- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2002

ALABAMA
University joins biodefense effort
BIRMINGHAM The University of Alabama-Birmingham has joined the scientific mobilization activated by the terror attacks on America and that began a year ago and is pursuing a major role in the nation's burgeoning biodefense effort, the Birmingham News reports
"I've never seen anything like this before in science," said Dr. Richard J. Whitley, a veteran virologist who is heading the initiative at the university. "I think it exceeds the war on cancer."
Dr. Whitley said UAB is joining a regional research consortium, including Duke University, the University of North Carolina, Vanderbilt University and the University of Florida, to form the Southeastern Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infections.

ARIZONA
Census shows blacks improve incomes
PHOENIX New Census data show that urban blacks and Asians enjoy higher median household incomes than whites in some of the outlying cities in the Phoenix area.
Statewide, blacks' household income grew 27.1 percent during the 1990s, twice the rate of Arizona as a whole.
The median income of Asians was about $5,000 above the state's $40,558 median in 1999.

CALIFORNIA
Touch-screen system gets judge's vote
RIVERSIDE A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California's first countywide touch-screen voting system.
The decision issued last week by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson upholds the use of the technology implemented by Riverside County officials and clears the way for other counties to replace outdated equipment, Bill Jones, secretary of state, said.
"This is a decision that erases any questions as to the accuracy, validity and accountability of touch-screen voting in California," Mr. Jones told the Desert Sun.
Voters in March approved Proposition 41, which allows the state to issue $200 million in grants so county officials can buy modern voting equipment to replace punch-card systems of the type that caused problems in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

COLORADO
Juror jailed for taking vacation
DENVER A woman who took off on vacation in the middle of her jury duty has earned herself another trip a six-hour stay in a holding cell.
Judge Robert McGahey also ordered Carmella Garcia to pay $250, the amount she was given for her jury service. The jail sentence is equal to the amount of time her fellow jurors deliberated on the day she failed to show up.
She was a juror in a legal malpractice trial that began July 29. She failed to show up Aug. 7, the day jurors heard closing arguments and began deliberations. An alternate juror was available for deliberations, but the parties settled the case before a verdict was reached.
"You made a promise to your fellow citizens, you made a promise to fellow jurors, you made a promise to the justice system, and then you blew it off," Judge McGahey said last week. "So I hope you had a good vacation."

FLORIDA
Storm threatens Atlantic coast
MIAMI Subtropical storm Gustav formed in the Atlantic yesterday and threatened coastal areas from North Carolina to Virginia with rain.
Gustav, the seventh tropical storm of the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season, was expected to move to the northwest on a track that would approach the mid-Atlantic coast late today or early tomorrow, according to the National Hurricane Center.
At 5 p.m. EDT, Gustav was centered about 410 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., forecasters said.

GEORGIA
Students protest Confederate flag ban
CANTON Some 150 Cherokee High School students showed up Friday for class wearing T-shirts with the Confederate flag emblem in protest of a school ban, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
School officials told students to change their shirts or hide the emblem, saying the flag is offensive to some students.
Principal Bill Sebring announced Thursday that Dixie Outfitters T-shirts featuring Southern heritage themes with the Confederate flag worked into the design would not be permitted on campus. Several parents checked their students out of class Friday in protest, Mr. Sebring said.
"Parents are very upset and supporting their students. They don't see it as a problem," said the principal of the 1,830-student high school in Canton.

INDIANA
Priestley recovering, waiting before racing
INDIANAPOLIS Jason Priestley, 33, won't plot his car-racing future until after he recovers from serious injuries he suffered in a crash last month.
"I want to get healthy and see how my feet work before I decide," the actor said.
Mr. Priestley is recovering at an Indianapolis rehabilitation hospital after crashing Aug. 11 during practice for an Infiniti Pro Series race at Kentucky Speedway. He broke both feet and the middle part of his back, and suffered fractures in and around his eyes and ears.
"The frustration is [based on] not being in a race car right now," the actor told the Indianapolis Star last week. "But other than that, it's not been that bad."

KANSAS
Chercrow wins ribbon at state fair
HUTCHINSON She's got blue, babe as in ribbon.
A papier-mache rendition of singer-actress Cher, wearing a tiny feather bikini, won the prize for best celebrity look-alike at the Kansas State Fair on Saturday.
The scarecrow raised a few eyebrows and concerns from fairgoers, and prompted fair board members to take a closer look.
Connie Lyle, who is going to Cher's upcoming concert in Wichita, said she liked it. "Maybe I should wear an outfit like that when we go."
Bill Ogg, the fair's general manager, decided the Chercrow could stay.

KENTUCKY
Militia movement appears on decline
LEXINGTON The militia movement in Kentucky, once a stronghold of paramilitary activity in the United States, appears to be waning.
With former Kentucky State Militia commander Charlie Puckett in prison and Steve Anderson another high-profile member of the group being sought as a fugitive, the militia is in disarray, despite recent efforts to regroup.
The state militia is dead without Puckett's leadership, militiaman Roger Shanks of Lancaster said recently when Puckett was sentenced to 30 months in prison on federal weapons charges.
"It's not anymore," Mr. Shanks said when asked how the organization is faring. "When I joined, I joined because of Charlie Puckett."
The Kentucky militia's decline follows a national trend that has seen the number of civilian paramilitary groups drop from 858 in 1996 to 158 last year.
MASSACHUSETTS
Musharraf slams anti-Muslim bias
BOSTON Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf warned yesterday of growing anti-Muslim bias that threatened to split the Islamic world and the West.
In a speech at Harvard University, Mr. Musharraf also pledged Pakistan's continued commitment to the U.S.-led war against terrorism and defended recent constitutional changes extending his term as military ruler.
"There is concern among the Islamic nations over the emergence of widespread prejudice, in some cases xenophobia," Mr. Musharraf said.
"We must ensure the Islamic world and the West are allies in combating terrorism, and do not at any stage turn into antagonists confronting each other," he said.
Pakistan's president is due to address the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York, which will be dominated by the issue of possible U.S. military action against Iraq.

MINNESOTA
Old locomotive heads to museum
EAST GRAND FORKS Andy Hyde rigged a cable around Northern Pacific steam locomotive 2153 in East Grand Forks. The old locomotive was being relocated to the Minnesota Transportation Museum in St. Paul, the Herald reports.
The swap of a steam locomotive for a caboose was completed in East Grand Forks last Wednesday, leaving some local residents feeling that they received the tail end of the deal.
Representatives of the Minnesota Transportation Museum hauled away the locomotive that overlooked the southeast corner of Sherlock Park. Before that, they dropped off a caboose that was part of the trade.
The caboose was placed on tracks in the Heritage Village, in front of Casey Holt Junction, the home of the Northern Lights Model Railroad Club. The caboose, with a faded paint job on the outside and a gutted inside, disappointed clubs members.
"It ain't what we expected," said Tim Holt, club treasurer. "We thought we'd get a restored one. This one's rough."

NEVADA
Ambulance helicopter crashes, killing three
LAS VEGAS An air ambulance helicopter crashed en route to picking up a patient early Saturday, killing three persons.
The Mercy Air Bell 222 helicopter went down about six miles into California near Interstate 15, the National Transportation and Safety Board and Mercy Air said.
The pilot, a flight nurse and paramedic were killed. No patients were aboard.
The helicopter was en route to a traffic accident in Baker, Calif.

NORTH CAROLINA
Guard unit comes home
FORT BRAGG Military police from the North Carolina National Guard returned Saturday, seven months after they began guarding al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan.
About 250 friends and family members gathered at the Army post awaiting the return of members of the 211th Military Police Company.
The unit was given two weeks' leave before it has to return to duty at Fort Bragg.
"It's a new beginning for us," Geraldine Shields told the Asheville Citizen-Times as she waited for her husband, Nathan, a staff sergeant. "We've never been apart in 20 years for more than two weeks. I learned to be a stronger wife. I had to learn to deal with more."
OHIO
Teen used hammer in dispute, police say
WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS A 16-year-old boy was in police custody on Saturday, accused of bludgeoning another student with a hammer during a dispute over a video-game controller, authorities said.
The attack occurred at Warrensville Heights High School.
The victim, also 16, suffered a fractured skull and was taken to Hillcrest Hospital.
His accused attacker could be charged with felony assault, police Detective Dennis Fossett said. He was being held in a juvenile detention center.

PENNSYLVANIA
Man convicted in murder of siblings
SCRANTON A man has been convicted for the third time in the 1983 slayings of three elderly siblings during a robbery.
The jury, which has been sequestered, returns today to decide whether David Chmiel, 47, should again be sentenced to death. The panel deliberated for 10 hours before returning with its guilty verdict on Saturday evening.
Chmiel's previous convictions and death sentences were overturned on appeal.
He was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of Angelina, James and Victor Lunario of Throop, all in their late 60s and early 70s, as well as two counts of robbery and one of burglary.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Boy under house arrest can attend church
ROCK HILL A judge has ruled that a 14-year-old boy under house arrest since he was charged with fatally shooting a foster child in his home can attend church with his family.
The boy, who is home-schooled, had been allowed out only to meet his lawyer or doctor.
The boy told authorities in March that the gun accidentally fired when 12-year-old Ashlee Knipp entered the kitchen and surprised him. He is charged with murder.

Texas
Man questioned, released, in ambush
EDINBURG A 21-year-old man detained for questioning in the murder of four Rio Grande Valley women and the wounding of a fifth has been released with no charges filed, authorities said.
The women were attacked as they returned home from a nightclub near the Mexican border. Witnesses had accused the man of threatening them at the club.
Several other persons held for questioning also were released Friday night, Capt. Roy Quintanilha of the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department said in a statement Saturday.

WASHINGTON
Couple auctions off Cobain family home
MONTESANO An Oregon couple is hoping to cash in on Kurt Cobain's childhood.
Ed and Jennifer McKee, of Oregon City, Ore., are auctioning off the former Nirvana frontman's childhood home on eBay.
The couple, who invest in houses to fix up and sell, bought the home last month for $42,500. At the time, they said they had no idea Mr. Cobain once lived there. Mr. Cobain lived in the house from age 11 to 15 with his father, Don, and his stepmother, Jenny.
The McKees set an opening bid of $200,000, although the turn-of-the-century home was valued at only $52,660 in 2000. As of yesterday, no one had offered a bid. The auction ends Sept. 15.
Mr. Cobain committed suicide April 8, 1994. He was 27.


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