- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pentagon criticized over flyover flap

NAMPA, Idaho | Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little said Friday that military officials made a mistake by denying a flyover request at the annual God and Country Family Festival earlier this month.

The Department of Defense cited a policy prohibiting military flyovers at events with a religious theme when it didn’t allow planes to buzz the event in Nampa on July 1.

“This is political correctness run amok,” Mr. Little said.

The non-denominational event honors all branches of the U.S. armed forces and acknowledges their sacrifices for freedom, he said.

A Department of Defense policy adopted in November 2001 prohibits support for an event that “provides a selective benefit to any individual, group or organization, including any religious or sectarian organization.”

Pentagon officials said military flyovers were staged at the event in previous years because it focused more on the patriotism and avoided direct ties to Christianity.

Couple who adopted 12 found slain

BEULAH, Fla. | A mother and father were fatally shot in a home invasion while eight of their children slept, authorities said.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said Friday that three men were being sought for questioning in the deaths Thursday night. He said the men were driving a red van seen leaving the home of Byrd and Melanie Billings, the couple found shot to death in Beulah.

Authorities said the eight children living in the home were found safe. They said deputies had to wake some of the children, who ranged from 8 to 14 years old.

The Billings had 16 children, 12 of them adopted.

The Billings owned several businesses and were known for their generosity in adopting children with disabilities and from troubled backgrounds.

U.S. swine flu cases hit 37,000

ATLANTA | Swine flu activity is dying down a bit, but the number of cases has surpassed 37,000, and deaths hit 211, U.S. health officials said.

The numbers rose from 170 deaths and nearly 34,000 confirmed and suspected swine flu cases reported last week.

Officials think those cases, which sought treatment and underwent testing, are just the tip of the iceberg. They estimate more than 1 million Americans have been infected with the virus, though many probably had only a mild illness.

Prosecutor: Foreign students neglected

ALLENTOWN, Pa. | A California nonprofit placed foreign exchange students in deplorable conditions in Pennsylvania, with some becoming malnourished or living in homes strewn with dog feces, and a prosecutor said the neglect merits criminal charges.

Lackawanna County Deputy District Attorney Michelle Olshefski said an investigation has confirmed that foreign exchange students were placed in unsuitable homes by a former employee of the Aspect Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that brings about 1,000 exchange students to the U.S. each year.

Edna Burgette, a former area coordinator with Aspect, was fired after allegations surfaced in May that students were malnourished and living in homes whose floors were covered with dog feces. Miss Burgette was paid $400 for each student she placed. A woman who answered the phone at Miss Burgette’s house hung up on a reporter Friday.

The scandal involves as many as a dozen exchange students from Vietnam, Tanzania, Nigeria, Denmark, Colombia, Norway and France. Most have returned to their home countries.

The State Department, which regulates private student exchange organizations such as Aspect, has imposed a range of penalties on the nonprofit, including a 15 percent reduction in the number of visas it will be allowed to distribute next school year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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