- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

FLORIDA
Rescued whale recovering
ISLAMORADA A rescued pygmy sperm whale has survived for three days in a resort hotel's heated saltwater pool and is showing signs of improvement, officials said over the weekend.
The 11-foot-long, 1,200-pound whale, nicknamed Kokomo, beached itself on a Florida Keys sandbar last week. It has been recovering in a pool at the Islander Resort since Thursday, where officials have moved it because of the cold.
Medical examinations showed Kokomo was suffering from anemia, severe dehydration and a suspicious wound, perhaps from a harpoon or gaff, just behind its blowhole.

NEW YORK
Joel leaves hospital after crash
NEW YORK Pop singer Billy Joel was kept overnight in a hospital after his car swerved off a road and hit a tree, officials said yesterday.
"Billy Joel was admitted on Saturday night and left again at 7:30 a.m. today," said a spokesman for the Stony Brook University Hospital.
Mr. Joel reportedly was driving alone in the Long Island town of Sag Harbor late Saturday night when his Mercedes-Benz hit a tree.

ARKANSAS
Student reported for school threat
LITTLE ROCK High school junior Lauren Hess said she grew increasingly alarmed as her new friend on an Internet chat room told her he wanted to re-create a Columbine-like massacre at his high school in New York City.
"I told him it's not worth it to kill all these people. You need to really think about this," said Lauren, 17.
She contacted police, and honor student Lukasz Lagucik, 17, was arrested at his home early Friday.
Authorities said no weapons were found in a search of the boy's home in New York's borough of Queens. He was charged with making a terror threat and other offenses and could face seven years in prison if convicted.
In a handwritten statement he gave to police, the honor student apologized and said he had tried to scare girls he met online by talking about buying guns and making bombs, said Patrick Clark, a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

CALIFORNIA
Reports question firearms databasing
SACRAMENTO Two related California studies to be released this week conclude it is impractical to catalog the ballistic "fingerprints" of every firearm in the state.
Recording every firearm made and sold in the nation's most populous state could be overwhelming, says an internal California Department of Justice report that the Associated Press obtained in the fall.
Supporters of a proposed nationwide database fear the report, combined with an independent review of it, will further undermine congressional support for a national firearms database inspired by the Washington-area sniper attacks in October. The reports, along with a federal rebuttal, are to be submitted to state lawmakers.
California's initial study found the number of potential computer matches in the state "will be so large as to be impractical," that "a large proportion" of weapons couldn't be recorded, and that each gun's markings change with routine use and easily can be altered.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms disputed much of the California report, saying that with systems being developed by the ATF and FBI, "large-scale ballistic comparison goes from an impossibility to a valuable investigative tool."

COLORADO
Indy 500 racer dies in highway crash
GOLDEN Johnny Mauro, a 1948 Indianapolis 500 racer and founder of the U.S. Truck Driving School, died in a head-on collision with a teenage driver on Interstate 70.
Mr. Mauro's car crossed into oncoming traffic Thursday night in Golden, about 10 miles west of Denver, state Trooper Ron Watkins said.
Both Mr. Mauro, 92, and Christopher Basinski, 17, were killed. A 16-year-old passenger in Christopher's car was injured, authorities said.

GEORGIA
Carters to donate to caregiver institute
AMERICUS Former President Jimmy Carter will give some of his $1 million Nobel Peace Prize money to an institute his wife has founded to help caregivers and their families.
The Carters will announce a "substantial financial gift" tomorrow to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Human Development, said Wesley Sumner, spokesman for Georgia Southwestern State University, where the institute is located.
The institute, established in 1987, provides some relief for caregivers, who often struggle with physical and emotional stress, isolation, guilt and financial strain as they care for the elderly, children and people with physical and mental disabilities.
It also promotes effective caregiving practices and builds public awareness.

KANSAS
Governor pushes standard business cards
TOPEKA Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has asked executive branch agencies to issue standard business cards, printed only with blue ink, once employees' existing cards are expended.
Current cards feature a button-sized replica of the state seal embossed in gold.
In response to the state's budget crisis, the governor also is discouraging gold-embossed seals and multicolor and multiple letterheads.

MICHIGAN
Five persons die in house fire
DETROIT A kitchen fire spread smoke and flames through a home early yesterday, killing two adults and three children and injuring three others trapped behind the home's barred windows, fire officials said.
Like other houses on the street, the home's windows were blocked by security bars, which might have prevented those inside from easily escaping the smoke and fire, said chief arson investigator John Tucker.
One woman and her 10-year-old daughter managed to escape by climbing to the attic, breaking a window and jumping, Mr. Tucker said. Firefighters found the other six inside one of the bedrooms.
A fire official said the fire appeared to have started with a stove that had been left on.

MISSISSIPPI
Judge rules man fit to stand trial
JACKSON A federal judge has ruled that a white man accused in a 1966 Ku Klux Klan slaying is competent to stand trial.
Ernest Avants, 71, was indicted in 2000 on charges of aiding and abetting the murder of Ben Chester White. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge William H. Barbour Jr. set a Feb. 24 trial date for Mr. Avants, who suffered a stroke last year.
A federal probation officer testified that Mr. Avants initially was able to speak only one-word sentences after the stroke, but now communicates as he did before.
Defense attorney Tom Royals said Mr. Avants' mental health wasn't as good as the officer depicted.
Prosecutors believe the June 10, 1966, killing might have been part of a plot to lure Martin Luther King to the area so he could be assassinated.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Protesters demand bishop's resignation
MANCHESTER More than 200 Roman Catholics and those who said they were victims of priest sexual abuse gathered outside St. Joseph Cathedral yesterday and called for Bishop John B. McCormack's resignation.
Many said they were unimpressed by Bishop McCormack's apologies and explanations of how he handled accusations against priests while he was a top aide to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law from 1984 to 1994.
"John McCormack, don't ever again try to confound the laity with your babble," said Stephen Lewis, of Lynn, Mass., who said he was abused by a priest when he was a child and that Bishop McCormack didn't act on his complaints.
Bishop McCormack did not attend Mass at the cathedral yesterday. His spokesman, Patrick McGee, said the bishop has no plans to resign and wants to continue working to help the victims of abuse any way he can.

NORTH CAROLINA
Paratrooper killed in training exercise
FORT BRAGG A Fort Bragg paratrooper was killed Saturday morning after a training jump from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
Pfc. Ronald M. Jenkins Jr., 29, a counterintelligence specialist, was found unconscious on the drop zone.
The cause of his death was under investigation yesterday. Observers spotted no malfunction of the main parachute or release of the reserve parachute during Pvt. Jenkins' jump, the post said in a prepared statement.
Pvt. Jenkins of Hillsboro, Ohio, was attached to the 310th Military Intelligence Battalion of the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade based here. He entered the Army in November 2001 and had been at Fort Bragg since July.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Charleston tops best-mannered list
CHARLESTON Not to be impolite, but so much for New York City.
Charleston is back on top of the unofficial list of America's best-mannered cities, after a year in which it shared the honor with New York City.
It's the ninth time Charleston has taken top etiquette honors since Marjabelle Young Stewart started compiling her annual list 26 years ago.
New York slipped from a tie for first to No. 3 this year behind Charleston and San Diego, the host of yesterday's Super Bowl.
Philadelphia came in fourth. San Francisco was next, followed by Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis and Seattle.

TEXAS
Plumber finds lost high school ring
LUFKIN Rebecca Tarver Robins once again has the high school ring that she lost in 1965.
The 55-year-old Lufkin resident received a telephone call last week asking her if she had lost her senior ring from Hudson High School.
"Yes," she exclaimed, recalling the exact day and place where she lost the ring at Stephen F. Austin State University. "Gibbs Hall, Room 110, August 1965. It was my second day in that dorm."
"I was at the sink brushing my teeth or something. I had taken the ring off and it fell straight down the drain. I went and told my dorm mom. The next day, a plumber was in there blowing the lines out. I could just hear it clinking all the way to the septic system," Mrs. Robins told the Lufkin Daily News.
University plumber Duane Frazar found the ring two weeks ago while replacing old pipes. He had his secretary contact Donny Webb, the high school principal at Hudson, about five miles outside Lufkin.

WISCONSIN
Boy, 15, pleads guilty in fatal beating
MILWAUKEE A 15-year-old boy pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in the death of a man who was beaten by a mob of juveniles and adults.
Rahman Pirtle, originally charged with first-degree homicide, pleaded Friday to a charge of second-degree reckless homicide and agreed to testify against others.
Charlie Young Jr., 36, was beaten on Sept. 29 with objects including broomsticks, shovels and a milk crate. He died Oct. 1.
Authorities said two boys argued with Mr. Young after one of them threw an egg at him, and the others joined in chasing and beating him.

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