- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2002

ARIZONA

Hospital under watch after medical errors

TUCSON Tucson Medical Center is under investigation by state and federal regulators because of mistakes that led to the deaths of five patients during the past two years.

Four of the five patients were seriously ill, the Arizona Daily Star reported yesterday. But in one case, an otherwise healthy 73-year-old man died after surgery because a nurse accidentally swapped his oxygen and suction tubes, the newspaper said.

Problems documented at the hospital are enough to threaten its state license and Medicare certification if not immediately corrected, state and federal officials told the Star.


ARKANSAS

Rave fans love court member's decision

LITTLE ROCK Rave promoters and the electronic-music fans who keep them in business don't have any new restrictions to worry about in Pulaski County, the Democrat-Gazette reports.

Quorum Court member Jim Porter withdrew a resolution encouraging the sheriff's office to use noise and curfew laws to keep the all-night dance and music festivals quiet. The resolution also would have asked rave promoters to pay for the hours and resources the sheriff's office spent patrolling raves.

Illegal drug use and drug-related deaths have tainted raves in central Arkansas and across the country. Ordinances are on the books to keep the peace and send young people home after midnight. Besides, Mr. Porter said, he has nothing against love and music.


CALIFORNIA

Victim's father barred from trial

SAN DIEGO Damon van Dam has been barred from the trial of David Westerfield, the man accused of kidnapping and killing his 7-year-old daughter, because the judge is concerned Mr. van Dam might try to harm the defendant.

Sheriff's deputies who escort Mr. Westerfield through the halls of the downtown San Diego courthouse from the adjacent Central Jail noticed Mr. van Dam regularly following Mr. Westerfield, trying to get closer to him and make eye contact, said a deputy who asked not to be identified. Mr. van Dam also asked questions about how and when Mr. Westerfield would be moved to the courtroom, the deputy said.

The deputies warned Mr. van Dam last week to stay away from Mr. Westerfield. But on Monday they took the issue to Judge William Mudd after a deputy saw Mr. van Dam staring at Mr. Westerfield through a window on the courtroom door before the proceedings began.

Judge Mudd ruled in a closed hearing that Mr. van Dam would not be allowed inside the courthouse except under special circumstances, such as Mr. Westerfield's sentencing if he is convicted.


CONNECTICUT

Ruling allows small firms to fire pregnant workers

HARTFORD The state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that small companies can fire pregnant employees without violating the state's ban on sex discrimination.

The court ruled in a 3-2 vote that a 1967 law exempts businesses that have fewer than three workers.

"This state's public policy against sex discrimination by private employers is not absolute," Chief Justice Richard Palmer wrote in the decision. "The legislature has carved out an exception to that policy for small employers."

The case involved Nicole Thibodeau, who was fired in 1998 by her employer, Design Group One, a tiny architectural firm in Chester. Her attorneys argued the firm violated her rights under the state constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.


FLORIDA

Bats invade, force man to move

BRADENTON Grant Griffin's one-bedroom apartment isn't big enough for him, and more importantly, bats have turned up in his shower, sink and sheets. So he is moving.

Exterminators aren't allowed to kill the bats, which are considered native wildlife and can't be trapped or poisoned, said University of Florida assistant professor Mark Hostetler. They can be killed only if they are rabid, for which county health officials are testing after Mr. Griffin and his girlfriend discovered bite marks.

"I'm freaked out. I'm about as freaked out as I can get," said Mr. Griffin, 49. "I feel like there are things crawling all over me."


GEORGIA

Scoring mistakes put test results on hold

ATLANTA A standardized testing company made serious errors in grading exams given to nearly 340,000 Georgia elementary school students, the state Department of Education said.

The department sent a letter Tuesday asking schools to destroy score reports for the Stanford Achievement Test Series, called the Stanford 9, a test that also is given in other states.

The problem was not with the tests but in the way they were scored, department spokeswoman Sarah Abbott said.

Education officials noticed the scores were "way off" from last year in several categories and alerted the testing company, Harcourt Inc. of Orlando, Fla.


INDIANA

Luna appointed managing editor

INDIANAPOLIS Richard Luna, managing editor of the Statesman Journal of Salem, Ore., has been appointed managing editor of the Indianapolis Star.

Mr. Luna starts his new job at the end of July as the No. 2 person running the Star's news staff of 280 persons.

The appointment of Mr. Luna, 43, was announced Tuesday. The position had been vacant since Calvin Stovall left a year ago.

The Star and the Statesman Journal are owned by Gannett Co.


KANSAS

Suspect arrested after bus trip

KANSAS CITY A convicted killer wanted in the fatal shooting of five persons, including a pregnant woman, was arrested by FBI agents at an Alabama bus depot.

Darrell L. Stallings was arrested Tuesday evening in Birmingham during a scuffle with the agents, FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza said.

Agents and Birmingham police also apprehended Stallings' girlfriend, 18-year-old Patrice Hickmon.

The pair had boarded a Greyhound bus in Greenville, Miss., and were headed for Charlotte, N.C. Undercover officers boarded the bus in Meridian, Miss., but waited to make an arrest to protect other passengers, Mr. Lanza said.


KENTUCKY

Grand jury indicts retired priest

LOUISVILLE A retired Roman Catholic priest was indicted yesterday on 42 counts of sexual misconduct after dozens of victims came forward saying they were abused as children.

The Rev. Louis Miller, 71, faces six counts of sexual abuse and 36 counts of indecent and immoral practices.

Father Miller has been accused in more than 50 of the 133 lawsuits filed against the Louisville Archdiocese, with plaintiffs saying the church knew about his misconduct and failed to take disciplinary action.

He has denied the accusations.


MASSACHUSETTS

Man wins $5.8 million lottery

CHICOPEE Richard M. Kumor Sr. quit smoking 22 years ago, and Tuesday he reaped his reward a $5.8 million reward.

At the age of 36, Mr. Kumor, a lifelong city resident, decided to chuck his three-pack-a-day habit and used his cigarette money to buy lottery tickets, the Springfield Union-News reports.

He kept playing. Every Sunday or Monday, he would drive to the Trading Post on Burnett Road, plunk down $24 and buy a week's worth of tickets for Megabucks, Mass Cash and the Big Game.


MICHIGAN

Borders customers to get booze with books

FARMINGTON HILLS A glass of wine with that book? A sip of specialty liquor-laced coffee with that CD?

Borders bookstore patrons soon will be offered those options after the city council unanimously approved a request to permit the transfer of a liquor license to a restaurant inside a Borders store, the Detroit News reported in a story yesterday.

Alcohol consumption will not be allowed inside the bookstore section, and the restaurant where the liquor will be served will have a separate entrance, said Dana Whinnery, Farmington Hills' assistant city manager.


MONTANA

Court rejects state tax of reservation business

HELENA Montana cannot tax a business owned by an American Indian and operating solely within the Fort Peck Reservation, the Montana Supreme Court ruled.

Flat Center Farms Inc., which appealed the state's corporate license tax, is entirely in a sovereign nation, not in the state of Montana, the 5-2 court majority ruled.

The fact that the company was a corporation created under state law does not automatically make it subject to Montana's taxing authority, Justice Terry Trieweiler wrote for the court.


NEBRASKA

Victims' relatives seek death penalty

LINCOLN The mother of Teena Brandon called it wrong that John Lotter, who shot her daughter three times on New Year's Eve 1993, could avoid sitting in Nebraska's electric chair.

"He deserves death," JoAnn Brandon of Lincoln said. "He never gave the victims a choice."

Another relative of a murder victim, Monica Zimmerman, has been waiting 23 years for her husband's killer to face justice.

"It was 23 years ago in March, but there's no day when you start out your day when you don't think about it," she said Monday in the Journal-Star.


NEW HAMPSHIRE

Skateboarding ban irks parents

NEWBURY Parents spoke against a ban on skateboarding on town property at Monday night's selectmen's meeting. Selectmen have been considering a ban in light of damage to public property from skateboarders.

During the past few years, skateboarding has become a nuisance in Newbury, said Selectman Jim Powell. But parents protested that a ban on skateboarding would be unfair.

As a compromise, selectmen are considering designating a specific area for skateboarders, such as a section of the park, and banning them from boarding in other areas, Mr. Powell told the Union Leader.


NEW JERSEY

Federal agents seize seal skins

NEWARK Agents seized 5,000 seal skins shipped through a New Jersey port in violation of U.S. import law, authorities said yesterday.

The skins were bound for a processor in Canada before going to markets in Europe and China, agents said. They were worth at least $50,000.

"[U.S. Customs agents] were doing a routine homeland-security inspection, ran it through one of the X-ray machines and said, 'Whoa, you've got something here,'" said Mark Oswell, a spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service law-enforcement unit.

The skins were shipped from Namibia, which permits commercial hunting of Cape Fur seals. The cargo was seized May 29 in Port Elizabeth.


NEW YORK

Priest charged with child abuse

NEW YORK New York police said yesterday they had arrested a Catholic missionary priest from Kenya on charges of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy.

Peter Kiare, 41, a native of Kenya, was arrested Tuesday in the Queens section of the city, where he had been working as a guest preacher at a Roman Catholic Church, a police spokesman said.


OKLAHOMA

State changes time of executions

OKLAHOMA CITY The state Department of Corrections said it has changed the time of executions from 9 p.m. to 6 p.m. to help prison workers and witnesses.

The new schedule will shorten work hours for prison staff involved in executions and make it easier for witnesses who must travel to the state prison in McAlester, the department said.


RHODE ISLAND

Cianci bows out of next race

PROVIDENCE Two days after being convicted of corruption, Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr. announced yesterday he will not seek re-election to a fourth-straight term in November.

"It's time for me to move on," he said at City Hall.

The 61-year-old Cianci made his decision even as he held out hope that a federal judge would reverse his racketeering conspiracy conviction.


SOUTH CAROLINA

Doctors note jump in jellyfish stings

MYRTLE BEACH Doctors have seen a sharp increase in stings by Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish.

Scientists believe recent storms have churned the water, sending the particularly venomous species closer to shore.

Officials say 50 persons have been treated at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center for stings. Symptoms can include trouble breathing, nausea, welts and swelling.


TEXAS

Seat-belt campaign shows dramatic results

FORT WORTH The state's "Click It or Ticket" campaign has increased seat-belt compliance, helped put more than 1,100 fugitives behind bars and removed almost 1,000 drunks from behind the wheel, officials said.

The two-week, $2 million ad campaign reminded motorists that failing to wear a seat belt violates state law. Officers issued 61,000 citations.


WASHINGTON

U.S. won't act to protect whales

SEATTLE Despite a "disheartening" decline in Puget Sound killer whales, U.S. officials ruled Tuesday that they are not special enough to warrant protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The National Marine Fisheries Service ruled that the 78 black-and-white killer whales, or orcas, were in danger of extinction but not a "distinct population segment" that would warrant stronger protection.


WISCONSIN

Archbishop vows to implement ideas

MILWAUKEE The newly appointed head of the Milwaukee Archdiocese said one of his first jobs will be to carry out recommendations of a special commission investigating claims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

The Rev. Timothy M. Dolan, named by the pope Tuesday to succeed retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland, said he supports the zero-tolerance policy toward abusive priests adopted by the U.S. Conference of Bishops in Dallas earlier this month.


WYOMING

Fund-raiser lets fans meet favorite drivers

CHEYENNE Debbie Holstein smiled and waved as a convoy of motorcycles slowly drove past her outside Little America on Tuesday.

"Oh my goodness," she said, speaking excitedly to other NASCAR racing fans who stood on the lawn next to her.

All drivers were on motorcycles as part of the eighth annual Sprint/Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, as reported in the Tribune-Eagle.

"That's Kyle on the Blue Victory," said Jack Downs of Golden, Colo., as he pointed at race-car driving star Kyle Petty. Petty drove by on his blue motorcycle and smiled.



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