- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Aretha Franklin home fire intentionally set
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP The fire that destroyed the 12-bedroom home belonging to singer Aretha Franklin last year was intentionally set, investigators said.
According to prosecutor David Gorcyca, the fire originated in one room in the house.
"The chemicals [used] are similar to, and may be, lighter fluid. A known accelerant was used," Mr. Gorcyca said.
Jeffrey Werner, the Bloomfield Township police chief, told the Detroit News no one is in custody, but authorities believe they know who set the fire.

Recycled tree puts Gus in bear heaven
NEW YORK The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree belongs to Gus the polar bear now, and some of his buddies at the Central Park Zoo.
About half the tree was recycled at a New Jersey sawmill and turned into "enrichment toys," as zookeepers call sense-stimulating toys that keep their animals mentally and physically fit in captivity.
Gus nuzzled giant slices of the trunk of the 76-foot Norway spruce, licking peanut butter stuffed into drilled holes. He seemed in bear heaven, gnawing on a pile of branches still rich with spruce needles.
Six years ago, Central Park's celebrity polar bear was so bored and unhappy in his Arctic-style abode that animal behaviorists created games and toys to address his "depression."
Sections of the tree also went to the goats, and to the parrots for their nest boxes. The crown of the tree went to Othello, the zoo steer. The otters foraged for small fish hidden in pieces of hollowed-out trunk, and the Japanese snow monkeys picked at apples and oranges hanging from an arching branch of the tree.

Warm winter delays snowmobile race
FAIRBANKS Organizers of Alaska's extreme races are hoping for an end to one of the warmest, driest winters on record.
The Iron Dog, a snowmobile race from Fairbanks to Nome to Wasilla, was postponed for a week next month, until Feb. 16, when officials found about 150 miles of open water on two of the rivers used by the racers.

Judge allows release of Ross videotape
TUCSON A judge ordered the release yesterday of a police videotape shot during Diana Ross' arrest on suspicion of drunken driving.
The singer was arrested Dec. 30 for investigation of driving under the influence and extreme DUI, a charge that can carry greater penalties than a regular DUI. A breath test showed that Miss Ross had a blood alcohol level of 0.20, more than twice Arizona's legal limit of 0.08.
Assistant City Attorney Beverly Ginn said the edited tape, without audio, would be available Friday at the earliest.

Officials leave office, dance down steps
LITTLE ROCK State Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher and Secretary of State Sharon Priest exited public office by dancing down the Capitol steps.
The Democrats, ousted by term limits, were greeted by dozens of supporters.
Miss Fisher, unsuccessful in a bid for governor last year, spent 24 years as state treasurer; Miss Priest was secretary of state for eight years.

Judge refuses to block relocation of oak tree
LOS ANGELES A judge rejected yesterday a last-ditch effort by a tree-sitting environmentalist to block the relocation of a 400-year-old oak that stands in the path of a housing construction project.
Superior Court Judge John P. Shook denied John Quigley's request for a temporary restraining order, citing the housing development's proposed economic benefits and the developer's effort to move the tree rather than cut it down.
Mr. Quigley spent 71 days in the oak's branches, until deputies removed him Friday.

Businessman pardoned by Clinton arrested
MIAMI A California businessman pardoned by President Clinton for a 1983 fraud conviction involving a hair-growth product has been charged with tax evasion.
Agents with the Internal Revenue Service arrested 59-year-old Almon Glenn Braswell on Monday. Federal prosecutors and the IRS had been investigating Mr. Braswell and his dietary-supplement business.
Mr. Braswell served seven months of a three-year prison sentence for falsifying photographs and other documentation for a hair-growth product.

Court strikes down unmarried-sex law
ATLANTA The Georgia Supreme Court struck down a 170-year-old law that made it a crime for unmarried people to have sex.
The ruling Monday came in the case of a 16-year-old boy discovered having sex with his girlfriend in the bedroom of her home. The young woman's mother made the discovery.
"Our opinion simply affirms that the government may not reach into the bedroom of a private residence and criminalize the private, noncommercial, consensual sexual acts of two persons legally capable of consenting to those acts," Chief Justice Norman Fletcher wrote.
Justice Fletcher also wrote that nothing in the ruling should be read to address parents' rights "to regulate what occurs inside their home, including who enters their house and under what circumstances."

Study: 'White' name helps in job search
CHICAGO It helps to have a white-sounding first name when looking for work, a new study has found.
Resumes with white-sounding first names elicited 50 percent more responses than ones with black-sounding names, according to a study by professors at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The professors sent about 5,000 resumes in response to want ads in the Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune. They found that the "white" applicants they created received one response a call, letter or e-mail for every 10 resumes mailed, while "black" applicants with equal credentials received one response for every 15 resumes sent.

Judge dismisses charge against governor
FRANKFORT A judge dismissed one of the two remaining charges against Gov. Paul E. Patton, made by a woman who had a two-year affair with him.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden ruled yesterday that the governor did not defame Tina Conner when he initially denied her charge that he had a sexual relationship with her.
Miss Conner's attorney, Fred Radolovich, said the denial plus other comments amounted to an accusation that Miss Conner committed perjury, but Mr. Patton's attorney argued that the denial was only a response to her lawsuit.

Police say man killed family members, self
BROCKTON A man fatally shot his 11-year-old daughter, wife and mother-in-law before taking his own life, police said yesterday.
The man's 12-year-old son, 21-year-old stepson and a teenage nephew escaped unharmed Monday night. Police had no motive for the killings.
The boy told investigators that his father, Pedro Barbosa, said, "I had to do it, I can't go to jail" before shooting himself, District Attorney Timothy Cruz said.

Call by governor's aide kills Confederate flags
JEFFERSON CITY State officials took down Confederate flags at two historic sites yesterday after Democratic presidential hopeful Richard A. Gephardt said they shouldn't be flown anywhere.
Confederate battle flags were removed at the Confederate Memorial Historic Site and the Fort Davidson Historic Site, said Sue Holst, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The flags will still be displayed inside the sites' visitor centers.
During the weekend Mr. Gephardt said, "My own personal feeling is that the Confederate flag no longer has a place flying any time, anywhere in our great nation."
Mary Still, spokeswoman for Gov. Bob Holden, said she called Natural Resources Director Steve Mahfood after reading Mr. Gephardt's statement.
"I told Steve it seemed to me it wouldn't be appropriate to have it flying on a flagpole but that I didn't know all of their considerations and I left it in his lap," Miss Still said.

Water supply is average despite wet December
RENO Despite December storms that left as much as 20 feet of snow in parts of the Sierra, the snowpack is just about where it was last January in what turned out to be a third consecutive dry winter.
A new snowpack report tempered enthusiastic predictions that Nevada was near an end to its long drought.
Although El Nino produced twice the average precipitation in the mountains and western Nevada in December, the eastern part of the state remained below average.

Former justice found dead after wandering
BEDFORD Maurice Bois, a former state Supreme Court justice, was found dead yesterday morning after he wandered away from his nursing home, police said.
Authorities and as many as 100 volunteers had searched the frigid woods all night for Mr. Bois, 85, who was reported missing Monday evening from the Arbors of Bedford. His body was found about 10 a.m.
His family said he had Alzheimer's disease.
Temperatures in the snow-covered woods around the home dipped into the single digits during the night, and Mr. Bois was not wearing a coat. Sgt. Dana Finn said Mr. Bois left through a side door with an alarm but that the alarm was not immediately noticed.

Possible cause found in airline crash
CHARLOTTE The commuter airline crash that killed 21 persons at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport may have been caused by a jammed tail assembly, a federal investigator said.
The possible malfunction of the Air Midwest plane's elevator, a flap on the tail used to control a plane's angle of climb or descent, could have hampered the pilot's efforts to control the aircraft.
The five-member panel of the National Transportation Safety Board did not reach any official conclusions about the crash's cause.
But John Goglia of the NTSB offered the leading theory. "I think they pulled back [the controls] and the elevator jammed," Mr. Goglia told the News & Observer of Raleigh. "That's my personal opinion."

'Mr. Taft' owns 2,000 political items
CLEVELAND A man owns so many pieces of memorabilia from President William Howard Taft that collectors call him "Mr. Taft."
"People don't even know my name. They call me up and say, 'Mr. Taft, could you tell me about this piece I have?' " Marshall Goldberg said.
Mr. Goldberg, of Woodbridge, Calif., has about 2,000 political items from Taft, who was from Cincinnati. He is Gov. Bob Taft's great-grandfather and served as the nation's 27th president from 1909 until 1913.
Mr. Goldberg, a 60-year-old retired manufacturing executive who has never lived in Ohio, once paid $11,500 for a pair of campaign buttons from 1908. He said he started collecting Taft items when he paid $10 for two boxes of postcards at a garage sale in 1980 and the stack of 200 included four with Mr. Taft.

White supremacist group gets OK to rally
HARRISBURG A federal judge has ruled that a white supremacist group may go ahead with a rally and protest in York on Martin Luther King Day.
U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane gave approval for the Jan. 20 rally after attorneys for the city of York and the Mississippi-based Nationalist Movement came to an agreement on issues including police protection.
Judge Kane issued her order Friday.
The group said the City Hall rally and parade will pay tribute to Henry Schaad, a white police officer killed during the city's 1969 race riots, and protest the federal holiday honoring Mr. King, the slain civil rights leader.

Buses bought with lottery funds
COLUMBIA South Carolina used $14 million from its year-old lottery to buy 223 new school buses, but the aging fleet still needs a regular replacement schedule, officials said.
The state's largest bus purchase since 1995 merely replaced the oldest vehicles.
The South Carolina Education Lottery has brought in more than $151 million for education funding.

TVA to expand use of wind generation
KNOXVILLE The Tennessee Valley Authority, founded in the 1930s to generate power from hydroelectric dams, has signed an agreement to expand its wind-power-generating facility, the public utility said yesterday.
The country's largest public utility has been operating three wind turbines on Buffalo Mountain, a reclaimed strip mine about 25 miles west of Knoxville, since 2001.
The TVA will add 18 turbines to give the site a capacity of more than 28 megawatts, up from 1.8 megawatts.
Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based energy development company, will build, own and operate the new turbines, which are expected to be in operation in November.

Explosion at ranch kills two, injures five
SANDY POINT An explosion Monday at a ranch where employees were pumping a petroleum product from trucks into a storage facility killed two persons and injured five, authorities said.
An employee who witnessed the explosion said it "looked like a Hollywood movie scene," Chief Deputy Charles Wagner said.
The injured men all suffered burns, the sheriff's department said.

Incentives considered for Main Street
SALT LAKE CITY The city is considering offering as much as $20,000 to any company that will set up shop on its troubled Main Street.
The $15,000 to $20,000 would be a gift, available to any entrepreneur who will take a long-term lease on the street.
The measure is up for approval by the City Council.

Female justices become the majority on court
OLYMPIA Women took a majority Monday on the Washington Supreme Court for the first time.
Justice Mary Fairhurst, who won her seat in a close election in November, was formally sworn in, tipping the gender balance to five women, four men.
Justice Fairhurst, a former assistant attorney general, replaces Justice Charles Smith, the court's only black member, who retired.
"This is indeed an historic event," Chief Justice Gerry Alexander said.
Justice Barbara Madsen, however, noted that electing women to high office has become commonplace here. Washington's Legislature has one of the highest percentages of women of any state, with 54 female lawmakers out of a total of 147.

House panel passes malpractice bill
CHARLESTON The House Judiciary Committee passed a medical malpractice reform bill Monday night that shelves provisions sought by Gov. Bob Wise and resembles legislation pushed by doctors, hospitals and insurers.
The bill now moves to the House floor.
The committee replaced Mr. Wise's $20 million relief fund to help doctors pay their premiums with a less-generous income-tax credit. The fund was to have been paid for from the state's share of the national tobacco settlement.

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