- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2002


Plant stinks up the joint

ENCINITAS Visitors say it smells like rotten crabs, eggs left in the sun or roadkill. To greenhouse owners, it's the sweet smell of success.

The 4½-foot-tall titan arum is drawing crowds to Quail Botanical Gardens curious to smell the odor that gives the world's biggest and stinkiest flowering plant its unappetizing nickname the corpse flower.

"It's the worst thing I've ever smelled," said 9-year-old Todd Fritz, who squealed, dropped to his knees and writhed on the ground in mock agony when he caught a whiff.

Dennis Gulyas, a self-described admirer of bizarre things, said the odor reminded him of an unventilated high school gym locker.

Ken and Ruth Mitzner brought along a pair of respirators, just in case.


Fishermen to helprevive scallop industry

STONINGTON About 100 fishermen volunteers are working to rejuvenate a sagging scallop industry.

The Wild Scallop Enhancement Project aims to replicate techniques used in Japan by collecting tiny scallop larvae in fine-mesh bags that keep out predators. Fishermen release the scallops when they are larger and stand a better chance of survival.


Accused baby killer may be released

BUTLER A woman who pleaded guilty in the death of her sister's newborn baby that medical specialists later said might never have existed could be released in a deal offered by prosecutors, her attorney said Tuesday.

Dianne Tucker pleaded guilty in May 2001 to manslaughter.

Tucker was sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter. But medical evidence later showed her sister, Victoria Banks, who had told authorities while in jail on another charge that she was pregnant, could not have been pregnant because her fallopian tubes had been surgically cut in 1995 after the birth of her sixth child.


Athlete released after airport arrest

ENFIELD A world-class boomerang thrower arrested for losing her temper after she was stopped from bringing her boomerangs onto an airline flight was freed Tuesday with a warning that she stay out of trouble.

Betsylew Ross Miale-Gix, 43, of Brier, Wash., will have a clean record if she completes the three-month probation period.

Miss Miale-Gix, a lawyer, was arrested at Hartford's Bradley International Airport on June 30 after a security screener told her that her boomerangs had to be checked. She swore at a state trooper and was arrested on a breach-of-peace charge, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.


Student hacker gave herself A's

NEWARK A University of Delaware student broke into the school's computer system and gave herself passing grades in three courses, police said.

Darielle Insler, 22, was charged with changing her grades in a math and a science class from F's to A's. She also is accused of changing an incomplete grade to a passing one in an education class.

According to an affidavit filed by Officer Charles J. Wilson, Miss Insler called human resources employees at the school and requested a new password for each instructor, then logged into the system.


President's niece jailed in drug case

TALLAHASSEE Gov. Jeb Bush's 24-year-old daughter, Noelle, was jailed yesterday for not meeting the conditions of a court-ordered drug treatment plan.

According to jailhouse records, Miss Bush was sentenced to three days behind bars in Orlando for contempt of court.

Noelle Bush was arrested in January at a pharmacy drive-through window for reportedly trying to buy the anti-anxiety drug Xanax with a fraudulent prescription. She was admitted to a drug treatment center in February, with the chance that the charges would be dropped if she completed the program.

It was not immediately clear how she violated the conditions of the program. Her father, the brother of President Bush, sent an e-mail to reporters notifying them of his daughter's lapse.

"My family is saddened to share that our daughter Noelle has not abided by the conditions of her drug court treatment plan," the governor said.


Guitarist announces terminal cancer

ATHENS Widespread Panic guitarist and singer Michael "Mikey" Houser has announced in a message to fans, posted on the band's Web site, that he has terminal cancer.

"I want to assure all of you that all that can be done has been done, and I want to thank all of you who have contributed information, medicine, and so on," the 40-year-old wrote.

"I have hopes of playing again soon, although I can't say for sure when or where, and I hope to see you all there."


Panel recommends against school probation

HONOLULU A review committee recommended that an accrediting group reverse its decision to place the University of Hawaii's medical school on probation.

The review committee cited documentation submitted by the dean, Edwin Cadman, and his staff in defense of the school. The school's accreditation had been threatened primarily because of questions about its financial security, according to school officials.

The recommendation for probation was made in April. A hearing is planned Oct. 16 in Washington.


Handyman strangles two boys, hangs self

MICHIGAN CITY A handyman diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia who had done odd jobs for a family for a dozen years strangled two of the family's boys and then hanged himself, police said Tuesday.

David Carter, 39, who had apparently stopped taking medication to treat his illness several months earlier, strangled Kyle, 11, and Richard Piecuch, 15, before hanging himself, police said. The bodies were discovered Monday night in the family's basement.

The family was apparently unaware of the extent of Mr. Carter's illness that was first diagnosed in 1994, said police, who did not immediately offer a motive for the murders.


Four piranhas found in lakes

NEWTON At least four piranhas, flesh-eaters native to the Amazon, have been caught this month in lakes around Iowa, including one that weighed 3 pounds and was 16 inches long.

Jasper County Conservation Director Dennis Black said he believes the fish were dumped. He said piranhas can't survive long in Iowa waters because of the temperature and difference in water quality.


Officials alarmed by West Nile cases

NEW ORLEANS Health officials are keeping a close eye on the incidence of West Nile virus in Louisiana after four new cases were confirmed this week, bringing the number to seven this year.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed this week that a 34-year-old woman and three men, ages 79, 62 and 76, had the mosquito-borne virus.

Last week, state health officials reported that three persons, ages 53, 62 and 78, had the disease. The 78-year-old man was the nation's first human found to have the disease this year.


Boy's hearing returns, but dog disappears

LITCHFIELD Born deaf, Cody O'Connor has had a difficult time finding his niche. But last September, the 12-year-old's hearing kicked in at just the right time.

While raccoon hunting with his parents at a friend's house in Vining, Minn., he heard clearly the distinctive bark of Herbie, a raccoon-hunting hound that has become his new best friend.

Since then, Cody and Herbie have teamed up to win two coon-hunting competitions and have qualified for this month's national youth coon-hunting championships in Indiana, victories that Cody's family say have made the youngster the happiest they've seen him. But last week, while playing with Herbie in his 2-acre back yard, Cody left the dog alone for a second too long. Herbie jumped the fence and now he's gone.


Old Army munitions found in park

ST. LOUIS Fancy a stroll through northwestern Forest Park? Watch out for 85-year-old Army munitions that may still be live and lurking underfoot in that corner of the park where landscape crews are installing a golf course.

The Army Corps of Engineers issued a public warning Monday that active artillery shells may be scattered about after a World War I-era artillery shell was discovered there last week, the third unearthed in two months by landscape workers, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Wee beasts take big bite of crops

VERDIGRE Their numbers swelled by the drought, grasshoppers and Mormon crickets are ravaging crops and pastures across the West in what could be the biggest such infestation since World War II.

"They're even eating the paint off some of the houses," said Nebraska farmer Robert Larsen, who raises alfalfa, corn, soybeans and cattle on 1,600 acres where thousands upon thousands grasshoppers jump out of the way as he walks by in what looks like the parting of the sea.

A mild winter and hot, dry weather since the spring have sped up the maturation of some grasshopper species and allowed more of the insects and their eggs to survive the cold. The drought has also cut into the population of birds and rodents that prey on grasshoppers, and reduced the fungal diseases that normally keep the insects' numbers down.

The result: Mr. Larsen and other farmers in parts of Nebraska have counted 50 to 100 grasshoppers per square yard in their fields, compared with three or four during a typical year. Even worse, near Steamboat Springs, Colo., about 200 grasshoppers per square yard invaded rangeland in June, reaching about 1 million grasshoppers per acre.


Firefighters still slide down brass poles

CONCORD Firefighters at a handful of local departments still slide down a shiny brass pole to their trucks when a call comes in partly out of respect for tradition and partly because they say it's quicker than the stairs.

"If you get a call in the middle of the night, hop out of bed and run down the stairs, you've got a good chance of falling down and twisting your ankle," Mike Shastany, a Laconia firefighter, told the Monitor. "Using the pole is safer, if you do it right."

Laconia and Gilford still have functioning fire poles, but they are an exception to the rule. Over the years, many local departments got rid of their poles when they built new stations. Others have no need for a pole because they're volunteer departments and nobody sleeps at the station.

Lots of area fire stations are just one story tall, eliminating the need for a pole altogether.


Cost of recycling may skyrocket

WEST MILFORD Suddenly, it's costing the township a lot more to have recyclables picked up, and homeowners and merchants may face higher taxes or drastic changes in their recycling routines.

Officials are scrambling to find alternatives to an expensive contract renewal being proposed by Waste Management Co., its contracted hauler. In the meantime, the Township Council temporarily averted a cessation of service by agreeing on June 27 to a two-month contract at the higher rate, according to the Herald News and the Record.

The old contract ran out June 30, and the council is at an impasse with the hauler over a new long-term contract. If no deal is worked out by the time the temporary contract expires, officials said they will scrutinize alternatives such as making recycling a municipal operation or even ceasing recycling pickup service altogether.


Military jets escort plane to LaGuardia

NEW YORK Military jets escorted a jet to LaGuardia International Airport after a passenger became alarmed by a group of people passing notes, officials said.

About 15 minutes before American Trans Air Flight 204 was due to arrive from Chicago on Tuesday, a passenger told a flight attendant that seven others were engaged in "suspicious activity," passing notes and changing seats, Port Authority spokesman Alan Hicks said. The flight attendant notified the pilot, who alerted federal aviation authorities.

The seven passengers, who are from India, were released early yesterday, Port Authority officials said. They belonged to an Indian performance group and may have been rehearsing or discussing a performance when they attracted suspicion, their New York host, Chiru Vijanam, told WNBC-TV.


Help on the way for parched farmers

KNIGHTDALE At Fred Kirk's farm, the weeds are bigger than the cornstalks. The soybeans are a lost cause. And the tobacco is turning yellow.

This is what a years-long drought has done to farms all over. Farmers are asking for help, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Mr. Kirk got the attention of politicians this week. Gov. Michael F. Easley, a Democrat, and Rep. Bob Etheridge, North Carolina Democrat, visited his farm to see the drought's effects firsthand.

Statewide, many counties have lost more than 35 percent of their crops because of the drought. Losses are estimated at more than $170 million.


Two adults, two children die in house fire

WESTERLY A fast-moving fire burned through a two-story home early yesterday, killing four persons, two of them children, police said.

Neighbors said the victims were two young sisters, an adult step-brother and the step-brother's girlfriend. A man in a wheelchair, whom neighbors said was the girls' father, was rescued by neighbors and hospitalized. His condition was not immediately released.


Homeland patrol reports suspicious boats

CHARLESTON A volunteer boat patrol in Charleston Harbor passed its first test for homeland security.

A private boat captain reported seeing four 40-foot gunboats speeding toward Charleston on Monday. Federal, state and local agencies immediately investigated and found a Navy unit was in the area doing long-range navigation maneuvers.

The patrol started this month and includes harbor pilots, tugboat operators and other local mariners.


Boulder smashes flume for TVA generator

OCOEE A boulder as big as a truck smashed part of a flume that carries water from the Ocoee River to a Tennessee Valley Authority powerhouse.

While the flume is out of service, TVA will stop diverting water from the river to generate electricity, providing two more days of whitewater rafting a week and an economic boost for commercial rafting outfitters.

Engineers said it could be weeks before the rock is removed and repairs made.


Fighter hits house with inert bomb

An F-117 stealth fighter accidentally dropped three nonexplosive 25-pound training bombs over the Southwestern United States, hitting a house in one Texas town, an Air Force spokeswoman said yesterday.

No injuries were reported as a result of the error Tuesday, said Maj. Marisse Bradshaw, a spokeswoman for the Air Force's air combat command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.


'Rolling Requiem' planned to mark attacks

SEATTLE Dozens of choirs from across the world have signed up to perform Mozart's "Requiem" on September 11 as part of a rolling concert to honor those lost in the terror attacks.

So far, 30 choirs from Europe, Asia, Central America and the United States are scheduled to perform the piece and as many as 125 are considering participation in what organizers are calling the "Rolling Requiem," chairman Madeline Johnson said.

Each performance is set to begin at 8:46 a.m. the time of the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York starting at the international date line and moving westward into every time zone.


Expert discovers 'bootleg' house

RACINE An expert on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright said he can prove a 108-year-old house here is one of the renowned architect's bootleg works.

William Allin Storrer said the house was probably designed under the name Cecil Corwin while Mr. Wright moonlighted from his job at a Chicago architecture firm.

Mr. Wright, a Wisconsin native, also designed the sprawling SC Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower in Racine.

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