- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 22, 2005

President’s dad denies shift in foreign policy

President Bush’s inaugural address, with its emphasis on spreading democracy and eliminating tyranny throughout the world, was not meant to signal a new direction in U.S. foreign policy, nor to portray America as arrogant, his father said yesterday.

“People want to read a lot into it — that this means new aggression or newly assertive military forces. That’s not what that speech is about. It’s about freedom,” former President George Bush told reporters during an informal visit to the White House briefing room.

“It doesn’t mean instant change in every country. That’s not what he intended,” Mr. Bush said about his son’s second inaugural address.

Florida boy reunited with family

OCALA, Fla. — An 11-year-old boy who police said had been taken from his school by a convicted child molester was reunited with his family yesterday while dozens of police officers searched for the kidnapping suspect in Georgia.

The boy’s mother hugged him as he emerged from a police car outside the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

His father, Ivert Kirkirt, said the boy was surprised by all the attention and looked good after the ordeal. “He said, ‘Dad, stop crying,’” Mr. Kirkirt said.

Meanwhile, police continued searching for Frederick Fretz, 42, who was believed to be hiding in woods near where the boy was found in northwest Georgia on Friday, said Maj. Mike Powell of the police department in Emerson, Ga. He said there was no indication the boy had been molested.

Fretz, who had been living with the boy and his father, picked up the boy at a Dunnellon, Fla., elementary school on Tuesday, police said.

FBI traces suspect to detention facility

BOSTON — One of the Chinese nationals sought for questioning in connection with an unspecified, unconfirmed threat against Boston has been in U.S. custody for more than two months, the FBI said yesterday.

Mei Xia Dong has been located in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in the San Diego area, the FBI said.

It said Mei Xia Dong, identified last week as a male, is a woman who was arrested for an immigration violation Nov. 11. She has been in custody ever since.

Officials have said they are increasingly skeptical about the validity of an uncorroborated tip from an anonymous source that on Wednesday sparked a terror alert in Boston.

The FBI said it is still interested in speaking with the remaining 13 persons it identified last week.

Funds to repair Hubble to be cut

The Bush administration plans to propose cuts in funds to fix the aging Hubble Space Telescope, a U.S. official said yesterday.

The 14-year-old orbiting observatory is due for a servicing mission to replace its batteries and the gyroscopes that keep it steady, and to upgrade some of its equipment.

The repair mission has been on hold since the Feb. 1, 2003, disintegration of the shuttle Columbia. Debate in the astronautical community has raged over whether to send robots or astronauts to fix the telescope, or whether to fix it at all.

Reports on the Web site www.space.com said the Bush administration plans to scrap any Hubble repair mission and eliminate those funds from the proposed budget for fiscal 2006. A U.S. official confirmed those reports.

School bus nearly hijacked by children

PITTSBURGH — Authorities in west-central Pennsylvania are considering charges against two 11-year-old boys who purportedly tried to hijack a school bus at knife point.

Jefferson County authorities say one boy put a knife with a 3-inch blade next to the bus driver’s throat Friday and told her to stop the vehicle and get out, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported yesterday.

After the driver stopped the bus, she told the boy to give her the knife and he did.

Four children, three 11-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl, were turned over to administrators at Mapleview Elementary School in Punxsutawney, Pa.

Two of the boys whom state police believe did most of the planning were taken into custody by Jefferson County juvenile-justice authorities. The other two children were released to their parents.

Charges dropped in rape case

LEESVILLE, La. — A man won’t face trial on charges he raped three residents of a short-term home for the mentally handicapped because his accusers were found incompetent to testify against him.

Prosecutors dropped six aggravated rape charges Friday against Louis Glenn Dowden, who was a resident training specialist at the Leesville Developmental Center.

Prosecutors said the case rested largely on the victims’ testimony, and the judge ruled them incompetent to testify because they all have IQs less than 70.

Mr. Dowden was arrested in March 2002 after state officials began investigating the rape accusations. He also was put on administrative leave by the state.

Mr. Dowden’s attorney did not return a call seeking comment yesterday.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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