- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003


Tolerance exhibit defaced

ST. PETERSBURG — An international tolerance exhibit sponsored by a local Holocaust museum was slashed and defaced with racial slurs.

Police learned Sunday that the “Coexistence” exhibit’s billboard-size panels had been vandalized, St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt said.

All but one of the 39 works of art had been cut or spray-painted with antiblack slurs. There were no suspects, Mr. Proffitt said yesterday.

“We’re leaving them just the way they are,” said Stephen Goldman, director of the Florida Holocaust Museum. “If people are willing to vandalize things like this … it’s more necessary than we could possibly imagine.”


Last search for student fails

GRAND FORKS — National Guardsmen were sent home after what authorities called their final large-scale searches failed to turn up any sign of missing college student Dru Sjodin over the weekend.

“Unless some new information surfaces that identifies an area we haven’t covered, we’re done at least for this winter,” said Maj. Mike Fonder of the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office.

Miss Sjodin, a senior at the University of North Dakota, disappeared Nov. 22 from a parking lot at the Grand Forks mall where she worked. Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., a convicted sex offender, is charged with kidnapping Miss Sjodin.


Retired judges to hear Moore’s appeal

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Seven retired judges, including a former governor, were selected in a lottery yesterday to hear Roy Moore’s appeal of his ouster as chief justice in his Ten Commandments monument case.

The drawing came just hours after all eight Supreme Court justices disqualified themselves from hearing the appeal because of their earlier involvement in the monument case.

Mr. Moore was ousted by the Court of the Judiciary on Nov. 13 for refusing to obey a federal judge’s order to remove his 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state judicial building.


Judge praises actress in shoplifting case

BEVERLY HILLS — Winona Ryder was commended by a judge yesterday for abiding by the rules of her probation in a shoplifting case.

Ryder’s attorney, Shepard Kopp, said outside court the judge plans to review the case later and consider reducing her felony convictions to misdemeanors.

“I want to compliment you on your behavior on probation,” Superior Court Judge Elden Fox told the 32-year-old actress, who didn’t speak during the hearing.

Ryder was convicted last year of stealing several thousand dollars worth of merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills in 2001.

She was placed on three years’ probation a year ago and fined $2,700. She also was ordered to pay $6,355 in restitution to the store and $1,000 in restitution to the court. She has made those payments.


Exhibit shows details of St. Peter’s Basilica

NEW HAVEN — Visitors to the Knights of Columbus Museum can get a taste of St. Peter’s Basilica without ever traveling to Rome.

The exhibit features a 16-foot wooden model of the basilica’s dome that was commissioned by Michelangelo, including more than 100 items, such as etchings, construction tools and models. The items are on loan from the Vatican.


Towns seek to curb false fire alarms

BLOOMINGTON — Communities in southern Indiana are searching for ways to reduce false fire alarms.

Under consideration is creating stiff fines for homes and businesses where alarms frequently sound. Beginning in January, a $50 fine will be assessed in Bloomington after the fourth false alarm. A $100 penalty will be charged for each additional occurrence.


Teens in accidents more after school

WICHITA — Teenage drivers are far more likely to be in car accidents driving home after school than during their morning commute, state records show.

From 1990 through 2002, drivers under 18 were in 11,015 accidents between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., compared with 18,728 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Kansas Department of Transportation figures show. Morning commute injuries totaled 4,548; afternoon injuries jumped to 7,929.


Morning commute messy in Northeast

BOSTON — A nor’easter storm blanketed parts of the Northeast with heavy snow and slush yesterday, just a week after another snowstorm pounded the region.

At least seven deaths were blamed on the storm. Scattered school closings were reported from North Carolina to Maine, where speed limits on major highways were lowered to 45 mph because of slippery pavement.

Some flights were canceled or delayed at Logan International Airport, spokesman Phil Orlandella said. Portland International Jetport in Maine also had delays and cancellations.


Bridge opens, links states

CAPE GIRARDEA — The $100 million Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge over the Mississippi River opened after seven years of construction. Songs and speeches paid tribute to the late congressman, who fought for federal funding for the bridge.

Some 14,000 vehicles are expected to use the bridge each day. It connects Missouri and Illinois.


Voters express doubt economy will improve

HELENA — Almost half of Montana voters surveyed said they believe the state’s economy is on the wrong track. The poll, commissioned by Lee Newspapers, found 48 percent of 625 registered voters doubt that the economy will improve.

Of those polled, 52 percent ranked the economy as Montana’s most important issue. One-fourth of respondents say their personal finances are worse than three years ago.


Walks take woman around the world

LINCOLN — Nancy Samuelson has walked around the world — without going very far.

It took Miss Samuelson 16 years, 4 months, 25 days and 55 pairs of size six tennis shoes to walk 24,902 miles — the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference.

She logged the miles in daily loops around a trail near her workplace in Lincoln, one lunch hour at a time. Miss Samuelson, 42, had been making the daily trek about eight years when a co-worker asked if she had ever wondered how far she had walked.

She reached her globe-circling goal Thursday.


Pipe manufacturer charged with abuses

TRENTON — A pipe manufacturer and five of its managers have been charged with flagrant environmental abuses and maintaining a dangerous workplace, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said yesterday.

Four managers were arrested yesterday at the Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co. in Phillipsburg.

The company, a subsidiary of McWane Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., maintained dangerous conditions that contributed to the death of one worker and the maiming of several others, prosecutors said.


Tiger pulls boy into cage, kills him

MILLERS CREEK — A woman’s 400-pound Bengal tiger fatally mauled her 10-year-old nephew after pulling him under a fence and into his cage, authorities said.

The boy, Clayton James Eller, was shoveling snow Sunday afternoon near the tiger’s cage, an enclosure made of chain link fence that had an opening at the bottom so the family’s dog could go in and play, officials said.

“This little boy got too close, and it pulled him under the fence,” Coroner Howard Laney said.

The boy’s uncle, James Marshall Eller, heard Clayton scream and saw the tiger dragging the boy into its cage. Sheriff Dane Mastin said Mr. Eller tried to get the tiger off the boy, then ran and got his gun and fatally shot the tiger. But it was too late to save the boy.


Santa takes loot in bank robbery

LATROBE — Santa can mark himself down as “naughty.”

A bearded man in a red, fur-lined Santa suit and hat showed a handgun and demanded money from a bank teller yesterday, police said. He made off with an undetermined amount of cash, police said.

“I’m sure he was a little more menacing than your average Santa at the mall,” said state police Trooper Steve Barto.

The man fled just after noon carrying a red bag in which he had stuffed the cash, police said. Police said the getaway vehicle was a tan car — not a sleigh.


Unmarked graves found in subdivision

MANSFIELD — At least nine unmarked graves were found in a subdivision, and anthropologists estimated they are part of a cemetery that could be hundreds of years old. Contractors discovered the wooden caskets while excavating a construction site.

Anthropologists from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office estimate the remains are from the 1800s, police said.


Christmas wish comes true

KENNEWICK — There are still plenty of shopping days left until the holiday, but Debbie Touchette’s Christmas wish has already come true.

She found her gift — almost 6 feet tall and wrapped in a desert camouflage uniform — among the holiday decorations at a local shopping mall.

Mrs. Touchette and her sister, Nancy Thiel, were at the mall Saturday telling Santa what they wanted. In addition to diamonds — an annual request — Mrs. Touchette said she wanted her son safely home from Iraq.

Then she found Pfc. Bobby Touchette, 20, in among the Christmas ornaments.

“What better Christmas present could I give than coming home and surprising her?” he said.

Mrs. Touchette’s son has been in the Army for about two years and in Iraq for the past nine months.

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