- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2006

PENNSYLVANIA

Boy charged as adult in arson death

JONAS — A 12-year-old boy was charged as an adult with homicide and arson for reportedly setting a house fire that killed his 11-year-old cousin, state police said.

Police said Djinn Buckingham told them he spilled tiki torch fuel in a hallway outside the girl’s room and ignited the fire with matches, a police affidavit said.

Sierra Carranza died in the Dec. 9 fire in Polk Township, in east-central Pennsylvania. Her mother, her siblings and Mr. Buckingham escaped.

Police said Wednesday that Mr. Buckingham was charged as an adult and taken to the Monroe County Jail. A date for a preliminary hearing was not announced.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Janklow’s law license ordered reinstated

PIERRE — Former Rep. Bill Janklow’s license to practice law was ordered reinstated by the South Dakota Supreme Court yesterday, two years after it was suspended over a deadly auto accident that ended Janklow’s political career and sent him to jail.

The high court said restoring Janklow’s license would pose no public threat because the former congressman’s offenses were unrelated to the practice of law and did not involve fraud or other dishonesty.

Janklow, 66, automatically was suspended from the practice of law after a jury found him guilty of manslaughter in 2003 for running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. The Republican politician served 100 days in jail and cannot drive until his probation is up next January.

CALIFORNIA

Comedian Stewart to host Oscar show

LOS ANGELES — First music. Now movies.

Jon Stewart, who worked the Grammys in 2001 and 2002, was chosen yesterday to host the 2006 Oscars.

“As a performer, I’m truly honored to be hosting the show,” Mr. Stewart said, then joked: “Although, as an avid watcher of the Oscars, I can’t help but be a little disappointed with the choice. It appears to be another sad attempt to smoke out Billy Crystal.”

The 43-year-old star of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” follows a long line of stand-up comedians who have hosted the Oscars. During the years, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Whoopi Goldberg and Mr. Crystal have held down the podium.

“I love a comic who can deal with the unexpected and has the ability to run the room,” said Gil Cates, the producer of this year’s Academy Awards, airing March 5 on ABC. “The speed of mind and fearlessness of a comic really adds to the show.”

Mr. Stewart and his team of comedy writers often poke fun at mainstream politics and current events.

HAWAII

Observatory offers portable oxygen

HONOLULU — The W.M. Keck Observatory on the Big Island is offering portable oxygen units to its employees so they won’t feel tired working in high altitudes.

Oxygen levels at the 13,796-foot summit of Mauna Kea are 60 percent of that at sea level. Some workers have noticed that the limited oxygen has impaired their mental abilities and caused them to make more mathematical errors, feel fatigued and lose attention.

KANSAS

Prosecution dropped for anti-war signs

PRAIRIE VILLAGE — A Kansas City suburb agreed not to prosecute a man ticketed for anti-war yard signs and said it will review its regulations.

David Quinly was fined $300 for a series of signs on his property opposing the war in Iraq. He said the sign ordinance was unconstitutional because it placed more restrictions on political signs than others.

MICHIGAN

Imam with terror ties agrees to deportation

DETROIT — A Cleveland imam convicted of hiding terrorist ties has agreed to leave the United States, ending his deportation case, his attorney and government officials said yesterday.

The agreement allows Fawaz Damra to resettle in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Egypt or the Palestinian territories, said Greg Gagne, a spokesman for the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.

A judge has approved the agreement with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which will decide his destination. Damra is still in federal custody, said Robert Birach, a Detroit lawyer who negotiated for him. He declined to discuss more details.

Damra, spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, was convicted in 2004 of concealing ties, including acts of fundraising, to the terror group Palestine Islamic Jihad when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1994. He served two months in prison and lost his citizenship.

MISSISSIPPI

Matching money to cost millions

JACKSON — Gov. Haley Barbour told lawmakers that the state eventually will spend “several hundred million dollars” to match federal money for Hurricane Katrina recovery. He said the money will have to be paid over several years.

Mississippi likely will receive about $10 billion of the $29 billion in federal aid Congress approved, Mr. Barbour said.

NEW YORK

Hidden cameras show nursing-home neglect

ALBANY — Hidden cameras recorded nursing-home patients being left in their own waste while staffers watched movies, and 19 workers at two facilities have been arrested, prosecutors said yesterday.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer also filed civil charges against the owner of one facility, saying it received state Medicare money for care that wasn’t provided.

Videotape from that facility, the Jennifer Matthew Nursing Home in Rochester, showed a patient and other residents who hadn’t been repositioned to avoid bed sores and often were left for hours to lie in their own urine and waste, Mr. Spitzer said. Medications and treatments were not provided as prescribed, he said.

Staff had moved call bells away from patients and stopped doing their rounds so they could socialize, watch movies, sleep or leave the building, Mr. Spitzer said. Some employees also were accused of falsely filing records that claimed they provided required care.

The arrests involved employees there and at Northwoods Nursing Home in Cortland.

TEXAS

Border agents come under fire

BROWNSVILLE — U.S. Border Patrol agents have come under fire twice along the Rio Grande in recent days amid rising tension along the U.S.-Mexico border, although no one was reported wounded.

A Border Patrol spokesman said unknown gunmen fired on agents on patrol in their vehicles along the border late Wednesday in the same area that agents in a boat on the river were targeted by gunmen last Friday.

“Shots were fired, no one was injured and the FBI has taken the case over,” said Jose Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Border Patrol in McAllen. He said it was not clear whether the shots on Wednesday came from inside Mexico, but that the agents patrolling the river came under a volley of gunfire from men hidden in brush in Mexico.

Violence along the 1,950-mile U.S.-Mexico border has risen in recent months, particularly against Border Patrol agents. Last year, the Border Patrol arrested 1.15 million illegal aliens trying to sneak into the United States — more than 3,000 a day.

VERMONT

State to buy drugs for poor seniors

MONTPELIER — State officials agreed yesterday to cover drug costs for poor Vermont senior citizens for a month after a new federal Medicare prescription drug program rejected some of their claims.

The state had covered 30,000 seniors’ drug costs until Sunday, when the federal program took effect, but some have reported problems enrolling in the system.

“Implementation by [the federal government] has been nothing less than disappointing and has not served Vermonters well,” said state Human Services Secretary Michael Smith. “We hope that the federal government will straighten this out by the end of the month.”

The $7 million emergency plan endorsed by the governor’s office and approved by the House would cover medicine expenses of the state’s poor seniors through the end of January. Senators said they expected to approve the bill yesterday and send it to Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican.

WASHINGTON

Predators threaten governor’s small dog

OLYMPIA — For former Gov. Gary Locke, the problem was bats. For his successor, Christine Gregoire, bigger predators threaten her small dog.

In recent months, a professional trapper has removed a raccoon and an opossum from the grounds of the governor’s mansion, and State Patrol troopers have run off an undetermined number of coyotes.

Mrs. Gregoire has said Franz, the family’s 13-pound Pomeranian, is not allowed out alone for safety reasons.

“If you have a small dog like the governor’s dog, two raccoons could tear it up,” said Robert I. Dice, the trapper.

At least Mrs. Gregoire and her husband, Mike, have not had to move. Eight years ago, Mr. Locke’s wife, Mona Lee, and their children temporarily vacated the mansion because of a bat infestation, and the family received rabies shots.

WYOMING

College seeks bonds for new dorm

GREEN RIVER — Western Wyoming Community College officials say they can’t wait for state funding to build a new residence hall.

College officials told Sweetwater County commissioners that they intend to ask county voters in May to approve a $20 million bond issue to cover the cost of a new dorm and expansion of the school’s diesel technology facilities.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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