- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

CALIFORNIA
'Chicago' leads SAG nominations
LOS ANGELES The movie musical "Chicago" led nominations for the Screen Actors Guild awards yesterday with five, including the top honor for best performance by an entire cast, as the list of contenders for the U.S. film industry's top awards, the Oscars, narrowed further.
Film drama "The Hours" was second to "Chicago" with four nominations, also landing in the category for best ensemble cast, along with offbeat drama "Adaptation" and two of 2002's biggest box-office hits, comedy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and the epic action picture, "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
The awards given out by the Screen Actors Guild, which represents film and television actors and actresses, have gained importance in recent years during Hollywood's awards season because they help spotlight some of the year's best performances by actors and actresses.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, will announce nominations on Feb. 11 and present awards on March 23. The SAG award ceremony will be March 9.

PENNSYLVANIA
Groundhog to get visit from governor
HARRISBURG After being snubbed by Pennsylvania governors for nearly a century, groundhog Punxsutawney Phil will finally get respect this year in the form of a visit from Gov. Edward G. Rendell.
The new governor plans to travel to Punxsutawney on Feb. 1 to speak at the Groundhog Banquet and spend the night there so he can attend the Groundhog Day observance on Feb. 2, spokesman Tom Hickey said.
It will be the first time that a governor has attended a Groundhog Day-related event in Punxsutawney since Gov. Edwin S. Stuart attended a Groundhog Banquet picnic there in 1909.
On Feb. 2, at a spot known as Gobbler's Knob, Phil will emerge from his hole and "predict" the weather. According to folklore, if the groundhog sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter; if not, it signals an early spring.

ALASKA
Ice on plane's wings probably caused crash
FAIRBANKS The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that a fatal crash 15 months ago near Dillingham was probably caused by ice on the wings of the Cessna 208.
The crash killed 10 persons, making it the deadliest commercial aircraft accident in Alaska in 14 years.

ARKANSAS
Major step taken for Clinton library
LITTLE ROCK Workers have lifted a 95.5-ton steel section into place at the Clinton Presidential Library in a major step toward next year's scheduled opening of the museum and academic complex.
The section is the largest single steel beam on any building in Arkansas, said a project manager.
Construction on the $160 million complex began in June.

CONNECTICUT
Lego Stanley Cup reported stolen
ENFIELD The Stanley Cup at least one that's made of Legos has disappeared.
A replica of the championship trophy for NHL hockey, made from 6,000 Lego bricks, was apparently stolen in Las Vegas. The Denmark-based Lego company is offering a reward of NHL tickets and various Lego products for its return.
The model was taken sometime before the close of the annual sports-equipment Super Show that took place in last week, officials at Lego's North American headquarters in Enfield said Monday.
The replica cup, one of two the company built, was on display to promote a new line of Lego NHL hockey sets. The other model was a gift to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

FLORIDA
Cold snap kills 12 sea turtles
PANAMA CITY BEACH A dozen stranded sea turtles died after being stunned by the recent cold snap in the Florida panhandle, but 29 others were saved, rescuers said yesterday.
The turtles washed up Saturday in St. Joe Bay near Port St. Joe, about 35 miles southeast of Panama City Beach, after the air temperature dipped below freezing.
The survivors a loggerhead, one rare Kemp's Ridley and the rest green turtles were taken to Gulf World, a marine park here.
One green turtle had eye injuries, probably inflicted by predators. It was in a separate holding pool from the others, who were doing well, said Cheryl Joyner, director of animal operations at Gulf World.

GEORGIA
Audit finds county overcharged INS
DECATUR A federal audit said DeKalb County overcharged the Immigration and Naturalization Service for holding some 400 immigrants in federal custody as they awaited deportation hearings.
According to the report, the sheriff's office owes $5.6 million to the INS. Sheriff Thomas Brown said the INS agreed to a higher per-inmate rate than that cited by auditors.

HAWAII
Visitors rose 1 percent in '02
HONOLULU The total number of visitors to Hawaii rose 1 percent in 2002, due mostly to tourists from the U.S. mainland who offset a drop-off from Japan and Canada.
Preliminary state figures show that Hawaii saw 6.36 million visitors in 2002, up from the 6.30 million in 2001. In 2000, a record 6.95 million visited Hawaii.

ILLINOIS
Convicted mayor 'binge betting'
CHICAGO Before she dons prison stripes, a convicted former suburban mayor has turned to "binge betting" at casino slot machines, gambling away money that rightfully belongs in government accounts, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors want former Cicero, Ill., town boss Betty Loren-Maltese locked up before she can gamble away the money she owes taxpayers in restitution for looting the town's treasury in an insurance scam, prosecutors said in a court filing.
Presiding U.S. District Court Judge John Grady, who was made aware of Loren-Maltese's gambling habit, has ordered her to turn herself in two months earlier than her original April 1 surrender date to begin serving an eight-year prison term.
To counter her plea that she be given more time to arrange for the care of her 5-year-old daughter and 81-year-old mother, prosecutors submitted casino records showing that since her racketeering conviction in August, "Loren-Maltese has been focused on what can only be described as binge betting."


INDIANA
Lawmakers consider licensing for preschools
MERRILLVILLE Indiana lawmakers will consider newly filed bills that require state licensing of preschools.
Preschools are exempt from state laws covering day care centers if they keep children for less than four hours a day.
Preschools aren't required to make background checks of staffers or register their location with the state.

IOWA
Smoke from truck prompts evacuation
SIOUX CITY Several blocks of downtown Sioux City were evacuated for about a half-hour yesterday after smoke started wafting from a tractor-trailer carrying at least 15,000 pounds of explosives.
An inspector and the driver noticed smoke coming out from the license plate area after the truck was involved in an accident.
Buildings within a half-mile were evacuated as a precaution.
"We used binoculars to evaluate the trailer and cautiously moved in," Assistant Fire Chief Jim Clark said. "Evidently there was a problem with the wiring during the accident. Something was damaged that caused the wires to short out."

KANSAS
Jobless rate fell in December
TOPEKA The jobless rate declined in December to 4.2 percent from 4.6 percent in November, reflecting holiday hiring in the retail sector, state labor officials said.
The 4.2 percent rate is still the highest unemployment rate for December since 1994, said Acting Human Resources Secretary Jim Garner.

KENTUCKY
Doctor defends actions in branding suit
LOUISVILLE A surgeon being sued for branding a patient's uterus with the initials of his alma mater the University of Kentucky defended his actions yesterday as a routine part of performing a hysterectomy.
Dr. Michael Guiler said that marking the uterus gives doctors a point of reference before it is removed, especially in procedures with limited visibility.
Dr. Guiler, who used a cauterizing instrument to brand "UK" on Stephanie Means' uterus, said the letters were chosen because they mark the organ's midline and distinguish its left and right side.
Mrs. Means filed a lawsuit last week, claiming she suffered emotional distress after viewing a videotape of the Aug. 14 operation. Her husband, David, claims he has suffered a loss of companionship with his wife because of the incident.

MASSACHUSETTS
Jet evacuated after box-cutter found
BOSTON A flight waiting to depart Boston's Logan International Airport for San Francisco was evacuated after a passenger in the first-class cabin discovered a box cutter the same object reportedly used by the September 11 hijackers, local news reported yesterday.
The incident occurred as United Airlines Flight 179 was preparing to leave Boston at 3:30 p.m., a Transportation Security Administration told Boston radio station WBZ.
The official said a first-class passenger discovered the box-cutter in the magazine pouch in front of his seat. The plane was subsequently evacuated and all passengers were ordered to undergo another security screening.

MICHIGAN
Crows taking over college campus
ANN ARBOR There are about 39,000 students at the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus. And about 14,000 crows.
Experts aren't sure what has caused the noisy birds to congregate in such numbers. But two things they make in large quantities droppings, and a racket are causing them to wear out their welcome.
Entomologist Dale Hodgson, head of the campus pest management division, has been trying to scatter the crows using "Bird Bangers" fireworks that scream and trail flames after being launched. The goal is to scare them away, not hurt them.
"They're a fascinating bird," Mr. Hodgson told the Detroit News. "Their adaptability is incredible. It's amazing how they've adapted to an urban environment."

MINNESOTA
Girl, 4, left on school bus
ST. PAUL A 4-year-old girl was left on a school bus in frigid weather for two hours Monday morning, the second child to be forgotten on a Twin Cities bus in a week.
Ida Christopher apparently fell asleep and did not get off at her Head Start program. The bus was then driven to a St. Paul school bus lot, where the girl awoke and saw she was alone.
"She just started crying and screaming," said her mother, Kamia Lavirgne. "Two men saw her kicking on the door, and they opened the emergency door at the back and let her off."
The bus driver and a child-safety monitor have been fired, said Kirk Hayes, executive director of the organization that runs the Head Start program. He said they failed to follow proper procedures.
Last Wednesday, an 18-month-old boy attending an early childhood program was left on a bus in Minneapolis for more than three hours.

MISSOURI
Teen thrown from jeep clings to utility wires
KANSAS CITY A teenager was catapulted at least 25 feet in the air during an auto accident but grabbed onto overhead utility wires like an action hero and dangled for about 20 minutes before a rescue crew brought him down by ladder.
Joe R. Thompson III, 18, was treated for bruises and scratches at a hospital and was released.
"God was definitely in control," he said.
Mr. Thompson lost control of his Jeep on Monday evening after another car suddenly turned in front of him. Mr. Thompson's Jeep clipped the other car and rolled over and over, possibly five times, witnesses said.
The Jeep's fiberglass top was ripped off, and Mr. Thompson, who was not wearing a seat belt, flew through the air, bouncing off three power lines and falling onto what he thinks was a telephone wire and grounding wire.

NEW JERSEY
Judge awards severance to fired executive
CAMDEN A judge awarded nearly $80,000 in severance to a former Miss America Pageant chief executive officer who is suing over being fired.
Superior Court Judge M. Allan Vogelson refused to throw out the lawsuit by Robert L. Beck, who says he was dismissed for recommending that the pageant accept contestants who had been divorced or had abortions.
Judge Vogelson dismissed several counts of Mr. Beck's lawsuit Friday, including claims of fraud, and reserved decision on a bonus payment Mr. Beck said he is also owed.
Mr. Beck, 64, lost the $235,000-a-year job in September 1999, one year into his three-year contact.

NEW YORK
Police chief dead after standoff
SYLVAN BEACH A village police chief who reportedly threatened to harm himself and others was found dead in his home early yesterday after a daylong standoff with state troopers.
The body of Canastota Police Chief Guy Blasier, 39, was found by a camera-equipped robot, state police Maj. Thomas Kelly told reporters. He would not discuss the condition of the body or where it was found in the house. An autopsy was scheduled.
Police had sent in the robot after waiting more than 25 hours since they last heard from Chief Blasier.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Sentence upheld in cocaine death
COLUMBIA The state Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a woman accused of killing her fetus by taking crack cocaine.
The court ruled Monday that Regina McKnight's 12-year sentence was not too harsh because she should have known taking cocaine could result in a stillbirth. McKnight was convicted under South Carolina's homicide by child abuse law.
The dissenting judges in the 3-2 ruling noted that under state law a woman who got an abortion in her eighth month of pregnancy faced a maximum two years in prison, but McKnight faced a maximum of life.
McKnight's supporters said they would appeal.

TEXAS
Civil liberties champion dies at 82
SAN ANTONIO Civil liberties champion and firebrand Texas liberal Maury Maverick Jr., from whose family name the term "maverick" was drawn, died of kidney disease yesterday at age 82, family members said.
Mr. Maverick, who also was a longtime columnist for the San Antonio Express News, made a career in court and in print of defending the politically persecuted, including communists accused of treason during the "red scare" of the 1950s, blacks during the racist Jim Crow era, and conscientious objectors to the Vietnam War.
As an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, he helped defend atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who made headlines when Mr. Maverick showed up at jail to bail her out and she declared: "Thank God, the ACLU is here."

WASHINGTON
Seattle limits cops on immigration
SEATTLE The City Council has barred police and other city workers from asking about the immigration status of people they deal with.
The ordinance, which was approved 9-0 Monday, makes two exceptions. One is for anyone police have "reasonable suspicion" to believe was once deported and has committed a felony. The other allows police to assist federal agents as required by law.
No opposition was voiced at the council meeting, although some police have said it could restrict their ability to fight crime. Robert Okin, deputy district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said the ordinance would have little effect on the INS.


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