- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2006

ALABAMA

Montgomery sorry for Parks’ treatment

MONTGOMERY — The City Council has a message for late civil rights icon Rosa Parks and other blacks who were mistreated in Montgomery during the 1950s: We’re sorry.

The majority-white council voted unanimously Tuesday to make a formal apology to Mrs. Parks, who died in October, and four women who filed a federal lawsuit that resulted in court orders mandating the desegregation of city buses. The council’s resolution also apologized to “all others who suffered the same indignities” as Mrs. Parks.

She was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white man. The arrest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and led to Martin Luther King becoming a national civil rights leader.

CALIFORNIA

Agents arrest 31 in anti-meth raid

LOS ANGELES — Federal agents yesterday arrested 31 persons and seized 8 pounds of methamphetamine, a pound of cocaine, 23 vehicles, 14 firearms and $90,000 in illicit drug proceeds in a raid aimed at dismantling major methamphetamine traffickers and key area gangs.

The raid, known as Operation Wasteland, targeted the 650 members of the Highland Park Gang and the Eastside Wilmas Gang, who have been named on charges of drug trafficking to finance their gang activities.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne said the gangs’ members and associates were responsible for trafficking nearly 800 pounds of methamphetamine monthly. In the course of the investigation, Mr. Payne said, law-enforcement authorities identified Richard Gastelum as the leader of the Highland Park Gang, adding that he is accused of financing the gang’s activities through the sale of methamphetamine.

“Drugs don’t traffic themselves; to penetrate our neighborhoods, they depend on gang members like the ones we arrested today,” said Ralph W. Partridge, DEA special agent in charge who heads the agency’s Los Angeles field office. “For too long, gangs have run roughshod in our neighborhoods, turning them, truly, into their own private wastelands. Today, we are cleaning them up.”

COLORADO

Post announces newsroom job cuts

DENVER — The Denver Post plans to cut 25 positions in its newsroom by offering early retirement and voluntary separation packages, the newspaper reported yesterday.

Post Editor Gregory L. Moore told the staff that no layoffs were planned yet. The reductions amount to about 8 percent of about 300 newsroom positions. Newspaper officials declined to estimate the projected cost savings.

GEORGIA

Suspicious device found at airport

ATLANTA — Security officers closed the screening checkpoints at the busy Atlanta airport for nearly two hours yesterday after finding what they suspected could be an explosive in a carry-on bag.

Bomb-squad officers were called in after workers with the Transportation Security Administration found the suspicious bag about 2 p.m., the agency said.

Flights were delayed and security checkpoints evacuated at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — the world’s busiest passenger airport with nearly 86 million passengers last year, according to the Airports Council International.

TSA said the screening checkpoints reopened after about two hours, but it was not clear if anyone had been arrested or whether any explosives had been found. Crowds of travelers waited outside the airport.

MAINE

Investigators close arsenic investigation

BANGOR — Nearly three years after parishioners drank arsenic-laced coffee at a church in northern Maine, detectives said they have decided that the only person to be implicated acted alone.

Daniel Bondeson, a church member, committed suicide days after the poisonings on April 27, 2003, that killed one person and sickened 15. State police had thought Bondeson might have had an accomplice when he poisoned the coffee at Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church in New Sweden. But they said Tuesday they learned additional information about the case during grand jury proceedings late last year that changed their minds.

Though the investigators did not specify what information they learned, a lawyer who testified before the grand jury said Tuesday that Bondeson told him the day before he killed himself that he acted alone. Lawyer Peter Kelley said Bondeson told him he acted in retaliation because he thought that church members did not like him and that someone had once put “chemicals” into his coffee, giving him a bout of stomach discomfort.

NEW YORK

Woods to be park named for Trump

PUTNAM VALLEY — Donald Trump is donating 436 bucolic acres in New York’s northern suburbs for a new state park that will be named for — you guessed it — Donald Trump.

The new Donald J. Trump State Park will comprise two separate areas along the Taconic State Parkway, near the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Fahnestock state parks. Mr. Trump and Gov. George E. Pataki announced the donation yesterday from the sunny, wind-swept top of Indian Hill, which crowns the larger parcel — 282 acres of woods, meadow and wetland straddling Westchester and Putnam counties about 45 miles north of Manhattan.

“This is so beautiful,” Mr. Trump said to his wife, Melania, when he arrived for the press conference. “Am I allowed to change my mind?”

NORTH DAKOTA

Snowstorm closes major highways

BISMARCK — Up to 2 feet of blowing snow closed major highways on the northwestern Plains yesterday as a powerful storm caused widespread power outages and was blamed for at least three deaths.

More than 2,000 homes and businesses lost power in South Dakota’s Black Hills, and many schools were closed. Some towns in western North Dakota could be without electricity for another day, said the Mountrail-Williams County Electric Cooperative.

The heaviest snowfall was reported in the Black Hills, with 24 inches at Lead and Rochford, the National Weather Service said. Sundance, Wyo., reported 13 inches of snow by midmorning with wind gusting to 60 mph. A foot of snow had fallen at Bowman, in North Dakota’s southwest corner, the weather service said.

“I wish I was in Hawaii,” said Bowman County Sheriff Rory Teigen.

The deaths were in a three-vehicle crash on an icy North Dakota highway amid blowing sleet and snow, state police said. Authorities said a tractor-trailer rig hit a U-Haul truck towing a car head-on, pushing it into a sport utility vehicle that was following the U-Haul.

OHIO

Judge lets courthouse keep Commandments

TOLEDO — A Ten Commandments monument that has stood on the courthouse lawn for almost 50 years does not promote religion and can remain in place, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge James Carr said Tuesday that the monument can stay because the motives for placing it outside the Lucas County courthouse were secular and not an endorsement of a specific belief.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sued Lucas County in 2002 to have the display removed, saying it was unconstitutional and promoted religion. The Lucas County marker was given to the county by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles as part of an effort to combat juvenile delinquency.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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