- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2003

CALIFORNIA
Ex-detective says Blake planned killing
LOS ANGELES A retired homicide detective testified yesterday that actor Robert Blake told him in 1999 that he had impregnated a woman during a one-night stand and he wanted her abducted to undergo an abortion, and if that failed, to have her killed.
"He said, 'We're going to hire a doctor, we're going to abort her, and if that doesn't work, we're going to whack her,'" William Welch testified during a preliminary hearing to determine whether Mr. Blake must stand trial on charges of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.
"He looked me in the eye, and I believed him," said Mr. Welch, who testified he refused to carry out the plot.
On cross-examination, Blake lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. noted that the investigator continued to work for the actor for more than a year on various aspects of his relationship with Miss Bakley.

MINNESOTA
Landmark statue to get makeover
NEW ULM The landmark "Hermann the German" statue that has stood guard over this southern Minnesota city for 106 years is getting a makeover.
The statue was successfully lowered from its perch Tuesday in preparation for an extensive reconditioning.
The city hired two local artisans to inspect the statue, which lost a wing off its helmet in a 1998 windstorm and is punctured with bullet holes.
Known officially as the Hermann Monument, the statue represents a Germanic tribal leader named Arminius who rallied his people to victory over the Romans in a battle in the Teutoburg Forest in A.D. 9. A larger version that stands near Detmold, Germany, served as the model.
The city hopes to have the statue restored and back in place for New Ulm's 150th anniversary celebration next year.

ARIZONA
Authorities arrest drug-ring suspects
PHOENIX Authorities raided a hazardous-waste plant and arrested at least 31 suspects in a nationwide, multimillion-dollar methamphetamine ring.
Investigators said the employees at Innovative Waste Utilization LLC sold chemicals used to make methamphetamine, and in some cases, were directly involved in cooking the drug.
The company was also indicted on fraud, conspiracy and conducting a criminal enterprise charges, state Attorney General Terry Goddard said.
Mr. Goddard said the arrests would keep 500 pounds of methamphetamine from reaching the streets because of halted production.

COLORADO
Father charged in deaths of children
AURORA A father was charged with felony child abuse in the deaths of his two young children, who reportedly were given lethal doses of adult cough syrup.
Authorities say Robert "Raffie" Henderson, 29, who worked nights as a taxi driver, gave his children cherry-flavored cough syrup after they complained of being sick the morning of Aug. 8.
Robert "Killian," 5, and Rhapsody, 4, were found dead in their beds several hours later by their mother, Fay Henderson, who attended nursing school during the day.
The arrest warrant issued for Mr. Henderson charges him with two counts of child abuse resulting in death and two counts of second-degree assault. The four counts carry a combined penalty of 60 years in prison.

FLORIDA
School fires professor accused of terrorism
TAMPA The computer-engineering professor charged with running the American operations of a Palestinian terrorist group was fired yesterday by the University of South Florida.
Sami Al-Arian, who had been suspended since shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks, was found to have abused his position at the university, USF President Judy Genshaft said.
"Doctor Al-Arian's statements about his activities have been false and misleading and he's failed to meet our high professional standards," Miss Genshaft said. "No longer will he be able to hide under the shield of academic freedom."
Mr. Al-Arian, 45, was arrested last week. He and seven others are accused in a 121-page federal indictment of setting up a terrorist cell at the university and funneling support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

GEORGIA
Perdue modifying flag-vote questions
ATLANTA Gov. Sonny Perdue is still pushing for a nonbinding referendum on the state flag, but it won't be exactly the way he first outlined it.
The governor will modify his referendum questions to avoid legal challenges, aides said yesterday. Mr. Perdue suggested the changes after critics said his two-part referendum idea may not be legal.
The referendum still would consist of two questions: The first will ask voters if the current flag should be changed, and the second will let them choose a replacement the previous flag with its prominent rebel "X" or the one that preceded it with no such symbol.
The new Republican governor proposed the referendum earlier this month to fulfill a campaign promise that voters would get a say on the new flag adopted in 2001 by the General Assembly.

ILLINOIS
Doctors stage insurance protest
SPRINGFIELD Doctors from across Illinois left their practices yesterday in the latest protest against rising liability insurance premiums.
Unlike a strike staged by New Jersey doctors earlier in the month in which some nonemergency care was disrupted, or an earlier action in West Virginia, those involved in the Illinois demonstration said they had arranged to have their patients covered during their daylong trip to the state capital.
About 300 of them, many wearing white or blue lab coats, gathered in the rotunda of the Capitol for a midday rally and planned to lobby state lawmakers during the afternoon. Others said they did not go to the demonstration but had limited their activities for the day.
Doctors involved in high-risk areas such as obstetrics or neurosurgery can pay as much as $200,000 in annual premiums by some accounts. There have been reports of doctors limiting the kind of work they do or leaving medicine entirely because of the costs.

INDIANA
News artist arrested in wife's killing
INDIANAPOLIS A man who claimed to have killed his wife was arrested after police found the body of the woman apparently beaten to death with a dumbbell in their house, police said.
John M. Bigelow was detained Tuesday after he called his son's high school and said he wouldn't be able to pick up the teenager because he had killed his wife, said a police spokesman, Lt. Paul Ciesielski.
School officials then called police, who found Marianne Hedges dead in the couple's home. Mr. Bigelow, 63, was standing outside and was cooperative when officers arrived, police said.
Police said Mr. Bigelow, a graphic artist for the Indianapolis Star, was struggling with family issues but there had been no previous trouble at the home.

KENTUCKY
Death toll rises from plant blast
CORBIN The death toll from last week's blast and fire at a southeastern Kentucky insulation plant has risen to three.
David Hamilton, 37, died late Tuesday and Arnold Peters, 57, died early yesterday, both at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Jimmy Lemmings, 42, died at the hospital Sunday.
Altogether, 44 persons were taken to hospitals after the explosion and fire Thursday at CTA Acoustics. More than a dozen of the injured were transferred to other hospitals for treatment of severe burns.
Federal and state fire investigators finished their initial examination at the company, which makes acoustic and thermal insulation for the automobile industry. They concluded it started around a production line where mats of fiberglass and backing material are bonded by passing them through ovens powered by natural gas.
The company planned to begin operating again by the end of the week.

LOUISIANA
Man drives into parade crowd
MANDEVILLE A man fleeing police in his truck after a bar fight plowed through a Mardi Gras parade crowd, injuring six persons, before officers shot him three times, authorities said.
Derrick Bramlett, 22, was hospitalized and will be charged with attempted murder, authorities said Tuesday.
Mr. Bramlett was trying to flee from police Monday night after fighting at a bar when he drove through barricades and into the panic-stricken crowd, Mandeville police Sgt. Ron Ruple said.
"It was pandemonium," parade watcher Eric Whalen said. "Dads and moms were grabbing their children and throwing them to the ground. Kids were running and screaming."
The most serious injuries were to a man who broke his leg when he was trapped under a fallen barricade and a woman whose collarbone was broken as she was dragged beneath the truck.

MAINE
Gambling proposals to appear on ballot
AUGUSTA Election officials say enough voter signatures have been certified to authorize November referendums on separate gambling proposals. One will ask voters if they favor a $650 million Indian-run casino, the other seeks to permit slot machines at Maine's two commercial harness racing tracks in Bangor and Scarborough.

MASSACHUSETTS
Gates Foundation announces school grants
BOSTON The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced $31 million in grants yesterday to create a nationwide network of alternative high schools for failing students.
"More students will succeed if communities provide a rich variety of education options, and effective alternative schools are one such option," said Tom Vander Ark, the foundation's executive director of education, who unveiled the plan at a high school in the Roxbury section of Boston.
The grants will support nine organizations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oregon, Colorado, Georgia and Washington, D.C., creating 117 schools and strengthening existing programs at 51 schools.
The awards are expected to reach 36,000 students nationwide.

MISSISSIPPI
Judge won't allow hate-crime evidence
JACKSON A federal judge barred hate-crime evidence yesterday from the trial of a man charged in the 1966 slaying of a black farmworker, leaving it unclear whether prosecutors can claim the death was part of a wider plot to kill Martin Luther King.
U.S. District Judge William Barbour Jr. said the trial of reputed Klansman Ernest Avants was a "simple murder case."
"There was no hate-crime statute in 1966 when this occurred," the judge said.
Ben Chester White was killed execution-style deep in the Homochitto National Forest. Prosecutors say he became a victim for no other reason than his skin color, and the crime was meant to lure King to the Natchez area for an assassination attempt. King did not visit Natchez and was fatally shot in Memphis, Tenn., two years later.

MISSOURI
Senate approves gun makers bill
JEFFERSON CITY A bill that would prevent cities, towns and the state from suing gun manufacturers received initial Senate approval after heated debate.
The measure is aimed at stopping a lawsuit filed more than three years ago by St. Louis that seeks to recover millions of dollars spent on dealing with gun violence.
The suit is pending in federal court.

NEBRASKA
Officers getting hairy in youth fund-raiser
NORTH PLATTE Things are getting a little hairy for some Nebraska officers.
The North Platte police force is sporting facial stubble in a friendly competition to raise money for a "No Limits" youth program. The program uses martial arts to teach at-risk children discipline and life skills.
Any officer taking part in the beard-growing contest donates $5, Police Chief Martin Gutschenritter said. So far, 14 are in.
Police have started an interagency competition and officers will accept competition from anyone who wants to donate to the cause, Capt. Jim Agler said.

NEW YORK
Mafia suspects indicted in extortion case
NEW YORK New York prosecutors announced extortion charges yesterday against 42 suspected mafia members and their associates in connection with a "mob tax" on high-profile construction projects.
The indictments targeted two of New York's main organized-crime families and those named included Joel Cacace, acting boss of the Colombo family, and Ernest Muscarella, a member of the Genovese family's ruling administration.
The charges detailed the families' purported influence over two construction unions, whose members were involved in major New York City construction projects such as the new Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.
According to the indictments, the mobsters worked with corrupt union officials to have friends and relatives placed on the payroll on several construction sites. Despite receiving full pay and pension benefits, they never worked at the sites and in some cases never even showed up.

OREGON
Guard taken hostage, stabbed by prisoners
KLAMATH FALLS Two inmates demanding release from the Klamath County Jail took a female guard hostage and stabbed her with a homemade weapon before the convicts were subdued with chemicals, authorities said.
Officer Kerry Hitchcock was in the high-security section of the jail Tuesday when one of the prisoners grabbed her, said Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger. The men reportedly handcuffed and pepper-sprayed her, Sheriff Evinger said. He would not provide further details of the assault.
Officer Hitchcock was hospitalized but her injuries were not believed to be serious, Sheriff Evinger said.

PENNSYLVANIA
Black officers say they were harassed
PHILADELPHIA Three black police officers who said they were assigned to desk jobs for growing beards have filed a lawsuit, charging that the dispute was symptomatic of pervasive racism in their station house.
The men said they are among 10 black officers in the same division who filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, the federal agency that probes discrimination claims.
The federal lawsuit said white commanders at the officer's station created an atmosphere of "pervasive and relentless discrimination, harassment and retaliation" by refusing to authorize overtime pay for black detectives and penalizing blacks more severely for minor workplace infractions.

TENNESSEE
Lawmakers want lottery tickets tax
NASHVILLE As a bill to create a state lottery moves through legislative committees, lawmakers are introducing proposals to tax tickets or winnings. Lottery proponent Sen. Steve Cohen called the bills "unconstitutional and foolish." The state would already receive 35 percent of proceeds under the bill.

TEXAS
Town to celebrate Sam Houston's birthday
HUNTSVILLE Residents plan to throw a party March 2 to commemorate the 210th birthday of Sam Houston. Houston was the victor over Santa Anna in the Texas war for independence, the first president of the Republic of Texas and a senator from the state.
Houston settled here and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

WISCONSIN
Nuclear plant declares low-level emergency
KEWAUNEE A nuclear plant lost the use of both backup generators for several hours early yesterday, prompting officials to declare a low-level emergency. There was no risk to public safety, they said.
Plant operators began a controlled shutdown shortly after midnight when one diesel generator failed to start during a daily test, according to the Nuclear Management Co., which runs the plant. The second backup generator was out of service for scheduled maintenance.
Power generated by the Kewaunee plant had been reduced to 9 percent of capacity by the time the repairs were completed in the generator that had failed to start, plant communications manager Doug Day said.
The incident was classified as an "unusual event," which is the lowest of four emergency classifications established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


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