- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 14, 2005

Feral cat hunt killed by panel

MANITOWOC, Wis. — A month after Gov. James E. Doyle said a plan to allow hunters to shoot stray cats was making Wisconsin a laughingstock, the public advisory group that raised the issue decided yesterday to let it die.

?There is no need to push it any further,? Wisconsin Conservation Congress Chairman Steve Oestreicher said of a proposed change to allow licensed hunters to shoot feral cats that kill songbirds and other wildlife.

The proposal ignited a firestorm among animal rights groups that called it inhumane and dangerous — and raised the specter that hunters would shoot cats that had only wandered from their homes.

Still, 57 percent of those at the Conservation Congress’ meetings in all 72 counties last month favored the idea.

Cheerleading reform benched in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ cheerleading reform bill — the one lampooned on late-night comedy shows as governmental lunacy — appears to be benched for good in the state Senate, with nary a yell or a jump.

The measure was approved in the Texas House on May 3, with supportive lawmakers waving pompoms as the bill moved over to the Senate’s Education Committee, where the cheering abruptly stopped.

Rather than being a “mandate from the state,” said Sen. Florence Shapiro, commission chairwoman, the problem of students performing lewd acts should be addressed by parents and local school districts.

The proposal would have given the state, and the school districts, more power to punish drill teams, dance squads and cheerleaders who performed sexually suggestive acts and dressed overly provocatively.

Jackson’s ex-attorney testifies at abuse trial

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Michael Jackson’s former attorney Mark Geragos testified at the pop star’s child molestation trial yesterday that the singer told him that his accuser had slept in his bed but that nothing sexual had occurred.

Mr. Geragos, who testified that he investigated the accuser’s family and became gravely concerned about them, was cross-examined on whether he ever asked Mr. Jackson if the boy slept in his bed.

?Yes, he said nothing happened,? Mr. Geragos testified. ?He said … if anyone spent the night in his room, it was unconditional love.?

Mr. Geragos called Mr. Jackson ?almost childlike in his love for kids.?

Mr. Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer patient in February or March 2003 and giving the boy wine.

Bush picks England for Pentagon post

President Bush yesterday designated Gordon England to be acting deputy secretary of defense, placing him in the No. 2 Pentagon job even though the Senate has not approved his nomination.

Mr. Bush nominated Mr. England to replace Paul Wolfowitz on April 7, but the selection has been bottled up while the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Pentagon have wrangled over a Senate requirement that Mr. England purchase insurance on the pension he earned prior to joining the government.

Yesterday was Mr. Wolfowitz’s last day at the Defense Department, ending more than four years as the top deputy to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Mr. Wolfowitz quit to become president of the World Bank.

Mr. England previously had been secretary of the Navy. Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, he was an executive at General Dynamics Corp.

Police find owner of Wendy’s finger

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The mysterious finger that a woman claimed to have found in a bowl of Wendy’s chili came from an associate of her husband who lost the finger in an industrial accident, police said yesterday.

?The jig is up. The puzzle pieces are beginning to fall into place, and the truth is being exposed,? Police Chief Rob Davis said.

The discovery of the finger’s owner marks a significant break in a case that has confounded authorities for nearly two months, ever since Anna Ayala claimed she bit down on the well-manicured, 1/2-inch finger in a mouthful of chili.

Authorities said last month that they believed the story was a hoax, and they arrested the 39-year-old Ayala at her home in Las Vegas and charged her with attempted grand larceny.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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