- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

LOUISIANA

Grahams see New Orleans devastation

NEW ORLEANS - The Rev. Billy Graham toured one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina and expressed surprise at the extent of the damage.

“I thought I’d read it all, but it doesn’t compare to what you see in just a few minutes,” Mr. Graham, 87, said Wednesday after touring the Lower 9th Ward in a van and stepping onto the street with the help of his son and fellow evangelist, the Rev. Franklin Graham.

“My prayers are going to be intensified for the people here,” the elder Mr. Graham said. The Grahams will hold a crusade and a weekend “Celebration of Hope” in the New Orleans Arena, which was one of the city’s hurricane evacuation sites after the storm hit Aug. 29.

The Grahams held a prayer service with area pastors and their spouses yesterday , and plan a meeting today with families in mobile homes donated by Samaritan’s Purse, a charitable organization headed by Franklin Graham.

TENNESSEE

State Senate passes anti-abortion amendment

NASHVILLE - The state Senate yesterday passed a proposal to amend the Tennessee Constitution so that it doesn’t guarantee a right to an abortion.

The 24-9 vote was the first step of many toward officially amending the state constitution. The measure will go before voters if the General Assembly approves it twice over the next two years.

The state Supreme Court has ruled that the Tennessee Constitution grants women a greater right to abortion than the U.S. Constitution.

ALASKA

Oil spill feared North Slope’s largest

ANCHORAGE — An oil spill in Alaska’s North Slope could end up being one of the region’s largest, officials said Wednesday as the cleanup continued.

Crews have recovered 58,590 gallons — or 1,395 barrels — of crude and snow since the pipeline spill was discovered yesterday in the Prudhoe Bay field, about 650 miles north of Anchorage.

ARKANSAS

Storms kill two, cause wide damage

LITTLE ROCK — Storms moving across the southern Plains yesterday brought winds strong enough to rip off roofs and blow apart barns. At least two deaths were attributed to the weather, and thousands of people lost power.

Southern Oklahoma had baseball-sized hail and surrounding states experienced heavy rain as the front moved east across the Mississippi River. In Mississippi, winds reached 80 mph, and schoolchildren were sent home early in case hurricane-weakened trees fell.

In Ashdown, Ark., a city councilman died after lightning struck his house and started a fire. His wife was injured but survived. In Shelby County, Tenn., a woman died when her vehicle struck a tractor-trailer during heavy rain, officials said.

CALIFORNIA

Court lets Berkeley make Scouts pay

SAN FRANCISCO — The city of Berkeley can charge marina fees to youth sailors connected with the Boy Scouts of America in response to the Scouts’ discriminatory policies, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

The court unanimously rejected claims by the Berkeley Sea Scouts that the city violated the group’s free speech and freedom of association rights by charging it berthing fees, which nonprofit groups that comply with a 1997 nondiscrimination law do not pay.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts’ membership policies barring atheists and homosexuals are legal, but the California high court ruled that governments remain able to deny benefits to organizations that discriminate.

HAWAII

Three killed in crash of air ambulance

WAILUKU — Three persons were killed when an air ambulance plane crashed into the parking lot of a BMW dealership, a state transportation department official said.

No one was injured on the ground at the scene of Wednesday’s crash in Kahului, state Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa said. The dealership was closed at the time.

The plane was supposed to land at Kahului Airport to pick up a patient about the time the crash occurred, Mr. Ishikawa said.

KANSAS

Prairie fire forces evacuations

TOWANDA — More than 10,000 acres of prairie burned in southeastern Kansas on Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of an elementary school and a neighborhood, authorities said.

No injuries were reported and the blaze was brought under control by late afternoon, fire officials said. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declared Butler County a state of disaster emergency.

One unoccupied house used to store antiques was destroyed and another home sustained minor damage. The fire burned at least three oil storage tanks and a few outbuildings.

Kathy Guy, assistant director of Butler County Emergency Management, said the blaze started when the tongue of a trailer popped off its hitch and dragged on the pavement, kicking up sparks.

KENTUCKY

Life-threatening clot hospitalizes governor

FRANKFORT — Gov. Ernie Fletcher was taken to a hospital yesterday for emergency treatment of a life-threatening blood clot somewhere between his upper arm and his jugular vein.

Doctors said Mr. Fletcher, 53, was awake and alert after undergoing a procedure to remove the clot.

A legislative leader asked members of the House to pray for the first-term Republican governor. “It’s a serious, serious situation,” said state Rep. Jeff Hoover.

A blood clot can lead to a stroke or a heart attack, or can travel to the lungs with deadly consequences.

Dr. Dale Absher, an interventional radiologist, said the clot had not moved to the governor’s lungs, and the risk of that happening was “extremely low.”

“I would not worry about it if he were a member of my family,” the doctor said.

MINNESOTA

Priest forbidden from Web postings

ST. PAUL — The archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul has silenced a prominent conservative priest by ordering him to stop posting his sermons on the Web and broadcasting them on Roman Catholic radio.

The Rev. Robert Altier of St. Agnes Church has spoken against a sex-abuse prevention program taught throughout the archdiocese, including to schoolchildren.

Such programs were required by U.S. bishops in response to cases of sex abuse by clergy, but some critics say they are too explicit and infringe on parents’ role in teaching their children about sex, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

Father Altier posted a message on his “A Voice in the Desert” Web site (www.desertvoice.org) saying he no longer would post his homilies and presentations or broadcast them, in response to a written request from Archbishop Harry Flynn.

Archdiocesan spokesman Dennis McGrath said he could not state a reason for Archbishop Flynn’s directive because communications between a priest and bishop are confidential.

MISSOURI

Cartoonists draw for ailing colleague

KANSAS CITY — A cartoonist whose vision is threatened by a tumor is getting some help from his fellow comic-strip artists.

Rob Harrell, whose “Big Top” strip about an eccentric cast of circus animals appears in about 40 newspapers, is recovering from surgery to remove the tumor. He hated the thought of running old cartoons, so artists such as Jim Davis of “Garfield” fame and “Ziggy” creator Tom Wilson stepped in to draw “Big Top” for him.

“It’s one of the nicest things that people have ever done for me,” said Mr. Harrell, 37, who lives in Austin, Texas, and whose strip is syndicated by Kansas City-based Universal Press Syndicate.

Mr. Harrell’s operation approached so fast that he was unable to create a stockpile of strips to run while he recovered.

Strips by 15 guest artists will run through Wednesday.

NEW YORK

Fundraiser planned for missing show dog

NEW YORK — Supporters of Vivi, the award-winning show dog who escaped from a travel cage at the airport on the way home from the Westminster Kennel Club show, have planned a fundraising event to help find her.

The 3-year-old whippet, whose formal name is Champion Bohem C’est La Vie, apparently bolted from her carrier at John F. Kennedy International Airport as she was about to be loaded onto a plane for the flight to Southern California on Feb. 15. She has not been seen since, despite extensive search efforts.

Admission to tomorrow’s “Vivi and the Strays” party at the Garden City Hotel’s nightclub will be $10, said hotel Vice President Brian Rosenberg, who owns a whippet and a greyhound.

WASHINGTON

Top bishop accused of sex abuse

SEATTLE — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, has been accused of sexually abusing a child in the early 1960s, the Catholic Diocese of Spokane said.

Bishop Skylstad denied the accusation in the diocese statement Wednesday.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that a woman, who was younger than 18 in early 1960s, filed the charge on Dec. 27, saying the abuse took place at Gonzaga University and another local parish.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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