- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2005

NORTH CAROLINA

Officials plan to sell King statue

ROCKY MOUNT — Officials in Rocky Mount think the best way to pay for a new statue of Martin Luther King is to sell the old one.

The sculpture created by Erik Blome of Figurative Art Studio in Crystal Lake, Ill., was unveiled in June 2003. Local residents complained that it looked nothing like the civil rights leader.

A panel recommended this month that the city commission Chicago-area sculptors Anna and Jeffrey Varilla to replace the statue. But city leaders balked at the $140,000 cost.

City Council members told City Manager Steve Raper to make a plan to sell the Blome sculpture for any price as quickly as possible.

PENNSYLVANIA

Group intends to upgrade Warhol house

PITTSBURGH — It could be called Andy Warhol’s first studio. But it’s a little disappointing.

A bare light bulb hangs on two wires from a rafter of the roofless ramshackle porch. A rusted scaffold was left standing on the porch apparently abandoned in the middle of the job. The windows are caked with dirt, and some are broken and boarded up.

But the last place Mr. Warhol lived in Pittsburgh before moving to New York could see better days if a neighborhood group — including his older brother — has its way.

Mr. Warhol moved into the two-story, brown brick home in 1934, when he was 6, with his father, mother and two older brothers and lived there until 1949.

The Oakland Planning and Development Corporation has told the city it would like to buy Mr. Warhol’s childhood home. The city plans to get control of the property during a treasurer’s sale tomorrow and settle any other debts so it can be sold to the group.

ALABAMA

Hike pays off; activist meets governor

MONTGOMERY — Lisa Thomas finally got her audience with Gov. Bob Riley. She hiked 110 miles to Mr. Riley’s office so she could express concern for people who do not have enough money to buy food.

Miss Thomas, who runs a program to feed the poor in south Alabama, made a similar hike last year but didn’t have an appointment and was unable to meet with Mr. Riley, a Republican.

ARIZONA

Navajos oppose end to funding

PHOENIX — Five years ago, Arizona began sending $1.75 million a year to the Navajo Nation’s college as part of a 10-year deal.

Now, Republican lawmakers want to eliminate the transfer to Dine College to help ease the state’s budget woes, a provision that American Indians say is just more unfair treatment of them by the government.

“I put that in the same category as the whole string of promises broken throughout the history of Native American people,” said state Sen. Albert Hale, a former Navajo Nation president.

The legislators argue that the Navajos should help fund the college, especially since the tribe has decided to allow casino gambling on its reservation.

The Legislature passed the budget, which includes the provision, on March 18. Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, vetoed the budget on March 21, and she has said she objected to that provision as well as others.

CALIFORNIA

Settlement sought in Blake civil suit

LOS ANGELES — Actor Robert Blake and the family of his slain wife will try to reach an out-of-court settlement to avoid a civil wrongful death trial, attorneys for both sides said yesterday.

Mr. Blake was acquitted two weeks ago of fatally shooting his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, in May 2001, and of trying to hire two former stuntmen to kill her.

During a closed hearing with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Schacter yesterday, attorneys postponed depositions set for next week for Mr. Blake and his ex-wife, Sondra Kerr.

GEORGIA

Teachers to receive state tax break

ATLANTA — Teachers who use their own money for school supplies will get a $250 state tax break under a bill Gov. Sonny Perdue signed. The law will mirror a similar deduction teachers already may claim on federal taxes.

Mr. Perdue, a Republican, called the law a way to thank teachers who go out of their way to help their students.

HAWAII

Mayor to cancel 66 design contracts

HONOLULU — Mayor Mufi Hannemann plans to cancel 66 design contracts for community projects because they don’t meet his “need-to-have” standard.

The value of all the design contracts comes to $6.9 million. Among the projects being killed are two swimming pools, new sidewalks and renovations at the Honolulu Zoo.

INDIANA

Pie in face fails to stop Kristol speech

RICHMOND — Even a pie in the face couldn’t silence conservative pundit William Kristol.

Mr. Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and former chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, was splattered by a student during a speech about U.S. foreign policy at Earlham College Tuesday.

Members of the audience jeered the student, then applauded as Mr. Kristol wiped the pie from his face and said, “Just let me finish this point,” the Palladium-Item reported.

Mr. Kristol then finished his speech and took questions from the audience.

The student, who was not immediately identified, was suspended and faces expulsion after a disciplinary review, Earlham Provost Len Clark said yesterday. Mr. Clark also issued a written apology complimenting Mr. Kristol for his “graciousness.”

KENTUCKY

Hungry residents receive diet food

PAINTSVILLE — A surplus of diet food for the overweight has been a boon for the hungry in Appalachia.

Unsold crates of low-carb energy bars, shakes and breakfast mixes have been pouring into the Christian Appalachian Project to be distributed in mountain communities. For people who otherwise might go hungry, diet food beats no food at all.

“You can’t go wrong with giving any kind of food away,” said Ken Slone, manager of the charity’s warehouse about 25 miles from the spot where President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964. “When you’re feeding people, you’re doing a good thing.”

Since September, the charity has received 14 truckloads of food from Atkins Nutritionals, the New York company famous for the low-carb diet. Mr. Slone said each truckload contained about 1,300 cases of energy bars, shakes and breakfast mixes that are being distributed to churches and other organizations that minister to the needy.

MASSACHUSETTS

Seal finds way to landlocked town

MIDDLEBORO — Why did the seal cross the road? A young harp seal native to the Canadian Arctic found its way to this landlocked suburban town Tuesday and waddled around on land before being rescued.

The seal swam about 30 miles up the Taunton River and two of its flood-swollen tributaries before setting out onto dry land, said marine biologist Belinda Rubinstein of the New England Aquarium.

It crossed a road before being spotted around 6:30 a.m. by a homeowner, who called police. The aquarium dispatched a team of scientists and volunteers to corral the seal and return it to safety.

Scientists were hoping to send the 34-pound seal, nicknamed Squirt, to the University of New England’s marine science center in Biddeford, Maine.

MICHIGAN

Senate considers online dating bill

LANSING — The state Senate is considering legislation to protect online daters from predators. It would require an Internet dating company serving Michigan residents to disclose on its Web site whether it has conducted criminal background checks on users.

Critics say any feeling of security would be deceptive because there is no way to ensure people give their real names. Similar legislation has been proposed in California, Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Texas.

MISSISSIPPI

Legislature OKs Commandments bill

JACKSON — The Mississippi House yesterday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow the Ten Commandments and other religious texts to be placed in public buildings, a day after the Senate also approved it.

The legislation now goes before Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican who is “inclined to sign” it, his spokesman Pete Smith said.

The measure passed the House by a 97-15 vote and the Senate by a 40-4 vote despite warnings from some lawmakers that the state should wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on public property.

Mississippi has had a law since 2001 requiring the motto “In God We Trust” to be posted in public schools. The new bill would allow the motto, the Ten Commandments and excerpts from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to be posted in all public buildings.

The U.S. high court heard arguments earlier this month in cases involving a 6-foot granite monument on the Texas Capitol grounds and framed copies of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses.

It is the court’s first consideration of the issue since 1980, when justices ruled the Ten Commandments could not be displayed in public schools. Mississippi’s 2001 law has never been challenged.

NEW YORK

Virulent HIV strain seen in several cases

NEW YORK — Health officials have identified several patients potentially infected with a rare strain of highly drug-resistant HIV, but are not sure whether the cases are related.

The first case of the strain was reported last month in a man who had unprotected sex with dozens of other men while under the influence of crystal methamphetamine.

Officials then contacted sex partners identified by the infected man, and began surveying city HIV laboratories for patients with possibly related strains, the New York Times reported in yesterday’s editions.

City officials would not say how many patients had been identified as possibly being infected with the strain, and said it could take months to determine whether their infections are related to the first case.

NORTH CAROLINA

Teenager arrested in bomb threats

GREENSBORO — A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in a string of bomb threats over the past week that disrupted life across this city, leading to evacuations at the airport, government buildings and office towers.

Tony Wayne Moore was arrested Tuesday night and charged with 20 felony counts of making false reports of a destructive device. He was jailed on $250,000 bond while police and the FBI looked into adding dozens more charges.

The teen reportedly used a stolen cell phone to make the threats, and they came in so fast that investigators said they couldn’t keep up. At least three threats were made in the minutes before officers arrived at the Moore youth’s home to make the arrest.

OREGON

Dinosaur dung popular at museum

CENTRAL POINT — A display of dinosaur dung is turning out to be the big draw at a local museum.

Frank Callahan, the past president of the Roxy Ann Gem & Mineral Society that owns and operates the Crater Rock Museum housing the fossilized feces, suggests it be labeled “coprolite.”

Although the nonprofit museum, which was founded in 1954, also has dinosaur eggs and dinosaur bones, its the “dino plops” that invariably bring a smile to visitors.

“The first thing adults do is smell it,” he said. “Of course, there is no smell.”

SOUTH DAKOTA

Black Hills snowpack near record low

RAPID CITY — Snowpack levels in the Black Hills of South Dakota are 70 percent below average and receding 1 inch a day, raising the danger of wildfires.

The U.S. Forest Service measured 7 inches of snow at O’Neil Pass Tuesday; the 62-year average for snowpack in that area is 24.6 inches, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Water levels are also below normal, making fire the No. 1 danger in the area and many other parts of the West, local rangers said.

TENNESSEE

Meth law restricts cold tablet sales

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, signed a bill yesterday aimed at fighting the state’s soaring meth problem, and it starts by giving small stores 24 hours to stop selling cold tablets used to make the drug.

“I hope this collective action sends a clear signal to the people of Tennessee that we are serious about tackling this problem,” Mr. Bredesen said as he signed the measure, which raced through the legislature a little more than a month after he proposed it.

The biggest change will be restrictions placed on some cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine. They have to be sold, in limited amounts, from behind a pharmacy counter with a record of each purchase.

Small stores that don’t have pharmacies won’t be allowed to sell the medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, a major component in making meth.

The drug is “cooked” using the cold medicine and easily obtainable items such as lye, matchbook striker plates and iodine. Tennessee has become a hotbed for meth production, with 1,200 clandestine meth labs broken up by federal agents in the state between October 2003 and August 2004. Also, 750 children were removed from the custody of meth abusers in the state last year.

VERMONT

Panel OKs bill on smoking ban

MONTPELIER — A House committee endorsed a bill that would end smoking in the state’s bars and clubs despite the strong opposition of private fraternal clubs.

If approved, the bill would outlaw cigarette and pipe smoking in every bar, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion post across Vermont. The bill now goes to the full House.

WEST VIRGINIA

FBI plans campaign to find sniper

CHARLESTON — The FBI plans to launch a billboard campaign seeking information about a trio of fatal sniper-style shootings that terrorized the Kanawha Valley in 2003. Despite a $100,000 reward, the killer’s identity remains a mystery.

The FBI hopes to display pictures of the victims on the billboards. “It lets people see this is about real people,” agent Joe Ciccarelli said.

WISCONSIN

White officers win discrimination suit

MILWAUKEE — A federal jury found that former Milwaukee Police Chief Arthur Jones, who is black, discriminated against 17 white men by promoting women and minorities ahead of them.

The jury, which reached its verdict Tuesday, will return next week to decide how much the plaintiffs should receive in damages.

The 17 are seeking more than $5 million and an immediate promotion to captain if applicable. Two are now captains; two others are retired.

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