City threatens fine for march posters
The District has told an antiwar group that it will be fined $10,000 if it does not remove posters announcing a march next month against U.S. involvement in Iraq, a spokeswoman for the antiwar group said yesterday.
"The ANSWER Coalition has received citations from the authorities in Washington threatening to fine us $10,000 unless several hundred posters announcing the September 15 march on Washington, D.C., are removed," Sarah Sloan, the staff coordinator for the group, told Agence France-Presse. "We have until Thursday to take down the posters."
Several hundred yellow posters have been put up across the city announcing the protest, which is timed to coincide with the release of a report by the U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, on progress in the U.S. "surge" strategy of raising troop levels.
D.C. officials said the posters have to come down because they were hung with adhesive that did not meet city regulations.
"The charge about adhesives is false," Miss Sloan said.
"This is a definitely a calculated political move aimed at disrupting the demonstration, which has been organized on a day when the world's eyes will be on Washington for the Petraeus report," she said.
Demonstrators from at least 90 cities in the U.S. and Canada have pledged to come to Washington for the march, which will be part of a week of antiwar protests led by veterans of the Iraq war, Miss Sloan said.
A petition calling for the impeachment of President Bush, said to have 1 million signatures and endorsed by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, will be submitted to officials during the week's activities.
Man indicted for making threats
An Arlington man has been indicted on charges that he left threatening messages at an Arab political organization in the U.S. during fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in the Middle East.
Federal prosecutors said Patrick Syring left phone and e-mail messages last summer with the Arab American Institute saying, "The only good Lebanese is a dead Lebanese. The only good Arab is a dead Arab."
At the time, Israel was bombing targets in Lebanon while Hezbollah was firing rockets into northern Israel. James Zogby, the founder of the Arab American Institute, criticized the U.S. for not doing enough to protect U.S. citizens visiting family members in Lebanon.
Prosecutors say that in expletive-laced messages, Mr. Syring accused Mr. Zogby of being anti-Semitic. He identified himself in one phone message and sent e-mails from his personal account, prosecutors said.
In an e-mail cited in the indictment, he praised Israeli forces for "bombing Lebanon back to the Stone Age where it belongs" and said "Arabs are dogs."
Mr. Syring faces charges of threatening and violating civil rights laws.
Cat stomper sent back to prison
A homeless man who stomped two cats to death in Anne Arundel County is back in prison — despite a judge having earlier ordered his release because he was being sexually abused behind bars.
Michael Poole, 24, was arrested again late last month on charges of trespassing, harassment and failing to register as a sex offender. He had been released earlier in the summer by a judge who was concerned about the mentally ill man's safety. Poole had written a letter saying inmates were sexually abusing him.
State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said Poole could be separated while in prison to keep him safe.
Poole was sentenced to three years in prison for stomping an elderly woman's cats to death. He had served about 11 months before being released.
Teen pleads guilty to failed carjacking
A 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty Tuesday to shooting a man in both arms during a failed carjacking.
Richard Lindsay pleaded guilty to attempted armed carjacking, assault, conspiracy to commit theft and a gun charge.
He faces up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 11.
Lindsay was one of two Frederick teens charged as adults in the January shooting outside a grocery store on Yellow Springs Road. Co-defendant William Hildebrand, 17, is scheduled to go on trial next week.
Court documents say Lindsay's mother told police her son spends time with gang members and uses the name "Slick Rick."
150 evacuated by carbon monoxide
Plans were in place last night to house residents evacuated yesterday morning from a senior citizens apartment building, the Baltimore County Fire Department said.
All 150 residents at Virginia Towers were evacuated and three were taken to hospitals after carbon monoxide was detected. Fire department spokesman Donna Welsh said officials would have to determine whether residents could re-enter the building late yesterday.
A call reporting a strange odor in the building was made at 7:20 a.m. Firefighters found a burning cable underneath the building and high carbon-monoxide levels inside.
The electricity was shut off, and no one was allowed inside until power was completely restored. A Baltimore Gas & Electric crew was working to locate and repair the underground cable.
Some residents were taken to the Bykota Senior Center, while others went to stay with relatives.
Road tax case won't be moved
Opponents of regional taxes to fund transportation projects in traffic-clogged Northern Virginia failed yesterday to get their case moved from Arlington County to a friendlier court.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority has asked the Arlington County Circuit Court to validate its power under new state legislation to raise $300 million for transportation projects by issuing bonds and enacting special taxes and fees.
Although most of its members are elected local officials, the authority itself is appointed.
Critics of the legislative transportation package passed earlier this year say the bonds, taxes and fees are unconstitutional. They have joined the Arlington case to argue against the authority.
Patrick M. McSweeney, a Richmond lawyer and former state Republican chairman representing the authority's opponents, told Judge Benjamin N.A. Kendrick that he should recuse himself because, as an Arlington resident, he is technically a defendant in the transportation authority's lawsuit.
Mr. McSweeney said the case must be heard outside Northern Virginia.
Judge Kendrick rejected the argument.
A hearing on the merits of the case is scheduled for Aug. 27.
N.Y. judge rules against gun dealers
More than a dozen out-of-state gun dealers have helped criminals in New York, and now the sellers must face the city in court, a judge ruled yesterday.
U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein in New York City ruled against the shops, including some in Virginia, which had argued they couldn't be sued in a New York court because they do not do business in the city.
But the judge said the city had demonstrated "with a high degree of probability" that the shops' behavior has been "responsible for the funneling into New York of large quantities of handguns used by local criminals to terrorize significant portions of the city's population."
That "knowing" conduct brought the out-of-state dealers under New York jurisdiction, he said.
The city has accused the 25 shops named in the lawsuit of allowing so-called "straw purchases" by private investigators. In the city-financed operation, one investigator filled out the paperwork for a gun while making it clear the purchase was for a second investigator.
Investigators focused on shops that had been linked to hundreds of guns used in New York killings, muggings and other crimes.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called the judge's decision a "significant victory" in his campaign against illegal guns.
Fires scorching state's forests
Droughtlike conditions have led to a huge increase in the number of forest fires this summer, compared with the same time last year, the Virginia Department of Forestry said yesterday.
From June 1 through Tuesday, 169 fires had burned through 970 acres. Last summer, 55 fires burned 192 acres.
"It's tougher to put the fires out, and we have to baby-sit them longer than we would if things weren't dry right now," said John Miller, director of resource protection for the Department of Forestry.
The drought index in many parts of the state is above 500, and the scale tops out at 800 for desert conditions.
A significant number of fires were caused by people burning debris, which is typically the leading cause of forest fires, Mr. Miller said.
"Once we get into the extended period of drought, average precautions aren't good enough anymore and it's just that much easier for a fire to get away from people when they do debris burning," he said.
"Vegetation is starting to brown instead of being green, so folks need to be a lot more careful about what they're doing now."
Mr. Miller said Virginia typically averages about $15 million in damage to forests by fire each year.
Crime in county increases slightly
County police yesterday reported a slight increase in overall crime but a decreasing number of burglaries.
The midyear statistics compare the first six months of 2007 with a similar time in 2006.
The report shows a 9 percent increase in robberies, from 268 to 292 this year. Police say that follows national trends.
It also shows a marked 57 percent increase in the number of reported rapes, from 35 last year to 55 rapes reported this year.
But the statistics also show a 16 percent decline in the number of burglaries. Police said that may reflect a targeted focus on neighborhoods plagued by burglaries, prevention efforts and the arrest of several serial burglary suspects.
The number of homicides in the county remained the same at five.
Chemicals slated to kill lake hydrilla
Officials plan to use chemicals to exterminate hydrilla in Smith Mountain Lake, where the aggressive underwater weed has taken hold.
The Tri-County Lake Administrative Commission will spend $72,000 to get rid of the hydrilla that has popped up on the Franklin County side of the lake near Crazy Horse Marina. A herbicide will be put in the lake next Thursday, and nearby residents are advised against using lake water on lawns and gardens during the four- to six-week process.
Swimming and fishing will still be allowed during the extermination.
Hydrilla can grow up to 25 feet, and is found in all of the Southern states as well as most Mid-Atlantic and some Western states. If left unchecked, the plant can snare boat propellers and affect fishing and swimming.
From wire dispatches and staff reports