- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 26, 2002

CALIFORNIA
Actor files libel lawsuit
SAN FRANCISCO - Actor Clint Eastwood filed a $10 million libel suit Tuesday against the author and publisher of an unauthorized biography, which he says portrays him as an atheist and wife-abuser.
The federal lawsuit accuses St. Martin's Press and author Patrick McGilligan of lying about Mr. Eastwood and "setting out intentionally to destroy [his] reputation."
"The book is riddled with false statements," said Marshall Grossman, Mr. Eastwood's attorney.
Mr. McGilligan stood by the book, "Clint: The Life and Legend." The author said he was upset, but not surprised by the suit.
"He has sued people religiously," Mr. McGilligan said Tuesday. "He's made a career of suppressing dissidence."

INDIANA
Letterman thanks officials for alley name
MUNCIE - David Letterman has sent city officials a note of thanks for naming a downtown alley after him.
City officials decided last month to name the alley after the "Late Show" host, who is a Ball State University graduate.
The idea to name the passageway "Dave's Alley" came after Mr. Letterman asked Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson to rename Interstate 465, the highway that encircles the city, the David Letterman Expressway in October.
Mayor Dan Canan recently received a note from Mr. Letterman, thanking the people of Muncie for the honor.
"I couldn't be more proud to have an alley bearing my name," Mr. Letterman wrote.
The alley is near a bar and a parking lot and between a comedy club and United American Appraisal. It was dedicated Dec. 5.

ALASKA
Tribes say state mistreats children
ANCHORAGE Two native tribes have accused the state of widespread violations of state and federal laws regarding the care of children who are taken from their parents because of abuse or neglect.
In a lawsuit, the Ekwok and Curyung tribes contend the state fails to find safe and appropriate homes for children who are tribal members and are taken into state custody. The suit was filed Dec. 17 in Dillingham Superior Court.
Ekwok is a village of about 130 people 43 miles northeast of Dillingham. Curyung, with about 1,400 members, is the federally recognized tribe in Dillingham, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
Native children are being separated from their families, their communities and their culture, said tribal leaders and lawyers for Alaska Legal Services Corp., which filed the suit.
The lawsuit asserts that the state Division of Family and Youth Services often fails to notify the tribes when it takes custody of a young tribal member, even though the tribe could help the state find a good home.

DELAWARE
Students plan trip to Antarctica
NEWARK About a dozen students from the University of Delaware will travel next month to Antarctica to photograph the harsh environment and relay the pictures over the Internet.
Professor Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN correspondent, described the three-week trip as a once-in-a-lifetime chance for students to research and photograph a place few people have ever seen. He's leading the group along with photojournalism professor Jon Cox.
"This is a great opportunity. I never thought I'd get to go to Antarctica," said student Bryan Townsend, 21. "This is something I'll tell my kids about."
The group of 16 students, 13 from the University of Delaware, will leave Jan. 4 for Buenos Aires, where they will establish a mobile digital publishing classroom at the University of Palermo.
The team will spend 10 days getting to Antarctica and the Shetland Islands on the Peregrine Mariner, a Russian research vessel.

FLORIDA
Three plead guilty in theft of moon rocks
ORLANDO Three student employees at the Johnson Space Center in Houston have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to steal moon rocks collected by Apollo astronauts.
Tiffany Fowler, Thad Roberts and Shae Saur pleaded guilty in federal court in Orlando last week to conspiracy to commit theft and interstate transportation of stolen property.
Undercover FBI agents arrested Roberts, 25; Fowler, 22; and a fourth defendant, Gordon McWhorter, 26, in Orlando in July. Saur, 19, was arrested in Houston the same day. The student workers were fired after the arrests.
Mr. McWhorter, a college friend of Roberts, is scheduled for trial in February.
Investigators say the group placed an ad in May on the Web site of the Mineralogy Club of Antwerp, Belgium, offering to sell "priceless moon rocks" collected by Apollo astronauts in 1969 and the early 1970s for $1,000 to $5,000 a gram.
Two months later, a safe containing moon rocks from every Apollo mission was discovered missing from the space center. Officials said the inventory offered by the suspects came from the safe.

KENTUCKY
City worker accused of embezzlement
BURLINGTON A city finance director was accused of embezzling more than $1.2 million to support his estranged wife and his girlfriend.
The 18 felony charges against Ronald J. Epling cover purported thefts since January. Prosecutors told a judge Monday that they believe he had been stealing from the Cincinnati suburb of Florence since he was hired 15 years ago.
Irregularities involving city funds were discovered during an annual audit earlier this month.
Mr. Epling, 51, was suspended from his job without pay and was being held in lieu of $1 million cash bond. He pleaded not guilty to the first charge filed and hasn't entered pleas on the other 17. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years if convicted on all counts.
Kentucky State Police Detective Don Mullikin testified at a preliminary hearing Monday that Mr. Epling confessed to the thefts and estimated the amount he stole at $1 million to $2 million.

MAINE
Court strikes down drug discounts
PORTLAND A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down a state program that provides prescription-drug discounts to more than 110,000 low- and moderate-income residents.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Healthy Maine Prescriptions program, like a similar measure struck down in Vermont, illegally expanded the Medicaid program.
The program, which began in June 2001, forces drug makers to provide prescriptions at Medicaid prices to Maine residents who earn up to three times the federal poverty level.
The pharmaceutical industry had challenged the program.
The ruling "is a victory for Medicaid patients in Maine and everywhere because their access to needed medicines won't be limited by bureaucrats putting budget needs over patient care," said Bruce Lott, a spokesman for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

MASSACHUSETTS
F. Lee Bailey has new job
BOSTON F. Lee Bailey has a new job as he fights for the right to practice law in his home state of Massachusetts.
Mr. Bailey, 69, has been hired by IMPAC Control Systems Inc., based in Litchfield, Conn., to be its chairman. The firm, which advises clients on improving management productivity, hired him on Dec. 12.
Mr. Bailey, who is best known for defending high-profile clients, asked the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this month for a new hearing to restore his law license.
Massachusetts' highest court revoked his license this year after he was charged with mishandling funds in Florida. The court was expected to issue a decision by April.

MICHIGAN
Police arrest three in killing of five
LIVONIA Police arrested three suspects in the execution-style slayings of five family members during an apparent robbery at their suburban Detroit home.
Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Duggan was expected to decide today what charges to bring after the arrests, announced late Tuesday. He said he was "very confident that the Livonia police have the people that are responsible for these murders in custody."
Suburban Detroit jeweler Marco Pesce, 38; his mother, Maria Vergati, 68, who was visiting from Italy; and Mr. Pesce's three children, Melissa, 6, Sabrina, 9, and Carlo, 12, were gunned down in Mr. Pesce's home Saturday.
Police said the slayings took place between 4 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Saturday. They said the house had been ransacked.

MISSOURI
Anti-abuse activist makes magazine list
ST. LOUIS A vocal advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse said he's almost embarrassed about joining Britney Spears and Saddam Hussein as one of People Magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People."
But David Clohessy said making the magazine's 2002 list is another confirmation that members and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church have finally started to face the problem.
"It's a testimony to the fact that so many courageous survivors have come forward this year and finally exposed the depth of this problem in the church," said Mr. Clohessy, 46, national director of SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which is based in St. Louis.
Pop stars including Jennifer Lopez and Miss Spears, and world figures such as President Bush and Saddam, also made the magazine's annual list, which appears in its Dec. 30 issue.


NEVADA
Guggenheim Las Vegas to go dark
LAS VEGAS The 15-month-old Guggenheim Las Vegas museum will close its doors Jan. 5, a reflection of funding troubles at its parent museum in New York.
"They are going to start changing out the art and then beyond that point, the Venetian and Guggenheim are exploring a multitude of options," Kurt Ouchida, spokesman for the Venetian hotel and casino, where the museum is located, said Tuesday.
The Guggenheim museum in Las Vegas is funded and controlled by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, which earlier this year cut its hours and eliminated some administrative positions.
Museum officials in New York say attendance at the museum there is down 25 percent this year, and corporate sponsorship has fallen. As a result, the budget is expected to be cut by about $6 million next year. Also, the museum postponed two major exhibits until 2003.
Mr. Ouchida declined to say if or when the Las Vegas museum would host another exhibit.
The Guggenheim Las Vegas opened in September 2001 with "The Art of the Motorcycle" and is now displaying a 39-painting exhibit called "Art Through the Ages."

NEW JERSEY
Philanthropist offers stringed-instruments
NEWARK Former book publisher and philanthropist Herbert Axelrod has offered to sell his rare collection of Italian stringed instruments to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for a lower and lower price.
Mr. Axelrod told the orchestra that for every dollar it raises, he will reduce by two dollars the $25 million price tag he originally placed on the instruments.
The collection, which includes 12 Stradivarius and three Guarneri del Gesu violins, is valued at $50 million. It is already on loan to the orchestra, which has been working to raise the money since April.
Mr. Axelrod told the Star-Ledger of Newark that his latest offer is an attempt to close the deal so he can settle his finances for the year.

NEW YORK
Homeless people give Christmas check to cop
NEW YORK A police officer got a Christmas gift of $3,000 from homeless people who wanted to thank him for standing up for them.
Officer Eduardo Delacruz was suspended for 30 days without pay last month after he refused a sergeant's order to arrest a homeless man found sleeping in a parking garage.
In gratitude, organizations for the homeless put together the fund for the 37-year-old officer, his wife and their five children. Homeless people also contributed change scrounged from passers-by, money earned from recycling cans and bottles, and even portions of their welfare checks.
"We just wanted to thank him by contributing however we could," said Joe Bostic, one of 30 former and current homeless men and women who announced the gift. "And a lot of us gave quarters, nickels and dimes."
According to police, Officer Delacruz told his superiors in the department's Homeless Outreach Unit that he would not arrest a homeless man for trespassing on Nov. 22 because the man had nowhere else to go.
The man was arrested by another officer and pleaded guilty to trespassing.

NORTH CAROLINA
Banks take new steps to protect themselves
RALEIGH The old strategy most North Carolina banks employed to deal with heists was simple: Hand over the cash and let law enforcement take it from there.
But now more banks in the state are taking active measures to stop robberies, including armed guards that scare away crooks and bullet-resistant glass that protects tellers.
The steps appear to be working. Bank robberies have dropped from 380 in 2001 the highest in a decade to 226 through November of this year.
In the past few years, the FBI has placed more emphasis on drug and violent-crime investigations and, since September 2001, preventing acts of terrorism.
In North Carolina the country's second-largest banking center the agency cut the number of agents assigned to finding bank robbers from as many as 15 several years ago to just eight today, agent Victor O'Korn said.

PENNSYLVANIA
Pregnant doll pulled from Wal-Mart shelves
PHILADELPHIA She's Barbie's oldest friend, happily married and visibly pregnant which, some parents complain, makes her unfit for children.
The pregnant version of Midge, which pops out a curled-up baby when her belly, attached by a magnet, is opened, has been pulled from Wal-Mart shelves across the country after complaints from customers, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.
"It was just that customers had a concern about having a pregnant doll," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Cynthia Illick said.
She said the retailer would no longer sell the "Happy Family" set, which included pregnant Midge, her husband and their 3-year-old son.
Miss Illick said the decision was made in mid-December. "What we try to do is listen to what our customers want," she said.
Midge was introduced in 1963, the first of a slew of friends and family members for Barbie, who first appeared four years earlier and has been one of the world's top-selling dolls ever since.

TENNESSEE
Traffic violator sings his way out of fine
COLUMBIA Clifford Jones thought he'd be paying up when he went to traffic court last week.
Instead, he sang his way out of a fine.
He was among about 55 traffic violators who were given the opportunity to avoid a ticket by caroling.
"I'm a little shy, but not about saving a dollar. It was a pretty good Christmas present," said Mr. Jones, who sang "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
City Judge Tom DuBois followed a three-year tradition on the last court date before Christmas. Violators who sang a carol and donated five canned goods to the Harvest Food Share had their tickets dismissed with no points put on their driving records.

TEXAS
Three boys dead in house fire
AUSTIN Two brothers, ages 8 and 13, and a 12-year-old neighbor died in a house fire early Tuesday.
The boys' father suffered smoke inhalation while trying to rescue them and was hospitalized in critical condition. The man's 9-year-old son escaped unharmed, authorities said.
The boys who died identified as Cole LaGrone; his older brother, Frank; and John Overbee had been upstairs in the house when the fire erupted. Paul LaGrone, 41, and his surviving son had been downstairs.
The fire, which gutted the limestone-and-wood home and caused part of the roof to collapse, broke out about 4 a.m. and was put out 20 minutes after firefighters arrived.
Paul LaGrone had climbed a ladder outside the house and severely cut his arm while breaking a second-story window, Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Baum said.
Fire officials said the blaze was caused by an electrical malfunction.

WISCONSIN
Madison man has Christmas luck
MADISON For Michael Buckalew and his employees, Santa Claus came in the form of a retired police detective.
Belle Stephenson found an envelope on a downtown street Saturday containing $2,000 money that Mr. Buckalew wanted to use to pay for Christmas bonuses and presents for his 12 employees.
Mr. Buckalew tore apart his car and retraced his steps in vain after realizing he had lost the cash. He didn't bother calling the police because he figured no one would return the money. Instead, he headed to his favorite bar to console himself.
Miss Stephenson, meanwhile, had spied the bank envelope in the gutter. She turned it over the police department. The police notified newspapers and broadcast stations about the found money.

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