- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 11, 2002

ALABAMA

Family reports racial slurs

MOBILE A Mobile County family returned home from vacation to find racial slurs and epithets spray-painted in their yard.

Chris and Shannon Wilson and their five children are the only black family living in the neighborhood in the Eight Mile area near Prichard.

The slurs included the letters KKK and "whitepride" was written as one word.

Police have asked the FBI to investigate.


ALASKA

Body recovered from Mount McKinley

DENALI NATIONAL PARK The body of a 61-year-old Canadian climber who died on Mount McKinley has been recovered, the National Park Service said.

Michael Heck is the first person to die on McKinley in four years. The Ontario resident fell 1,000 feet to his death down an icy slope June 30 as he descended from 18,200-foot Denali Pass.

Rangers said they don't know exactly what caused the fall because Mr. Heck was climbing alone.


COLORADO

Forest Service announces rehab plan

CASTLE ROCK Federal workers plan to lend nature a hand in healing the blackened moonscape left behind by Colorado's largest wildfire.

Small planes will spread fast-growing rye and barley seed on the barren hills where the wildfire burned 138,000 acres. The $24.8 million plan is designed to prevent erosion in the area southwest of Denver.

Forest Service officials hope the grasses will grow fast enough to prevent rain from washing away the soil. On flatter surfaces, all-terrain vehicles will rake the soil and plant seeds that should sprout a week after planting.


FLORIDA

NASA checking cracks in shuttle fuel lines

CAPE CANAVERAL NASA's newest shuttle was diagnosed yesterday as having the same potentially dangerous problem as the rest of the fleet: cracked fuel lines.

The news came as no surprise to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which already has delayed at least one flight and, despite weeks of exhaustive work, has no clear picture as to how or when the cracks occurred.

As of yesterday afternoon, two cracks had been discovered in the metal liners of hydrogen-fuel lines inside Endeavour, the last of the four shuttles to be examined. The inspection was expected to continue into today.

"We've got it on the other three, so we're not necessarily surprised to see that Endeavour has cracks, too," said NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham.


GEORGIA

White supremacists to march through town

GAINESVILLE A group of white supremacists said yesterday its members and sympathizers would march through this Georgia town this weekend to protest an influx of Hispanic immigrants in the area.

The National Alliance, a West Virginia-based group that advocates the establishment of all-white "living areas" in the United States and other Western nations, said the march Saturday would focus attention on the links between illegal immigration and gang-related crime in the Gainesville area.

About 30 percent of Gainesville's population of 27,242 is Hispanic, according to the 2000 census.

Racial tensions in the town, located about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, have risen in the past year after a number of drug-related crimes blamed on Mexican gangs.


ILLINOIS

Judge puts halt on land purchase

WHEATON A judge on Tuesday ordered the city of Chicago to stop buying land for the proposed expansion of O'Hare International Airport.

Judge Hollis Webster granted the restraining order to expansion opponents, ruling that Chicago has not gone through the proper permit process allowing it to purchase land in Bensenville and Elk Grove Village.

Judge Webster said the city must obtain a state certificate under the Illinois Aeronautics Act before undertaking the project.


KANSAS

Shawnees file suit for acreage

LAWRENCE The Shawnee Tribe has filed suit in federal court claiming title to the former Sunflower Army ammunition plant in Johnson County.

An attorney representing the tribe, based in Miami, Okla., says the Shawnee have not ruled out building a casino on the property.

The lawsuit claims the Sunflower land is covered by a series of treaties signed in the 1800s between the federal government and the Cherokee tribe, to which the Shawnees belong.


MASSACHUSETTS

Students shared needle in science class

NEW BEDFORD Two dozen junior high school students apparently shared a needle provided by their diabetic teacher to draw blood samples during a science class last year, school officials said.

In a May 2001 class at Keith Junior High School, teacher Kevin D. Cadieux loaded a new needle into his lancet and asked for volunteers to have their blood drawn for a microscope slide, school committee attorney Walter R. Smith told the Standard-Times. About 24 seventh-graders used it, wiping the needle with alcohol between uses, Mr. Smith said.

The New Bedford school committee said it would pay for HIV and hepatitis testing for 97 students, and the board recommended the tests in letters sent to parents Tuesday.

Medical officials say the chances of disease transmission were minuscule.


MICHIGAN

Senate approves cigarette-tax increase

LANSING Michigan smokers will pay 50 cents more for a pack of cigarettes beginning next month under a bill approved Tuesday by the state Senate.

The measure, approved 20-16, was expected to be signed by Gov. John Engler.

The legislation would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 75 cents to $1.25 beginning Aug. 1, giving Michigan the third-highest cigarette tax in the country behind New York and Washington states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


MINNESOTA

Officials: Yard sign has to go

MOORHEAD Jan Beimdiek considers her yard sign, which says her son was murdered, to be a warning.

But to the Moorhead Board of Adjustments, it's a noncommercial opinion sign far larger than regulation size.

So the red, white and blue sign, which has stood in the corner of the Beimdieks' yard for the past four years, has to go, the Board of Adjustment decided unanimously Tuesday.

The sign testifies to Bill and Jan Beimdiek's belief that their son was murdered, not killed in an accident as a government investigation concluded.

Scott Beimdiek was a 21-year-old hospital corpsman in Okinawa when his nude body was discovered hanging in his barracks room in 1993. The government ruled he died accidentally of autoerotic asphyxia death in the process of cutting off oxygen for a heightened sexual experience.


MISSOURI

Businessmen to lecture on corporate fraud

KANSAS CITY A federal judge has sentenced two businessmen to lecture student groups on the evils of financial fraud as part of a plea agreement.

The lectures are part of the 1,000 hours of community service the men must perform, along with five years' probation imposed Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright.

"Corporate fraud is a terrible problem," Judge Wright told the men. "There is nothing that will undermine the capitalist system quicker than participating in cooking the books and fraud."

Richard K. Halford, 67, and Albert F. Reitz, 50, pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy in a land scheme to offer $1.5 million in bribes to officials in Costa Rica.


MONTANA

County appeals voting change

CHINOOK Blaine County officials said they'll appeal a federal judge's ruling that the county's "at-large" system for electing commissioners discriminates against American Indians.

The county had complied with a judge's order to come up with a new election system, including one district with 90 percent Indian voters. But county leaders say they still disagree with the judge's ruling and intend to fight it.


NEVADA

Union reaches strike-ending pact

LAS VEGAS Workers at the city's oldest hotel-casino ended their walkout eight days after negotiations produced new contracts for most other downtown hotels.

Cocktail waitresses, bartenders, bellmen and food-service workers at the Golden Gate Hotel reached an agreement on a five-year pact that gives about the same $2.20-per-hour raise as their counterparts at other off-Strip hotels.

Union members were to return to work today.

The Golden Gate, founded in 1906, was the last of 35 Las Vegas Strip and downtown casinos to enter new contracts with Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 since April.


NEW MEXICO

Priests' retreat to close in December

JEMEZ SPRINGS A center for Roman Catholic priests will close, eight years after a treatment program for pedophile clergy ended there amid a sexual-abuse scandal.

The 7-acre complex in the Jemez Mountains northwest of Albuquerque has been used for general retreats since the treatment program closed in 1994, and those will continue until December.

"It's been costing us a lot of money to subsidize it," the Rev. Ray Gunzel, the center's director, said Tuesday.

Troubled priests from other states were sent to the center in the 1960s and 1970s. After treatment, an unknown number of pedophiles were dispatched to serve in New Mexico parishes, Father Gunzel said.


NEW YORK

9/11 tape could hold clues to firemen's deaths

NEW YORK Ten months after the September 11 attacks that left 343 firefighters dead, and five months after fire officials undertook a study of just what happened, the fire department has yet to review a potentially critical trove of information: a tape of radio transmissions among firefighters at the World Trade Center that morning.

Officials with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said they found the tape at ground zero last January or February and offered it to the fire department.

For a variety of reasons, however, the two agencies have never agreed to terms on sharing the tape, and so fire officials have to this day never listened to the record of conversations between the commanders and firefighters who were lost in the twin collapses.

The tape, in the end, may provide answers to some of the lingering questions about what happened to fire companies that perished after ascending the towers.


NORTH CAROLINA

Confederate battle flag comes home

RALEIGH The tattered and bloodstained Confederate battle flag of the 5th Regiment N.C. State Troops has come home after nearly 140 years.

The 48-inch silk flag now hangs in the N.C. Museum of History among swords, frock coats and pistols used by the regiment. It had been housed in a museum in Arkansas since 1905, where it had been misidentified as a flag of an Arkansas infantry unit until a historian caught the error.

In a ceremony Tuesday at the N.C. Museum of History, the flag was presented to the state by a curator from Arkansas.

Because of a shortage of crimson silk during the war, the flag was made from pink silk.


NORTH DAKOTA

Companies surviving in smaller towns

FARGO Some North Dakota businesses are surviving in towns smaller than what they needed 20 years ago, a shift that may indicate changing lifestyles, a North Dakota State University economist says.

Economist Larry Leistritz and NDSU researcher Randal Coon examined how large a town needs to be for different retail businesses to survive in them. Their report on "threshold populations," released this month, will be sent to extension agents in counties across the state, who could use the information when recruiting businesses, Mr. Leistritz said.

Four types of businesses restaurants, bars, farm-supply stores and drugstores saw their threshold population drop from 1980 to 2000, the researchers said.


OHIO

Alcoholic beverages legalized in Akron suburb

TALLMADGE Serving alcohol in restaurants or bars in this Akron suburb became legal for the first time since 1920.

Last year, residents voted to allow the selling of alcohol to try to attract chain restaurants that depend on liquor sales.

After Prohibition ended, the city decided to stay dry partly to discourage a proliferation of bars, said Mayor Christopher Grimm.


PENNSYLVANIA

Prosecutors drop charges in massacre

PHILADELPHIA Prosecutors dropped all charges yesterday against four men accused in a crack-house massacre that killed seven, but left themselves the option of rearresting the men later.

After weeks of delays amid reports that the wrong men were in custody, prosecutors announced this week that they needed more time to investigate new evidence that surfaced in a separate case.

Defense attorneys say police ignored another man's confession in the Dec. 28, 2000, shootings that also left three injured.


SOUTH CAROLINA

Court asked to bar plutonium shipments

ABINGDON Lawyers for South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges told an appeals court yesterday that the federal government should have conducted more environmental studies before targeting his state for plutonium storage.

Mr. Hodges' attorney, William L. Want, said the Energy Department didn't know enough about the Savannah River site's long-term storage capacity before it decided in April to store weapons-grade plutonium there indefinitely.

The panel did not rule after the two-hour hearing.

The Energy Department plans to transfer 6 metric tons of plutonium from the former Rocky Flats nuclear facility near Denver to the Aiken, S.C., site.


SOUTH DAKOTA

Doctors to operate on Colombian boy

SIOUX FALLS Juan David Cabezas scoots across the floor on his knees as fast as a jitterbug.

Because he was born with hereditary birth defects that left his lower legs unusable, that's how the 3-year-old taught himself to get around.

His parents, Herman and Anna, have been told that Juan's left leg probably will have to be amputated below the knee, but they also hold out hope that surgery on his right leg will give their son the ability to walk.

"We are so happy what everyone has done for us. We don't have the words to express our gratitude," Herman Cabezas told the Argus-Leader through an interpreter.

Through the efforts of many, led by Dr. Scott Ecklund of Sioux Falls, young Juan, a native of Colombia, is in the city to undergo surgery intended to reconstruct his right leg so he can walk.


VERMONT

Candidate campaigns with bull-moose mascot

MONTPELIER Anthony Pollina, the Progressive Party's candidate for lieutenant governor, is traveling the state with a mascot in a moose suit.

The state party adopted the moose as its symbol. Mr. Pollina says party members feel some kinship with early 20th-century Bull Moose politicians, most famously Teddy Roosevelt.

"It's just a way to connect. People love moose," said Chris Pearson, Mr. Pollina's campaign manager.


WYOMING

Prison escapee hid in garbage bags

RAWLINS An inmate who escaped from the state penitentiary and reportedly went on a crime spree in Nebraska before being recaptured had apparently hid in garbage bags that were loaded onto a truck that left the prison, an investigation showed.

A report of the Corrections Department's probe into the June 5 escape of Alfred Morrill from the prison kitchen was released Tuesday.

The report concluded that the prison kitchen supervising officer had violated a number of procedures, including taking a prisoner's word that Morrill was present in another part of the penitentiary.


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