- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Yale workers begin strike over wages

NEW HAVEN — Nearly 4,000 Yale University workers went on strike over wages, pensions and job security early yesterday, a walkout that coincided with students’ return to the Ivy League campus.

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said the university plans to keep the campus running with managers and temporary workers, who were on hand to help students move into dorms. No new contract talks were scheduled.

“We’re still very far apart on the issues,” said John Proto, president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Local 35.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson visited the campus and rallied with the mostly clerical, service and maintenance workers.


State OKs laying cable in coral reefs

TALLAHASSEE — Republican Gov. Jeb Bush and state agencies have approved five routes through South Florida coral reefs where communications companies can lay undersea fiber-optic cables. The rules approved Tuesday give incentives for companies to lay cable in the natural corridors off Broward and Palm Beach counties instead of in denser coral beds. Cables would be banned from coral-rich areas of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.

Environmentalists had urged the state to require companies to drill under the reefs or route their cables 100 miles north, where coral is less abundant. They cited a 1999 accident in which two cables came loose and dislodged 283 corals, which take hundreds of years to grow.


Auction goer makes aesthetic discovery

PHOENIX — Neil King took a risk when he shelled out $75 at a public-storage auction for the contents of a broken-down trailer. And it paid off.

As he sorted through the garbage bags of what appeared to old clothes and junk, he made an aesthetic discovery.

Amid the mess, the 40-year-old Mesa man found artwork by the Flagg family, a group of well-known and eccentric Scottsdale artists, that could be worth as much as $1 million.

The crafty contents included a wood carving of an American Indian by Dee Flagg, who drove either a Rolls Royce or a 1914 firetruck around town with the Indian as his passenger. Mr. Flagg sported a handlebar mustache and wore Western garb.

The auction was held two weeks ago, after workers at Scottsdale Storage Max said they could not contact Mr. Flagg’s sister, Irene, or other family members. Miss Flagg had rented space at the storage company since 1993, but had stopped making payments earlier this year.


Inmates moved to more secure facility

VARNER — All 39 of the state’s death-row inmates have been moved permanently to the state prison system’s Varner Supermax Unit, corrections officials say.

For the past 10 years, they had been held at the Tucker Maximum Security Unit in Jefferson County, but an additional 156 beds made available earlier this year at Varner allowed the prison department to move the inmates to the more secure facility.


Earthquakes shake Los Angeles County

SANTA CLARITA — A series of small earthquakes shook Los Angeles County late Tuesday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

A magnitude-3.8 temblor struck at 11:02 p.m. about five miles west of Valencia, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Geological Survey. A magnitude-2.6 quake had hit the area a minute earlier, and a magnitude-2.7 temblor had occurred at 11:03 p.m.

All were part of a series related to a magnitude-3.2 earthquake that hit the unincorporated area in the eastern part of the county early Monday, according to California Institute of Technology seismologist Joe Franck.


Friends save man hit by lightning

PARK COUNTY — The last thing Matt Thomsen remembers was standing near his truck, waiting for his friends to catch up.

When he woke up, he discovered that lightning had knocked out his tongue ring and left a purple trail running down his body.

“It’s great to be breathing again,” said Matt, 17. “I’m very thankful.”

“I saw a bright red flash and heard a big bang,” said his friend, Chris Allen, 17. “I ran for cover and I saw Matt go to the ground. I ran back over to him and he was smoking from his chest.”

Jessica Folsom, 17, said that by the time she arrived, Matt was turning blue. “People just starting yelling, ‘Do mouth-to-mouth,’” she told the Rocky Mountain News. “Nobody was doing it, so I started doing it. I didn’t have any clue. I was so scared.”

Jessica and Chris said they had not revived anyone before and knew how only from watching television.


DuPont donates land near Okefenokee Swamp

ATLANTA — The DuPont Co. is making the largest land conservation gift in Georgia history, donating 16,000 acres near the Okefenokee Swamp that it once planned to mine for titanium dioxide.

Gov. Sonny Perdue made the announcement at a news conference in his office, calling the company’s gift “a farsighted act of social responsibility.”

The land on the eastern edge of the Okefenokee will be protected from development and mining after it is turned over to Virginia-based Conservation Fund.

The gift surpasses the previous largest land-related donation in Georgia — 5,600 acres in northeast White County, which conservationist Charles Smithgall sold to the state in 1994 for $11 million, half its appraised value.


Woman sentenced for assaulting stripper

WHEELING — Call it a case of mom gone wild.

A 52-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to assaulting a male stripper after she refused to pay him for what she says was a bad performance at her daughter’s bachelorette party.

Jacqueline A. McMahon was sentenced to 30 days of court supervision and ordered to pay $2,500 as restitution to the stripper in a plea deal reached Monday. Prosecutors also agreed to drop battery charges against McMahon’s daughter, Carrie L. McMahon, 22, and a bridesmaid.

The 28-year-old man suffered head injuries, bruises and scratches when he was punched, kicked and hit over the head with a bottle after his performance July 13 last year at a Holiday Inn hotel in Crystal Lake.


OxyContin sales shelved due to robberies

LAFAYETTE — A pharmacy has decided to stop selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin after being robbed thrice in one month and twice in one day by people trying to steal the drug.

Lafayette police arrested three men for the latest robbery.


Driving law curbs crash rate of teens

DES MOINES — Officials say a 4-year-old law limiting the hours when teens can drive is helping lower the crash rate among young drivers.

A state Transportation Department spokesman said the crash rate for 16-year-olds has dropped more than 21 percent, from 1,759 crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers in 1995 to 1,385 crashes in 2000.

The law limits driving between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m.


Jury sentences rapist to death

NEW ORLEANS — A jury Tuesday sentenced a 38-year-old man convicted of raping his stepdaughter when she was 8.

The Jefferson Parish jury deliberated for two hours before sentencing the man, who was convicted Monday of aggravated rape, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported. The newspaper has withheld his name to protect the child’s identity.

It was the first such sentence meted out under a 1995 Louisiana law allowing a death sentence for the rape of a child younger than 12.

The girl was attacked March 2, 1998. At first she told police that she was raped by a young man as she sorted Girl Scout cookies in the open garage of her Woodmere home. But 21 months later, she told her mother that she had been raped by her stepfather. The victim said her stepfather made her lie to the police about the attack.


Judge orders hiring of white firefighters

BOSTON — Four white men passed over for firefighting jobs in favor of minority candidates who scored lower on civil service tests must be hired as soon as possible, a federal judge has ruled.

The men had sued the Boston Fire Department for discrimination. They must also be awarded back pay and seniority they would have earned since October 2000, the date they were denied employment, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns ordered Monday.

A fifth plaintiff who was hired last October also will get a pay raise under the ruling.

The city is exploring its options, officials said.

The judge’s decision applies only to the men who sued and was not intended to establish a precedent for other white applicants who were passed over in October 2000.


Woman charged with selling child

HAMPTON — A woman accused of trying to swap her 19-month-old son to his father for $2,000 and a sport utility vehicle was jailed on kidnapping and extortion charges.

Heather Fields, 28, was arrested last week outside a liquor store where she reportedly arranged to exchange her son for the cash and a 1999 Ford Explorer. She is accused of trying to sell the boy to his father, who lives in Massachusetts and had been granted temporary custody.

Authorities said the father told police that his son had been missing for more than five weeks. Police returned the child to his father.

The South Portland, Maine, native had not made bail and remained in jail Monday afternoon, a jail official said.


New power outage strikes Newark

NEWARK — Downtown office buildings, a hospital and a utility’s headquarters lost power yesterday when circuits failed.

The utility, PSE&G;, originally believed that the problem was related to the massive Aug. 14 blackout that struck much of the Northeast, but it later blamed a smaller power failure from last week.

A circuit was damaged Friday, and the utility spent the weekend repairing it, spokeswoman Emma Byrne said. But it failed again when it was returned to service at 4 a.m. Wednesday, also damaging a second circuit. A third circuit was then shut down to prevent further damage, she said.

Affected buildings included St. Michael’s Medical Center, a Rutgers University science building, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and PSE&G;’s own headquarters. Some buildings, including the hospital, started to regain power by midmorning.


Orangutan hugs startled zoo volunteer

ROCHESTER — Sometimes even an orangutan needs a hug.

Seneca Park Zoo volunteer Paul Lewis was cleaning out a monkey habitat when he heard something move behind him Tuesday. He turned his head and saw Lowell, a 300-pound orangutan, who had escaped from an adjoining cage.

Mr. Lewis, 56, an animal lover who took the part-time job three months ago because he had always wanted to work at a zoo, says he wasn’t afraid.

He tried to slip out through a gate, but the orangutan followed him and stopped him from closing it. Lowell then wrapped his arms around Mr. Lewis’ legs and held on calmly — for nearly five minutes.

When the orangutan eventually loosened his grip, he took Mr. Lewis by the hand and led him back toward his enclosure. At one point, the animal even picked up Mr. Lewis and put him down. Moments later, he pushed him out of the cage. By then, a veterinarian had arrived with a tranquilizer gun. The orangutan was knocked out for up to four hours.


Man imprisoned for impersonating officer

MUSKOGEE — A man who impersonated an Army officer and took charge of parts of a rescue operation after a bridge collapse was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison.

William James Clark, 37, who pleaded guilty in May, was sentenced Tuesday for falsely impersonating a U.S. Army officer and for possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, said U.S. Attorney Sheldon J. Sperling.

Clark, of Tallapoosa, Mo., showed up minutes after a towboat pushing two barges rammed a bridge over Interstate 40 in May last year. Fourteen persons died after the impact sent their vehicles into the Arkansas River.

The would-be solider identified himself as a captain assigned to the 10th U.S. Special Forces Group in Fort Carson, Colo., Mr. Sperling said. Dressed in combat fatigues, Clark conducted media interviews and examined victims’ personal effects.

Mr. Sperling said Clark’s deception helped him to obtain a pickup from a car dealer, as well as supplies and motel rooms. He left the site after Webbers Falls Mayor Jewell Horne confronted him.


Safety concerns close lighter Web site

BRADFORD — A company has snuffed a Web site featuring hundreds of tricks that can be performed with its trademark lighters.

Officials with Bradford-based Zippo Manufacturing Co. on Monday shut down the site, noting “concerns of some in the fire safety industry.”

A message from Web site founder Morton Kjolberg said, “although I personally don’t agree with these concerns, we have reached a point where we are left with no other alternative other than to shut zippotricks.com down.”

The site detailed 555 tricks submitted by Zippo tricksters as well as video demonstrations of such fiery feats as “Dante’s Halo,” “Devil’s Kiss” and “Hogan’s Leg Drop.”

In June, James Shannon, head of the National Fire Protection Association, wrote to Zippo’s president and chief executive officer, Greg Booth, asking him to shut down the site and cancel a 10-city tour of Zippo tricksters.


Court upholds treatment program

COLUMBIA — A man serving 35 years in prison on child molestation and other charges cannot force the state to treat him in a sex-offender program, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled.

Chuck Sullivan, a former coach at two Catholic schools, filed a grievance when he wasn’t immediately allowed into the second phase of a treatment program. He pleaded guilty to 32 charges in 1998.

Sullivan contended that the state constitution guarantees him a right to rehabilitation. The court said it doesn’t guarantee the right to participate in a particular program.


Parents fault teacher’s suggestion

OREM — Some parents of Orem High School sophomores sought to pull their children from an honors English class after the teacher is reported to have urged students to open their minds about sexual orientation and same-sex “marriage.”

A district spokeswoman said the teacher asked students to examine why they believe what they believe, but added that there’s no evidence the teacher encouraged or promoted any specific ideas.


Sniper probe enters ‘permanent’ stage

CHARLESTON — The task force investigating three fatal sniper-style shootings will move to new headquarters as the search for the shooter moves into a new phase, a spokeswoman said yesterday.

“We’re now transitioning from that crisis stage to a permanent phase of the investigation,” said Vera Fedorak, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The city, county and federal task force will move from the West Virginia National Guard Armory to a downtown location this week.

The task force has received more than 1,000 leads since three persons were killed by a .22-caliber rifle outside Kanawha County convenience stores in shootings over a four-day period.

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