- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 17, 2003


Panda cub ‘Born in the USA’

SAN DIEGO — Attention Bruce Springsteen: You have a friend at the San Diego Zoo.

The almost 4-month-old male panda, born in captivity at the San Diego Zoo, was named on Tuesday as Mei Sheng, or “Born in the USA.”

Mei Sheng was born Aug. 19, but according to Chinese tradition, baby pandas are not named until 100 days after birth. The panda’s parents are on loan to the zoo from China.


Warehouse blaze kills firefighter

NEW YORK — A firefighter from the city Fire Academy’s first post-September 11 class was killed while battling a blaze that raged for hours at a Manhattan warehouse.

Thomas Brick, 30, was pronounced dead Tuesday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Three firefighters were injured.

He was only the second New York City firefighter to die in the line of duty since the September 11 terrorist attacks, which killed 343 firefighters.


Sled dog race draws 35 entries

FAIRBANKS — Thirty-five mushers have signed up for the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, to begin Feb. 14 in Fairbanks.

The 2004 field headed to Whitehorse, Canada, will include two-time defending champion Hans Gatt of Atlin, British Columbia.

He will attempt to become the first musher in the 21-year history of the race to win the Quest thrice.


‘Gonzo’ journalist faces leg surgery

HONOLULU — “Gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson is recovering but faces surgery after breaking his leg in a fall at his Waikiki hotel, his wife said Tuesday.

Mr. Thompson had traveled to Hawaii to cover the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday as a columnist for ESPN.com. Anita Thompson said he was injured early Friday when he slipped on the bathroom floor.

After a brief hospital stay, Mr. Thompson, 66, and his wife were returning to their home in Aspen, Colo., where he will have surgery.

Mr. Thompson had planned to join actor Josh Hartnett on the pace vehicle for the annual marathon.


Utility sells off forest, farmland

INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly all the 4,000 acres of forest and farmland that a utility once envisioned as a power plant site will remain undeveloped.

Four businessmen placed a winning $8.5 million bid for about 2,550 acres of the land in Morgan County that will be used for farming and some logging.

The state purchased 1,500 acres for $4.5 million for parkland.


Company joins Amber Alert network

TOPEKA — Technicians working for SBC Communications Inc. are now part of the Amber Alert system for finding abducted children.

David Kerr, president of SBC’s Kansas operations, said the company will page technicians in the field about the alerts so that they can watch for suspect vehicles, suspects, or abducted children.

SBC employs more than 700 technicians statewide.


Drug combination treats prostate

BOSTON — Two workhorse drugs can be combined to strike a doubly powerful blow against symptoms of an enlarged prostate, an irritating and occasionally dangerous condition widespread in older men, a study found.

Researchers say that as many as 7 million men might benefit from the combined drugs, which act in different ways on the body to ease such symptoms as weak or urgent urination.

“I can’t think of many combination therapies where two drugs work by different mechanisms and jointly work so much better. It’s a beautiful outcome,” said one of the study’s leaders, Dr. Claus Roehrborn, a urologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The two drugs, doxazosin and finasteride, are widely used, but normally not combined, to treat an enlarged prostate. The study was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Escaped steer gets reprieve

DETROIT — A steer that fled the slaughterhouse two weeks ago will get the chance to live out his days on a Michigan farm.

The slaughterhouse’s owner and representatives of an animal sanctuary reached an agreement on Monday that will spare the steer’s life.

The animal has been monitored by federal food inspectors since it was shot with a tranquilizer dart near a busy Detroit street on Dec 2. Under federal rules, the steer legally could have been slaughtered yesterday.

Instead, the Al Badr Slaughterhouse will donate the animal to the Sanctuary and Safe Haven for Animals, said Dorothy Davies, director of the Manchester farm.

The farm will pay the slaughterhouse an undisclosed sum to cover charges associated with the steer’s break, including the cost of a crane to lift the sedated animal, two weeks’ worth of feed and veterinary expenses.


Tribunal orders judge suspended

JACKSON — A tribunal ordered the suspension with pay of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, who was charged in a judicial bribery scheme. The tribunal was selected from circuit and chancery judges.

A federal grand jury has indicted Judge Diaz. It said he was among several judges who received money from a lawyer who gained an unfair advantage after the payoff.


Judge declares snowmobile limit

BILLINGS — Just hours before the first snowmobiles of the season were to rumble through Yellowstone National Park, a federal judge in Washington left officials scrambling to comply with Clinton-era entry rules that the Bush administration had scrapped.

The decision, issued late Tuesday, cut sharply the number of snowmobiles allowed to enter Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks each day to reduce pollution.

Snowmobiles had been allowed in Yellowstone and Grand Teton with little regulation. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the Bush administration should not have set aside a Clinton-era plan that permits only 493 snowmobiles a day in Yellowstone and 50 a day in Grand Teton.

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association Inc. and the Blue Ribbon Coalition asked for a stay in the decision yesterday.

The judge struck down a Bush administration National Park Service plan that would have allowed up to 1,140 snowmobiles a day, and ordered a plan, which would eliminate snowmobiles in the parks by 2005.


Court upholds abortion ban

CINCINNATI — An Ohio law that bans partial-birth abortion is constitutionally acceptable and can be enforced by the state, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to reverse a lower court’s ruling against the law, which had been challenged before it could take effect in August 2000.

U.S. District Judge Walter Rice of Dayton ruled in 2001 that Ohio’s law was unconstitutional because it wouldn’t allow partial-birth abortion to be used when it is safer than other procedures for a patient.


Police officer kills self at desk

OKLAHOMA CITY — A veteran Oklahoma City police inspector who was going to receive an officer of the year award next month fatally shot himself at his desk yesterday.

The reason for the suicide of Gerald “Butch” McKenna was not known, Capt. Jeffrey Becker said. Inspector McKenna was a 24-year veteran of the police department and had worked in the sex-crimes unit for the past 15 years. He and a detective recently were selected police officers of the year by the Kiwanis Club for their work in helping solve a serial-rapist case.


Man gets life in death of witness

PROVIDENCE — A man was sentenced yesterday to life in prison plus 20 years for the murder of a 15-year-old girl who was gunned down so that she couldn’t testify against him in another murder case.

Charles Pona, 22, was convicted last month of charges including murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the May 2000 shooting death of Jennifer Rivera outside her Providence home.

Prosecutors said Pona orchestrated Jennifer’s killing after she told police that she saw him fleeing after the 1999 murder of Hector Feliciano.

Two men have pleaded guilty in Jennifer’s case — Dennard Walker to murder and conspiracy, and Miguel Perez to second-degree murder.

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