- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008

NEW MEXICO

Man paints his car like a police cruiser

LAS VEGAS — Jessie Vigil isn’t a police officer, but the car he drives sure makes him look like one.

Mr. Vigil painted his 2007 Ford Mustang black and white, added a red-and-blue emergency bar across the top and painted the word “police” on the doors. The decorating started last summer, in an effort to make the car look like the police cruiser in the “Transformers” movie because his 7-year-old son, Thomas, was a fan.

Law enforcement agencies say what he’s done with his car isn’t illegal as long as he doesn’t act like a police officer.

Mr. Vigil, a 35-year-old disabled veteran from the war in Iraq, did take some liberties with his design. Instead of the familiar slogan “To protect and serve,” the car carries the words “To punish and enslave” on the side. Instead of telling people to dial 911 for emergencies, the Mustang advises them to “dial 411 for theater information.”

NEW YORK

Crews search rubble of crane collapse

NEW YORK — Three persons were still listed as missing yesterday as rescue teams picked through the rubble of a town house crushed by a toppling construction crane in an accident that killed four construction workers.

Crews removed one section of the 19-story-tall crane that crashed onto the four-story brownstone and seriously damaged five other buildings in an affluent East Side neighborhood Saturday afternoon. Rescuers were waiting for removal of the largest pieces of debris so they could intensify their search for possible survivors, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday.

The missing people were two other construction workers and a woman staying at an apartment in the town house, the mayor said.

Twenty-four others were injured, including 11 first responders, Mr. Bloomberg said. Eight remained hospitalized yesterday, officials said.

ARIZONA

Heavy snow causes pileup, kills two

PHOENIX — Dozens of vehicles collided in heavy, blinding snow on a northern Arizona interstate yesterday, killing two persons, seriously injuring 10 others and forcing police to close the highway for 20 miles in both directions.

The low visibility on Interstate 40 near Flagstaff caused about 20 collisions, which occurred over a stretch of highway at least four miles long about noon, Flagstaff Fire Department Training Battalion Chief Mark Wilson said.

Chief Wilson said two persons died and 15 persons had to be removed from vehicles with hydraulic equipment and hand tools.

Flagstaff Medical Center spokeswoman Starla Addair said the hospital received 53 patients, at least 10 of whom needed to be admitted for serious injuries. She said 35 patients were treated and released.

National Weather Service meteorologist Clair Ketchum said 3.8 inches of snow fell by 5 p.m. yesterday near where the collisions occurred.

CALIFORNIA

Girl saves bus, gets detention

SEASIDE — A 15-year-old girl who stopped an out-of-control school bus that she was riding on was given Saturday detention because she skipped school.

Marina High School student Amanda Rouse was on a bus with 40 elementary-school students Wednesday morning when the driver fell out of her seat after a turn and hit her head.

Amanda jumped up and applied the brakes, bringing the bus to a halt after striking two parked cars. No one was injured.

She said she had asked the bus driver for a ride because she felt sick at school.

“She is in trouble with school because she made the wrong decision,” said her grandmother, Sally Correll. “But I can’t help but believe that she was where God wanted her to be.”

GEORGIA

Boy collapses, dies during parade

SAVANNAH — Police briefly halted Savannah’s sprawling St. Patrick’s Day parade Friday when a 15-year-old boy collapsed among the crowd of thousands and later died after being rushed to a hospital.

The death was an uncommon tragedy for this coastal city’s biggest holiday, when up to 400,000 people line the cobblestone streets with plastic cups of beer to toast the procession of pipe-and-drum bands, gaudy floats and dignitaries riding in shamrock-decorated convertibles.

Savannah-Chatham County police were investigating the death of the boy, identified as Mark Dorsey of nearby Rincon, but there was no indication of foul play, spokesman Sgt. Mike Wilson said. Mark had a pre-existing medical condition, Sgt. Wilson said, that may have contributed to his death.

Spectator Kay Hirsch said onlookers immediately began calling 911 on their cell phones as the boy’s father watched, as if in shock. Police stopped the parade for about 15 minutes so an ambulance could get in to rush the boy to the hospital.

IOWA

Town rescinds $5 bounty on cats

DES MOINES — Cat haters, nevermind: The tiny town of Randolph has rescinded a $5 bounty on feral felines.

Instead, the southwestern Iowa town of 200 people has agreed to work with animal rescue groups on a catch, neuter and release program.

“We’ve told them to get it lined up to do it,” Mayor Vince Trively said Friday.

The City Council approved the bounty after receiving complaints about feral cats.

Under the initial policy, which went into effect March 1, stray cats without collars would be taken to a veterinarian, and if they weren’t claimed, they’d be euthanized. That caused an uproar among animal lovers.

On Thursday, the city voted to end the bounty and form a task force involving three organizations, Maryland-based Alley Cat Allies, Best Friends Animal Society of Utah and Feline Friendz in Nebraska.

The task force will meet this week to devise a plan, which the City Council will consider Thursday, said Elizabeth Parowski, spokeswoman for Alley Cat Allies.

MASSACHUSETTS

Would-be thief felled by frozen ham

GLOUCESTER — A meat thief is no match for an angry restaurant owner swinging ham.

Joe Scola said he heard a noise in his Scola’s Place restaurant in Gloucester, Mass., and saw a man trying to escape with his arms full of meat taken from the restaurant freezer.

Mr. Scola said that when he caught up with the man and started taking back his stock, the man raised a five-pound log of frozen Italian meat over his head, as if to use it as a weapon.

The restaurant owner had a frozen ham in his hand and slammed it into the man’s face, making a gash. The stunned thief dropped his loot and ran.

Police said they hadn’t found the man responsible for the Wednesday confrontation.

OKLAHOMA

Practice bomb mistakenly dropped

TULSA — An Air National Guard jet mistakenly dropped a 22-pound nonexplosive, practice bomb on an apartment complex, damaging the foundation, but no one was injured, police said Friday.

The military pilot thought he dropped the BDU-33 bomb, equipped with a dummy warhead, over a field in Kansas during a routine training mission out of Tulsa on Thursday.

A couple returned home to the Canyon Creek apartment complex and found the ordnance partly buried in the foundation and the power knocked out, Tulsa Police Officer Jason Willingham said.

A safety investigation board has been convened, and the investigation is ongoing, a statement released Friday by the Oklahoma Air National Guard said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Franklin, Ross portrayers to marry

PHILADELPHIA — Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross are engaged.

That would be Ralph Archbold, Philadelphia’s best-known Franklin portrayer, and Linda Wilde, who’s been at his side lately, portraying the flag-stitcher.

The couple met Sept. 1 after the bride-to-be hired Mr. Archbold for a friend’s wedding toast. During the appearance, she told Mr. Archbold about her interest in history and her desire to dress up.

Mr. Archbold, 66, later called her in search of a last-minute Ross.

“Think you can put together a costume?” he asked. She did, joining Mr. Archbold on a few outings, including the Thanksgiving parade. That turned into dating.

No wedding date is set, but Sept. 1 looks serendipitous. It’s not only the anniversary of their first meeting, but also the date in 1730 that Franklin and Deborah Read were married.

TEXAS

Astronauts test robot’s brakes

HOUSTON — The International Space Station’s giant new handyman robot got its first checkup yesterday, with astronauts and flight controllers testing its electronics, joints and brakes.

The Canadian-built robot, named Dextre, passed all but one of the tests. One of the wrist joint brakes in Dextre’s left arm slipped a tiny bit more than engineers wanted, but Canada’s acting space-station program manager said he wasn’t too concerned. The brakes help hold the arm steady.

Astronauts and flight controllers planned to test the brake a couple more times in hopes that it slips less as it gets more worn in, officials said.

Two astronauts plan to take a spacewalk tonight to add a tool holster and other accouterments for Dextre. When the robot is fully assembled, it will stand 12 feet and have a mass of 3,400 pounds.

Dextre is designed to assist spacewalking astronauts and possibly someday take over some of the tougher chores, like lugging around big replacement parts.

Astronauts Richard M. Linnehan and Michael J. Foreman installed Dextre’s two 11-foot arms during an overnight spacewalk yesterday.

UTAH

400-year-old Bible donated to BYU

PROVO — A Bible written in Old Norse nearly 400 years ago was donated to Brigham Young University’s library by a Provo resident.

Thor Leifson, the honorary consul of Iceland emeritus, said the Bible was given to his family by a missionary who converted Mr. Leifson’s relatives to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon church, four generations ago.

The 6-inch tome, written in what is now the modern Icelandic language, is part of the second edition of the book printed in Iceland.

BYU curators said the Bible is extremely rare. They said its paper is soft, and the ink inside remains a vibrant, deep black, probably due to a wet-printing process that left deep impressions on the page. Curators determined the Old Testament section of the book was printed in 1643. The New Testament section was printed in 1644.

The volume also is interspersed with woodcut block-print illustrations that depict scenes from Bible stories, including the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan and his ascension to heaven.

BYU plans a major exhibition of its Bible collection in 2011.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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