- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

TEXAS

Anti-porn pastor elected mayor

KENNEDALE — Patrons of the XXX Super Store and the Fantasy Foxx strip club have been mailed a souvenir: an I-know-where-you’ve-been postcard emblazoned with a photo of the customer’s car parked outside one of the adult businesses.

The card reads: “Observed you in the neighborhood. Didn’t know if you were aware there is a church in the area.”

Oakcrest Family Church pastor Jim Norwood and his followers have been snapping the pictures and mailing out the cards in the past six months or so. The campaign helped the Rev. Norwood get elected mayor of this Fort Worth suburb last month with 66 percent of the vote.

MICHIGAN

Mayor officiates mass same-sex ‘wedding’

FERNDALE — Nearly a dozen same-sex couples pledged their love and commitment Saturday in a symbolic “marriage” ceremony officiated by the mayor of this Detroit suburb.

Several protesters silently lined the sidewalk in front of City Hall, where the couples and Mayor Robert Porter gathered under a blue and pink banner that proclaimed: “To love, honor and be recognized.”

The ceremonies carried no legal weight, but were part of the weekend’s Motor City Pride festival in Ferndale. In two decades, the city of 22,000 has gone from being a struggling, working-class town to a vibrant center for metropolitan Detroit’s homosexual community.

CALIFORNIA

Wildfire forces hundreds to evacuate

GAVIOTA — A wildfire in Southern California scorched more than 6,000 acres and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people from a gated community nearby, authorities said yesterday.

The flames spread quickly through a line of narrow canyons and steep hillsides covered with dense, old-growth brush, burning on both sides of Highway 101 about 27 miles north of Santa Barbara.

Fire department spokesman Barry Peckham said temperatures in the area were expected to reach 90 degrees, making it easier for the fire to spread.

More than 300 firefighters battled the blaze, which was reported shortly before noon on Saturday, said Charlie Johnson, spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

GEORGIA

Small plane crashes in residential area

DALLAS — A small plane crashed in a subdivision west of Atlanta shortly after takeoff Saturday, killing one person and critically injuring another, officials said.

The ultralight aircraft landed between an occupied home and another house under construction, said Capt. Bobby Godsey of the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.

No one on the ground was injured, officials said.

“It started sputtering and went into a dive, and according to witnesses, the pilot steered it away from hitting the houses,” Capt. Godsey said.

Federal Aviation Administration officials were investigating.

ILLINOIS

Use of computers boosts preschoolers

CHICAGO — Preschool children who use computers appear to develop better learning skills than peers who lack computer savvy, researchers said today.

In a study of 122 children ages 3 to 5, those exposed to a home or school computer either alone or with someone else three to four times a week scored higher on tests that gauge school readiness and cognitive development than nonusers, said the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

But, researchers found no benefit to children having video games in the home. Of the 56 percent of children with computers at home, a majority had such games, wrote study authors Xiaoming Li, a pediatrician at Wayne State University in Detroit, and psychologist Melissa Atkins of Ohio State University in Columbus.

LOUISIANA

Statins linked to lower cancer risk

NEW ORLEANS — In a case of medical serendipity, the cholesterol-lowering pills called statins, already widely prescribed to prevent heart attacks, also appear to have an unintended but potentially substantial benefit of warding off cancer.

Statins are among the world’s most commonly used medicines. Evidence has been building for several years that people who take them to improve their cholesterol levels seem less likely to get cancer.

The latest data found that people who took statins for at least five years appeared to cut their risk of colon cancer in half. Earlier work has shown reductions in breast and prostate cancer as well as across-the-board cancer risk.

The latest of these studies, directed by Dr. Stephen Gruber of the University of Michigan, was presented yesterday at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

MASSACHUSETTS

Elevator inspections deemed inadequate

BOSTON — Elevators in schools, hospitals, transit stations and elsewhere across the state might be unsafe, according to an audit that found the state Department of Public Safety is doing a poor job of inspecting elevators.

The department is not enforcing the law requiring annual inspections, nor is it in a timely manner reinspecting elevators that are under repair or were shut down because they were unsafe, State Auditor Joe DeNucci reported. The audit found the state’s database of elevator inspections is incomplete and inaccurate.

NEBRASKA

Inmates help feed tornado victims

HALLAM — The Nebraska State Penitentiary kitchen staff is helping to feed residents and volunteers working to clean up this tornado-damaged town.

Inmates are working about three extra hours each day to cook 500 additional meals for the workers. They usually make about 1,000 meals daily.

NEW MEXICO

Judge to retire after drug arrest

ALBUQUERQUE — A judge facing drug and drunken-driving charges intends to retire and take full responsibility for his actions, his attorneys said Saturday.

Judge John Brennan, chief judge of state district court in Albuquerque, and Patricia Mattioli, head of a college incentive program for the state Commission on Higher Education, were arrested after Judge Brennan reportedly tried to avoid a drunken-driving checkpoint May 29.

A drug possession charge was leveled against both after a white powder found in the car proved to be cocaine.

OREGON

Tree stump dated to 30 million years

MEDFORD — Southern Oregon University Geologist Bill Elliot says he has determined that a tree stump found behind Eagle Point High School was formed more than 30 million years ago, perhaps after a volcanic eruption.

Maintenance workers were cleaning out a pond when they discovered the petrified redwood stump, which measures more than 6 feet across.

UTAH

Students gather 1 million pennies

RIVER HEIGHTS — Students at a Utah elementary school now know what 1 million looks like.

River Heights Elementary School has gathered 1 million pennies in eight years. Students started saving pennies in 1996 as part of a math project by fifth-grade teacher Dave Jorgensen.

He wanted to show students what 1 million of something looked like.

Mr. Jorgensen first thought he would build a box to hold all the pennies, but 1 million of the coins weigh about 2 tons.

The $10,000 — the equivalent of 1 million pennies — will be donated, school officials said.

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