- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2002


About 200 Haitians run ashore

MIAMI More than 200 illegal Haitian immigrants jumped overboard, waded ashore and rushed onto a major highway yesterday after their 50-foot boat ran aground off Miami.

It was not immediately known if there were any injuries.

Unlike Cubans who have reached dry land, Haitian immigrants usually are denied asylum in the United States.

Coast Guard personnel pulled immigrants from the water and threw them life preservers.


Four dead after tornado strikes

CHATAIGNIER A tornado flung a mobile home several hundred yards early yesterday, killing two persons and seriously injuring five, authorities said. A man suffered a fatal heart attack as he was rescued from another trailer flattened by high winds.

The tornado was spawned by a storm system that produced heavy rain and high wind from Texas, across Louisiana and into Mississippi.

Flooding killed one person and forced dozens from their homes in the Houston area.

Firefighters found the mobile home in southern Louisiana in a pile of rubble near Chataignier, about 30 miles northwest of Lafayette, around 4 a.m., said Fire Chief Ronnie Smith.

"It had been picked up out of a field and traveled 300 or 400 yards and slammed on the pavement," the fire chief said.


State may call up 5,200 Guard troops

BIRMINGHAM Although the Alabama Army National Guard is almost 30 percent smaller than in 1991, the state said it could activate the same size force it did in the Persian Gulf war about 5,200 troops for any new war against Iraq.

A recent report said about the same number activated nationally during Gulf war, 265,000, would be needed to attack Iraq.


Gunman took sniper training

TUCSON A year and a half before a University of Arizona nursing student killed three of his professors and then himself, an instructor told police the student had thought about "ending it all" and "might put something under the college."

Instructor Melissa M. Goldsmith told police that Robert S. Flores Jr. said he was having problems with a paper but also had a lot of problems other than school.

"He was depressed and thought about 'ending it all.' Flores then stated he 'might put something under the college,'" according to the report, provided yesterday by university police.

Reports say Flores was a Persian Gulf war veteran who trained as a sniper and recently struggled with his studies and debts.


Reality bites on Ryder's birthday

LOS ANGELES Oscar-nominated movie actress Winona Ryder spent her 31st birthday on trial yesterday for reportedly stealing thousands of dollars in goods from a posh store.

The Hollywood star sat in court in Beverly Hills watching herself on screen, but this time the movie was an in-store surveillance tape that prosecutors say records a shoplifting spree.

The tape, considered pivotal to both the prosecution and defense cases, was shown on the second full day of Miss Ryder's much-anticipated trial on charges of stealing nearly $6,000 in designer goods from a Saks Fifth Avenue store.

Miss Ryder arrived in court wearing a black outfit one day after the jury heard that she told detectives who arrested her that her film director had told her to steal the 20 items to train for a role as a shoplifter.


Air travelers can mail sharp objects

WINDSOR LOCKS If you have forgotten to remove sharp objects from your hand luggage at Bradley International Airport, don't despair.

The Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Postal Service and the company that runs gift stores in both terminals have teamed up to let travelers keep banned items and still make their flights.

How? By using the mail.

Passengers can pay $5 for a box with an address label and $3.85 for a stamp to have sharp objects like corkscrews and scissors weighing up to 1 pound mailed home.

The mailing boxes are available at any of the Paradies Shops at Bradley. About 250 people have taken advantage of the program in its first week, Paradies manager Debra Ostrov said Monday.


Historic battlefield sold to city

SAVANNAH The site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War may be restored after the city of Savannah tentatively agreed to buy the plot from a railroad company that has owned it for more than a century.

The lot where 1,000 men died in 1779 is a weed-covered, abandoned rail yard, and the city which once gave the land away wants it back.

Savannah officials have a $33.5 million plan to turn the lot into a historical project called Battlefield Park Heritage Center, including a memorial to the battle, and to use it as a cornerstone for redevelopment.

Late last week, Savannah City Manager Michael Brown and Norfolk Southern Corp. signed an agreement for the city to buy the 9.5-acre battlefield site, two other pieces of land and a portion of track for $4.3 million.


Teachers begin contract strike

PLAINFIELD About 1,200 unionized teachers went on strike Monday against Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 after weekend talks ended without an agreement.

Classes were canceled, and no new negotiations were scheduled. The teachers have been working without a contract since June 30.

The district has more than 16,000 students.


Cosby raises money for hall of fame

MERRILLVILLE This time, Bill Cosby wasn't just after laughs.

The 65-year-old comedian joined the Rev. Jesse Jackson and former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher onstage Sunday to raise money for the National Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

"You go and you buy a lottery ticket. You've got just as much chance of getting struck by lightning as you do of winning the lottery," Mr. Cosby told several hundred people at a private reception before his show Sunday at the Star Plaza Theatre.

"Take that money and build something you can see something for the children," said Mr. Cosby, who donated the money from the show to the museum.


Drivers to access road conditions

DES MOINES Drivers trying to gauge winter storms will have access this season to technology that can update road conditions every four or five minutes, the Des Moines Register reported.

Iowa plans to launch a 511 telephone service next month, the newspaper said.

The free service is part of a high-tech trend to provide better data about snow, ice and other hazards.


Man convicted of killing 3 women

OLATHE A man with a liking for sadomasochistic sex was convicted yesterday of murdering three women and stuffing the bodies of two of them into 85-gallon barrels on his rural property.

John E. Robinson Sr., 58, could get the death penalty.

A jury convicted him capital murder in the slayings of Suzette Trouten, 27, of Newport, Mich., and Izabela Lewicka, 21, a former Purdue University student from West Lafayette, Ind., both of whom were found in barrels.

Both women had met Robinson over the Internet and came to Kansas to become his sex slaves.


Vanity plate wins $5,000 prize

LEXINGTON Divorce isn't a funny thing, but firefighter Larry VanHooser turned it into a gag, at least when it comes to his license plate.

Mr. VanHooser won $5,000 for coming up with his vanity plate "D-WIFED," beating out the likes of "CYIMBRK" (See why I am broke) and MANOPOZ (male menopause). The results of the nationwide contest, sponsored by car-care products maker Eagle One, were announced on Monday.

The 54-year-old Mr. VanHooser, who plans to retire soon, said he will give some of the prize money to his two sons, also firefighters, and some to charity.

The contest was judged by the writers of NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." Eagle One said more than 2,500 entries were submitted from all 50 states.


Court urged to pass up affirmative-action cases

The University of Michigan asked the Supreme Court yesterday to stay out of a dispute over its affirmative-action admissions policies.

The high court will decide in coming months whether to revisit a 1978 decision that let schools consider race in admissions. Two cases are pending at the Supreme Court against Michigan, one involving its law-school policies and a second challenging its undergraduate admissions.

Maureen E. Mahoney, a lawyer for the university, told the court in a filing that if the 1978 ruling is overturned, it "would produce the immediate resegregation of many and perhaps most of this nation's finest and most selective institutions."


'Blue Velvet' singer sells his theater

BRANSON The Polish Prince is pulling the plug on his Blue Velvet Theatre.

Bobby Vinton, who recorded pop ballads such as "Roses Are Red (My Love)," "Blue Velvet" and "Mr. Lonely," has sold his theater in the heart of Branson's entertainment strip to producer David King, whose "Spirit of the Dance" has featured Mr. Vinton for the past three years.

Terms of the sale weren't disclosed, but Mr. Vinton said last week that the offer "was simply too good to pass up."

Mr. Vinton, 67, will perform through Dec. 14 at his theater, fulfilling his season schedule in the southwest Missouri resort town. Then he will shift to venues in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., although he may perform limited engagements in Branson.


Agency may be sued over bird's habitat

GRAND ISLAND A coalition of 33 Nebraska farm and irrigation groups plans to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its designation of land as critical habitat for a threatened bird.

The Nebraska Habitat Conservation Coalition announced Monday that it intends to file a federal lawsuit within 60 days that challenges the agency's designation of land along 560 miles of river in Nebraska as critical for the piping plover.

The coalition said it will argue in court that the agency violated the Endangered Species Act when it decided in September to designate 183,422 acres of habitat and 1,208 river miles in Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana as critical habitat for the piping plover.


Student wounded in school shooting

JERSEY CITY A student was shot and wounded inside a high school shortly after classes started yesterday. A fellow student who was arrested nearby said it was an accident, school officials said.

Classes remained in session.

The 16-year-old boy was shot once in the abdomen at Lincoln High School, officials said.

A 17-year-old student arrested near the school about a half-hour later told police the shooting was accidental, school Superintendent Charles Epps said. He said the student told police he was showing the small-caliber handgun to a classmate when it fired.

The wounded boy was taken to Jersey City Medical Center, Mayor Glenn Cunningham said. The injury was not believed to be life-threatening, the mayor's office said.


Ground-zero display heads for museum

NEW YORK A display of clothing from a store only a block from ground zero, covered in dust and ashes from the fall of the twin towers, will be encased in glass and donated to a New York museum.

The owner of "Chelsea Jeans," David Cohen, spent more than $10,000 to encase the display, which had not been touched since the disaster.

With sales crashing and the store closing, the New York Historical Society agreed to add the display to its artifacts chronicling the attacks.

The move, to be carried out by a company that handles hazardous material, is scheduled to be completed yesterday.


Ex-power executive dies at 96

CLEVELAND Ralph M. Besse, a former power-company executive after whom Ohio's first nuclear power plant is partly named, died Friday of a heart attack. He was 96.

The Davis-Besse plant in Oak Harbor is named for Mr. Besse and a Toledo Edison chairman, John K. Davis. The plant began operating seven years after Mr. Besse retired from Cleveland Electric Illuminating, where he was chairman and chief executive officer from 1967 until 1970.

Under Mr. Besse's leadership, Cleveland EIectric and four utilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania formed the Central Area Power Coordination Group to pool financial resources for building nuclear plants.


Sisters charged with hanging cat

SUNBURY Police filed charges against two sisters accused of hanging a cat in front of children at a playground earlier this month.

Heather Wertz, 24, and Amanda Wertz, 20, face charges of conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals and disorderly conduct.

Children who were at the Otterbein playground Oct. 5 told police the sisters killed a cat named Garfield. The children said they saw the women drag the cat, which was struggling and fighting, from the rear of Heather Wertz's home, police said.

The children also recounted seeing Heather Wertz lift a cord and hang the cat, police said. Police also filed a charge of cruelty to animals against her.


Mistrial declared in lead-paint lawsuit

PROVIDENCE A mistrial was declared in Rhode Island's landmark lawsuit against makers of lead paint yesterday after the jury reported it was hopelessly deadlocked in the potentially multimillion-dollar case.

The state was trying to hold eight former manufacturers of lead paint liable for lead poisoning in 35,000 Rhode Island children since 1993.

If the jury in this first phase had found that the lead-paint manufacturers had caused a public nuisance, the case would have moved into two more phases to decide whether the industry is liable and how much it should pay in damages.

The six-person jury was deadlocked after four days of deliberations and seven weeks of trial.


Sprawl hurting apple industry

CHARLESTON Suburban sprawl could deliver the fatal blow to West Virginia's dwindling apple industry.

State agriculture officials estimate West Virginia has lost more than 90 percent of its orchards over the last century, and 20 percent of it in just the last 10 years. Another survey is planned next year.

In the early 1900s, there were more than 163,000 acres of orchards across the state. Today, there are only 7,000 acres, according to West Virginia agricultural statistics.

Most remaining orchards are located in the Eastern Panhandle, which is evolving into a bedroom community for Washington. Developers are buying up farmland for housing developments and shopping centers.


Couple's wedding a ghoulish one

JANESVILLE The maid of honor was a witch. The best man wore a death mask. The happy couple looked a little scary.

Tom Sletten and Traci Dunn decided to get married Sunday in a ghoulish ceremony at the Jaycees Haunted House, where both have donated their time creeping out visitors.

Rock County Court Commissioner James Van De Bogart, who married the couple in a vest covered with jack-o'-lanterns, said the ceremony was standard, including the "until death do you part" phrase.

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