: Walk

CHICAGO — Victims of adult onset diabetes who walk as little as two hours a week appear to significantly lower their risk of premature death, according to a study published yesterday.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they reached the conclusion after looking at 2,896 adults whose average age was between 58 and 59 and who on average were diagnosed with diabetes 11 years earlier.

Compared with inactive adults in the study, those who walked at least two hours per week had a 39 percent lower death rate from all causes and a 34 percent lower chance of death from heart disease specifically, the study said.

In the study, the lowest overall death rate was for people who walked three to four hours a week and for those who reported that their walking led to moderate increases in heart rate and breathing rate.

INDIANA

Charitable giving holds steady in 2002

INDIANAPOLIS — Despite the lagging economy, charitable giving held steady nationwide in 2002 as increased corporate donations offset a drop in foundation grants, a study released yesterday said.

Giving rose 1 percent last year to $240.92 billion from $238.46 billion in 2001, according to the annual “Giving USA” report.

When adjusted for inflation, last year’s charitable contributions of all types declined one-half of a percentage point compared with 2001.

IOWA

Letter arrives after 35 years

COUNCIL BLUFFS — A letter posted with a 10-cent stamp in San Francisco has arrived in Council Bluffs — 35 years after it was sent.

Postal workers were unsure why it took so long to arrive. Workers at a local clinic opened the letter Friday.

The letter dated June 11, 1968, was sent to Donald E. Gallagher at the clinic’s address, where the Gallagher home had been located. It was written by son Chet Gallagher, who decided to leave Council Bluffs in 1968 to make a new start in California.

Clinic workers tracked down Chet’s brother, Tom Gallagher, in Council Bluffs. He said Chet had been stationed with the military in California before deciding to move.

In the letter, Chet made it clear he was determined to succeed and he wished that he could have his father’s encouragement.

MASSACHUSETTS

Big Dig workers getting pink slips

BOSTON — Thousands of workers on the Big Dig project are getting pink slips as the project begins to wind down.

From a peak of 5,281 construction workers in September 2001, the number has dropped to about 1,300, officials say.

An official of the union representing operating engineers said union members are having trouble finding work.

MINNESOTA

Officials consider releasing sex psychopaths

MINNEAPOLIS — Mental health officials are seeking ways to release some of Minnesota’s 190 sexual psychopaths into the community. The offenders have been declared sexually dangerous and confined at two secure psychiatric hospitals.

Officials say the state needs to do a better job in providing care in the least prisonlike settings, potentially through halfway houses or intensive supervision in the community.

MONTANA

Memorial to Indians to be dedicated

LITTLE BIGHORN — A memorial to Indian warriors who died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn will be dedicated tomorrow, the battle’s 127th anniversary.

About 2,000 Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho killed about 260 men of the 7th Cavalry under Lt. Col. George Custer. The government built an obelisk in 1881 to honor the cavalry. Congress authorized the Indian memorial 100 years later.

NEW YORK

Bars unplug lottery to protest smoking ban

ALBANY — Still steamed over a looming smoking ban, some New York bar and restaurant owners hit the state where it hurts — in the pocketbook.

They unplugged the lottery machines in their establishments.

Last week’s coordinated cutting off of Quick Draw Lottery machines was costing the state $1 million in lost revenues, according to Scott Wexler, head of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, which represents more than 3,000 bars and eateries.

Mr. Wexler predicted about 10 percent of bar and restaurant owners will ultimately be forced to close because of lost business due to the anti-smoking law, which is considered one of the most restrictive in the nation.

State lottery officials, however, said only $49,233 has been lost in the boycott, said spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.

OHIO

Old bodies found at funeral home

TOLEDO — Eight embalmed bodies in various states of decomposition were found at a central Toledo funeral home that has a history of problems with record-keeping.

Authorities said they found six bodies in a back building and two in an adjacent garage. The bodies appeared to have been there for at least several months.

At least one of the bodies was “badly chewed” by rodents on its face, fingers, hands and feet, a police spokesman told the Toledo Blade.

At least six bodies were in cardboard boxes used by crematoriums. One body was found in a casket in the garage.

PENNSYLVANIA

Man sentenced for massacre

PHILADELPHIA — A man who confessed to killing seven persons in one of the worst massacres in Philadelphia history was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms yesterday in a case in which police originally arrested the wrong men.

Shihean Black, 21, pleaded guilty in February in the December 2000 blood bath, in which four masked men burst into a row house, ordered people inside to lie down and then opened fire, killing seven and wounding three.

In return for Black’s plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Police initially believed the killings were part of a battle over drug turf. But prosecutors later said the slayings were touched off by a dispute over a car with a broken clutch.

Four men were freed last summer on the eve of their trial after police acknowledged that they had arrested the wrong people.

TENNESSEE

Muslims share hotel with tattoo expo

MEMPHIS — Meher Sattar arrived for the Muslim women’s luncheon covered head to toe in traditional Islamic dress.

But when the elementary school teacher walked into the lobby of the hotel, she paused right underneath a large banner that read TATTOOS.

“I thought I was in the wrong place,” Miss Sattar said, not realizing that the hotel had booked the Memphis Mania Tattoo Expo and the International League of Muslim Women conference side by side.

“It’s like day and night,” Miss Sattar said. “But it’s humorous.”

Only a makeshift wall separated the vending booths of both groups, whose conferences ran through the weekend. There were plenty of glances and puzzled looks, Miss Sattar said, and a little intermingling at the booths. But mostly everyone just did their own thing.

“It’s been tense,” tattoo-show promoter Billy Naylor told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “There’s been a lot of friction and staring from both sides.”

VERMONT

Nurses union reaches agreement

BURLINGTON — The nurses union at Fletcher Allen Health Care reached the first-ever contract with management at Vermont’s largest hospital.

The agreement includes pay raises and limits on how many patients nurses take care of. It also eliminates mandatory overtime and establishes a wage and benefits package that one union member says will attract nurses from across the country.

WASHINGTON

Prisoner using fake gun escapes

TACOMA — A prisoner made a fake gun out of paper and cardboard and escaped as he was being led from jail to the courthouse yesterday to receive a life sentence.

Harold McCord used the fake gun to threaten the guard escorting him, then shed his jail clothes and hijacked a pickup truck, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

He was going to be sentenced under the state’s three-strikes law that requires life terms for people convicted of three violent offenses. McCord’s record included kidnapping and assault, Mr. Troyer said.

“He knew he was going to be going for life in prison, so I’m sure he was very desperate,” Mr. Troyer told Northwest Cable News.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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