- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

ALABAMA

Records put doubt on Tuskegee lore

MONTGOMERY — It has been part of the lore of the nation’s first black fighter pilots since the end of World War II: The Tuskegee Airmen never lost a bomber to enemy fire.

But now, more than 60 years later, a leader of the group says he has uncovered records proving the claim is not accurate.

Air Force records show that at least a few bombers escorted by the red-tailed fighters of the Tuskegee Airman were shot down by enemy planes, William F. Holton, historian of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., said yesterday, and the losses may have been much greater.

Mr. Holton’s research was first reported Sunday by the Montgomery Advertiser.

Some surviving members of the group were offended by the findings of Mr. Holton and Daniel Haulman of the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery.

The president of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Russell Davis, said he will no longer claim in speeches that the group never lost a bomber under its escort “until we can get this thing clarified.”

ARIZONA

Agents find alligator stuffed into suitcase

PHOENIX — Surprised U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 4-foot-long alligator stuffed into a suitcase during a routine traffic stop in southwest Arizona last week.

Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd Easterling said agents detained a driver on Interstate 8 in Yuma, southwest of Phoenix, after drug-sniffing dogs were alerted to the odor of narcotics in a car late Thursday. A brief search yielded a small quantity of marijuana, and the agents asked the driver if he wanted to report anything else.

“He says, ‘There’s an alligator in there,’ and sure enough there was a 4-foot alligator curled around in his suitcase,” Mr. Easterling said yesterday.

Mr. Easterling said Arizona state police subsequently arrested the driver on drug possession charges. The reptile, which appeared to be in good shape, was handed over to the care of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

COLORADO

Pastor acknowledges gay sex, resigns

ENGLEWOOD — The founding pastor of a second Colorado church has resigned over his homosexual relationships, just weeks after the evangelical community was shaken by the scandal surrounding megachurch leader Ted Haggard.

Mr. Haggard, an opponent of same-sex “marriage,” admitted to unspecified “sexual immorality” when he resigned last month as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs. A male prostitute had said he had sexual relations with Mr. Haggard for three years.

On Sunday, Paul Barnes, founding pastor of the 2,100-member Grace Chapel in this Denver suburb, told his evangelical congregation in a videotaped message that he had sexual relations with other men and was stepping down.

Dave Palmer, associate pastor of Grace Chapel, told the Denver Post that Mr. Barnes confessed to him after the church received a call last week about his homosexual relations.

FLORIDA

NASA examines ding on Discovery

CAPE CANAVERAL — Astronauts yesterday used the International Space Station’s robotic arm to examine a spot on the Space Shuttle Discovery’s left wing, where sensors detected a “very low” impact, NASA officials said.

“It looks like something happened,” said John Shannon, chairman of the mission management team, noting that the wing looked fine during the focused inspection earlier that day.

The sensor recorded a level of impact not considered worrisome, Mr. Shannon told reporters last night, but managers decided to take a closer look to be safe. NASA officials have not determined the significance of the blip, though they don’t expect it to affect the mission.

The inspection began after the shuttle reached the space station following a two-day journey for a weeklong stay to continue construction on the orbiting lab and rotate out a crew member.

IOWA

E. coli suspected in new outbreak

CEDAR FALLS — Nearly three dozen people fell ill, including 14 who were hospitalized, with symptoms consistent with infection by the E. coli bacteria after eating at a Taco John’s restaurant, a local health department said.

Test results were expected yesterday.

The Taco John’s restaurant has removed any suspected ingredients from its menu and sanitized the facility, said Tom O’Rourke, the Black Hawk County Health Department director.

Taco John’s is based in Cheyenne, Wyo. It has no connection to Taco Bell, which has been linked to an outbreak of a harsh strain of E. coli that has sickened more than 60 people in the Northeast. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 61 cases in five states, most in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware, plus one in South Carolina.

KANSAS

Missing flamingo found at refuge

WICHITA — A flamingo that escaped from the Sedgwick County Zoo in July 2005 has turned up 600 miles away at a national wildlife refuge in Texas and apparently has found a friend.

“He’s found a wild Caribbean flamingo friend that is originally from Mexico but probably came up during the hurricanes,” said zoo spokeswoman Christan Baumer, referring to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Biologists who spotted the pale pink bird at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on Texas’ Gulf Coast identified it by its leg band, and zoo officials confirmed it as one of their missing flamingos. They decided to leave the flamingo in Texas for now.

OREGON

Abuse claimants, archdiocese settle

EUGENE — About 150 people who claimed they were molested by priests have agreed to settle their lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland for an undisclosed amount.

U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan announced the agreement but would not give a dollar amount. He told reporters that the archdiocese, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, could cover all current and future claims without selling off property held by parishes and schools.

The judge said the archdiocese has more than $50 million from settling litigation with insurance companies, plus sufficient real estate and other assets of its own to cover the claims.

TENNESSEE

Oldest person dies at 116

MEMPHIS — Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bolden, 116, recognized as the world’s oldest person, died yesterday at a nursing home, the home’s administrator said.

She was born Aug. 15, 1890, according to the Gerontology Research Group, an organization based in Los Angeles that tracks the ages of the world’s oldest people.

Guinness World Records recognized her as the oldest person in the world in August after the death of Maria Ester de Capovilla of Ecuador, who previously was listed as the oldest.

She suffered a stroke in 2004, and her family said she spoke little after that and slept most of the day.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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