- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2002


Defense seeks bail for supposed al Qaeda cell

BUFFALO Attorneys for six U.S. citizens of Yemeni descent reported to be an al Qaeda cell tried yesterday to convince a federal judge that their clients were not a threat and should be released on bail.

The six men Mukhtar al-Bakri, 22; Yasein Taher, 24; Faysal Galab, 26; Sahim Alwan, 29; Yahya Goba, 25; and Shafal Mosed, 24 have been charged with providing "material support" to al Qaeda, the militant Islamic network led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden that the United States blames for the September 11 attacks.

Although the six men had no direct connection to the attacks, investigators said they were trained to use assault rifles and other weapons in an al Qaeda-run camp in Afghanistan in the spring and summer of 2001.


Rapper ordered to pay in bodyguard-beating case

WINSTON-SALEM Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has been ordered to pay $2.45 million to a man who claims he was beaten by bodyguards whom the rap mogul hired to protect Mary J. Blige in 1995.

Cedrick Bobby Lemon claimed Mr. Combs was Miss Blige's manager at the time and that he hired the bodyguards for a performance at Joel Coliseum.

Judge William Z. Wood of Forsyth Civil Superior Court ordered the payment on Sept. 10 because Mr. Combs didn't answer within a 30-day time limit, according to court records.

"We have just learned of this lawsuit. As it has no merit whatsoever, we intend to take all necessary steps to have it dismissed," a spokeswoman for Mr. Combs said Tuesday.

The lawsuit says Mr. Lemon, 32, was punched by guards as they tried to clear a backstage area to allow Miss Blige to leave. It also claims Mr. Lemon was kicked in the back and that his right ankle was broken.


Fish and Game, timber in showdown

ANCHORAGE The timber industry and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are at loggerheads over how best to protect streams that produce trout, grayling, Dolly Varden and other species, the News reports.

In essence, the fight is about the state requiring permits to build logging roads across these streams, and the industry balking. With a gubernatorial election just two months away, some see the battle as more about politics than fish.

"It looks to us like the industry is trying to fabricate an issue because they want to take the responsibility of protecting fish away from Fish and Game and give it to the timber sale administrators," said Buck Lindekugal, an attorney for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.


Largest archdiocese to cut programs

LOS ANGELES The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation's largest, will lay off at least 60 workers and cut eight programs to stem a $4.3 million deficit.

The announcement came two weeks after the diocese opened a landmark $189 million cathedral that critics have long said would harm other programs.

Cardinal Roger Mahony said the fiscal woes have nothing to do with the cathedral project. The deficit is a result of losses from investments made in the stock market, he said.

Other church officials have said in the past that the diocese needs to set aside money to prepare for the potential costs of sexual abuse cases.


Man pleads guilty to sexual assault

A Denver man pleaded guilty this week to sexual assault, kidnapping and burglary in a lingerie-party scheme in which three women were raped, the Rocky Mountain News reports.

James Gipson, 26, faces a minimum prison sentence of 50 years when he is sentenced Dec. 6.

Gipson was accused of using his girlfriend, Melissa Todd, to lure his victims to a "lingerie party."

Miss Todd told the victims she was a Victoria's Secret salesclerk, invited them to a special sale, took their home telephone numbers and called to pick them up later. Instead, she took them to a spot where Gipson raped them.


Peruvian author backs prize for dissident Cuban

MIAMI Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa backed the nomination of Cuban dissident leader Oswaldo Paya as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, U.S.-based Cuban exiles announced yesterday.

Mr. Paya was nominated for the prize June 7 by Czech President Vaclav Havel for his leadership of the pro-democracy Varela Project, which has collected 11,000 signatures petitioning the Cuban government to allow free elections and civil liberties.

Mr. Vargas Llosa's declaration of support was submitted to the Czech-based People in Need foundation, which has collected signatures of those supporting Mr. Paya's nomination, including that of Colombian Apuleyo Mendoza, according to two Miami-based Cuban exile groups, the Liberal Cuban Union and the Democratic Cuban Directorate.


Study says 20 percent can't afford rent

BOISE A fifth of Idaho's households don't make enough money to cover the fair market rent on a two-bedroom home, according to a new housing affordability study and the U.S. Census.

Social advocates say the economic downturn has made the situation worse, the Statesman reports.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition, in its annual "Out of Reach" report, found that the average Idaho household needs an annual income of $20,534 this year an hourly rate of $9.87 for one worker to cover the fair market rent that averages $513 a month and still have money left for food and other basic needs.

Rents, and the income needed to cover those rents, are higher than the state average in Ada and Canyon counties, where a household income of $23,200 is needed to cover an average monthly rent of $580, according to the newly released figures.


Preserved fingertips win national award

BLOOMINGTON When it arrived in May, Monroe County officials could not have known a jar of preserved fingertips would bring them a national award.

But earlier this month, the fingertips took the "Pickled Skunk Brains" award from the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association. The award is given each year for the most unusual item handled by a hazardous-materials agency.

Monroe County received the jar of fingertips after the conclusion of a lawsuit filed by an unidentified woman who sued a lumber producer when her fingers had to be amputated after handling arsenic-treated lumber without gloves.

The jar was later sent to a company that specializes in hazardous biological materials in Indianapolis, where it was incinerated. Hazardous-materials agencies more commonly dispose of paint, household chemicals and used motor oil.


Court rules group cannot sue governor

SPRINGFIELD A taxpayer watchdog group cannot sue Gov. George Ryan and other state officials over a licenses-for-bribes scandal, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled yesterday, striking down a citizens' anti-fraud law.

The court held that only the attorney general can sue state officials to recover money, such as salary and benefits paid to corrupt employees, that should have gone to the state.

"Where, as here, the state is the real party in interest, individual taxpayers have no standing to bring the cause of action," Justice Thomas Kilbride wrote for the court.

The Better Government Association had sued over a bribery scandal that took place while Mr. Ryan was secretary of state. The group was seeking to recover the salaries of employees who took bribes to issue driver's licenses to unqualified truck drivers.


Inmate released; DNA evidence cited

FRANKFORT A man imprisoned 13 years for rape was freed Wednesday after a judge set aside his conviction, saying new DNA evidence probably would change the outcome of the case.

Herman May Jr., who was sentenced to 20 years in prison, had insisted he was wrongly convicted of raping a woman in Frankfort in 1988. The woman later acknowledged having had consensual sex before the reported attack.

May's case was taken up by the Kentucky Innocence Project, which assists prisoners who might be exonerated through genetic testing.

Test results showed DNA from semen did not match May's. The test was inconclusive for the man with whom the woman acknowledged having intercourse.


Rocker to auction home furnishing items

NEW ORLEANS Fans of Lenny Kravitz can buy some of his eclectic home furnishing items, including a full suit of armor, at an auction this weekend.

The 38-year-old rock star is selling more than 1,700 pieces of antique furniture and bric-a-brac, nearly everything he had in his French Quarter home, said Michael DeGeorge, consignment agent for New Orleans Auction Galleries.

Sidney Torres IV, a friend of Mr. Kravitz's, said the rocker decided to completely redecorate the house he bought in the early 1990s and decorated with items bought at New Orleans antique shops.


Zoo finds missing tortoise

LINCOLN Tortoises can't climb walls all that well, so when an African leopard tortoise went missing at the Folsom Children's Zoo Monday evening, officials were pretty sure it had some human, um, help.

But good news: It turned up Wednesday in another part of the zoo.

Zoo officials believe the tortoise was taken from the circular pen it shares with 12 other tortoises. Officials do not know how or why.

"There's absolutely no way it could have climbed out of its enclosure," said John Chapo, executive director of the zoo. "Tortoises aren't known for scaling straight walls. They're not little spiders."

Employees assumed the tortoise was stolen. After all, it has happened before, most recently in 2000. They called the police.


Christmas comes early for schools

CONCORD Nine local school districts will be enjoying faster computers, snazzier buildings and improved handicap access as a result of a federal grant program that brought more than $5 million to the state's public schools, the Monitor reports.

Among schools in the region, Laconia and Pittsfield school districts ran away with some of the largest chunks of the grant money. Pittsfield Middle-High School will receive $300,000, the maximum that was awarded for a single proposal, to renovate a building used for industrial arts classrooms, and Laconia was awarded $238,000 toward renovations at Woodland Heights School, which needs an estimated $4.3 million overhaul.

"Friday the 13th was lucky for us," said Woodland Heights Principal Ronda Lezberg, who learned her school had won the grant on Sept. 13.

The grant money came to the state Department of Education from the federal government as part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act.


Survivor miners to get royal treatment

ATLANTIC CITY It's a long way from a flooded coal mine to the Miss America Pageant. But three miners who survived being trapped in a Somerset, Pa., mine will get the royal treatment this weekend.

Robert Pugh, Ronald Hileman and Dennis Hall will serve as grand marshals of the Miss America Pageant parade today and will get VIP seating at tomorrow's pageant.

"They're heroes," said Sally Romonowski, parade administrator.

The three were among nine miners pulled from the Quecreek Mine on July 27 after being trapped underground for 77 hours.

They were planning a trip to the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort this weekend; when pageant officials found out, the invitation was extended.


Grand jury indicts anthrax threat figure

PHILADELPHIA An anti-abortion crusader convicted in Ohio this year on firearms and car theft charges was indicted yesterday in Pennsylvania for reportedly sending hundreds of hoax anthrax letters to abortion clinics.

Clayton Lee Waagner was named in a 79-count indictment handed up by a federal grand jury charging him with violating a federal law guaranteeing access to clinic entrances, threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction, interfering with commerce, mailing threatening communications and threatening interstate communications.

The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan, who said Waagner made threats to kill and injure that were "specific and public. He promised to deliver anthrax and other bio-weapons through the mail. We take such threats seriously and will prosecute all violations of federal law."

He was a jailbreak fugitive and on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list when he was arrested last December with guns and a stolen car.


Fishermen net dog gone to sea

BLOCK ISLAND You could say Booboo is a champion dog paddler.

How else to explain the appearance of the 3-year-old Staffordshire terrier sloshing through Block Island Sound, miles from the coast?

Booboo's story, which surfaced this week, is neither a fish tale nor a shaggy dog story, even though two fishermen rescued the sturdy short-haired dog, reports the Providence Journal.

Sport fisherman Tyler Savage, Mr. Savage's boss, Brian Cook, and another man had taken the morning off to fish for stripers. On their way back to a dock in Jamestown, they saw what they thought was a seal. It was Booboo. When Mr. Cook shut off the engine and called, the dog swam straight to the boat. Mr. Cook grabbed it and called the Coast Guard on an emergency frequency.

Radioing back, a boater responded. "What were you trolling with? Milk-Bones?"


'Life' plates deemed government speech

CHARLESTON Putting "Choose Life" on license plates is government not private speech, so South Carolina is not required to provide plates with opposing views, Attorney General Charlie Condon contends.

"The Choose Life license plate is the most recent and apparently the most visible manifestation of the state's clear and oft-repeated preference for childbirth over abortion," said documents filed recently by the Attorney General's Office in a federal lawsuit challenging the plates.


State to acquire railroad rights of way

SALT LAKE CITY Davis County officials, battered by the prospect that Legacy Highway could be years away from being built, can console themselves with knowledge of an announcement scheduled for today: The Utah Transit Authority officially will take over commuter rail rights of way between Brigham City and Payson.

The acquisition heralds the construction of a 35-mile commuter-rail line between Salt Lake City and Ogden by 2007, with four of seven stations proposed for the traffic-clogged county, the Tribune reports.

"This is extremely important," said state Rep. Stuart Adams, Layton Republican. "We need the ability to have an alternate to roads in Davis County. It will only be a great day when [commuter rail] is built."

He received the news this week that a federal appeals court ordered the state to perform additional environmental studies on the proposed route.


Balloon will show silo's proposed height

BURLINGTON A brightly colored balloon will dance in the breeze today atop a silo on Greenbush Road in Charlotte, reports the Free Press.

There's no birthday bash or new baby to announce, though. This balloon will give Charlotte residents a look at how high the silo would be if town officials approve a plan to raise the height to accommodate wireless-phone antennas from the company Nextel Partners.

The silo's height would increase from 47 feet to 62 feet, said Gloria Warden, Charlotte's planning and zoning assistant. The balloon is 3 feet in diameter and will be up for several hours this afternoon, Miss Warden said.


Officials break up prostitution ring

SEATTLE Authorities have broken up a prostitution ring that reportedly brought young Southeast Asian women to America and forced them to work in brothels as far away as New York.

A two-year investigation involving the FBI, Seattle police and other agencies led to the arrests of eight persons in Seattle, Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., U.S. Attorney John McKay said Wednesday.

Generally in their 20s, the women were brought to the United States from countries including China, Malaysia and Korea. Upon arrival, they were coerced into prostitution to pay their travel debts, Mr. McKay said.

The women were rotated to brothels throughout the country as far away as New York, he said.


Area students gather for prayer at poles

CHEYENNE Many Christian students in Cheyenne joined millions of students across the country Wednesday morning as they took part in the 13th annual See You at the Pole prayer event, the Tribune-Eagle reports.

See You at the Pole is a national day of student prayer where student-led groups meet around their school's flagpole before classes and pray to raise awareness about their belief in God.

At Central, students gathered around the flagpole at 7 a.m.

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