- The Washington Times - Monday, September 16, 2002

University competes for top scientists
BIRMINGHAM Steve Hajduk and Steve Harvey plan to leave their positions as University of Alabama-Birmingham biochemistry professors at the end of this year and head to dream jobs. Mr. Hajduk is going to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, and Mr. Harvey is going to Georgia Institute of Technology.
The two veteran researchers have attracted millions of dollars in federal grants to UAB in past decades.
Their departure is part of a trend driven by record increases in spending by the National Institutes of Health and the realization that biomedical research is an amazing generator of high-paying, high-quality jobs and businesses, the Birmingham News reports. The national competition for scientific talent has intensified.
Amid this tough competition, UAB has set its sights on moving into the elite top 10 medical institutions in NIH funding. The medical center is increasing its recruitment of top researchers. Last week, it announced the hiring of Harvard University's Dr. Bruce R. Korf as chair of UAB's human genetics department.

Hundreds gather for memorial vigil
MESA Hundreds of people attended a memorial vigil Saturday night for a gas station owner fatally shot just days after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The two-hour memorial took place at a park about a mile from where Balbir Singh Sodhi was slain, and featured statements from President Bush, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull. An estimated 800 people attended.
Americans were still reeling from the attacks in New York and Washington when shots rang out on a Mesa street corner Sept. 15, 2001, killing Mr. Sodhi, an immigrant from India. Authorities said Mr. Sodhi was shot because he wore a turban as part of his Sikh faith.
Prosecutors have accused Frank Roque of killing Mr. Sodhi as part of a violent rampage during which he is also accused of shooting at a Lebanese-American clerk at another gas station and firing into the home of a family of Afghan descent.
Mr. Roque, 42, is scheduled for trial in November, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Court appoints guardian for inmate
LOS ANGELES The California Supreme Court has named a guardian for a death-row inmate who thinks he has a computer in his head an unprecedented act that could stop his execution.
The court quietly made the move in a closed conference this summer in the case of Jon Scott Dunkle, 41, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, the Los Angeles Times reported. It made the decision based on advice from a Superior Court judge who had been asked to determine Dunkle's mental state.
A final determination of Dunkle's mental condition is critical, because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it is unconstitutional to execute the insane.
Dunkle, who also believes he has a telephone in his shoulder, was convicted of murdering three boys. He was sentenced to death at his 1989 murder trial despite being repeatedly committed to a mental hospital.

Couple, man found dead of gunshot wounds
DENVER Police found an elderly couple and another man dead of gunshot wounds in a home near the University of Denver late Saturday.
The couple's son had called police to help him enter his parents' home about 9 p.m., said Sgt. Michael Anderson.
"He hadn't seen his parents for a while and he became concerned when they wouldn't answer the door," Sgt. Anderson said.
The victims were a 78-year-old woman, an 85-year-old man and a man in his late 40s or early 50s.

State to begin pollution study
DOVER Delaware will begin a $1 million study of toxic air pollution by January to help calculate community health risks and improve regulatory programs.
The statewide Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control plans to use existing monitoring centers in Wilmington, Seaford and Delaware City and two near Summit Bridge and Felton for the study.
A Delaware task force ranked toxic air pollution research as a priority earlier this year in a report on cancer-control strategies.
Also spurring the effort was the Environmental Protection Agency's release earlier this year of health-risk assessments for 33 toxic air pollutants nationwide, which found New Castle County among the areas nationwide with high toxic pollution-related cancer risks.

Hanna downgraded to tropical depression
ATLANTA Tropical Storm Hanna was downgraded to a tropical depression yesterday after knocking out power lines and downing trees in a path across Alabama and Georgia.
"There's no real threat," said Jim Noffsinger, a National Weather Service forecaster. "You're talking about something that's now only got 20 mile per hour winds."
Before dropping below tropical-storm strength, defined as sustained winds of at least 39 mph, Hanna's heavy rain, wind and lightning had interrupted air travel, and caused power outages to about 48,000 homes.

Columnist resigns amid sex scandal
CHICAGO Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene resigned after acknowledging he engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a teenage girl, the newspaper said yesterday.
In a note on the paper's front page, editor Ann Marie Lipinski said Mr. Greene, 55, acknowledged the sexual conduct with a girl in her late teens whom he met "some years ago" in connection with his column.
Mr. Greene, 55, told the Associated Press in an e-mail yesterday that there have been "indiscretions in my life that I am not proud of."

Governor's office missed felony record
INDIANAPOLIS Aides to Gov. Frank O'Bannon acknowledge they handled the criminal history check on Walter Kevin Scott, a convicted felon who was hired in November as chief benefits officer for the $11 billion Public Employees' Retirement Fund.
The governor's office should not have been involved. State law sets the pension fund apart from other agencies and removes it from the governor's direct control, the Indianapolis Star reports.
In 1996, Mr. Scott pleaded guilty to bank and mail fraud for stealing the identities of two Ohio residents, and served two months in federal prison.
He was hired by the pension fund in a role that offered access to Social Security numbers and other personal information for current and retired public employees.

Trial set to begin for slaying suspect
TOPEKA The first two bodies were found crammed inside yellow metal barrels in a field in rural Kansas. Days later, three more missing women were found dead in 55-gallon drums at a storage locker 30 miles away in Missouri.
Authorities say John E. Robinson Sr. who owned the field and rented the locker had trolled the Internet for sex under the name "slavemaster" and is responsible for the Kansas slayings as well as four other killings, sexual assaults and the fraudulent adoption of the infant daughter of one of his victims.
Today, jury selections begins in Mr. Robinson's Kansas trial, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Inmate escapes after ID swap
LOUISVILLE A prisoner being held on theft charges and a fugitive warrant from Louisiana escaped from the Jefferson County jail Thursday by swapping identification bracelets with another inmate.
It was the second such escape in the past 19 months.
Anthony White, 34, walked out of the jail about 2:15 p.m. Thursday because guards mistook him for Bryant Briggs, 29, said Capt. Terry Green, a corrections spokesman. White was still at large last night.
Capt. Green said Briggs was scheduled to be released Thursday on his own recognizance. He had been charged with arson and being a persistent felony offender. Briggs has been charged with complicity to escape and is being held on $2,000 bond on that charge.

FBI agent slated for sentencing
BOSTON To some, John Connolly is a hero, an FBI agent who risked his life to help bring down the New England Mafia. To others, he personifies the corruption that has tainted the agency's reputation.
Both sides have come out in force to try to influence the judge who will sentence Connolly on racketeering charges today.
Connolly, 62, was convicted in May of racketeering, obstruction of justice and lying to an FBI agent. Prosecutors said he tipped off two gangsters, both top-echelon FBI informants, that they were under investigation and, later, that they were about to be indicted.

Financial adviser charged with fraud
MINNEAPOLIS Federal authorities charged a financial adviser with mail fraud during an investigation into the disappearance of millions of dollars of client funds.
Federal court documents filed Friday said Douglas Stolba acknowledged to an FBI agent that he used client funds to pay off personal debts, make home improvements and otherwise enhance his lifestyle.
Mr. Stolba, 55, turned to gambling to replace the stolen funds but lost even more of his clients' money, according to the agent's affidavit.
Mr. Stolba, who was president of Focused Retirement Planning Inc., gave authorities the names of 25 clients whose money was involved and said that the illegal activities dated to 1976.

Group celebrates 20 years of service
PRINCETON It looked like any other late-summer barbecue. But the reunion Saturday included guests who spent almost 200 years collectively in prison many on death row before they were proven innocent.
It was part of the 20th anniversary celebration of Centurion Ministries, a nonprofit group that tries to uncover evidence to free those wrongly imprisoned.
The work has resulted in exoneration for 26 persons around the country. Eighteen attended the party thrown by Centurion founder James McCloskey. DNA analysis is becoming an increasingly useful tool in work like Centurion's, Mr. McCloskey said.

Ground zero wall open to public
NEW YORK The viewing wall at ground zero, bearing the names of more than 2,800 people killed last year at the World Trade Center, was opened to the public yesterday, and travel to downtown was made easier by the reopening of several subway stations.
The wall, unveiled earlier in the week for victims' families before the September 11 anniversary ceremonies, will be lit from sundown to dawn and patrolled by Port Authority police.
The completed portion of the wall is 500 feet long and runs along the west side of Church Street.

Crowd welcomes orchestra director
CLEVELAND Franz Welser-Most received an enthusiastic reception in his debut as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Before an encore, he told Saturday night's gala concert crowd that he was "overwhelmed by the warm and generous welcome."
The program included Edgard Varese's "Tuning Up," Glinka's overture to "Russlan and Ludmilla," Haydn's Symphony No. 60, Marc-Andre Dalbavie's "Rocks Under the Water" and Respighi's "The Pines of Rome."
The Austrian-born Mr. Welser-Most first led the Cleveland Orchestra as guest conductor in 1993. He has conducted the orchestra in more than 70 concerts.

Catholic panel meets on priest abuse
A national panel responsible for monitoring the Catholic Church's new directive on sexually abusive priests will get its first look this week at how church leaders across the country are carrying out the policy.
The group has asked diocesan officials to report how they are implementing the edict, which requires that sexually abusive priests be removed from the ministry.
The panel, appointed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to the church's sex-abuse scandal, will review those reports during its second meeting today in Oklahoma City, Scripps Howard News Service reports.
William R. Burleigh, who serves on the panel, said the reports will provide a snapshot of what bishops already have done to implement the new policy and what they intend to do.

Fire destroys bus on Bonnie Raitt tour
ST. HELENS A fire destroyed a tour bus used by crew members of rocker Bonnie Raitt, temporarily disrupting a concert Saturday evening by Miss Raitt and Lyle Lovett at Columbia Meadows in St. Helens, officials said.
The fire, the cause of which was unknown, began minutes after Mr. Lovett took the stage to begin the evening show at 7:30 p.m. About 10 firefighters soon arrived, said Jay Tappan, a Columbia River Fire & Rescue spokesman. The show went on once the flames were extinguished, the Portland Oregonian reported.
"I will say one thing," Mr. Lovett said when the show resumed, "y'all have a really good fire department."

Train derailment causes evacuation
KNOXVILLE A train car carrying sulfuric acid derailed and spilled in a residential neighborhood yesterday, forcing the evacuation of every home within a mile of the site. At least 200 homes were evacuated.
No serious injuries were reported, said Alan Lawson, deputy director of the Knoxville-Knox County Emergency Management Agency.
An estimated 93,000 pounds of sulfuric acid spilled, authorities said. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Kurt Pickering said about 20 rail cars were involved in the derailment, including the one that leaked.

Doctors consider surgery for twins
DALLAS As their doctors continue to consider whether to separate them, conjoined twins Mohamed and Ahmed Ibrahim have begun undergoing physical therapy that is better preparing them for surgery.
The 15-month-old Egyptian twins, joined at the crown of their heads, are up on all fours, rocking back and forth, up and down. Each has even taken crawling motions forward.
The boys, born June 2, 2001, in a remote village in Egypt, arrived at North Texas Hospital for Children at Medical City Dallas in June to be evaluated for separation by Dr. Kenneth Salyer, founder of the World Craniofacial Foundation.
Tests have revealed that the boys' attachment at the crown of their heads is extensive and includes the connection of blood vessels. Separating them could cause one or both to die.

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