- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

ALABAMA

Mom, man held in boy’s death

GADSDEN — A woman’s report that her 5-year-old son was asleep in the back of a car when it was stolen was a hoax, and she and a man are being held as suspects in the boy’s death, authorities said yesterday.

The body of Geontae Glass and the car that was reported stolen Monday morning were found yesterday at a residence in Etowah County, Sheriff James Hayes said.

Shalinda Glass, 25, of Rainbow City, and Kevin Andre Towles, who is thought to own the house where the body was found, were being held, Sheriff Hayes said.

The mother had reported Monday morning that her car was stolen with her son asleep in the back seat in the parking lot of a convenience store in Albertville in neighboring Marshall County, about 80 miles northeast of Birmingham. Witnesses reported seeing a man get out of a pickup truck and get into the vehicle before driving away as someone else drove off in the pickup truck.

It was not clear whether the boy was dead at the time the car was driven off in Albertville.

CALIFORNIA

Native policy upheld for school

SAN FRANCISCO — A divided federal appeals court yesterday ruled that a Hawaiian private school can favor Hawaiian Natives for admission as a means of giving a helping hand to a downtrodden indigenous population.

The decision by a majority of a 15-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the court’s three-judge decision that the Kamehameha Schools policy amounted to unlawful discrimination.

The majority noted that the case, brought by a white student excluded because of his race, was unique because Congress has singled out the plight of Hawaiian Natives, as lawmakers have with Alaska Natives and American Indians.

The policy, the court ruled, “furthers the urgent need for better education of native Hawaiians, which Congress has repeatedly identified as necessary.”

Three of the dissenting judges wrote separately that civil rights law prohibits a private school from denying admission because of race.

FLORIDA

Weather favorable for shuttle launch

CAPE CANAVERAL — The weather forecast for the planned liftoff of Discovery was downgraded yesterday but remained favorable for the first night space shuttle launch in more than four years.

Concerns about clouds over Kennedy Space Center at the launch time of 9:35 p.m. tomorrow caused forecasters to reduce the chances of favorable weather to 70 percent from 80 percent. Strong wind was expected on Friday and Saturday, diminishing the chances of good launch weather for those days to 40 percent.

Weather will improve early next week. NASA has four launch opportunities over five days to start the 12-day mission.

Technicians yesterday checked out Discovery’s flight systems and planned to fuel power cells aboard the shuttle.

NEW JERSEY

Taco Bells to reopen as E. coli threat ends

SOUTH PLAINFIELD — The threat of more E. coli infections linked to Taco Bell restaurants appears to have passed, a health official said, as the company prepared yesterday to reopen the affected eateries.

At least three dozen people were stricken in New Jersey and New York and apparently all the victims had eaten at Taco Bell restaurants.

Taco Bell closed one New Jersey restaurant in South Plainfield and four in New York’s Suffolk County to sanitize them and replace food ingredients.

“We expect all Taco Bell restaurants to be back in operation today,” Tim Jerzyk, a vice president at Yum Brands Inc., parent of Taco Bell, told the company’s annual investor conference yesterday in New York.

New Jersey’s top health official described the spate of E. coli sickness as “a serious outbreak,” but said Monday that the threat seemed to have passed.

NEW YORK

Birth certificate rule change delayed

NEW YORK — City health officials yesterday backed off a plan that would have allowed New Yorkers to switch the sex on their birth certificates without undergoing sex-change surgery.

Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said the issue needed further study, in part to guarantee that it wouldn’t conflict with federal rules now being developed.

Like most other cities and states, New York has long allowed people who have undergone sex-change surgery to get a new birth certificate reflecting the change.

The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had proposed in September that the policy be liberalized further to include people who had taken other steps short of surgery to irrevocably alter their sexual identity. The new policy, for example, would have allowed birth record changes for people taking hormones to alter their appearance.

While it delayed making that change, the Board of Health went ahead with a related policy revision that for the first time will allow people who have undergone sex-change surgery to list their new sex on their birth documents. The city previously issued a new birth certificate that removed any reference to the person’s sex.

TENNESSEE

Plane forced to land after gas passed

NASHVILLE — If it is considered polite to light a match after passing gas, it’s not considered too bright while on an airplane.

An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning after a passenger lighted a match to disguise the scent, authorities said.

The Dallas-bound flight was diverted to Nashville after several passengers reported smelling burning sulfur from the matches, said Lynne Lowrance, spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority. All 99 passengers and five crew members were taken off and screened while the plane was searched and luggage was screened.

The FBI questioned a passenger who acknowledged that she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal a “body odor,” Ms. Lowrance said. She had an unspecified medical condition, authorities said. The flight took off again, but the woman was not allowed back onto the plane. The woman, who was not identified, was not charged in the incident.

WISCONSIN

Teen sentenced in sexual assault

MILWAUKEE — A 14-year-old boy was sentenced to a year in a juvenile correctional facility yesterday in the case of an 11-year-old girl who police say was coached by an older girl as she was sexually assaulted by at least 14 boys and men.

The boy was the first to be sentenced of the 14 persons charged in the case. Seven were charged as adults and seven as juveniles. The juveniles’ ages at the time of the crime were 13 to 16. Those charged in adult court were 17 to 40.

The boy sentenced yesterday, who was 13 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault of a child party to a crime.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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