- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2007

Giuliani leaning toward ‘08 run

COLUMBIA, S.C. — He keeps an itinerary that has all the makings of a full-fledged presidential candidate: South Carolina this weekend, New Hampshire the one before.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani now says he’s leaning toward making that run official.

“There’s a real good chance,” Mr. Giuliani said yesterday, after a 30-minute speech and question-and-answer session with party leaders in South Carolina. In a year, they will put on the first-in-the-South Republican presidential primary.

On Mr. Giuliani’s first visit to New Hampshire last weekend since setting up his presidential exploratory committee, he told reporters he’d received a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and support from people.

But he said he had not yet decided whether he could make a “unique contribution” toward strengthening the nation that would justify a run for president.

Storms kill endangered birds

MILWAUKEE — All 18 endangered young whooping cranes that were led south from Wisconsin last fall as part of a project to create a second migratory flock of the birds were killed in storms in Florida, a spokesman said.

The cranes were being kept in an enclosure at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge near Crystal River, Fla., when violent storms moved in Thursday night, said Joe Duff, co-founder of Operation Migration, the organization coordinating the project.

The area of the enclosure was unreachable by workers at night, and all the birds were found dead Friday, Mr. Duff said. He speculated that a strong storm surge drew the tide in and overwhelmed the birds, or they were electrocuted from lightning strikes reported in the area. The was no official cause for the deaths.

State’s site lists Social Security digits

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state officials on Friday froze portions of a state Web site that identity thieves could have used to access the Social Security numbers of some New Yorkers — including billionaire developer Donald Trump.

The Department of State’s Web site led to commercial loan documents where the numbers could be found with a simple name search. It took the department more than three hours to block access to the documents after the Associated Press alerted officials to the problem.

The forms are posted by the department to let lenders know the current financial status of loan recipients.

It was unclear late Friday how long the information was available on the site, and the Department of State did not return calls seeking clarification.

The postings were discovered by B.J. Ostergren, a Virginia privacy rights activist.

Aquarium hopes to breed shark ray

NEWPORT, Ky. — Cupid’s making a stop at the “Swimming with Sharks” exhibit at the Newport Aquarium — just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The aquarium has acquired a rare male shark ray to serve as a companion to a female shark ray named Sweet Pea, with hopes the two will produce offspring for the nearly endangered fish.

Analysts are concerned about the prehistoric-looking fish’s survival. Shark rays are on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species.

The aquarium will let the two spend time getting to know each other, a process that aquarium aquatics curator Mark Dvornak said could take up to two years.

Chewbacca mimic arrested

LOS ANGELES — A man dressed as Chewbacca was arrested after police said the street performer head-butted a tour guide operator in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Frederick Evan Young, 44, of Los Angeles was booked Thursday for investigation of misdemeanor battery, police Lt. Paul Vernon said.

Police said the 6-foot-4 street performer was seen arguing Thursday afternoon with a tour guide who had expressed concern that the Star Wars Wookie impersonator was “harassing and touching tourists.”

Security guards escorted Mr. Young off theater property, but he decided to strike back and head-butted the tour guide, Lt. Vernon said.

“The lesson here is you can have the force with you,” he said. “You just can’t use illegal force.”

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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