- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 14, 2002

ALASKA

Expulsion rate rises for students

ANCHORAGE More Anchorage students were expelled and suspended during the 2001-02 school year than in the year before, but that doesn't necessarily mean children were misbehaving in greater numbers. They were just caught more often, reports the Daily News.

That's a credit to vigilant staff members throughout the city's school district and possibly a product of added security and administrative staffers at many schools, Superintendent Carol Comeau said.

Schools are being more active in the area of discipline, especially in punishing students for assault, harassment, and drug and alcohol use, she said.

School district officials are quick to point out that the year's total enrollment also was a record high. Last year, 49,676 students attended Anchorage schools, 156 more than in the previous year. But the increase in population isn't proportional to the increase in suspensions and expulsions.


ARIZONA

Mesa Air pilot fired for drinking

PHOENIX A Mesa Airlines pilot was fired Monday and two other employees were investigated for alcohol use after the three men apparently partied into the early morning before a flight Friday out of Little Rock, Ark., a company spokesman told the Republic.

Capt. Peter Treanor, 29, of Charlotte, N.C., lost his job with the Phoenix-based company when his blood alcohol level tested at 0.06 percent, said Brian Gillman, vice president and general counsel for Mesa Air. A second test came back at 0.053 percent.

The company has a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol.

The two other employees, a first officer and a flight attendant, were at a bar the night before and "well into the morning," Mr. Gillman said. The first officer had no alcohol in his system and has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the company's investigation.


ARKANSAS

Army worms attack farms, damage crops

ARKADELPHIA As Arkansas wrestles with the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, residents of Clark County have another pest to combat: worms.

Jerry Clemons, county cooperative extension service agent, said army worms were spreading throughout the county and wreaking havoc on hay crops.

"They'll eat it to the ground down to nothing, and then they will move on," Mr. Clemons said.

Army worms, which are about a quarter inch in size, are the caterpillar stage of the noctuid moth. Because of the worm's fast reproductive cycle, it can take about a week to rid a hay crop from infestation.

The worms pose no physical harm to humans, but they can destroy a hay crop in a matter of hours.


CALIFORNIA

One conjoined twin awake, breathing on own

LOS ANGELES One of the 13-month-old Guatemalan conjoined twins regained consciousness and was taken off a respirator yesterday, one of their doctors said.

Maria de Jesus Quiej Alvarez "is breathing all by herself," Dr. Irwin Weiss, a pediatrician at the UCLA children's hospital, told CNN. "She's awake and moving her arms and legs and looking like a normal baby, and her sister is moving right behind her."

The other twin, Maria Teresa Quiej Alvarez, was recuperating more slowly due to a second, separate five-hour surgery to relieve a buildup of blood on the brain.

Doctors believe their long-term prospects for recovery are good, though they remain in critical condition, the hospital said in a statement.


COLORADO

Owens signs tax-relief legislation

DEL NORTE Gov. Bill Owens has signed legislation to give ranchers and farmers tax relief if they are forced to sell their livestock because of the drought.

The legislation offers farmers and ranchers a 100 percent tax credit for 2002 or 2003 for any money they make on the forced sale of livestock.

Lawmakers estimated that half of the state's cattle herds have been sold because ranchers do not have enough water and feed.

"Because of the drought, Colorado's family farmers and ranchers are at a crossroads. These are strong people who have overcome hardship before, and I believe they will again," Mr. Owens said.


FLORIDA

'Construction workers' catch speeders

ST. AUGUSTINE Florida Highway Patrol troopers are dressing up as construction workers in an effort to catch speeders. The idea is to catch folks going too fast in construction areas.

Officials say Operation Hardhat has troopers lurking in dump trucks, peeking from behind road graders and pretending to be surveyors.

Over the past five years, 134 persons were killed in Florida from crashes in construction zones.


GEORGIA

Army soldier dies in training exercise

FORT STEWART A soldier was killed during a training exercise when the armored personnel carrier he was in overturned in a ditch, Army officials said yesterday.

Four other soldiers suffered minor injuries in the accident on the sprawling base near Savannah, Fort Stewart officials said. All were members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division.

Army Criminal Investigations and Fort Stewart Military Police were investigating.


ILLINOIS

Man goes on trial in 1955 slayings

CHICAGO A man accused of killing three boys 47 years ago looked on calmly as a prosecutor said he had beaten and strangled them because they threatened to expose him as a child molester.

"Three ordinary American boys dressed in baseball jackets and jeans, three ordinary American boys who would go hitchhiking that night, three ordinary American boys Kenneth Hansen would murder that night," prosecutor Linas Kelecius told jurors.

Mr. Hansen, 69, went on trial Monday despite the death of one prosecution witness and the passage of nearly five decades since the 1955 slayings.

The one-time stable owner was found guilty in 1995, but his conviction was overturned five years later on appeal.


INDIANA

Man arrested in '89 family killings

SOUTH BEND A man prosecutors say was angry at his father for remarrying after his mother's death was arrested on charges he killed his father, stepmother and two of his stepsisters 13 years ago.

Jeff Pelley, 30, faces four counts of murder in the 1989 shotgun slayings, authorities said.

Mr. Pelley was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport after returning from Australia.


IOWA

Humidity producing bumper ragweed crop

DES MOINES Iowa's sunny, humid weather has helped more than grass and corn grow this summer. It's also producing a bumper crop of ragweed, the Register reports.

Ragweed pollination is expected to start this week, which could see more wheezing and sneezing than usual.

"It's going to be worse," Dr. Iftikhar Hussain, assistant professor at the University of Iowa's internal medicine-allergies department, said about the pollen Iowans can expect.

He says the medicines taken to counteract the pollen may not be powerful enough on days when the pollen count gets excessively high.

"An early frost would be the best thing that can happen," he said.


KANSAS

Safe-theft suspect gives himself up

KANSAS CITY A man accused of hauling off a half-ton Wyandotte County Fair safe during broad daylight two weeks ago surprised some when he later surrendered, sources told the Kansas City Kansan.

For days after the July 31 theft, with police seemingly hot on the thief's trail, doubt persisted about the thief's reported plans to give up. But he did, days after charges were lodged.

Wyandotte County jail staff said LaFayette Brown, 45, walked into the glass-front lobby last Wednesday and was seized by waiting deputies. They booked Mr. Brown on theft charges, and that same evening, Aug. 7, was freed on $5,000 bond, staff there said.

Five days earlier, prosecutors had charged him with theft exceeding $25,000, and also with auto theft, the jail reported.


KENTUCKY

Schools enlist fathers as tutors, mentors

LOUISVILLE Jefferson County public schools are working to get more men involved in children's education by expanding a program that enlists fathers as in-school tutors, lunch companions and mentors.

More than half of the district's 95,000 students come from single-parent households.

The goal is to boost reading and writing scores, improve self-esteem and reduce discipline problems.


MASSACHUSETTS

Runner's death linked to excess fluid intake

BOSTON The death of a 28-year-old runner in this year's Boston Marathon was caused by a critical sodium imbalance brought on in part by drinking too much fluid, according to the state medical examiner.

Cynthia Lucero died from a condition known as hyponatremic encephalopathy, which happens when the brain becomes swollen because of a critical imbalance of sodium, the medical examiner's office said Monday.

"This is a relatively rare, catastrophic complication," said Dr. Ronenn Roubenoff, associate professor of medicine and nutrition and director of human studies at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University. "It really is a tragedy because it's such a preventable thing."


MISSISSIPPI

Trial lawyers begin tort-reform campaign

JACKSON Mississippi trial lawyers began an air strike yesterday in the state's tort-reform battle, flying to five cities in what they called a campaign "to tone down the hysteria."

Medical professionals have deemed Mississippi one of the nation's worst states in which to practice. They say the state's litigious climate has prompted insurers to stop writing policies for liability coverage, causing a malpractice insurance crisis.

Doctors and business leaders have gone toe-to-toe with trial lawyers for months as Mississippi lawmakers consider whether to change the state's civil justice laws. President Bush even joined the fray during a visit to Mississippi last week.

In a statewide tour yesterday, leaders of the Jackson-based Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association said changes are not necessary.


NEBRASKA

Authorities say pre-teens may be huffing fumes

YORK Local authorities are asking York residents to be alert to pre-teen children inhaling fumes from air-conditioning units.

A 12-year-old girl was found unconscious by an air conditioner last week. Police Officer Mike Hanke said the girl was revived.

Officer Hanke said several pre-teenagers apparently have been huffing Freon from air conditioners to get high.


NEVADA

Mayors worried about Yucca shipments

MINDEN Mayors from across Nevada expressed concern about transportation risks stemming from the recent approval of Nevada's Yucca Mountain as the nation's high-level nuclear waste dump.

At their annual conference, mayors questioned whether waste shipments to Yucca Mountain 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas would be safe and secure. Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson wants local governments involved.


NEW JERSEY

Court upholds school drug testing

TRENTON High school students who participate in teams and clubs or who seek school parking permits can be tested randomly for drugs, a New Jersey appeals court ruled Monday.

The three-judge appeal panel rejected arguments that the state constitution provides more privacy protection in such situations than the U.S. Constitution. The ruling overturned a lower-court injunction that stopped random drug testing at Hunterdon Central High School.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued in 2000 on behalf of three students: a varsity gymnast, a model United Nations participant, and a writer with the school's online literary magazine.

Hunterdon Central was among eight New Jersey school districts that had drug testing for athletes in 1999.


NEW YORK

Bishops: Don't target Jews for conversion

NEW YORK America's Roman Catholic bishops and leaders of Reform and Conservative Judaism have issued a joint statement affirming that Jews should not be targeted for conversion to Christianity.

The bishops have made similar declarations in the past, and the international church has largely dropped the practice of evangelizing Jews. This latest document, "Reflections on Covenant and Mission," grew from more than two decades of biannual meetings between the U.S. religious leaders.

"While the Catholic church regards the saving act of Christ as central to the process of human salvation for all, it also acknowledges that Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God," the document reads. "Jews are also called by God to prepare the world for God's kingdom."


PENNSYLVANIA

Reports of rape jump 65 percent

PITTSBURGH The number of rapes reported in Pittsburgh in the first six months of this year rose by 65 percent, a jump experts believe could be due to increased reporting by victims.

In the first six months of 2002, 79 rapes were reported in the city, compared with 48 during the first six months of 2001, according to police statistics. Statewide, reported rapes fell by about 4 percent during the same period.

Pittsburgh police ruled out a serial rapist after determining the reported crimes had occurred between people who knew each other. Instead, they surmise more women are reporting the crime.

The reason more people are reporting the crime could be that fewer people believe rape victims are to blame, relieving victims' shame and guilt, said Melissa Tai, a spokeswoman for Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.


UTAH

Great Salt Lake shrinking in heat

SALT LAKE CITY The Great Salt Lake isn't as great as it used to be: A lack of precipitation and a hot summer have left the lake at its lowest level since 1980.

"It's been real hot and dry," said Wallace Gwynn, a geologist with the Utah Geological Survey. "The lake's dropping like a rock."

The lake was at 4,198 feet above sea level as of yesterday. Mr. Gwynn predicted the lake will bottom out around Dec. 1 at 4,197 feet. The last time it was that low was in 1972.

The lake level is entirely dependent on the weather. The level normally falls from summer into late fall before lower temperatures and moisture raise it again in the winter and spring.

The lake's historic peak came during the "flood years" of 1986 and 1987, at 4,212 feet. Its all-time low, 4,191.35, was in 1963.


WASHINGTON

Fog, strong seas disrupt canoe trip

TAHOLAH Fog and heavy Pacific seas disrupted the last leg of the Tribal Journeys Indian canoe trip around the Olympic Peninsula.

More than 20 ocean-going dugout canoes were trucked from Queets and launched into the Quinault River for the arrival ceremony before a crowd of about 5,000 people, the Daily World of Aberdeen reported.

Twenty-three Indian nations from the United States and Canada were represented.

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