- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2002

CALIFORNIA

Teens: Attacker said he would kill them

LOS ANGELES The man who abducted two girls from a teen hangout told them he would kill them and started a countdown, the teens said in an interview broadcast yesterday.

Days after they were freed from their attacker when police killed the man, 16-year-old Tamara Brooks and 17-year-old Jacqueline Marris recounted their ordeal while holding hands in the recorded interview shown on NBC's "Today" show.

In her first interview, Tamara said that when the ordeal began early Thursday, she felt that "It's all a bad dream. I was terrified. I started praying."


ARKANSAS

Clinton praises interior decorator's work

LITTLE ROCK Former President Bill Clinton lavished praise on work his friend and interior decorator, Kaki Hockersmith, did on her new home in Little Rock.

Mr. Clinton was in town for a campaign fund-raiser for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, held at Miss Hockersmith's home in a ritzy neighborhood.

Like many of the guests, Mr. Clinton was awestruck. He told the guests that when Miss Hockersmith was decorating the White House, "we'd do another room and another room."

"Kaki would say, 'It's nothing. It's nothing.' Then I show up here and see it really was nothing. This makes the White House look like public housing."


CONNECTICUT

Vehicle plows into museum

HARTFORD A sport utility vehicle plowed into a museum Sunday, destroying irreplaceable artwork and antiques on display in the 1782 homestead.

The Butler-McCook homestead museum recently underwent a $1.3 million renovation and was reopened to the public in June. The museum housed the largest collection of arts and antiques made in Hartford.

"It was the only original house left in Hartford when George Washington visited the city for the last time in 1789. It was the only survivor from Colonial times," said William Hosley, executive director of the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society.

Police said a vehicle driven by 21-year-old Wilfredo Sanchez jumped the curb, plowed into the parlor and damaged a staircase. He was charged with driving under suspension, driving without insurance, misuse of plates and driving an unregistered vehicle.


DELAWARE

Environmental concerns hold up skate park

WILMINGTON If Kevin Kelley Sr. had his way, skateboarders would already be able to ollie, grind and flip at a skateboarding park in Wilmington. But the city council member's project has been delayed because of environmental concerns, the News-Journal reports.

The proposed $250,000 facility is to be built on 20,000 square feet of land, less than half an acre, owned by Amtrak and Norfolk Southern Railroad and leased to the city, under Interstate 95 next to Frawley Stadium. It would be enclosed and have security lighting. Attractions would include ramps, bowls and jumps for skateboarders and in-line skaters.

Because the land is in an industrial area, adjacent to rail yards and subject to I-95 runoff, it is likely to have some contamination from fuels and tars, said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control brownfield coordinator Jim Poling. Hazardous-waste sites are commonly called brownfields.


GEORGIA

CDC: Prevention key in West Nile crisis

ATLANTA National health officials warned yesterday that the West Nile virus is here to stay and that simple prevention efforts, such as wearing insect repellant, are the best way to manage the epidemic.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Julie Gerberding told reporters that she wasn't surprised human infections have risen since the disease spread south and west from New York, where it was first seen in 1999. The disease has been found in 88 persons this year.

Dr. Gerberding said there is little chance of eliminating the mosquito-borne disease, especially when it spreads to areas with longer summers and warmer water. Instead, she said, officials should spray for mosquitoes and people should eliminate standing water from their lawns to reduce their risk.

Four persons in Louisiana have died this summer of West Nile, a virus that can cause flulike symptoms.


HAWAII

Residents battle mouse invasion

HONOLULU Mice have invaded parts of Molokai in biblical proportions this summer, and residents are catching them by the bucketful literally, reports the Star-Bulletin.

Firefighter Travis Tancayo said he's caught more than 70 mice in one night in four mechanical traps, each with a capacity of 30, outside his home in Hoolehua, and has seen a dramatic increase in the past three days. He and fellow firefighters swap advice on how to catch the little varmints; most use five-gallon buckets that often fill up with rodents.

"We watched hundreds of mice perched all over the sacks of feed," said Joan Lasua, who sat in a feed-store warehouse near Mr. Tancayo's house for a meeting one night in Hoolehua, a dry area of farms and ranch land. "They're running all over the road, and you're just running all over them."

Last week, the state Health Department advised the public to take measures against field mice, which have increased fourfold in parts of Maui, the Big Island and Kauai.


IDAHO

Crop-duster crash kills two, cuts power

EMMETT A crop-duster hit a power line and crashed in southwest Idaho yesterday, killing two persons on board and knocking out power to thousands of homes, local authorities said.

The single-engine Cessna 182A had been spraying for mosquitoes near Emmett, about 30 miles northwest of the state capital, Boise, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

The crash left residents in mostly rural Gem County and a half-dozen neighboring counties without electricity, a sheriff's department spokesman said.


ILLINOIS

Crash victim dies in beatings incident

CHICAGO A woman struck by a van last week in an incident that ended with the beating deaths of two men inside the vehicle died yesterday, hospital officials said.

Shani Lawrence, 26, was sitting on a porch when the van hurtled the curb and struck her and two others last Tuesday, authorities said. The other women survived.

The driver, Jack Moore, 62, and his passenger, Anthony Stuckey, 49, were attacked and killed by a mob in apparent retribution for the crash. Seven men have been charged with first-degree murder in the case.

Police said they do not know what caused the van to veer off the street, but Cook County medical officials have said Mr. Moore was legally drunk.

At a bail hearing Sunday, prosecutors provided more details surrounding the fatal beatings, saying one suspect didn't stop pummeling the victims "until he was out of breath."


LOUISIANA

Six children die in house fire

BATON ROUGE Six children died in a house fire Sunday after people who tried to rescue them couldn't make their way through thick clouds of smoke.

Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman Robert Combs said an overloaded extension cord sparked the blaze at about 10 a.m. The fire swallowed the house within minutes, he said.

At the time, the children and two of their siblings were under the care of their grandmother, Mattie Norman. Their mother and three other siblings were at a wedding.

Their grandmother escaped the blaze with two of her grandchildren.

"She did all she could to get back in," said Alvin Banks, 31, one of the first people to the scene. "We had to hold her back, or else it would have been her, too."


MAINE

Whale-watching vessel helps untangle humpback

KENNEBUNKPORT A humpback whale got a helping hand from the crew of the whale-watching vessel Nautilus over the weekend after she got tangled up in some fishing gear.

Skipper James Harkin said the crew knew something was wrong after it saw that the 65-foot humpback and her calf were not diving Sunday.

As the boat drew near, both whales swam alongside and the crew began removing 300 feet of rope and netting. Passengers cheered when crew members snipped away material that had been attached to the whale's dorsal fin.

Afterward, the whales stayed with the boat for an hour and a half before the Nautilus returned to dock, Mr. Harkin said.


NEBRASKA

Paper says state did not review child deaths

OMAHA Nebraska neglected to review more than 1,800 children's deaths during the past six years, despite a 1993 law mandating that the deaths of those younger than 18 be studied to prevent future deaths, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

A team was supposed to meet four times a year, but disbanded in 1998 after producing four reports.


NEW MEXICO

College savings plan reports big growth

ALBUQUERQUE A state-sponsored investment plan to help families save for college has grown from $35 million to $174 million this year.

Investors, many from outside the state, lined up to buy tax-sheltered mutual funds despite a sluggish economy, said John Whiteside, adviser to the state Education Trust Board.


NEW YORK

9/11 fraud case is big job for police

NEW YORK Prosecutors said yesterday that as many as 4,000 people used ATMs to steal $15 million from a municipal employees' credit union whose computer-security system was damaged in the September 11 attacks.

Police said they had arrested 55 persons and were seeking 46 others. But thousands more are under investigation in what is already one of the largest fraud cases to come out of the terrorist attack.

District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said the suspects found a way to repeatedly withdraw as much as $500 a day from ATMs, even if their accounts at the Municipal Credit Union couldn't cover it.

The problem stems from September 11, when the attacks on the World Trade Center damaged a nearby building housing the credit union's computer system.


NORTH CAROLINA

Construction workers die in wall collapse

GREENSBORO An 80,000-pound wall fell on a group of construction workers as they ate lunch yesterday, killing at least three of them.

Three other workers were unaccounted for. But Fire Battalion Chief David Douglas said they may simply have run away.

The accident happened at the site of a Home Depot store under construction.

The wall fell when another crew removed temporary braces from the 35-by-20-foot section, unaware that the wall had not been permanently secured to the roof, Chief Douglas said.

Chief Douglas said nine workers were sitting at the prefabricated wall eating lunch at the time.


OHIO

Judge approves lawsuit settlement

CINCINNATI A federal judge approved a settlement yesterday of a lawsuit that accused police of harassing black people for decades.

The five-year agreement requires police and residents to work together to reduce crime and ease tensions.

"The ultimate interest of the plaintiff class is truly the same as police officers: assuring efficient and effective policing for all citizens, regardless of race, in an atmosphere of mutual respect," U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott said.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2001. Three weeks later, a white police officer shot and killed a black man who was fleeing officers. The shooting sparked three days of rioting.

The settlement was negotiated by Cincinnati, its police union and the black activists and civil libertarians who sued the city.


OREGON

Firefighters make progress against blaze

O'BRIEN Firefighters said they were making good progress corralling a 240,000-acre blaze with a 200-mile containment line.

Authorities set small fires to steal fuel from the main fire, located in the Siskiyou National Forest in southwestern Oregon, said Tom Valluzzi, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman.

The fire was one to two miles from a separate 41,000-acre blaze Sunday, and fire officials expect the two blazes to merge in the next few days.

"We expect them to, and it's OK if they do," said Mike Ferris, Forest Service spokesman. "We've been treating them like one fire already."


PENNSYLVANIA

Ozzy-loving miner had good timing

PITTSBURGH A miner who didn't make the trip underground that left nine of his colleagues trapped for 77 hours thanks his love of rock and roll.

Roger Shaffer, 22, was at Ozzfest 2002, heavy-metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne's summer concert tour, on the day the nine miners became trapped after breaking through to an adjacent, flooded mine. The miners were stuck in a cramped and flooded shaft at the Quecreek Mine for 77 hours before they were rescued.

Mr. Shaffer, an apprentice miner, had used one of his few vacation days to go to the July 24 concert, which had been rescheduled because Mr. Osbourne's wife, Sharon Osbourne, had cancer surgery.


RHODE ISLAND

Deputy faces trial in assault on prisoner

PROVIDENCE A Providence County deputy sheriff faces trial next month for purportedly fracturing a prisoner's jaw and crushing two of the man's fingers under the heel of his boot.

Charles Scherza, 31, was indicted on two felony assault charges and has been released on $10,000 bail.


SOUTH CAROLINA

Turner facing court battle over land

COLUMBIA State Sen. Darrell Jackson and the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People want to help St. Helena Island residents win their land dispute with media mogul Ted Turner.

Mr. Turner sued to maintain ownership of land, which is claimed by the area's blacks, known as Gullahs. Mr. Jackson said the land is significant to black history.


TENNESSEE

Fourteen arrested at nuclear plant

OAK RIDGE Fourteen protesters were arrested at an annual demonstration outside the Y-12 nuclear plant to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.

One person was charged with federal trespassing and the other 13 with state misdemeanor charges of blocking a road and refusing police commands to move.

An estimated 550 demonstrators participated Sunday in the protest organized by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance.

Y-12 is a semiannual protest target for groups commemorating the Hiroshima bombing, because the plant produces uranium used to fuel bombs like the one dropped on Hiroshima.


TEXAS

EPA ready to dig up contaminated soil

EL PASO Federal environmental officials plan to haul away topsoil from 45 west El Paso yards with potentially dangerous levels of lead and arsenic, and plan to check 1,000 other locations for potential contamination.

The Environmental Protection Agency hopes to determine how many areas are contaminated by the end of this month, EPA spokesman David Bary said.

The EPA has said an Asarco plant, a 100-year-old copper smelter, may have been responsible for the contamination. It asked the company to conduct sampling, but the company refused.

Asarco said it was involved in a process, started in 1999 and approved by the EPA, to test for contamination and potential threats.

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