- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005

MASSACHUSETTS

Ukrainian leader gets courage award

BOSTON — Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who survived dioxin poisoning while forcing out the country’s pro-Russian government last year, was given this year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award yesterday.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, praised Mr. Yushchenko’s personal courage and said he has inspired those struggling for democracy across the globe.

Mr. Yushchenko is on a three-day trip to the United States to lobby for aid and investment, win Washington’s support for joining NATO and greet Ukrainian-Americans. He is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress today.

COLORADO

Spring storm becomes blizzard

EL PASO COUNTY — A spring storm whipped winds up to 70 mph in southeastern Colorado and produced a “full-blown blizzard” in El Paso County yesterday, closing schools in at least one mountain community.

Up to 7 inches of snow fell, and strong winds cut visibility to zero in some areas, the National Weather Service in Pueblo reported.

The Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for areas higher than 6,000 feet in El Paso County, about 60 miles south of Denver, and in Las Animas and Huerfano counties near the New Mexico border. “We have a full-blown blizzard in some locations,” Stephen Hodanish of the Weather Service said.

ARIZONA

Reservoir fills up with winter rains

TUCSON — Roosevelt Lake, a reservoir that was down to just 9 percent of capacity several years ago, is almost full because of winter storms, officials say.

The man-made lake is 9 feet higher than it’s ever been and is expected to keep rising for a few more weeks before summer water demand and evaporation begin to deplete it.

ARKANSAS

Disguised highway police nab speeders

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Highway police are disguising themselves as construction workers to increase patrols in areas where crews are rebuilding parts of the Arkansas interstate system.

In three hours Monday, an officer helped nab 46 traffic violators, 43 for speeding. Most were traveling faster than 70 mph in a 55-mph zone, highway officials said.

CALIFORNIA

Half of state’s adultsoverweight, study says

SACRAMENTO — California, the land of body worshippers and vegetarians, is getting alarmingly fat, with more than half of all adults overweight, according to a study released yesterday.

The study estimates that overweight and inactive Californians cost $21.7 billion a year in medical bills, injuries and lost productivity.

It noted that a decade of overeating and sitting in front of the television has given California “one of the fastest rates of increase in adult obesity of any state in the nation.”

Nearly 53 percent of Californians older than 25 are overweight, and more than 17 percent are obese, or extremely overweight, the study found.

The rates among Hispanics, blacks and adults with less than a high school education are even higher and exceed 60 percent, said the study, which was prepared for the California Department of Health Services.

COLORADO

Thompson’s ashes to be shot from cannon

DENVER — Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes will be blasted from a cannon mounted inside a 53-foot-high sculpture of the journalist’s “gonzo fist” emblem, his widow said yesterday.

The cannon shot, planned sometime in August on the grounds of his Aspen-area home, will fulfill the writer’s long-cherished wish.

“It’s expensive, but worth every penny,” Anita Thompson said. “I’d like to have several explosions. He loved explosions.”

Mr. Thompson, 67, shot himself in the head Feb. 20 after a long and flamboyant career that produced such new-journalism classics as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and cast his image as a hard-charging, drug-crazed daredevil.

FLORIDA

Law expands right to kill in self-defense

TALLAHASSEE — People in Florida will be allowed to kill in self-defense on the street without trying to flee under a new law passed by state politicians yesterday that critics say will bring a Wild West mentality and innocent deaths.

The Florida House, citing the need to allow people to “stand their ground,” voted 94-20 to codify and expand court rulings that already allow people to use deadly force to protect themselves in their homes without first trying to escape.

The new bill goes further by allowing Floridians to use deadly force in a public place if they have a reasonable belief they are in danger of death or great bodily harm. It applies to all means of force that may result in death, although the legislative debate focused on guns.

The “Stand Your Ground” bill passed the Senate last week on a 39-0 vote and now goes to Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who indicated he will sign it.

GEORGIA

Case to await new grand jury

ATLANTA — Prosecutors decided yesterday to delay until at least May 3 their plans to charge a rape defendant in last month’s deadly courthouse shooting because the current grand jury was sworn in by the judge slain in the attack.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said his office is ready to proceed with its case against Brian Nichols, but is choosing to wait until a new grand jury is impaneled out of “an abundance of caution.”

Mr. Howard said the current 23-member grand jury was sworn in by Judge Rowland Barnes and was in the Fulton County Courthouse when Judge Barnes and a court reporter were killed March 11.

ILLINOIS

Study backs drug for alcoholism

CHICAGO — A drug that helps alcoholics stop craving a drink is effective as a monthly injection, reducing the chances of missed or skipped treatment when the same drug is given as a daily pill, a study said yesterday.

The injectable, time-released form of the drug naltrexone “was well tolerated and resulted in reductions in heavy drinking among treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent patients during six months of therapy,” said the study published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study was paid for by Alkermes Inc., which recently filed for government approval to market the injection preparation, called Vivitrex. It would be the first treatment for alcohol dependence in a monthly injection if approved, the Cambridge, Mass., company said.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina said they reached their conclusions on the injectable formulation after a test involving more than 600 alcoholics at 24 U.S. hospitals in 2002 and 2003.

NEW YORK

Deliveryman stuck in elevator for days

NEW YORK — A Chinese food deliveryman was found trapped in a broken elevator yesterday, more than three days after he was reported missing, police said.

Ming Kung Chen, 35, who worked for the Happy Dragon restaurant in the Bronx, was reported missing late Friday when he did not return an hour after setting out on a delivery.

Police said he was found about 6 a.m. yesterday and was hospitalized with dehydration. Police were unable to question him immediately because he did not speak English.

OHIO

Arts promotion lets workers arrive late

CLEVELAND — Some employees showing up two hours late for work soon will have the perfect excuse: A ticket stub from last night’s show in Playhouse Square.

The “Late Out, Late In” promotion, announced Monday, is meant to encourage music and theater fans to enjoy the city’s night life, even on weeknights. The city’s tourism agency organized the promotion with participating employers.

Employees need approval in advance and must provide a ticket stub to claim the time off.

“Our employees work so much overtime as it is, I think it will benefit us in the long run,” said Tony Weber, chief executive officer of Glazen Creative Studios, whose 11 employees specialize in corporate videos.

VERMONT

Town rejects bid to limit store size

BENNINGTON — This quintessential New England small town backed Wal-Mart yesterday by rejecting a town bylaw that would have capped the size of big-box retailers to 75,000 square feet.

The proposed bylaw was expected to produce a closer vote — but the cap was rejected by a vote of 2,189-1,724. The Arkansas-based retailer wants to increase its Bennington store, one of four in the state, to 112,000 square feet.

The vote in Bennington, a town of 16,000 in the southwest corner of the state, was watched closely in Montpelier, where state lawmakers are considering a bill that would cap retailers at 50,000 square feet.

Resident Mike Bethel said he likes both shopping in downtown Bennington, with its narrow streets lined with small shops and cafes squeezed into the ground floors of historic buildings, and going out to the Northside Drive retail strip to shop at Wal-Mart.

“They’re apples and oranges,” he said. “We don’t have the ambiance of Vermont out on the strip. You have the ambiance of Vermont downtown.”

WISCONSIN

Winner crowned Ms. Wheelchair

MILWAUKEE — A new Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin has been crowned after pageant leaders stripped the original winner of the title when she appeared in a newspaper photograph standing up.

The announcement of the new winner yesterday came amid a storm of protest over pageant officials’ decision last week to take the crown away from Janeal Lee, a high school teacher and muscular dystrophy sufferer who uses a scooter as her main way to get around, but says she can walk up to 50 feet on a good day and stand while teaching.

During the furor, the runner-up refused to accept the crown out of protest. Miss Lee’s sister, 26-year-old Sharon Spring of Rochester, Minn., who also has muscular dystrophy and was named Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota, dropped out of the competition in that state. And the coordinator for the organization’s Minnesota program stepped down from her job to “stand up for Janeal Lee.”

The eventual winner was second runner-up Kim Jerman of Waukesha.

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