- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

FLORIDA
Nurse shark freed into Florida Keys
KEY LARGO Snoopy, a 4-foot-long nurse shark, was freed in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary on Monday.
The female shark, sporting a bright-red identification tag on its front dorsal fin, slipped into the ocean above the City of Washington, a 100-year-old military shipwreck about six miles off Key Largo.
Snoopy was about a foot long when she arrived at the Fifth Avenue Billiards in Novi, Mich., in 1999. She shared a 500-gallon aquarium with another shark and other fish.
When Snoopy grew too large for her home, staffers began a quest to find her a new place to stay. Contact eventually was made with the conservancy in Key Largo, which coordinated the release.

GEORGIA
Singer Bobby Brown admitted to hospital
ATLANTA Pop music star Bobby Brown, who was jailed Friday after pleading guilty to a 1996 drunken-driving charge, has been admitted to a hospital in Atlanta, authorities said yesterday.
Brown, 33, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital early yesterday after complaining of an undisclosed ailment, said Mikki Jones, public-information officer with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.
"The hospital reports he is in good condition," said Miss Jones.
Brown, the husband of pop singer Whitney Houston, was sentenced to eight days in jail, but Miss Jones said he was scheduled to be released today under a policy that cuts sentences for good behavior.

CALIFORNIA
POW lawsuits dismissed by court
SAN FRANCISCO A federal appeals court dismissed hundreds of lawsuits yesterday brought by World War II prisoners of war who claim they were enslaved by Japanese and German companies.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld lower court rulings that said treaties signed by the United States barred prisoners from seeking restitution from companies accused of forcing them to work in mines, dig roads and perform other duties more than 50 years ago.
The appeals court, in striking down a 1999 California law granting former POWs the right to sue, said using American courts to seek restitution would be contrary to U.S. foreign policy.
Plaintiff Alberto Saldejeno, 82, has said he was enslaved by a Japanese company to perform clerical work.
"That's not fair," he said of the court's ruling. "If you didn't work, you'd be beheaded."

CONNECTICUT
Financier's mansions to be auctioned
GREENWICH For sale: the once-luxurious compound where financier Martin Frankel ran a $200 million insurance fraud and housed an entourage of women.
U.S. authorities tomorrow will auction two Connecticut mansions seized from the once high-rolling Frankel, who is in prison and awaiting sentencing for his role in one of the biggest insurance frauds in U.S. history.
The homes are being sold in "as-is" condition and each is assessed at more than $2 million, said the U.S. Marshals Service, which together with the Internal Revenue Service is auctioning the properties.
Proceeds from the auction will be deposited into government accounts pending a court decision about restitution, said Gary Dorsey, chief deputy U.S. marshal for the District of Connecticut.

ILLINOIS
Study says meals 'supersized' at home
CHICAGO Americans are "supersizing" their food portions in their own kitchens, a study shows.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looked at such foods as hamburgers, burritos, tacos, french fries and sodas and found that the portions got bigger between the 1970s and the 1990s, regardless of whether people ate in or out.
McDonald's started the supersize craze in fast-food restaurants. But Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said the practice has caused Americans to practice portion distortion at home.

KANSAS
Man gets death for killing women
OLATHE A 59-year-old man was sentenced to death yesterday for murdering two women and stuffing their bodies into barrels he kept on his rural Kansas property.
John E. Robinson Sr. was convicted last fall of killing Suzette Trouten, 27, of Michigan and Izabela Lewicka, 21, a former Purdue University student. Both were lured to Kansas by Robinson to engage in sadomasochistic sex.
The bodies of Miss Trouten and Miss Lewicka were discovered in June 2000 on Robinson's property 60 miles south of Kansas City. Two days later, three more bodies were discovered in barrels in a storage locker rented by Robinson in Raymore, Mo.
Robinson is expected to stand trial for the Missouri deaths this year.

KENTUCKY
Feds cite oversight in environment disaster
PIKEVILLE A federal agency acknowledged in a report yesterday it was weak in its oversight of a mountaintop coal pond that ruptured two years ago, unleashing 300 million gallons of sludge on eastern Kentucky communities.
But U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration Director Dave Lauriski said that while weaknesses were exposed in the internal review, his agency is not to blame for one of the Southeast's worst environmental disasters.
"This agency's weaknesses did not cause this accident," he said.
An estimated 310 million gallons of water and sludge broke through the bottom of the 70-acre impoundment near Inez on Oct. 11, 2000. The molasseslike goo gushed into underground coal mine portals, out into the two creeks and fouled drinking-water supplies to communities along a 60-mile stretch of the Big Sandy River.

LOUISIANA
Plaintiffs demand smoking-cessation funds
NEW ORLEANS A lawsuit seeking to make tobacco companies pay for smoking-cessation programs in Louisiana opened yesterday with plaintiffs' accusations that cigarette makers conspired for decades to get smokers hooked.
Tobacco companies "made a choice to get together. They made a choice to addict. They made a choice to target youth," said Russ Herman, the plaintiffs' lead attorney.
The lawsuit on behalf of 1.5 million Louisiana smokers and former smokers seeks no individual payments. Instead, it wants the industry to pay for cessation programs and the medical monitoring for still-healthy smokers.

MAINE
Half of graduates go to colleges out of state
ORONO About half of Maine high school graduates attend college out of state, says a report by the University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy.
Maine ranks 47th nationally in the proportion of students who stay in their home state for college.

MICHIGAN
Aretha Franklin quiet in fire probe
DETROIT Aretha Franklin didn't cooperate with authorities investigating a fire that destroyed her $1.6 million mansion, a police report said.
The Bloomfield Township police report shows officers were rebuffed repeatedly while trying to interview Miss Franklin after the Oct. 25 blaze, the Detroit News reported.
On the morning of the fire at the vacant home used for storage, the report said, Miss Franklin twice told detectives that she was "too tired" to talk and would call back. When she did not, detectives left a message and were contacted by lawyer Elbert Hatchett of Pontiac, who said the 60-year-old singer declined to be interviewed, the report said Monday.
The report said Miss Franklin "was upset with the way this matter was being handled and would not be interviewed." Authorities have not filed charges in the fire.

MINNESOTA
Teen crashes into police chief's pickup
Bob Fischer, police chief in tiny Morgan, Minn., had gotten off duty about 2:45 a.m. Sunday and was sitting in an easy chair 45 minutes later when he heard "a big bang."
"I didn't know what happened. I was half asleep," Mr. Fischer told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. "I looked out, and my pickup was halfway down the street."
It turns out a 16-year-old boy had crashed into Mr. Fischer's old pickup truck and at least 21 other vehicles in the town of 900, the chief said.
The chief estimated damage of at least $150,000, and said the boy was responsible for a similar rampage that caused at least $100,000 damage to cars on New Year's Eve in a nearby town.

NEBRASKA
'Farm Wife' dead at 89
NORTH PLATTE Eleanor Seberger, known for 39 years as "The Farm Wife" to readers of the North Platte Telegraph, died Sunday at her Dawson County farm home near Cozad. She was 89.
Mrs. Seberger began writing a weekly column on farm life and her family for what was then the Telegraph-Bulletin in 1957 and continued until 1996.
Her column Views in the Valley was written for the Dawson County Herald and also was published in the Tri-City Tribune at Cozad and the McCook Gazette.
The Farm Wife column was cited frequently for awards by the Nebraska Press Women, the Nebraska Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women.

NEW JERSEY
Medical society backs doctors' work stoppage
TRENTON The Medical Society of New Jersey will back doctors' work stoppage to protest soaring malpractice premiums. Trustees voted to provide doctors with legal and public relations assistance.
Beginning Feb. 3, many doctors will halt routine checkups and nonessential services.
A spokesman for Gov. James E. McGreevey calls the plan irresponsible.

NEW MEXICO
State would vaccinate 5,000 health workers
SANTA FE New Mexico would vaccinate fewer health workers for smallpox than originally estimated, 5,000 instead of 12,000.
Susan Eastman, who heads state smallpox-planning efforts, said the higher number included members of the New Mexico National Guard, who will be handled under the U.S. Defense Department.
Vaccinations also will be done within a shorter period.

NEW YORK
Pilot arrested for gun in carry-on
NEW YORK A Northwest Airlines pilot scheduled to work a Detroit-bound flight was arrested yesterday morning at LaGuardia Airport after a loaded handgun was found in his carry-on luggage, authorities said.
Robert Donaldson, 43, was charged with three state counts of criminal possession of a weapon, and could face up to 15 years in prison, said the office of Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
Authorities said Mr. Donaldson was walking through a terminal used for luggage screening of passengers and crew of both Northwest and Delta Airlines. Officials discovered the Taurus 9 mm semiautomatic handgun in his carry-on luggage. He had a permit to carry the gun in Michigan. Mr. Donaldson was in custody pending arraignment.

NORTH CAROLINA
Congestion high on interstates
GREENSBORO A study says 53 percent of the state's 375 miles of urban interstates are congested, compared with 41 percent elsewhere in the country.
Economic and population growth is behind the congestion, says the nonprofit group The Road Information Program (TRIP).
Travel on North Carolina's interstates increased 59 percent between 1991 and 2001, the second-largest increase in the United States.

NORTH DAKOTA
House rejects ban on tobacco sales
BISMARCK A proposed ban on tobacco sales and use in North Dakota went up in smoke when the state House voted 88-4 against the measure.
Tobacco helps kill 1,000 North Dakotans each year and causes more than $300 million annually in health care expenses, said the legislator who proposed the measure.

OKLAHOMA
Legislator wants to rename river
OKLAHOMA CITY State Rep. Leonard Sullivan, Oklahoma City Republican, is proposing to rename the 747-mile stretch of the North Canadian River that runs through Oklahoma.
Changing the name to the Oklahoma River on signs and maps could cost the state $40,000, state officials estimate.

RHODE ISLAND
Farm faces five-year quarantine
TIVERTON A farm where almost 100 sheep and goats were put to death after several were found neglected will be under quarantine for five years, and the owner may face criminal charges.
The animals had been quarantined since mid-November, when the state public health veterinarian cited their owner, Margied Mohammed, for not properly documenting their entry into Rhode Island.
Inspectors found dozens of animals to be malnourished and some to be diseased.
Some sickly animals were euthanized over the past month and buried. The Department of Environmental Management and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals euthanized the remaining 75 sheep and goats last week and brought their carcasses to a landfill.

TEXAS
Jury selection begins in murder trial
HOUSTON Jury selection got under way yesterday for the trial of a dentist accused of running down her husband in a hotel parking lot with her Mercedes-Benz after a confrontation with him and his supposed mistress.
Clara Harris, 44, could face life in prison if convicted of killing her orthodontist husband, David Harris, 44, in July.
The defense maintains the death was an accident.
Jurors are expected to watch a videotape taken in the hotel's parking lot by a private investigator Clara Harris had hired to follow her husband.
Testimony also is expected from Lindsey Harris, Clara Harris' 17-year-old stepdaughter, who was a passenger in the car.

WASHINGTON
Man swimming for pollution awareness
KELLER A swimmer neared the halfway point in a 1,250-mile journey down the Columbia River a trip designed to raise awareness of its pollution levels and encourage a cleanup.
Christopher Swain of Portland, Ore., began his swim at Columbia Lake, near the British Columbia-Alberta border, in June. He said he was about on schedule for the journey that eventually will take him to the Pacific Ocean.
The 24-year-old has been swimming about 10 days a month during the winter, spending six to eight hours in the water each day. A support team, including an inflatable boat, accompanies him.
He will return to a schedule of 20 days a month by March and expects to finish in June.

WISCONSIN
Liquor store cards 76-year-old
OAK CREEK Don Meyer was a little annoyed when a Pick 'n Save clerk carded him in the liquor store.
He wasn't upset just because they carded him while he was buying nonalcoholic beer. He was upset because he is 76 years old.
"I tell you, I was really ticked off this little-by-little chipping away at your rights," the World War II veteran said.
Mr. Meyer won't be the only senior citizen carded now that 11 Pick 'n Save stores in Wisconsin have begun requiring clerks to card everyone who tries to buy alcohol. Pick 'n Save officials say they wanted to eliminate the chance of selling to someone underage.
Milwaukee lawyer Michael A.I. Whitcomb, who represents many clients with liquor licenses, said he has never heard of a store carding everyone.

WYOMING
Legislators urge repeal of corporal punishment
CHEYENNE Members of the House Education Committee recommended repealing a state law that allows corporal punishment in schools.
They called the law archaic. Similar bills have been introduced the past three years, but never have made it through debate in the full House or the Senate.


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