- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 27, 2005

MASSACHUSETTS

January becomes snowiest month

BOSTON — More than 5 additional inches of snow had fallen on Boston by yesterday morning, putting a fresh coat on the remnants of last weekend’s blizzard and making this January the city’s snowiest on record.

Schools canceled classes, and Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, asked President Bush to declare a federal emergency in the eastern half of the state, which would make the area eligible for extra aid.

The 5.4 inches of new snow recorded at Logan International Airport before the storm let up yesterday morning came only days after the blizzard that dumped more than 3 feet of snow.

It brought the airport’s January total to 43.1 inches of snow, more than in any other month since the National Weather Service began keeping records for the city in 1892.

WASHINGTON

Chemical fire prompts evacuation

GRANDVIEW — Officials evacuated 100 homes and closed a 13-mile stretch of highway after a building used to store farm chemicals caught fire, filling the air with contaminated smoke on Wednesday.

A half-dozen people complained of skin irritation or respiratory distress and sought treatment at a hospital, said Lt. Jim Keightley, Washington State Patrol spokesman.

Authorities evacuated a half-mile area around the Wilbur-Ellis Co. plant — roughly 400 persons, he said.

“The chemicals are an irritant and some of them are toxic,” said Ken Cowdrey, Wilbur-Ellis’ head of safety in Yakima.

The cause of the fire was not known.

CALIFORNIA

Insurers sue church, claim coverup

LOS ANGELES — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles was sued yesterday by its insurers, who accuse the archdiocese of withholding “critical evidence” that could help insurance carriers assess the validity and worth of more than 500 sexual abuse claims.

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, three members of American International Group Inc. accused the church and Cardinal Roger Mahony of trying to force insurers into a settlement and not providing key documents — including medical and work records.

“The archbishop’s failure to investigate and to initiate formal discovery has resulted in the loss of critical evidence,” according to the lawsuit. “Despite the fact that memories are fading and witnesses are dying, the archbishop has consistently resisted the taking of any depositions or recorded statements in the … proceedings or otherwise.”

Archdiocese spokesman J. Michael Hennigan said the church has not withheld any documents and that the insurers “instead of honoring their obligations to help us reasonably settle these cases [have] chosen to file a frivolous lawsuit.”

FLORIDA

State rejects proposal for chiropractic school

GAINESVILLE — The state of Florida yesterday killed a proposal to create what would have been the first chiropractic school at a U.S. public university.

The Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s 11 public universities, voted down the idea 10-3 after a bitter debate in which faculty members at Florida State University, where the school would have been, ridiculed chiropractic as pseudoscience.

Board members objected that the idea was being driven by lawmakers rather than by the faculty and the university’s trustees. Other board members questioned whether the school was needed.

The practice focuses on manipulating the spine to lessen back pain and improve health. It has won wider acceptance over the years and is being covered in most health insurance plans.

HAWAII

Coco Palms Resort to be restored

LIHUE — The Kauai Planning Commission approved a $200 million restoration of the famed Coco Palms Resort.

Developer Richard Weiser said he plans to restore the hotel, closed since 1992, to the look it had in the 1950s and 1960s. The resort was used as a set in the 1961 Elvis Presley movie “Blue Hawaii.”

ILLINOIS

Bones grow at night, research finds

CHICAGO — The perception that children seem to grow taller overnight is likely true, researchers said yesterday.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison placed sensors on the leg bones of lambs to monitor bone growth in the animals. Ninety percent of bone growth occurred when the animals were sleeping or otherwise at rest, according to the study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.

“We observed this noncontinuous pattern of growth, but what was really interesting was that the bones were growing only when the animals were lying down, and almost no growth occurs when the lambs are standing or moving around,” study author Norman Wilsman said.

He reasoned that growth plates consisting of soft cartilage at the ends of bones become compressed when walking or standing, preventing growth. When lying down, the pressure on the growth plates is off and the bones elongate.

LOUISIANA

State may seize federal tax refunds

BATON ROUGE — The state Department of Revenue has mailed about 107,000 certified letters informing delinquent taxpayers that the state will seize any refunds they might expect from their federal income tax returns.

Louisiana is taking advantage of a recent amendment to federal law. It hopes to collect $180.4 million in back taxes.

MINNESOTA

Restlessness, fidgeting tied to weight loss

MINNEAPOLIS — It turns out that some couch potatoes spend more time on the couch than others. And that could be a key to obesity.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say it’s not the trips to the gym, but the everyday pacing, fidgeting and restlessness that may play a bigger role in whether someone’s fat or thin, according to a small study of self-described couch potatoes.

The scientists found that the obese people they studied sat for about 150 minutes more per day on average than their lean subjects, and that meant they burned about 350 fewer calories per day.

If the overweight subjects matched the behavior of their lean counterparts, that could work out to an individual weight loss of about 33 pounds per year, the study said.

NEW YORK

Snow delays discovery of cabdriver’s body

NEW YORK — The body of a 70-year-old cabdriver lay undiscovered for three days after snow from a blizzard encased his car, blocking the view inside, police said.

The man, whose name was not released pending family notification, was found midday Wednesday near his home in Brooklyn, said police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Ferrell.

It appeared the man died of a heart attack shortly after parking his car on the street sometime Sunday, a day after the storm began dumping nearly 18 inches of snow on the city.

Plows pushed banks of snow against his car, covering the windows. The man’s body was discovered after the snow melted.

OKLAHOMA

Lawmaker proposes rooster boxing

OKLAHOMA CITY — With cockfighting banned in Oklahoma, one legislator is proposing a blood-free alternative: fitting roosters with little boxing gloves and letting them slug it out.

“Who’s going to object to chickens fighting like humans do? Everybody wins,” said Democratic state Sen. Frank Shurden, a protector of the game-fowl industry and a longtime defender of cockfighting, in which birds are fitted with razorlike spurs and often battle to the death.

Oklahoma voters banned cockfighting in 2002.

TEXAS

Restaurateur’s remains found

DALLAS — Police yesterday found the remains of a restaurateur who was kidnapped nine days ago.

Oscar J. Sanchez, 30, disappeared Jan. 18 after his car was rammed from behind near two popular Mexican restaurants his family owns.

The Dallas County medical examiner’s office confirmed Mr. Sanchez’s identity. A police officer found the body in a remote area of south Dallas. It was covered with construction materials, Lt. Jan Easterling said.

Jose Alberto Felix, one of two men suspected of kidnapping and killing Mr. Sanchez, was extradited from Chicago to Dallas on Wednesday and was being held in a county jail. He and Edgar Acevedo, 24, are charged with third-degree kidnapping.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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