- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 23, 2002

Town told to evacuate as wildfire approaches

SHOW LOW, Ariz. Authorities ordered the 7,700 residents of this eastern Arizona mountain community to evacuate last night as a mammoth wildfire breached a hastily constructed fire line on its western edge.

The authorities ordered the mandatory evacuation as the fire, which had burned more than 150,000 acres of forest since Tuesday, passed a fire line about eight miles west of the city that crews had been building, but they fled earlier in the day as the blaze approached.

There was no immediate threat to homes because the fire was moving slowly, fire spokesman Jim Paxon said. Officials expected residents would leave the town during the night.

Meanwhile, a second, smaller fire crossed another fire line and entered Heber-Overgaard, an already evacuated community of 2,700 about 25 miles to the west, Mr. Paxon said.

The two blazes, just miles apart, already had forced about 8,000 people to evacuate from several communities before orders came to Show Low. Officials expected the fires to link, creating a 50-mile line.

Drifter's car searched in girl's disappearance

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. The FBI searched the car yesterday of a hospitalized drifter being questioned in the disappearance of a Utah teen-age girl.

The FBI obtained a search warrant Friday to search the Saturn of Bret Michael Edmunds, FBI spokesman Kevin Eaton said. The car, left in the parking lot of City Hospital in Martinsburg, was photographed and impounded.

The search warrant did not allow a vacuum search to gather fibers or hair, but Mr. Edmunds allowed FBI agents to conduct a full search, Mr. Eaton said.

Results of the search were not available.

Mr. Edmunds, 26, was sought for questioning as a possible witness to the June 5 abduction of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart.

FEC spells out plan on 'soft money' ban

Election officials met yesterday to finish their plan to enforce the cornerstone of the nation's campaign finance overhaul. They opened what the law's supporters say are still more loopholes letting big money continue to flow in national politics.

Supporters of the new law, which takes effect after the November election, say it is clearly meant to ban national political parties, members of Congress and the president from raising unlimited, often six-figure campaign checks known as "soft money" from corporations, labor unions and others.

In a 4-2 decision yesterday, the Federal Election Commission consisting of three Democrats and three Republicans created a "safe harbor" for state and local party committees and other organizations to accept soft money from national party committees before the law takes effect Nov. 6 without repercussions later.

8 charged with fraud in tuition-refund case

PHILADELPHIA Eight persons have been charged in a scam to bilk Temple University out of $76,000 after, prosecutors said, they posed as part-time students to take advantage of a prompt tuition-refund policy.

The prosecutors said the fraud proved so successful at Temple, the suspects began to use the same ruse at the University of Maryland and the DeVry Institute of Technology in Decatur, Ga.

"This was a deliberate scheme to take advantage of a student-friendly university," U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said Friday as he announced the charges.

The suspects enrolled in classes at Temple using phony names and Social Security numbers, prosecutors said, and deliberately overpaid tuition using bad checks. Temple officials then refunded the overpayments before realizing the checks were drawing on empty bank accounts.

Brooklyn rabbi revives patrol plan

NEW YORK A militant Jewish group has revived plans to mount armed patrols of Jewish areas in Brooklyn following an FBI warning that terrorists could be planning to use fuel tanker trucks in new attacks, the leader of the group said yesterday.

Rabbi Yakove Lloyd, who founded the Jewish Defense Group in 1985, told the Reuters News Agency the first patrol of about 50 people, a dozen of them armed, would begin at 9 p.m. today.

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