- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 9, 2004

CALIFORNIA

Teen youngest chess champ since Fischer

SAN DIEGO — A 16-year-old boy has won the U.S. Chess Championship, making him the youngest player to claim the title since 14-year-old Bobby Fischer won it in 1958.

Hikaru Nakamura of White Plains, N.Y., won the $25,000 prize Monday after beating Alex Stripunsky, 34, of Rego Park, N.Y., in two overtime matches. The 11-day tournament in San Diego began with a field of 65 competitors.

Hikaru, who was born in Japan, was taught chess by his stepfather and began playing competitively at age 7.

AlthoughMr. Fischer is one of his heroes, Hikaru does not see himself as cast from the same mold as the erratic genius who became a national icon after defeating Soviet world champion Boris Spassky in 1972.

“I think I’m a little bit more sane,” Hikaru said.

TEXAS

Longest-serving astronaut to retire

HOUSTON — The longest-serving astronaut in history, who flew twice to the moon and commanded the first space shuttle mission, has announced his retirement after 42 years at NASA.

John W. Young, 74, announced Tuesday his plans to leave the space agency on Dec. 31. He joined NASA in 1962.

Mr. Young was the first human to fly in space six times and the only astronaut to pilot four different spacecraft. He flew in the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs.

FLORIDA

Frustrated parents go on strike

DELTONA — Even though the dishes, garbage and dirty laundry were piling up, homeowners Cat and Harlan Barnard were getting no help from their two children.

After unsuccessfully begging and pleading with their 17-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter to help out around the house, the Barnards went on strike — and moved out to the front yard. Since Monday morning, the couple have lived in a tent in their front yard, going inside the house only to use the bathroom or shower.

Whether the couple’s actions could be regarded as abandonment depends on how much guidance the parents are still providing and “if the children are suffering as a result,” said Carrie Hoeppner, a spokeswoman with the Department of Children & Families in Orange County.

ILLINOIS

Gorillas given wake to mourn leader

BROOKFIELD — After Babs the gorilla died at age 30, keepers at Brookfield Zoo decided to allow surviving gorillas to mourn the most influential female in their social family.

One by one Tuesday, the gorillas filed into the Tropic World building where Babs’ body lay, arms outstretched. Curator Melinda Pruett Jones called it a “gorilla wake.”

Babs’ 9-year-old daughter, Bana, was the first to approach the body, followed by Babs’ mother, Alpha, 43. Bana sat down, held Babs’ hand and stroked her mother’s stomach. Then she sat down and laid her head on Babs’ arm. Other gorillas also approached Babs and gently sniffed the body. Only the silverback male leader, Ramar, 36, stayed away.

Babs had an incurable kidney condition and was euthanized Tuesday.

INDIANA

Ambulance gift cards offered for holidays

ANDERSON — The Anderson Fire Department has a holiday gift that has a real lifesaving ring to it — ambulance service subscription cards.

The cards cost $25 and can save the recipient $225 to $400 on a trip to the hospital depending on the amount of care needed. The cards are good for one ride and expire after a year.

“It would be a good Christmas gift if you know a needy family who might need medical care,” said fire department Capt. Denny Jones.

MAINE

City touts savings from drug imports

PORTLAND — A program that encourages city employees to order prescription drugs from Canada is saving the city and its workers tens of thousands of dollars, city officials said.

Savings through the Portland Meds program are on track to top $100,000 during the fiscal year ending June 30. The program started in July.

NEBRASKA

Letters with mercury sent to city officials

LINCOLN — A small amount of potentially dangerous mercury spilled from an anonymous letter sent to the mayor’s office, authorities said.

A second mercury-laced letter was sent to the police chief, but was not opened. No injuries resulted from the letters, which were critical of the police department.

Mayor Coleen Seng’s office received the letter Monday. The mercury landed on the skirt of a worker there and on the floor. Two chairs and a patch of carpet were removed from the office as a precaution.

On Tuesday, Police Chief Tom Casady’s office received a similar letter, but employees did not open it because they had been alerted to the letter Miss Seng had received.

The small amount of mercury appeared to have come from a thermometer.

NEVADA

Mom arrested after child is shot

LAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas woman was arrested on a charge of child endangerment after one of her children accidentally shot his 1-year-old brother while playing with a gun.

KLAS-TV said the incident occurred late Tuesday when the five children in the house were left unattended by their pregnant mother.

The injured toddler was in fair condition yesterday at University Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Authorities said Julia Jackson at first took her injured baby to her grandparents’ home instead of an emergency room.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Lawn mower used as getaway vehicle

DOVER — It wasn’t exactly the perfect getaway vehicle.

A man took off on a lawn mower moments after he reportedly threw two Molotov cocktails at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment building, police said. He was arrested Saturday night after a brief, slow-speed chase.

Police said the homemade bombs — two glass Budweiser bottles filled with gasoline and plugged with rags — did not burst into flames. One of them shattered, spilling gas and sending fumes into nearby apartments. Two residents were treated for breathing problems.

Steven Coleman, 37, of Dover, was arraigned in Dover District Court on Monday on charges of criminal trespass, attempted arson and resisting arrest.

NEW YORK

Mother dedicates children’s museum

NEW YORK — The mother of a Hasidic student gunned down on the Brooklyn Bridge dedicated a museum Tuesday to the memory of her slain son, calling the Jewish Children’s Museum “the answer to terrorism.”

“Our response to those who would destroy civilization as we know it is this museum,” Devorah Halberstam said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The event, timed to coincide with the first night of Hanukkah, was created in memory of Ari Halberstam, a 16-year-old who was fatally shot in 1994 when a Muslim gunman opened fire on a van of Hasidic students crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

WASHINGTON

Gates offers millions to expand schools

SEATTLE — Nearly $30 million in grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be used to expand a national network of early college high schools, intended to provide a fast track to college for underserved young people, the foundation said Tuesday.

The schools, working with a university or college, stress rigorous curricula in seeking to increase high-school graduation rates and college readiness among minority youths, the foundation said. Students can earn a high school diploma and two years of college credit or an associate degree.

More than $22 million will be used to support establishment of 42 schools nationwide. About $7 million goes to Atkinson, N.H.-based Jobs for the Future, which leads implementation of the network.

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