- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2007

ALABAMA

Riley signs resolution of regret for slavery

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Bob Riley signed a resolution yesterday expressing “profound regret” for Alabama’s role in slavery and apologizing for slavery’s wrongs and lingering effects.

“Slavery was evil and is a part of American history,” the Republican governor said. “I believe all Alabamians are proud of the tremendous progress we have made and continue to make.”

Alabama is the fourth Southern state to pass a slavery apology, following votes by the legislatures in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Alabama’s Democrat-controlled Legislature approved the resolution last week.

ARKANSAS

Schools properly funded; lawsuit ends

LITTLE ROCK — State lawmakers are adequately funding public schools, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled yesterday, thus ending a long-running lawsuit.

The court cited the legislature’s additional spending in this year’s session, including a $122 million increase in per-student funding and $456 million from the state’s surplus to pay for repairs to dilapidated school buildings. The court singled out the legislature’s continuing review of its education efforts.

Gov. Mike Beebe said he was pleased with the court’s decision, but acknowledged the need to continue efforts to review and improve the state’s schools.

A school district in eastern Arkansas sued the state in 1992, claiming that it didn’t spend enough money on schools and that the money spent was distributed unfairly. Justices ruled against the state in 2002 and again in 2005.

COLORADO

Hurricane forecast predicts nine

FORT COLLINS — With the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season starting today, researcher William Gray released his newest forecast yesterday, which still predicts 17 major storms and nine hurricanes, five of them intense.

Mr. Gray, based at Colorado State University, described it as a very active season. He said there was a 74 percent chance of a major hurricane making landfall somewhere on the U.S. coast.

There is a 50 percent chance of a major hurricane making landfall on the East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula, according to the new forecast. The long-term average is 31 percent.

The chance of a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast between the Florida Panhandle and Brownsville, Texas, is 49 percent; the long-term average is 30 percent. There is also an above-average chance of a major hurricane making landfall in the Caribbean, according to the forecast.

ILLINOIS

$100 million given to Chicago university

CHICAGO — A graduate of the University of Chicago gave an anonymous donation of $100 million to his alma mater, the latest in a series of massive gifts to colleges around the country.

The university will use the money — the largest single donation given to an Illinois university — to give full scholarships to about 800 lower-income students each academic year. The grants also will pay partial tuition for another 400 of the 4,400 undergraduate students

U.S. colleges and universities hauled in an all-time high of $28 billion in donations last year, led by Stanford University’s record $911 million.

IOWA

Iowa State petition opposes grid chaplain

DES MOINES — More than 100 faculty members at Iowa State University have signed a petition opposing the football coach’s plan to make a chaplain an official member of the team staff.

Coach Gene Chizik, hired last November, wants to hire a chaplain who would be paid by private donations. ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard supports the plan because he contends student-athletes are under a lot of pressure and need access to spiritual guidance. Faculty members behind the petition said hiring a chaplain is improper at a public university, given the separation between church and state.

ISU spokesman John McCarroll said President Gregory Geoffroy has received the petition.

“He really hasn’t had a chance to talk with the athletic director with some of the questions raised in the petition,” Mr. McCarroll said. “But he will be addressing the issues raised by that petition.”

MASSACHUSETTS

GE employee sues, claims sex bias

BOSTON — A female staff lawyer at General Electric Co. sued her employer yesterday, claiming that it underpays and underpromotes its female employees.

In papers prepared for filing in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, Lorene Schaefer charged GE, the world’s second-largest company by market capitalization, with sex discrimination. The suit also names 13 GE officers and directors, including Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.

Her suit, which is seeking class-action status, seeks $500 million in damages for a class of about 1,500 to 1,700 GE female workers, according her attorney, David Sanford, of Sanford Wittels & Heisler LP.

GE officials did not respond immediately to calls for comment.

MICHIGAN

Joke about bombing costs cashier his job

ALMONT TOWNSHIP — A former Wal-Mart cashier says he was fired for joking on his MySpace page that the average IQ would increase if bombs were dropped on the company’s stores.

David Noordewier said he was fired Feb. 27 for posting the message, which he said was a joke and not a threat.

Mr. Noordewier said store officials had him sign an acknowledgment that he was fired for “gross misconduct — integrity issue.”

NEW YORK

Beggar’s ‘free speech’ wins loitering case

NEW ROCHELLE — A homeless man who was arrested after asking a policeman for a dollar got a judge to throw out the case by arguing that begging is a form of free speech.

Judge Gail Rice made the ruling after Eric Hoffstead had his attorney cite a 15-year-old federal court decision saying New York’s anti-loitering law violated First Amendment protections.

Mr. Hoffstead was still in the county jail yesterday on a separate trespassing charge.

The ruling Wednesday nullified a loitering charge and a misdemeanor drug charge. Police said they found a crack-cocaine pipe on Mr. Hoffstead, 36, when he was arrested last November.

NORTH CAROLINA

Listener helps save DJ suffering seizure

SHELBY — A radio listener helped save a disc jockey who suffered an on-air seizure and pleaded for help before passing out in his studio.

WOHS DJ Tim Biggerstaff, who has suffered from diabetes since childhood, has always been candid about his health. When he felt a seizure about to strike Monday, he called out to his listeners.

Gerald Weathers heard the plea and raced to the nearby studio. Since Mr. Biggerstaff was the only person working on the holiday, officials contacted another WOHS radio employee to unlock the door. Mr. Biggerstaff was found unconscious inside.

This isn’t the first time a listener has saved the DJ’s life. Three years ago, a listener donated a kidney to him.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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