- - Monday, December 20, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Brother disputes sale of Oswald coffin

LOS ANGELES — The brother of Lee Harvey Oswald says the presidential assassin’s coffin is rightfully his.

The simple wooden coffin was auctioned for $87,000 last week. Oswald was buried in it for 18 years before his body was exhumed in 1981 as part of an effort to prove he was really buried in it. He was reburied in another coffin.

Robert L. Oswald told the Associated Press on Monday he was unaware the original still existed until he read in a newspaper that it was being sold. He says he paid for the original. He says it should have been destroyed years ago.

Texas funeral home owner Allen Baumgardner, who put the coffin up for sale, did not return a call for comment.

MARYLAND

Nuns’ Wagner card goes to new buyer

BALTIMORE — A new buyer has emerged for the rare Honus Wagner baseball card that was bequeathed to an order of Roman Catholic nuns in Baltimore.

The card was sold at auction last month for $220,000, but the winning bidder never paid. So Dallas-based Heritage Auctions contacted one of its longtime clients, a Philadelphia cardiologist, who immediately agreed to buy the card for the same price.

The money was sent by bank wire Monday to the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

The card was left to the School Sisters by the brother of a former nun after he died earlier this year. The man had owned the card since 1936. It’s in poor condition, but the Wagner card is the most sought-after baseball card in history. About 60 are known to exist.

MASSACHUSETTS

‘Austerity’ proclaimed Word of the Year

SPRINGFIELD — As Greece faced a debt crisis, the government passed a series of strict austerity measures, including tax increases and cutting public-sector pay.

The move sparked angry protests, strikes and riots across the country as unemployment skyrocketed and the crisis spread to other European nations. The move also incited a rush to online dictionaries from those searching for a definition.

Austerity, the 14th-century noun defined as “the quality or state of being austere” and “enforced or extreme economy,” set off enough searches that Merriam-Webster named it as its Word of the Year for 2010, the dictionary’s editors announced Monday.

John Morse, president and publisher of the Springfield, Mass.-based dictionary, said “austerity” saw more than 250,000 searches on the dictionary’s free online tool and came with more coverage of the debt crisis.

NEW YORK

Ex-sailor’s terrorism conviction upheld

NEW YORK — A federal appeals court Monday upheld the conviction of a former Navy sailor serving a 10-year prison sentence after he leaked details about ship movements to a London-based website operator that supported attacking Americans.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected defense arguments seeking to overturn the 2008 conviction of Hassan Abu-Jihaad of Phoenix. He was a signalman aboard the USS Benfold who was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2002.

Abu-Jihaad was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison by a federal judge in New Haven, Conn., after he was convicted on charges that he disclosed classified national defense information. Prosecutors at trial had labeled him a traitor. A message for comment left with Abu-Jihaad’s defense attorney was not returned Monday.

OHIO

Alzheimer’s researcher hit by car, dies

COLUMBUS — A renowned Alzheimer’s disease researcher has died after being hit by a car in Ohio, police said, and the man suspected of hitting him also has been found dead.

Police said Mark A. Smith, 45, was struck early Sunday as he walked along a road in Bainbridge Township. Police said they found the car that hit Mr. Smith about a mile away.

Chief Jon Bokovitz told the Willoughby News-Herald that the driver, Daniel Neesham, 50, was found dead inside the car. Police are investigating how he died.

Mr. Smith was a pathology professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and director of basic science research at the university’s memory and cognition center. He was executive director of the American Aging Association and co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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