- - Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CALIFORNIA

34 illegals caught after coming ashore

SAN DIEGO | The U.S. Border Patrol said two groups of seafaring, illegal immigrants have been caught coming ashore along Southern California’s coast — including 18 people who landed at the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton.

U.S. Border Patrol agent Michael Jimenez said agents detained 16 Mexican citizens traveling in a skiff after they came ashore around 1:50 a.m. Tuesday near Leucadia.

He said agents acting on a call from military officials also detained 18 others walking across Camp Pendleton a few hours later after they had been dropped off by a boat.

CONNECTICUT

Priest accused of $1.3 million theft

NEW HAVEN | A Roman Catholic priest in Connecticut was charged Tuesday with stealing $1.3 million in church money over seven years to use for male escorts, expensive clothing and luxury hotels and restaurants.

The Rev. Kevin J. Gray, former pastor at Sacred Heart/Sagrado Corazon Parish in Waterbury, was arrested and charged with first-degree larceny, Waterbury police said.

Father Gray, 64, used the money to stay at such hotels as the Waldorf-Astoria and on expensive clothing labels including Armani suits and Brooks Brothers, said Capt. Christopher Corbett. He also paid the college tuition and rent of two men he met, Capt. Corbett said.

GEORGIA

Transgender woman wins case over firing

ATLANTA | A federal judge has ruled in favor of a former Georgia state legislative aide who claimed she was fired after telling her boss she would come to work dressed as woman as she prepared for a sex-change procedure to transform from man to woman.

U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story ruled Friday that Vandy Beth Glenn’s firing violated her constitutional rights under the equal protection clause.

Ms. Glenn is a transgender woman formerly known as Glenn Morrison. She claimed that legislative counsel Sewell Brumby fired her from her job as a legislative editor because the gender transition would make her colleagues feel uncomfortable and would be seen as “immoral” by Georgia lawmakers.

ILLINOIS

Mob shoots fireworks at police, firefighters

ALTON | An unruly mob lured emergency personnel to a housing complex near St. Louis with reports of a blaze, a shooting and other crimes, then attacked them with fireworks and bottle rockets, authorities said.

No one was injured in the onslaughts against firefighters and police in Alton on Sunday night and early Monday.

The attackers apparently intended the assaults as entertainment for a hundreds-strong crowd of adults and children who had gathered at the Oakwood Housing Complex to watch, said Mark Harris, a deputy fire chief who witnessed the attacks.

KENTUCKY

Poem writer admits threatening Obama

LOUISVILLE | A Kentucky man has pleaded guilty to writing and posting on a white supremacist website a poem threatening the assassination of President Obama.

Johnny Logan Spencer Jr., 28, of Louisville entered an open plea — admitting guilt without a deal with prosecutors — Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Louisville.

Spencer’s sentencing is set for Nov. 2. The charge carries a maximum of five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Stephan M. Pazenzia said in an affidavit that Spencer wrote and posted the poem, titled “The Sniper,” on a page called NewSaxon.org.

The poem describes a gunman shooting and killing a “tyrant” later identified as the president, setting off panic.

NEVADA

Unannounced drill scares workers

LAS VEGAS | Nurses were caring for 26 patients in the intensive care unit at St. Rose Dominican Hospital when a man, edgy and brandishing a handgun, appeared in a hall and began herding nurses, doctors and other employees into a break room, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Employees began crying in fear, and no wonder — it was the second time in a few years that a gunman had been in the hospital. Last year, Henderson, Nev., police fatally shot an armed, hostile man in the emergency room.

This time, the handgun was not loaded. It was a terrorism training exercise. The role-playing gunman was an off-duty Metro Police officer.

But no one told the staff that the events that unfolded May 24 were not real, the Sun reported. On Friday, the state health division said it may fine the hospital because patients were left unattended during those 15 minutes of terror.

Teressa Conley, the hospital’s chief operating officer, told state investigators that the three employees who cooked up the exercise did not tell hospital administrators or anyone in the intensive care unit about the drill.

NEW YORK

‘Ageism’ pioneer dies at 83

NEW YORK | Robert Butler, a Pulitzer Prize-winning researcher on aging who coined the phrase “ageism,” died Sunday of leukemia in New York City, his daughter said Tuesday. He was 83.

He died at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Christine Butler said.

Mr. Butler, a gerontologist and psychiatrist, was the founding director of the National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health. He wrote several books on aging, including the 1976 Pulitzer-winning “Why Survive: Being Old in America.”

He also was founding chairman of the nation’s first department of geriatrics, at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and was founding president of the International Longevity Center-USA in New York City, a research, policy and education center dedicated to the field of longevity and aging.

NORTH CAROLINA

Historic ‘Mother Vine’ sprayed with weedkiller

MANTEO | A massive grapevine that may have been growing on North Carolina’s coast since the 1500s is recovering after being sprayed with a powerful weedkiller.

Multiple media outlets reported the scuppernong grape vine known as the Mother Vine was sprayed by a contractor working for Virginia-based Dominion Power.

Jack Wilson has cared for the vine since he bought the property — where it grows on Roanoke Island — in 1957. Mr. Wilson first noticed that the vine had brown areas in late May.

Dominion hired a specialist from Virginia Tech to inspect the plant and recommend treatment. After a few weeks of daily watering, regular fertilizing and pruning, Mr. Wilson and the specialists think the vine will survive.

Historians think the vine was alive when the first Englishmen explored Roanoke Island in the late 1500s.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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