- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2004

CONNECTICUT

President’s daughter graduates

NEW HAVEN — President Bush’s daughter Barbara was among 2,900 students to graduate from Yale yesterday in a ceremony that also honored baseball great Willie Mays.

Barbara Bush, who earned a humanities degree, is the fourth generation of her family to graduate from the Ivy League school. Her twin sister, Jenna, skipped her University of Texas graduation on Saturday.

The president did not attend the twins’ graduations; aides said he decided that his presence and that of White House security would be too disruptive.

TEXAS

One killed as bus strikes tractor-trailer rig

ANAHUAC — A chartered casino bus slammed into a tractor-trailer rig as it was pulling onto Interstate 10 early yesterday, killing a woman and sending numerous others to hospitals, authorities said.

About 30 people were on board the Coach USA bus, which was returning to Texas from Louisiana, said Liz Greene, a spokeswoman for the Dallas-based company.

The truck had been pulled over by state troopers for a safety check about 30 minutes before the accident, Trooper Richard Vasser said. The driver was pulling back onto the highway when the bus struck his trailer, Mr. Vasser said.

Bus passenger Elida Salinas, a Houston woman in her 60s, was killed.

ARIZONA

Rare white calf born on bison ranch

PHOENIX — The owners of a small bison herd in northern Arizona were surprised to find one of their rare white buffaloes had given birth to something even rarer: a white calf.

It is a one-in-10 million occurrence, Keith Davis, a spokesman for Spirit Mountain Ranch, said of Saturday’s birth.

“This is so rare specifically because she was born white,” Mr. Davis said. “The others were born red [like normal buffaloes] and turned white.”

The birth of a white bison is meaningful for many American Indian tribes who consider it a symbol of rebirth when the world’s people are in troubled times.

GEORGIA

Former militant loses murder appeal

ATLANTA — The 1960s black militant once known as H. Rap Brown lost a bid in the Georgia Supreme Court yesterday to overturn his murder conviction and life-without-parole sentence for murdering a Fulton County sheriff’s deputy.

In a unanimous decision, the state’s highest appeals court said it found no reversible error in the trial that led to the conviction of Jamil Al-Amin. The killer’s attorney said he would ask the court to reconsider and would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Al-Amin, 60, was convicted in the March 16, 2000, shooting death of Deputy Ricky Kinchen when he and Deputy Aldranon English tried to serve a warrant on Al-Amin for failing to appear in court for charges of driving a stolen car and impersonating a police officer.

INDIANA

Judge appoints lawyer to represent dog

CROWN POINT — Plenty of lawyers have dogs — but how many dogs have lawyers?

At least one. And his name is Cabic.

Lake Circuit Judge Lorenzo Arredondo appointed a lawyer Thursday to represent Cabic at a hearing to determine whether he is a wolf-dog hybrid. For Cabic, the outcome is a matter of life and death.

Cabic bit one of his owner’s Cedar Lake neighbors, Mark Schilling, in the thigh when Mr. Schilling came to borrow a power tool April 18. The dog’s owner, Nancy Armalius, does not dispute that.

Animal Control authorities put the dog on a 10-day quarantine to determine whether he had rabies. However, the 10-day waiting period does not apply to wild animals.

Under Indiana law, wolf-dog hybrids are considered wild, said Nicholas Doffin, the county health administrator. If the judge rules that Cabic is a hybrid, the animal must be put down and its remains sent to the state Health Department laboratory to be tested for rabies.

LOUISIANA

Oystermen claim damage from diversion

NEW ORLEANS — The state of Louisiana destroyed the livelihoods of Plaquemines Parish oystermen with its 1991 freshwater diversion program and should be forced to reimburse them for the revenue loss, the Louisiana Supreme Court was told yesterday.

Michael X. St. Martin, an attorney for oystermen suing the state over the 1991 Caernarvon diversion program, said the case centered on how much — not whether — the state owes the oystermen.

The case has become one of the most watched legal battles in the effort to restore coastal Louisiana: a $1.3 billion judgment given to Breton Sound oystermen who claimed that their oyster beds were damaged by the project.

NEW MEXICO

Wind-driven blaze quadruples in size

CAPITAN — A wind-driven fire quadrupled in size during the night to about 10,000 acres by yesterday morning, forcing evacuation of a few homes in the Capitan Mountains of central New Mexico.

“We had a 15-mile flame front last night,” said fire information officer Beth Wilson. “Basically, it burned up the better part of the northern Capitan Mountains.”

No buildings were burned and no injuries were reported, she said.

The Peppin fire, nine miles east of Capitan in the Lincoln National Forest, was started May 15 by lightning, but smoldered until it was fanned Sunday by sustained winds of 10 to 15 mph.

NORTH CAROLINA

Soldier says Muslim admitted attack

FORT BRAGG — A prosecution witness testified yesterday that a soldier charged with killing two officers in a grenade attack during the war in Iraq confessed to the crimes after his arrest, saying he feared the wartime deaths of Muslims.

Sgt. Hasan Akbar, 32, of the 101st Airborne Division, faces the death penalty if convicted. Yesterday’s hearing was held to resolve legal issues in advance of Sgt. Akbar’s court-martial.

Sgt. Eric Tanner, a brigade legal assistant, testified that Sgt. Akbar made his confession after he learned of his right not to incriminate himself, saying that he was “ready to talk.” When asked why he committed the attack, “Sergeant Akbar stated, ‘I did it because I’m Muslim,’” Sgt. Tanner said.

Sgt. Akbar’s attorneys have said there were no witnesses to the crime and Sgt. Akbar was accused because he is Muslim.

They want the statements kept out of his trial.

NORTH DAKOTA

Sudan’s ‘Lost Boys’ graduate high school

FARGO — Five refugees from Sudan known as the “Lost Boys” have graduated from a local high school. Red River Valley residents donated about $100,000 to help them since they arrived in the United States three years ago.

The boys are orphans who fled during the civil war that has ravaged their country for more than 20 years. Four of them plan to attend North Dakota State University.

PENNSYLVANIA

Robot folds paper, does origami

PITTSBURGH — Officials at Carnegie Mellon University are excited about a graduate student who has developed a robot capable of doing origami — the traditional Japanese art of folding paper to make figures or sculptures.

Doctoral candidate Devin Balkcom has created a robot that can make paper airplanes and hats.

Origami has important research applications. Although robots have been taught to manipulate rigid objects, such as golf clubs, they struggle when the objects are flexible, such as paper or the human tissues that surgical robots must navigate.

Mr. Balkcom’s robot uses a suction cup to pick and move paper, which is manipulated over a gutter on a metal surface. The paper is pushed into the gutter using a straight-edge ruler attached to the robotic arm, and the gutter closes on the paper to crease it.

RHODE ISLAND

UnitedHealth to woo customers of Blues

PROVIDENCE — UnitedHealth of New England will try to lure some of the state’s biggest employers, including state government, from rival Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island. It wants to obtain more than one-third of the state’s health insurance market.

Officials said the company plans to add 100,000 members in the next three years. They say they will offer coverage that helps employers reduce health care costs.

TENNESSEE

Rock from overpass kills motorist

KNOXVILLE — A passenger in a sport utility vehicle was killed yesterday by a 10-pound rock dropped from a highway overpass, authorities said.

The rock, the size of a bowling ball, crashed through the windshield at about 1:30 a.m. on Interstate 75, Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison said.

Barbara Heasley Weimer, 69, of Knoxville, died of head injuries on the way to a hospital, police said.

Another driver told authorities he saw a minivan either parked or driving across the overpass.

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