- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

CALIFORNIA

Blake murder trial postponed

LOS ANGELES — Actor Robert Blake’s murder trial was delayed by two weeks yesterday to give his attorneys more time after a computer containing vital defense documents was stolen from lawyer M. Gerald Schwartzbach’s home.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp told jurors that the trial would start Dec. 20 and continue through Dec. 22 before Christmas recess.

Mr. Blake, 71, is accused of fatally shooting Bonny Lee Bakley, his wife, 3 years ago. The computer stolen last week from Mr. Schwartzbach’s home was described by a court official as containing “the heart and soul” of the defense case.

ILLINOIS

Dozens hurt in high-rise fire

CHICAGO — Fire broke out high in a downtown office building last night, belching smoke and flames from windows as firefighters helped workers to safety through darkened stairways.

Twenty-five persons were injured, including a dozen firefighters. Eight firefighters and five others were hospitalized in serious condition.

A Chicago fire department spokesman said he had no reports of anyone trapped in the 43-story LaSalle Bank building in Chicago’s Loop, but searches of the stairwells and floors were under way last night. Firefighters shot water into the windows of the burning structure, and metal window frames were twisted from the heat of the flames.

A spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said it had not been notified of any deaths.

ALASKA

State history eyed as mandatory course

ANCHORAGE — The state Board of Education will decide this week whether to require high school students to take a course in Alaska history before graduating.

The Anchorage School District already requires its students take a state history course, and other districts offer some form of the class as an elective.

ARIZONA

Citizens propose new town

CASA GRANDE — A citizens group is proposing the creation of Chisholm, a city that would include hundreds of square miles of unincorporated areas of western Pinal County.

Supporters say the new city is needed to help regulate and plan for growth as housing developments are built, many for people working in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

ARKANSAS

Duck breeder told to confine birds

LITTLE ROCK — Dutch Noe has been raising mallards for decades to stock the skies for the hunting season, but now he is worried he will lose his livelihood because the state Game and Fish Commission says his birds must be confined.

Mr. Noe’s business, Ducks and Ducks Inc. near Trumann, raises 250,000 to 300,000 mallards a year. He sells both ducklings and mature birds, typically to middlemen who raise the birds for hunting, to farmers who allow hunters to use their land during duck season and to shooting resorts. The business grosses about $700,000 a year, Mr. Noe said.

In October, Mr. Noe received notice from the commission saying he had violated his breeder/dealer permit for captive-reared mallards he owned in Craighead and Poinsett counties. The notice said the ducks needed to be in enclosed spaces to prevent their escape and to protect them from injury.

Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the commission, said the agency tightened its restrictions because of the growing number of shooting resorts, the use of captive-reared mallards and a greater understanding of wildlife diseases.

CONNECTICUT

Governor refuses to delay execution

HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell said yesterday she will not interfere with plans to put a serial killer to death next month in what would be the first execution in New England since 1960.

“I have no sympathy for Michael Ross,” the Republican governor said.

Ross, 45, is on death row for killing four young women in the 1980s and has admitted killing four other women. He is set to die by lethal injection Jan. 26.

The governor has no power to commute Ross’ death sentence. The state constitution allows her, however, to grant a reprieve to postpone the execution until after the next legislative session, giving lawmakers a chance to repeal the death penalty. Miss Rell announced she would veto any effort to repeal capital punishment.

Ross wrote to the governor last week, asking that his execution be carried out as scheduled.

FLORIDA

Cali drug kingpin faces U.S. court

MIAMI — The most powerful drug lord extradited by Colombia appeared before a U.S. judge yesterday, and his legal team said he would fight U.S. charges that he ran his multibillion-dollar business from the Colombian jail cell where he has been since 1995.

Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, a former boss of the Cali cartel once considered responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States, shuffled into court in Miami in shackles, sandals and olive-green prison garb for a brief initial appearance before a magistrate.

Listening to translators through headphones, the gray-haired 65-year-old gave his name and age in Spanish. Judge William Turnoff set Dec. 27 for the drug lord’s arraignment, at which he is expected to plead not guilty.

IOWA

University reviews security after theft

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa is reviewing campus security measures in light of recent vandalism at a campus laboratory. A new group has been formed to review how the university can better account for all key cards issued.

The university temporarily closed Seashore Hall last month after vandals removed animals and spilled chemicals in a psychology lab. The Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the attack.

MASSACHUSETTS

Strike looms at textile mill

LAWRENCE — Seven hundred workers at Malden Mills Industries could go on strike as early as today after the mill’s largest union voted 231-198 to reject the company’s final three-year contract offer.

The textiles company gained national renown in 1995 when the owner decided to keep workers on the payroll after a fire destroyed the company’s main factory.

MICHIGAN

Rosa Parks offered apartment rent-free

DETROIT — Rosa Parks’ landlord has offered to let her stay in her apartment rent-free, two years after threatening to evict her when the owners said her caretakers missed rental payments.

Her doctors say the 91-year-old civil rights pioneer has dementia and is in poor health. Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit had been paying her rent, which had been as high as $1,800 a month, since August 2003, the Rev. Charles Adams said.

In an October letter, Riverfront Associates, which owns the apartment where she has lived since 1994, said she could stay free of charge for the rest of her life.

“I thought it was the right thing to do,” managing partner Peter Cummings said.

Mrs. Parks was 42 when she refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by Martin Luther King, then a little-known reverend.

NEVADA

Two workers killed in mine accident

ELY — Two men doing maintenance work on the shovel of a large excavator were killed Sunday when the shovel’s lid fell and crushed them at an open-pit copper mine near this remote east-central Nevada town.

The owner of the Robinson Mine, Quadra Mining Ltd., and the workers’ employer, Washington Group International, released no further details. The victims’ names were not released.

“This is a close-knit community and something like this takes the heart out of everybody,” said Martin Sorenson, chief of the Ruth Volunteer Fire Department.

The accident is under investigation by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

NORTH CAROLINA

Durham students win science prizes

DURHAM — An invention that converts ocean wave energy into electricity and genetics research on breast cancer won top honors for Aaron Goldin, (Lucie) Yueqi Guo and Xianlin Li in the 2004-05 Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology, the nation’s premier high school science competition.

The winners were announced yesterday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

Aaron, a senior at San Dieguito High School Academy in Encinitas, Calif., won the $100,000 Grand Prize scholarship in the individual category for inventing the “Gyro-Gen,” a gyroscope that converts ocean wave energy into electricity.

(Lucie) Yueqi and Xianlin, seniors at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, won the $100,000 prize in the team category for research on identifying new biomarkers that could lead to advances in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

The Siemens Foundation began the annual contest in 1998 to recognize the nation’s best and brightest students in math, science and technology.

OHIO

Church collapses after worshippers leave

CINCINNATI — The walls of a church fell about 90 minutes after the last of Sunday’s worshippers left, causing the roof to drop onto the pews and pulpit, officials said.

Pastor Carl McMullen and his family were the last to leave the Zion Hill Baptist Church at 1:40 p.m. Sunday and received the call about the collapse an hour and a half later. About 50 people had attended Sunday’s service.

“Lord, have mercy — can you believe it?” said the pastor’s wife, Debra McMullen. “It’s just a blessing that no one was inside.”

Members who noticed some ceiling tiles had fallen said they talked about calling the city’s buildings and inspections department.

“God must be telling us it’s time to move,” said Jerry Givens, a member for 30 years. “And that’s what we’ll do.”

OREGON

Principal finds way to improve family life

HALSEY — Some workers seem to live at the office, but the principal at Central Linn High School really does.

Michael Bremont, 31, routinely spends 80 hours a week on the job, arriving well before school starts each morning and leaving long after the final bell.

Frustrated by how little he was seeing his family, Mr. Bremont approached his district superintendent last year with an unusual request: He wanted to live in an unused building on campus.

District officials loved the idea, and spent $2,000 renovating the place. Mr. Bremont pays $500 a month in rent, plus his electricity costs, so the district has made back what it spent.

Mr. Bremont is becoming a more involved father. One recent evening, when his after-school duties included supervising the year’s first girls and boys home basketball games, Mr. Bremont took a break to walk across the parking lot and join his family for a tuna casserole.

PENNSYLVANIA

Pittsburgh officers on bladder patrol

PITTSBURGH — Officers Matt Turko and Tom Weger are on Pittsburgh’s bladder beat.

Since November 2003, they have patrolled the city’s South Side, one of the country’s oldest Victorian-era shopping districts in the country by day but one of the city’s best places to drink at night. They ticket bladder-heavy revelers looking for relief in alleys, the sides of houses and in dark corners.

Officers Turko and Weger have handed out more than 220 citations for public indecency. Emptying your bladder in the wrong place also can empty your wallet. Each ticket comes with a $300 fine.

Pittsburgh Police Cmdr. Bill Joyce, whose zone covers the South Side, started the Pub Patrol last year amid complaints by neighborhood residents and business owners tired of people using their bushes, trees and buildings for last-minute latrines.

TEXAS

Police seek home for statue of Jesus

EAGLE PASS — A life-size fiberglass statue of Jesus that was found in the Rio Grande has ended up in a police department’s evidence room, but law officers say it can’t stay there much longer.

Border Patrol agents found the statue on a sandbar in the river Aug. 31. Police have kept it for 90 days, waiting for an owner to come forward. They say it now must be disposed of as unclaimed property.

“We see every day a steady flow of people coming in and paying homage to it,” Police Chief Juan A. Castaneda said. “We’ve had them come from different parts of the country.”

City Manager Jesus M. Olivares says the city has decided to donate the statue to someone who could share it with the public. He placed the issue on the City Council’s agenda for today.

WEST VIRGINIA

Teacher faces fine, jail for doorstop use

CHARLESTON — Susanna Robinson, a sixth-grade teacher in Monroe County, faces a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail because she propped open her classroom door with a rubber doorstop.

An assistant fire marshal issued the state fire code violation citation and confiscated the doorstop during a visit Nov. 9 to Mountain View Elementary and Middle School in Union. No court date has been set.

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