Judge won’t block Koran reading
GREENSBORO A federal judge refused yesterday to block a summer reading program for incoming freshmen at the University of North Carolina who were told to read and discuss a book on the Koran, Islam’s holy text.
Judge Carlton Tilley of U.S. District Court refused to grant a temporary restraining order requested by the conservative Virginia-based Family Policy Center, two taxpayers and three unidentified freshmen.
The group sued last month, seeking to overturn a requirement that 4,200 transfer students and freshmen at the Chapel Hill campus read and discuss “Approaching the Quran: The Early Revelations,” by Michael Sells.
Report: Slip led to deadly accident
OREGON CITY A climber’s slip near the summit of Mount Hood was the first step in a chain reaction that swept three groups of climbers into a crevasse, killing three persons and injuring seven, according to a report released Wednesday.
Clackamas County criminalist Tim Bailey’s report ruled out drugs or alcohol, negligence or faulty equipment as causes of the May 30 accident, which he said took three to five seconds.
“This was an accident, and Mr. [William] Ward slipped,” Mr. Bailey said.
Mr. Ward landed on his back with his head facing down the 11,235-foot mountain and began sliding downhill on the icy, steep slope, pulling Harry Slitter, Chris Kern and Richard Read along, Mr. Bailey said. They slid into Thomas Hillman and John Biggs.
Dog saves human from rampaging bear
ANCHORAGE Don Mobley figures he owes his life to his dog, Shadow. The 3-year-old German shepherd mix took on a charging grizzly to protect his master.
Bears have bluffed Mr. Mobley before. Usually, he stands his ground. But when a female grizzly growled and charged him last weekend, its cub 15 feet away, instinct and experience told him one thing: run. Mr. Mobley hot-footed it toward the river, thinking the deep water might turn the grizzly off the chase.
The grizzly was about 10 feet behind Mr. Mobley when a black-and-tan savior zipped out of the woods and lunged at the bear. It was Shadow. Mr. Mobley, 56, heard the dog and soon realized that the bear and its cub had disappeared with Shadow barking madly in hot pursuit.
Indians to tidy small dumps
TUCSON The Tohono O’odham Nation says it will clean and close more than 100 small dumps during the next five years.
The $6.2 million project will be funded in part by gaming revenues.
The dumps are mostly small burn pits used for household trash and old furniture, said Gary Olson, manager of the nation’s Solid Waste Management Program.
Farmers take heat, wait for rain
GREENWICH Beside a traditional scarecrow in the fields of Augustine’s Farm, a sign has been posted reading: “Please help us pray for rain.”
“If we don’t get rain in a week or so, this whole thing will be wiped out,” said John Augustin, pointing at rows of withering snapdragons in his farm and nursery.
For the past six weeks, Mr. Augustin and his co-workers have tried to beat the heat by spot-watering, spending hours between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. watering each plant.
Lewis named key aide to Ashcroft
MIAMI A former top federal prosecutor in South Florida has been appointed as a key aide to Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Former U.S. Attorney Guy A. Lewis said that he has been named director of the Executive Office of United States Attorney.
As director of the executive office in Washington, Mr. Lewis will act as a link between the Justice Department and 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices nationwide.
Ex-sheriff gets life for killing successor
DECATUR Former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for murdering his successor and was given an additional 23 years for corruption.
The former sheriff told Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker that he was not guilty of plotting the slaying.
“I know you’re going to sentence me severely, but I do not have the blood of Derwin Brown on my hands,” Mr. Dorsey said. “I’m going to be in prison on the outside, but I’ll be free on the inside because I do not have the blood of the sheriff-elect on my hands.”
Hotel-workers union votes for strike
HONOLULU Unionized hotel workers voted 2,045-501 yesterday to authorize a strike against Hilton and Sheraton hotels in Waikiki, while the hospitality industry still struggles to bring in revenue in the aftermath of September 11, the Star-Bulletin reports.
“The members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike,” said Eric Gill, Local 5 financial secretary-treasurer. “I’m overjoyed with that.”
The vote, taken at the Hawaii Convention Center, covers 4,000 workers at Hilton Hawaiian Village and Sheraton’s four Waikiki hotels. A strike authorization vote does not mean there will be a strike. That’s up to union officials to decide.
Square dancers to convene in Boise
BOISE Idaho square dancers play host to a national square dance convention Aug. 21 to 24 in downtown Boise, the Statesman reports.
As many as 1,500 dancers from across the nation are expected to participate in dancing at the Boise Centre on the Grove and the Basque Center.
On Aug. 21, local dancers and Boy Scout Order of the Arrow volunteers will lay 1,100 sheets of plywood dance floor over the carpeting in the Boise Centre.
Among planned activities are an outdoor dance in front of the Statehouse at 9 a.m. on Aug. 24, and “Square Dancers on Horseback,” which will begin at noon and feature members of the Ten-Mile Riding Club performing under the direction of local caller Tim Eld.
Lawmakers dispute building project
BATON ROUGE Angry about the project’s high cost, repeated delays and ongoing modifications, a legislative committee refused on Wednesday to approve an additional $1 million for the conversion of the old Wildlife and Fisheries building in the French Quarter into a new home for the state Supreme Court and demanded that the high court’s justices tell them why the money is needed, the Times-Picayune reports.
State Rep. Jerry Luke LeBlanc, a Democrat, scheduled a special meeting of the committee for Aug. 23 to hear from the judges and rehear the request for the $1.045 million change order, which would pay for numerous items, including marble partitions in public bathrooms, food service equipment in private dining halls and work on ceilings and cornices.
Government reopens after shutdown
LEBANON The government of this small town in southwestern Maine is open for business again after a two-month shutdown stemming from a budget feud.
The town’s voters, who defeated a budget in June that would have paid salaries to town employees overwhelmingly approved, on Tuesday, a revised $110,000 budget.
The June vote meant that Lebanon’s town offices were closed for much of the summer. Residents had not been able to register their cars or obtain fishing licenses since July 1.
Driver hits teen, meets him later
FERGUS FALLS After being struck by a pickup truck, a teen-ager said he was stunned when he recognized a member of the ambulance crew that took him to the hospital as the driver who he says hit him.
The 18-year-old emergency medical technician is expected to be charged next week with felony criminal vehicular injury and misdemeanor reckless driving, according to the Grant County attorney’s office.
Court faults doctors for insurance operation
BILOXI Mississippi doctors who own and operate their own insurance company have made profits a priority, even as they have declared a crisis over the shortage of malpractice coverage in the state, according to state Supreme Court Justice Chuck McRae.
The state Legislature allowed physicians to create the nonprofit Medical Assurance Co. of Mississippi, or MACM, in 1976 to bail out the state’s doctors after private insurers pulled out and affordable malpractice coverage was hard to find.
Now that private insurers are again leaving Mississippi, the insured doctors who own a piece of the company and the doctors who run it and own a share of it are picky about who else they will cover, Mr. McRae said.
Man pleads guilty to porn charges
KANSAS CITY A Blue Springs man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to child pornography charges, the Star reports.
Robert L. Smith, 56, entered a plea agreement in which he admitted to possessing child pornography and to interstate travel for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a minor.
He also agreed to forfeit the vehicle he used, a 1995 Dodge Ram truck. The government agreed to dismiss four other charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.
Volunteer firefighter charged with arson
COLUMBUS A 19-year-old volunteer firefighter, the son of a former city fire chief, has been charged with setting the blaze Sunday morning that destroyed Western Drug and the Columbus Beauty Shop.
Cole Joseph Wilson has been charged with one felony arson count for the Sunday-morning fire and four misdemeanor negligent arson counts, Stillwater County Attorney Bob Eddleman told the Billings Gazette.
Mr. Wilson helped fight two of the fires he is accused of starting, city Fire Chief Rich Cowger said. He was arrested a night after police reported finding him running from a fire a block south of where a blaze Sunday caused an estimated $500,000 damage, Columbus Police Officer Gary Timm said.
Jail-turned-shelter closed to children
NEW YORK In a jarring reminder of New York City’s homeless problem, officials have converted a former jail in the Bronx into a temporary homeless shelter.
But only days after the converted jail opened its doors, the plan hit a snag: The facility has been closed to children after accusations that it is contaminated by lead-based paint.
Linda I. Gibbs, the city’s commissioner of homeless services, issued a statement on Wednesday saying the facility would not house families with young children while the issue was investigated.
The city converted the Bronx facility to provide temporary shelter for homeless families.
Hospital builds horse shelter
LODI Most hospitals build garages when they need more parking. Lodi Community Hospital built a horse shelter.
The hospital, Ohio’s smallest with just 25 beds, has had hitching posts for years so Amish patients had a place to tie up their horses. The posts were removed when the parking lot was repaved and a helicopter pad was added during the hospital’s renovation.
The hospital paid Amish workers $500 to build a 12-by-14-foot horse shelter. The Amish shun modern conveniences, such as electricity and cars.
Middletown woman to be on ‘Survivor’
For the second time, a resident of Middletown is a contestant on the television program “Survivor,” the Newport Daily News reports.
Helen Glover, 47, a civilian water survival instructor with the Naval Education and Training Center at Naval Station Newport, is one of the 16 contestants selected for “Survivor Thailand,” which premieres Sept. 19.
Mrs. Glover lives in Middletown with her husband, Jim, and 18-year-old daughter, Katherine. She is also the mother of 28-year-old Matthew and stepmother of 30-year-old Erin.
Suspect arraigned in baby snatching
ABILENE Former prison guard Paula Lynn Roach was arraigned yesterday for reportedly kidnapping a 1-month-old Texas girl from a Wal-Mart parking lot and dragging her mother across the pavement as she desperately clung to Miss Roach’s car.
Miss Roach, 24, told a judge she understood the charges against her and under Texas law could face a term of five years to 99 years in prison if convicted of aggravated kidnapping. Bail was set at $200,000.
The infant, Nancy Crystal Chavez, was returned in good health to her mother on Wednesday night after she was snatched from a minivan in the city of Abilene and to the town of Quanah near the border with Oklahoma, where she was found 26 hours later.
Tiny airport gets support from board
SHELBURNE The tiny airport in Shelburne is a unique piece of aviation history that has inspired countless people to take up flying, a roomful of supporters told the town select board on Tuesday night.
The board, supporters urged, should write to state aviation officials to express how valuable a resource Shelburne Airport is to the town, the Free Press reports. After listening to glowing remarks about the airport, the board unanimously approved writing the letter.
Gubernatorial race is downright ho-hum
CHEYENNE Two attorneys, a construction manager and the owner of a general store are vying for the chance to become the state’s first Democratic governor in eight years.
The Democratic race has been downright gentlemanly compared with the accusation-strewn showdown among the Republicans, possibly because the minority party has agreed, in not so many words, that it can ill afford to seem like a group of grumps from the outset.