- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Evangelist insults mourners, dead man
LOXLEY An evangelist who was asked to sing at his wife's uncle's funeral claimed he had a revelation from God that led him to insult mourners and say that the dead man was damned.
Orlando Bethel said he spoke words that "the Lord revealed to me." Preaching over a microphone at the Greater Pine Grove Baptist Church, he told some 100 mourners they were "fornicators" and "whoremongers." He said the deceased, Lish Devan Taylor, had gone to hell.
The microphone was abruptly disconnected. Mr. Bethel then reached into a gym bag for what apparently was a bullhorn. Some thought he was reaching for a gun.

Climber falls to death on Mount McKinley
DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE A climber fell to his death early Sunday while descending Mount McKinley, the National Park Service said.
The fatality was the first on the 20,320-foot mountain this year, and the first since 1998. Mount McKinley is North America's highest mountain.
The Park Service was withholding the name of the climber until his family could be notified. Few details were immediately available.
The man, who was climbing solo, was descending from the 18,000-foot level on Denali Pass just after midnight when he fell approximately 1,000 feet.

Small town welcomes performer in ABC spat
GREELEY The folks at ABC might not have wanted him to play on the network during their July Fourth special, but the folks in Greeley certainly welcomed Toby Keith to the Island Grove arena.
Mr. Keith filled the arena Saturday night, setting a concert attendance record for the Greeley Stampede 14,004 persons, according to the Greeley Tribune.
Earlier in the month, Peter Jennings canceled Mr. Keith's scheduled performance on ABC's July Fourth special after objecting to the lyrics to the song "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue."

Death sentences increasing in Delaware
WILMINGTON The chance of being sentenced to death in Delaware increased dramatically after 1991, when the state changed its law so the judge, not the jury, had the final say on death-penalty issues.
The chances of being sentenced to death went from about 3 percent before 1991 to about 53 percent after 1991, lawyer Kevin J. O'Connell told the Wilmington News-Journal.
Mr. O'Connell, who has represented defendants in capital cases, said he thought giving jurors an advisory role has a significant effect because "the further you distance people from the act of killing someone, the easier it is" to get a death sentence.

Poll shows public opposes gay agenda
FORT LAUDERDALE A majority of Floridians oppose legalizing homosexual "marriages" or having homosexuals adopt children, a new statewide survey shows.
Florida is the only state in the country with a law banning homosexuals from adopting. Gov. Jeb Bush and legislative leaders oppose efforts to change the law, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported yesterday.
Of the 807 registered voters polled, 40 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a gubernatorial candidate who advocated homosexual adoption, against 15 percent who said they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate.

State to end year with budget surplus
ATLANTA Georgia appears to have dodged the financial problems that have forced other states to balance budgets with deep cuts and higher taxes, officials said.
By dipping into a surplus accumulated in the previous year, using debt rather than cash for a school construction program and forcing state agencies to cut spending, Georgia will end the 2001-02 year in the black.

Boy fatally shoots sister, police say
CHICAGO A 6-year-old boy playing with his grandfather's handgun accidentally shot and killed his 3-year-old sister, police said.
The shooting happened Sunday evening after the children's mother stepped out of the room, police said.
The girl climbed the headboard of a bed, found the gun in its case and removed it, police said. Her brother took it away from her and was playing with it when it discharged, striking the girl in the head, police said.
Police have ruled the shooting accidental, and no charges will be filed.
The gun will not be returned to the grandfather because it was unregistered and he did not have a valid firearm owner ID card, police said.

Man uses bread to catch reptile
INDIANAPOLIS Allen Brooks and James Parman will be telling this story over and over and it's no crock. They'll have the photos to prove it.
You see, Mr. Brooks caught a member of the crocodilian family Sunday in Mr. Parman's pond.
Really. A 4-foot, 30- to 40-pound reptile, perhaps a caiman. With a bit of bread on a 10-pound test line. That's what Mr. Brooks, 35, used Sunday after his friend Mr. Parman called to tell him there was a "gator" in the 8-acre pond on Mr. Parman's property in southwest Marion County, off Wicker Road, according to the Star.

Church disbands for financial reasons
NORTH LIBERTY Seven years after opening its doors, a presbyterian church in this eastern Iowa town has disbanded for financial reasons.
Officials say the Northminster Presbyterian Church no longer could afford the $4,000 monthly rent for its space in a shopping mall. The congregation of more than 50 voted to dissolve last month after failing to find a cheaper, permanent location.

Artificial heart recipient back to normal routine
CENTRAL CITY As Tom Christerson settled into a seat among his breakfast buddies at a cafe, the talk flowed faster than the coffee.
Whether the topic was who's the cheapest tipper or legalizing alcohol sales in this western Kentucky city, nothing was off-limits. Even the recipient of a totally implantable artificial heart wasn't immune from ribbing.
Mr. Christerson, 71, the world's longest survivor with the titanium-and-plastic AbioCor artificial heart, has returned to his seat at the daily breakfast gathering while settling back into life at home after months recovering at Jewish Hospital in Louisville.

Despite spring rains, drought persists
PORTLAND Despite heavier-than-normal rainfall this spring, the drought continues in central and southern Maine, officials say.
Groundwater levels are still below normal around Bangor, Waterville and Augusta and points south, Bob Lent of the U.S. Geological Survey says. The additional rainfall filled rivers, lakes and reservoirs and flooded some farmers' fields.

Thousands to lose welfare benefits
MINNEAPOLIS A new world without welfare begins today, when several thousand Minnesotans begin hitting their five-year deadline for welfare use.
About 1,000 families, including 3,000 children, will reach the time limit today, according to the Star-Tribune. Hundreds more families will run out of benefits in the months ahead.
Social service groups are bracing for a potential boom in housing and food requests. Legal Aid attorneys are fielding calls from anxious parents.
But that is not to say the sky is falling, say people monitoring the situation. At least half the parents facing benefit cutoffs are expected to qualify for extended benefits.

Senate seating situation still uncertain
JEFFERSON CITY An expensive game of musical chairs is being played out in state Senate chambers.
Senators have put on hold a proposal to spend $148,000 to move their desks back to the traditional configuration that was altered by a $1.8 million chamber renovation.
The Senate Administration Committee agreed last week that no action should be taken on a resolution passed in the waning moments of the recently completed legislative session directing the state to make the seating changes.

Group declares war on gambling measure
OMAHA A group representing more than 100 churches, businesses and other organizations announced yesterday that it would fight a proposed constitutional amendment to allow video slot machines in Nebraska, the World-Herald reported.
"We are declaring war today," said Pat Loontjer, director of Gambling with the Good Life, an anti-gambling group that is part of the effort.
Miss Loontjer said the coalition plans to work "one-on-one" if necessary to spread the message about the harm that expanded gambling would cause.
The proposed gambling measure would allow "player-activated electronic gaming devices" at bars, restaurants and racetracks. Local governments would receive half the gross revenue.

Agreements avert Las Vegas strike
LAS VEGAS Tentative agreements reached after midnight averted a casino strike that could have been the largest in Nevada in two decades.
Overtime negotiations yielded contract agreements yesterday for maids, food-service workers and bartenders at all but two downtown Las Vegas hotel-casinos.
Informational pickets went up briefly at the El Cortez, Las Vegas Club, Horseshoe, Castaways, Golden Gate and Western casinos. But negotiators stopped the clock and kept talking past a midnight deadline without calling a threatened strike by 5,000 workers.
Representatives of some downtown operators had said the properties were losing money and couldn't afford existing contracts.

State settles discrimination suit
TRENTON New Jersey will pay $5 million to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by 13 black state troopers who claimed they were harassed and denied promotions.
The settlements, covering back pay and emotional distress, were negotiated separately and ranged from $225,000 to $500,000, said Douglas Wolfson, director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General's Office.
"We've taken the position we are not going to fight these cases," Mr. Wolfson told the Star-Ledger of Newark. "We are past the point of trying to defend these cases, of saying they were not subjected to discrimination."

Cop backs partner in Louima retrial
NEW YORK The ex-patrolman who assaulted Abner Louima in a police station bathroom testified yesterday that a second officer accused of joining in the 1997 assault was never there.
Justin Volpe told a jury that Thomas Wiese not defendant Charles Schwarz was with him when he took Louima into the 70th Precinct bathroom.
"Wiese was right there," Volpe said after being called as the first defense witness at Mr. Schwarz's retrial in federal court.
Mr. Schwarz was convicted in 1999 on civil rights charges, but the conviction was tossed out.

Students can transfer from violent schools
RALEIGH Students attending North Carolina's most violent schools will be allowed to transfer to safer schools under new state and federal policies.
Starting in 2004, schools with five or more violent crimes per 1,000 students for two straight years could be designated "persistently dangerous" under a policy adopted this month by the State Board of Education.
The board will decide which schools meet that designation.

Singers marry in Sioux Falls church
SIOUX FALLS Operatic bass Samuel Ramey married soprano Lindsey Rae Larsen on Saturday.
Mr. Ramey moved to Chicago a few years ago, and the couple met while Miss Larsen was in the chorus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. They married at First Lutheran Church in her hometown of Sioux Falls.
American opera singer Frederica von Stade sang during the ceremony.
Mr. Ramey, 60, will return to the Metropolitan Opera in the 2002-03 season for performances in "Nabucco" and "The Rake's Progress."

Council for blind sues Treasury Department
HOUSTON As the Treasury Department gears up to reformat the look of U.S. currency, the blind have a message for all greenback designers: Don't forget us.
The American Council of the Blind, which seeks to improve conditions for the visually impaired, has sued the Treasury Department to force its way into the currency revamping process.
"They are going to redesign the money next year," said Melanie Brunson, the council's advocacy director.

Three deputies shot; gunman killed
MAPLE VALLEY Hours after a peaceful raid on a suspected methamphetamine lab, a man rode to the scene on a motorcycle and shot three sheriff's detectives before he was killed by return fire, authorities said.
The three King County sheriff's deputies remained hospitalized yesterday, one in serious condition.
The names of all three were being withheld.
The gunfire erupted about three hours after law enforcement officers with a warrant arrested two persons without incident near this town southeast of Seattle, sheriff's Sgt. Greg Dymerski said.

Seniors can sign upfor prescription relief
MADISON Residents older than 65 were able to start signing up yesterday for a new program providing relief from increasing prescription drug prices.
All seniors except those with Medicaid coverage are eligible for the program, which takes effect Sept. 1 and will work on a sliding income scale. About 177,000 people are expected to participate in the program, which is expected to cost Wisconsin $100 million a year.

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