- The Washington Times - Friday, July 5, 2002

Man convicted in alien smuggling
PHOENIX A farmhand contractor was found guilty of conspiring to smuggle illegal immigrants in connection with a southern Arizona border incursion last year in which 14 Mexicans died.
Francisco Vazquez-Torres, 46, owner of Vazquez Harvesting in Lake Placid, Fla., faces up to life in prison when he's sentenced Sept. 23.
Border Patrol agents found the immigrants on May 23, 2001, on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge near Yuma in dry, bleak terrain known as "the Devil's Path."

Greek church in U.S. passes new charter
LOS ANGELES Delegates of the U.S. Greek Orthodox Church have approved a contentious new charter that would grant it greater autonomy from its leadership abroad.
The delegates said the move signaled a yearning for an independent church that would remain linked to worldwide Orthodoxy, headquartered in Turkey, but was not completely controlled by it. The new charter must still be accepted by the Istanbul patriarchate.
Under the proposed changes, Greek Orthodox clergy in the United States would submit three nominees for future archbishops to the patriarchate. The American church would elect its own bishops.
Church leaders in Istanbul now appoint both bishops and archbishops. Although they routinely honor the recommendations of the American church, they are not bound by them, said Deacon Nektarios Morrow, director of communication for the archdiocese in New York.

Tribute fizzles when cops take fireworks
NEW HAVEN A planned tribute for a bride and groom did not go off as planned Wednesday when police confiscated a cache of illegal fireworks.
Even as wedding guests began filtering in to Anthony's Ocean View, the police bomb-disposal van remained parked outside as officers hauled off the mortars and other pyrotechnics.
"We're trying not to interfere with the wedding plans," Lt. Denise Blanchard, the supervisor for the city's East Shore, told the New Haven Register. "It's a safety issue. We're here to keep everybody safe."
The problem, police said, was that no one had a permit to set off the explosives or a license to possess them.

Jailed minister seeks alimony
ST. PETERSBURG A preacher who is serving prison time for racketeering and theft is seeking alimony from the wife he is suing for divorce.
The Rev. Henry J. Lyons also said his wife, Deborah Lyons, should take responsibility for part of the $6 million debt a judge ordered Lyons to pay for stealing funds when he served as president of the National Baptist Convention USA.

Redistricting law ruled constitutional
TOPEKA Three federal judges ruled this week that Kansas' new congressional-redistricting law is constitutional, clearing the way for the Aug. 6 primary election.
The judges rejected arguments that the Legislature violated some voters' rights in redrawing the state's four U.S. House districts because it split communities of interest.
The new map moved Junction City into the 1st District, with western Kansas, while keeping neighboring Fort Riley in the 2nd District, with most of northeast Kansas. It also split the city of Lawrence between the 2nd and 3rd districts. Previously, Junction City and Fort Riley were in the 2nd District.

Accused rapist dies on day he's cleared
WORCESTER A man exonerated of rape by DNA tests died on the same day the charges against him were dismissed, his attorneys said.
An autopsy was being performed to determine why Clinton F. Healy Jr. died Tuesday at a Worcester hospital, said his attorney, Michael S. Hussey.
Mr. Healy, 34, was charged after a 24-year-old Worcester woman identified him as the man who dragged her into a parking lot and raped her in July 2001.
DNA tests failed to match Healy with other evidence, and a judge dismissed the case Tuesday, though Mr. Healy failed to arrive in court.

Pigs take showers to beat the heat
TRAVERSE CITY The Murray family's three little pigs have a new way to beat the heat.
Isaac Murray, an electrical field technician, has installed a shower in his pigpen so his swine will have no reason to whine during a heat wave that has sent temperatures into the 90s.
"When he told me he wanted to build a shower for the pigs, I thought, 'You're kidding me,'" his wife, Judith, said. "I thought the kids should just go out and spray them a couple times a day; that's what 4-H says to do."
The plumbing apparatus runs automatically for two minutes every two hours, all day long.

FBI warns of threat to stadiums
ST. LOUIS The FBI has issued a "very vague" alert to law-enforcement officials nationwide that people with ties to terrorist groups are downloading images of U.S. stadiums from the Internet, an agency official said.
"There's no specific threat," said Bill Eubanks, head of the FBI's St. Louis office. "They just simply accessed the Web site."
Images downloaded included the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, and Indianapolis' RCA Dome, he said.
The FBI said it has contacted authorities in both places about security precautions. The stadiums were both closed yesterday.

Housing development encroaching on ranches
BILLINGS Housing developments are encroaching on the wide open spaces of the rural West and could replace more than 24 million acres of ranch land by 2020, a new study says.
Montana has the most cattle and farm ranch land at risk nearly 5.1 million acres, according to the study released this week by the American Farmland Trust.
The study identified more than 5 million acres threatened by housing development in Idaho. Colorado had 4.8 million acres in jeopardy, while Wyoming had 2.6 million acres listed as vulnerable, the study showed.
"The bottom line is, we're sprawling out of control," said Jeff Jones, the regional director of the nonprofit group.

Police say suspect swallowed evidence
BEATRICE A man with an appetite for the finer things has been charged with shoplifting after reportedly swallowing a gold ring he came across at a local jewelry store.
John Walker, 42, was arrested after police were called to Leo's Jewelry. A clerk said Mr. Walker was handling two rings, pushed his chair away from a counter and fell to the floor. The clerk said when he got up, one of the rings was missing.
Mr. Walker let police pat-search him, but during a conversation a bright object was seen in his mouth, police said. When asked what it was, Mr. Walker swallowed. Police then requested a search warrant to have an X-ray taken. The ring, valued at $629, was spotted in Mr. Walker's stomach, Capt. William Fitzgerald said.

Malpractice costs close trauma center
LAS VEGAS Critically injured patients in a four-state region were going to local emergency rooms for medical attention yesterday after the only trauma center in Las Vegas closed its doors.
The top-level trauma center serving southern Nevada and parts of three neighboring states shut its doors Wednesday after private surgeons at the county-operated medical center refused to return unless Nevada lawmakers cap soaring medical-malpractice awards.

Construction begins on minnow facility
ALBUQUERQUE Construction has started on a facility that could help biologists learn more about the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow while protecting New Mexico's scarce water resources, its creators say.
The $1.2 million Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Refugium, under construction at the Albuquerque Biological Park, includes a 3,000-square-foot science building and 16,000-square-foot outdoor stream.
Scientists will use the facility to test the minnow's response to a variety of stream conditions, said Albuquerque Biological Park Director Ray Darnell.

Reservation housing gets boost
BISMARCK The federal government and the Fannie Mae home mortgage financing company are joining forces to help American Indians on two North Dakota reservations buy homes.
Fannie Mae is providing $50,000 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency $65,454 over two years for the program.
The grants will go to the nonprofit Lewis and Clark Community Works organization, which will hire a mortgage-lending coordinator to work with the Standing Rock and Spirit Lake tribes.

Rabbi to go on trial on sex charges
OKLAHOMA CITY A rabbi accused of groping two girls and two young women at a Jewish day school will stand trial on 11 criminal sex charges.
Oklahoma County District Judge Donald Deason said there was enough evidence to warrant a trial for Rabbi Richard Marcovitz, 65, who faces six charges of sexual battery and five counts of lewd acts with a minor.

Judge: EPA violated Endangered Species Act
GRANTS PASS A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the government violated the Endangered Species Act by not setting guidelines for pesticides that could harm threatened and endangered salmon.
Judge John Coughenour said the Environmental Protection Agency had failed to consult the National Marine Fisheries Service since 1989 over the potential harm to fish from 55 commonly used pesticides.
The Fisheries Service oversees salmon recovery and "such consultation is mandatory," the judge wrote.
The ruling could force the EPA to eventually withdraw approval of some pesticides or require stricter rules for their use near water.
Court nixes suit in fatal Osprey crash
PHILADELPHIA A federal appeals court has rejected an attempt to reopen a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by relatives of two men killed when a V-22 Osprey crashed in 1992.
The families had appealed to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing a lower court should have excluded an expert witness from offering an alternative theory on the reasons for the crash. The Navy blamed it on an engine fire caused by a leak of flammable fluids.
The families sued Bell Helicopter Textron of Texas, a partner with Boeing in building the Osprey; General Motors, which made the engine; and Macrotech Fluid Sealing of Delaware.
Both sides agreed that a $10.25 seal was installed backward by a Boeing mechanic, but the jury concluded there was no proof the mistake allowed oil to leak into the engine and cause the crash.

Blue Cross blasted for conducting poll
PROVIDENCE Democratic candidate for governor Myrth York is blasting Blue Cross & Blue Shield for conducting a poll to gauge what people think of a television ad in which she criticizes state government's contract with the health insurer.
She lashed out at Blue Cross for using revenue from subscriber premiums to fund the poll.
"They are saying they have to build up their reserves, and the rates are going up and up and up," she told the Providence Journal. "Yet they are spending thousands of dollars to do a political poll."
The candidate said she found out about the poll when a group she identified as Alpha Research called her husband, David Green, at work, and they called the mother of her campaign treasurer, John J. McConnell Jr.

Children's fund tapped to offset budget cuts
COLUMBIA South Carolina's governor is on the defensive for moving money out of a fund that helps care for emotionally disturbed children and then running a commercial accusing his challenger of not supporting programs for disabled children.
Jim Hodges is seeking re-election to a second term this fall, and his Republican challenger, former Rep. Mark Sanford, is complaining about commercials from his opponent that refer to his voting record and read "Sanford: Against programs for disabled kids."
The ads are "the height of hypocrisy," Mr. Sanford said.
The Governor's Office transferred $300,000 into its operating account last August from the Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children, recently released documents show.

Dragging victim's son holds prayer vigil
HUNTSVILLE The son of a black man dragged to his death in 1998 by a white supremacist is leading a fast and prayer vigil to fight for the life of his father's killer.
Ross Byrd's father, James Byrd Jr., was tied to the back of a pickup with a logging chain, dragged and dismembered along a bumpy country road in Jasper.
John W. King, the first of two white men sentenced to death for the slaying, has almost exhausted his state appeals.
The dead man's son who was joined by dozens of supporters and anti-death penalty activists initially favored the sentence, but says he now believes the death penalty is wrong in all cases.

Reporter demoted after admitting plagiarism
SALT LAKE CITY A former television columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune has accepted a demotion after admitting to plagiarism.
Martin Renzhofer failed to attribute a 180-word passage lifted from an Internet site in his column about an HBO documentary. A reader noticed the identical wording and contacted the Tribune's reader advocate, said deputy news editor Tim Fitzpatrick.
"I wasn't even thinking. It was a bonehead move. I'd never done it before and I definitely won't do it again," Mr. Renzhofer said. He said he pasted the paragraph from infoplease.com into his story, then forgot to attribute it to the Web site.
Mr. Renzhofer will no longer report or write his TV column, and his byline is banned from the paper for a year. Instead, he will have a lower-paying job rewriting copy for the arts and entertainment section.

Chief justice fills in at small-claims court
MILWAUKEE Talk about a change of scenery.
The top judge of the Wisconsin Supreme Court meted out justice Wednesday in Milwaukee small-claims court, deciding such things as who was to blame for a parking lot fender-bender.
"It would appear that you were going too fast," Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson told the defendant in the fender-bender case.
Five days after the state's highest court shut down for the summer in its plush quarters in Madison, Justice Abrahamson filled in for a vacationing judge by presiding over the small-claims calendar in a small courtroom on a dead-end corridor of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
In the parking lot accident, Justice Abrahamson assessed the blame at 30 percent for the plaintiff and 70 percent for the defendant.

Robbery arrests made after school essay
GILLETTE Two brothers were arrested for a convenience-store robbery after a girl implicated one of them in a high school writing assignment.
Dustin Ostert, 17, and Heath Richard Ostert, 18, were charged with aggravated robbery. A preliminary hearing was set for Tuesday.
According to police, a female student at Westwood alternative high school wrote, "Heath Ostert robbed the Kum & Go by Westover, but nobody knows that yet" in a letter assigned for class. The teacher told police.

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