- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 17, 2004

GEORGIA

Kidnapped toddler found safe

COLUMBUS — A 2-year-old boy who was kidnapped during a carjacking and held for $100,000 ransom was found safe yesterday in a public area of his hometown, authorities said.

Police said they were tipped to Tellious Brown’s whereabouts by an anonymous caller soon after the boy’s mother made a plea for his return. Any suspects had fled before police arrived, Police Maj. Russell Traino said.

Police said two men, described as black and in their 20s, pointed a gun at Lakendra Trice, 24, and her son as they got out of a Buick, then drove off with the boy still in the car.

It was not known whether the ransom was paid.

ILLINOIS

University trustees urge ‘consensus’ on mascot

CHICAGO — The University of Illinois board of trustees dodged a vote on retiring the Chief Illiniwek mascot yesterday, instead urging supporters and critics to reach a “consensus conclusion.”

The much-debated American Indian mascot has divided the school for years, with supporters arguing the chief is an honored symbol and others saying the mascot is racially offensive.

Board Chairman Lawrence C. Eppley said yesterday’s decision gives the board a chance to come up with a solution that does not simply accept one side and reject the other.

ALASKA

Octopus begins laying eggs

ANCHORAGE — J-1 was doing more than whispering sweet nothings to Aurora as the two clutched each other in a secluded corner last month.

Aurora, a giant Pacific octopus, began laying long strings of nearly translucent eggs last weekend by dribbling them down the sides of her tank.

She had taken to laying discrete clusters. She could lay 60,000 to 100,000 eggs — about what is expected from her kind.

“She basically stays there hanging on the wall, and the eggs are extruded and sent out of her mantle,” Richard Hocking, aquarium curator at the Alaska SeaLife Center, said Wednesday.

Aquarists will keep a close eye on the eggs. In the next couple of weeks, they will be looking for a darkening to indicate the development of baby octopuses. If the eggs are fertile, they could produce young in two or three months.

ARIZONA

Horse blamed in mystery attacks

TUCSON — The mysterious slashings of at least 17 horses’ throats at a guest ranch last year have been solved, but no one will be charged, officials said. The culprit: another horse. The weapon: teeth.

Investigators had suspected a person was trying to kill the horses because the jagged wounds were always near the vital jugular vein and happened late at night.

The wounds, which were 1 to 4 inches long and about an inch deep, began appearing last July.

The case was cracked when an employee of the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch caught a horse biting another in the throat, Pima County sheriff’s officials said Wednesday. The slashings ceased when the suspected horse was isolated in another corral.

CALIFORNIA

Good Samaritan has heart attack

SAN FRANCISCO — Bob Casillas’ family sometimes wishes he wasn’t such a Good Samaritan.

The 61-year-old auto body repairman’s latest good deed landed him in the hospital, where he was recuperating from a heart attack he suffered earlier in the week after helping police chase down a 16-year-old wanted for thievery and vandalism.

It was the second time Mr. Casillas’ heart had given out while helping others. His first heart attack came two years ago as a volunteer firefighter rushing to a call.

His wife of nearly 40 years, Retha Casillas, is proud of her husband but worries that his good nature is hurting him.

“If somebody needs something, or something is going on, he is always there to help,” she said.

KANSAS

Police arrest abortion protesters

WICHITA — Police arrested 12 abortion protesters Wednesday at a clinic where late-term abortions are performed.

The protesters got down on their knees and started praying, blocking the entrance to the parking lot of Dr. George Tiller’s clinic. They refused to leave when asked, said Janet Johnson, spokeswoman for the Wichita Police Department.

Ten were arrested for trespassing and two for trespassing and resisting arrest, she said. All were local residents.

Dr. Tiller’s clinic was bombed in 1985 and he was shot in both arms by an abortion protester in 1993. Although protesters are frequently outside the clinic, the past few years have been relatively quiet, Miss Johnson said.

LOUISIANA

Billboards teach commandments

SHREVEPORT — Thou shalt read these billboards.

A chaplain is renting 10 billboards to teach the Ten Commandments.

Each month, a different commandment goes up at the direction of Steve Casey, a chaplain for Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries in Stonewall, 15 miles south of Shreveport.

This month, it’s No. 3: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” For those who might not get it, there’s a footnote: “God’s last name does not start with a D.”

Mr. Casey said God gave him the idea while former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was fighting to keep a stone monument of the Ten Commandments in a state judicial building.

He researched about a dozen translations to come up with the versions now seen around Shreveport, Greenwood and Blanchard, all 15 to 25 miles north or northwest of Stonewall.

MAINE

Chamber stays out of tax cap issue

AUGUSTA — The state Chamber of Commerce has no immediate plans to join Gov. John Baldacci in a coalition opposed to a property tax cap, said Dana Connors, chamber president.

Mr. Baldacci, a Democrat, says he hopes voters will give him a chance to solve at the problem instead of voting for the cap in November’s referendum.

MASSACHUSETTS

Top students to get free college tuition

FRAMINGHAM — Students who score in the top 25 percent statewide on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams soon will be able to attend state colleges and universities free of charge, the Board of Higher Education decided.

Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, proposed the program that will begin in the 2005-06 school year. Critics say the scholarships mostly will benefit students in affluent suburban districts.

MINNESOTA

Kiss results in severed tongue

ST. PAUL — A goodnight kiss turned into a man’s nightmare when his girlfriend bit off part of his tongue.

The 43-year-old woman told police she became frightened Wednesday morning when her boyfriend squeezed her too tightly while they kissed — and her reflex was to bite down.

“I guess I bit down too hard,” the woman told officers, adding that she has been victimized by men in the past. She was arrested.

Her 47-year-old boyfriend walked with the woman from her home to a restaurant, where they called police around 3:10 a.m. He was treated at a hospital.

MISSISSIPPI

Law limits lawsuit awards

JACKSON — Gov. Haley Barbour has signed a bill that puts limits on lawsuits, saying the changes will help the state’s business climate.

Mr. Barbour, a Republican, signed the bill Wednesday during a Capitol ceremony attended by legislators and business leaders.

The bill makes several changes in which lawsuits can be filed and how much can be awarded. The bill caps pain-and-suffering damage awards at $1 million and caps medical malpractice cases at $500,000.

MISSOURI

Governor approves $18.9 billion budget

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, signed an $18.9 billion state operating budget into law. The plan, which takes effect July 1, is $1 billion larger than this year’s.

It provides the largest increase in basic school funding in four years. It also increases funding to Medicaid and gives state employees pay raises.

NEBRASKA

Mother charged in tot’s electrocution

LINCOLN — A woman faces felony child abuse charges, accused of leaving her 22-month-old son alone for more than two days in a bedroom, where police found his electrocuted body, police reports said.

Brandy Blair, 22, wedged a towel in the door to make sure the boy could not get out, and apparently had asked another resident of the house to watch the child, according to an arrest warrant.

Lincoln police said when they found Christian Reifler’s body, he was starved and his diaper had not been changed for three days.

Investigators found a staple stuck in an electrical outlet near the toddler’s body as well as burns on his hands. An autopsy ruled that he died of electrocution.

The boy’s mother told police she visited friends and smoked methamphetamine while her son was in the room, according to the warrant.

NEVADA

Hoover Dam center to get federal funds

LAS VEGAS — The visitor center at Hoover Dam will get a $1.3 million upgrade, with new exhibits for the center’s main hall, theater lobby and entrance, the federal Bureau of Reclamation said.

The agency operates the dam on the Colorado River, about 30 miles east of Las Vegas.

NEW JERSEY

Judge approves child welfare plan

TRENTON — A federal judge yesterday approved a plan to overhaul the state’s troubled child welfare agency, saying he hoped it will mark “the start of a new day for the children of New Jersey.”

A panel established to oversee reforms for the Division of Youth and Family Services endorsed the plan last week.

Children’s Rights Inc., a child advocacy group, filed a lawsuit in 1999 to force changes at the agency after years of problems — culminating last year with cases in which children died or were severely abused. The child welfare panel was appointed as a result of the lawsuit settlement.

The new plan calls for basing child welfare services in individual communities, and increasing the number of foster families. Officials also want to partner with other state agencies to focus on problems that contribute to child abuse and neglect, such as domestic violence and substance abuse.

Some changes are immediate: New Jersey plans to hire 160 new child welfare employees by July 1.

OREGON

City approves law against nudity

ASHLAND — Want to streak through downtown or drop your pants in the park? You could be slapped with a $250 fine.

City councilors in the southern Oregon town have passed an ordinance prohibiting genital exposure downtown and in public parks.

Some residents opposed the ordinance, saying it infringes on personal freedom.

But Mayor Alan DeBoer said he was wholeheartedly in favor of the plan.

“I have had many citizens say they cannot believe that someone can run through town with no clothes on,” Mr. DeBoer said.

The ordinance will make it easier for police to ask a nude person to cover up. Failure to do so could result in a $250 fine.

TENNESSEE

Mountain lion attacks deer

OAKLAND — Two deer found injured last week at the Oakland Zoo might have been attacked by a mountain lion spotted this week in nearby hills, zoo officials said.

The small deer, a 20-year-old female sika and a 6-year-old male muntjac, are recovering after being found June 9 with cuts to their legs and sides, zoo director Joel Parrott said.

The deer are housed in a one-acre exhibit surrounded by 6-foot fencing. The big cat apparently climbed a nearby tree, attacked the deer and left without leaving any evidence behind, Mr. Parrott said.

TEXAS

Whale recovering from shark bites

HOUSTON — A whale that beached along the Texas Gulf coast, covered in shark bites and unable to swim, is recovering in an above-ground pool and eating about 30 pounds of fish and squid a day, rescuers said.

The 8-foot-long, 310-pound melon-headed whale, named Memory for the Memorial Day weekend when it was found, could spend up to three months in recovery before being returned to the wild.

Melon-headed whales are deep-water creatures, rarely seen alone or near the Gulf coastline, and marine biologists were trying to determine what caused Memory to end up at High Island.

“There is something that brought her to the beach. To have them come in alive is rare,” Tammy Renaud of the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network said.

The volunteer group rescued Memory within two hours, and it was taken to the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Galveston laboratory.

VERMONT

Chief justice to step down

MONTPELIER — Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Amestoy, author of the 1999 ruling that led to the state’s creation of civil unions for homosexuals, said Wednesday he is stepping down.

“It is a good time for a change,” said Chief Justice Amestoy, 57, whose resignation will become effective Aug. 6.

Chief Justice Amestoy said he will spend the fall as a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics.

In 1984, Chief Justice Amestoy, a Republican, was elected attorney general, a post he held until his surprise appointment as chief justice in 1997 by Gov. Howard Dean, a Democrat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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