- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2002

CALIFORNIA
Actor climbs tree to fight road plan
SANTA CLARITA Actor-activist Ed Begley Jr. overcame his fear of heights and scaled an ancient oak tree in an effort to keep it from being cut down for a road-widening project.
Mr. Begley joined John Quigley, an environmental activist who had spent 44 days in the branches.
"I'm not a climber," the actor said over the weekend. "I'm not good with heights, but it was very important so I put that aside and just climbed on up."

LOUISIANA
Hundreds ill on cruise ship
NEW ORLEANS More than 200 guests on the cruise ship Carnival Conquest reported symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness on a voyage that ended yesterday, Carnival Cruise Lines said.
The company said it was treating the illness as a Norwalk-like virus, the same type of illness that has sickened hundreds of passengers on other cruise ships in recent months.
Carnival Corp. said it was working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to determine the cause.

FLORIDA
Governor to fight ban on boat docks
FORT MYERS Gov. Jeb Bush said he would fight a proposed ban on new boat docks in parts of Florida because the plan, meant to protect endangered manatees, would mean millions of dollars in economic losses.
The federal regulations were proposed to settle a lawsuit by the Save the Manatee Club and other environmental groups accusing the government of not protecting the aquatic mammals. The rules can still be revised before they would go into effect in May.
Mr. Bush told several hundred business and community leaders last week that he would join a lawsuit if necessary to fight the proposed regulations.
"The focus needs to be on protection of manatees, not on creating economic hardships for an entire region," Mr. Bush said.

MASSACHUSETTS
Hotel magnate seeks to save Thoreau home
BOSTON A hotel magnate wants to save the deteriorating birthplace of author Henry David Thoreau near Walden Pond.
Donald Saunders, co-owner of the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, offered to donate more than $1 million and establish a nonprofit trust to fix crumbling walls and ceilings, and make other repairs at the Concord home. A portion would be used to staff the house as a museum.
"It's a tragedy that this historic Thoreau home is threatened. I would be honored to be part of its restoration," the Saturday editions of Boston Globe quoted him as saying.
The town of Concord, about 15 miles west of Boston, bought the 1730s farmhouse after the death of its last occupant, in 1997, to prevent a developer from building on the 20-acre parcel.

MICHIGAN
Polka celebrity dies at 70
FRANKENMUTH Marvin O. Herzog, who traveled the world with his Bavarian Polka Band for 58 years, died last week of pancreatic cancer. He was 70.
Mr. Herzog was a polka celebrity who regularly booked 170 appearances a year. He and his band would travel more than 75,000 miles a year in a converted Greyhound bus.
For years, he was the star and co-sponsor of Frankenmuth's Summer Music Fest, which drew about 25,000 visitors annually to the town known for its Bavarian events and shopping.
Born in Frankenmuth, Mr. Herzog lived there his entire life. He quit his job at Star of the West Milling in 1973 to concentrate full-time on polka music. He recorded 32 albums, including his "Schnitzelbank" and "Octoberfest" records in German, as well as Polish, Italian and English polkas. He had a radio show and was co-host of a television show.

MONTANA
Scientist's cases under review
BILLINGS In court on that day, Jimmy Ray Bromgard couldn't believe what he was hearing.
On the witness stand, a forensic expert told jurors that hairs found in the bedroom of an 8-year-old rape victim matched those of Mr. Bromgard. The chance that they belonged to someone else, the expert said, was less than 1 in 10,000.
For the next 15 years, Mr. Bromgard sat in prison knowing the expert was wrong. In October he was finally freed after DNA evidence proved he was innocent.
The expert is Arnold Melnikoff, a former director and 19-year veteran of Montana's state crime lab.
Mr. Bromgard's exoneration has prompted a call for an audit of other cases Mr. Melnikoff was involved in, in both Montana and Washington state, where he now works.

NEBRASKA
Celebrity visit brings attention to cause
LINCOLN A visit by rock band U2's Bono and actress Ashley Judd hasn't raised much money for a Lincoln organization that advocates for AIDS-stricken children in Africa, but it has brought attention to the cause.
Bono and Miss Judd appeared Dec. 1 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Lied Center. Since that visit, the Lincoln-based Save Sub-Saharan Orphans said that it has received $406 in new donations.
Still, organization President Nelson Okuku Miruka has said that the visit on World AIDS Day was a success because it called attention to his organization, which hopes to build a $100,000 orphanage in Kenya.

NEVADA
Brothel auction brings in $610,000
RENO The state's first legal brothel was packed again with customers laying out the cash, but this time the money was going for the ornaments: nude paintings, a bed from the Jungle Room and other gaudy remnants of the shuttered Mustang Ranch.
More than 250 people crowded into the ranch parlor Saturday for a government auction of much of fugitive brothel boss Joe Conforte's property.
The 104-room ranch was forfeited to the government in 1999 after the brothel's parent companies and manager were convicted in a federal fraud and racketeering trial. The women who worked there were evicted, and the brothel was padlocked.
Three years later, the ranch furnishings, including beds and matchbooks, and four pieces of Conforte real estate in the Reno area, brought $610,000 in auction proceeds Saturday to help cover law-enforcement costs, said Internal Revenue Service spokesman Michael Hickey.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Bishop says he's haunted by scandal
MANCHESTER Bishop John McCormack told parishioners yesterday that he is haunted by his part in the church sex scandal and for the first time apparently questioned whether it could affect his future as leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester.
"These days my past haunts my present and clouds my future with you in New Hampshire," he said at the opening of Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral.
Bishop McCormack, who became bishop of New Hampshire in 1998, has been dogged for nearly a year by accusations that he did not protect children from sexually abusive priests while he served in the Archdiocese of Boston as a top deputy to Cardinal Bernard Law from 1984 to 1994. Mr. Law resigned as archbishop Friday.
NEW JERSEY
University removes name of donor from center
SOUTH ORANGE The name of disgraced securities dealer Robert E. Brennan, who is imprisoned for money laundering and hiding $4.5 million from bankruptcy creditors, is no longer on Seton Hall University's recreation center.
His name was removed last week, after the Board of Regents adopted a policy that allows for donors' names to be taken off buildings, chairs or programs, the school said.
Mr. Brennan was chairman of the regents board until 1995, when his financial empire collapsed after a judge found that he had masterminded a "massive and continuing fraud" on his customers.

NEW YORK
Health problems linger from 9/11, study says
NEW YORK Fifteen months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, more than half the 2,500 rescue workers and volunteers whose health was affected are still suffering serious problems.
A federally funded study by doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center has found more than 50 percent have persistent upper respiratory inflammation, and at least one in four have abnormal breathing consistent with lower respiratory disease.
The levels are triple those found in the general population.
"These rates of abnormality are striking a year and three months after the event," study leader and occupational health specialist Stephen Levin told the New York Daily News yesterday.

TENNESSEE
Library program goes to Indian communities
PIGEON FORGE Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program has turned a new page, welcoming hundreds of American Indian youngsters.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs partnered with Parents as Teachers and the National Center for Family Literacy to pay $27 per child to expand the program to 92 American Indian communities.
Imagination Library sends age-appropriate hardcover books for free to preschool children in 183 communities in 25 states every month.

WEST VIRGINIA
Residents fume about pipeline route
SPEEDWAY An employee of a Dominion Resources Inc. subsidiary apologized last week for not meeting with angry West Virginia residents about the path of a proposed natural-gas pipeline that would run from West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina.
About 40 residents in a Speedway, W.Va., church heard an apology from Romana Kanouff, a land agent for Dominion Transmission, for waiting so long to hold the utility's first meeting in Mercer County about the proposed Greenbrier Pipeline.
Several residents said Dominion's proposed route would cut through choice portions of their land and devalue their property.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is reviewing the pipeline proposal.

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