- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2003


Fans of cheese grits mourn cafe's close

BIRMINGHAM Crowds have been gathering at a local hotel to receive their last helping of cheese grits.

Barbara Thomas' corn concoction has been drawing guests to Mountain Brook Inn's cafe for the past nine years.

But the cafe will close Sunday.

According to Miss Thomas, she is still surprised at the attention her regular and cheese grits get.

"People come in and order a bowl of grits to take back to their office," Miss Thomas said.

She does not plan to share the recipe with others to keep the gritty legacy alive: she won't even tell her own daughter.


Town revives tradition of soldier send-off

NORTH PLATTE A 60-year-old tradition was revived for 511 National Guard members headed to the Persian Gulf for a possible war with Iraq.

Many thousands of soldiers passed through this railroad town and stopped by the North Platte Canteen for a little hospitality on their way to battle during World War II.

This week, the canteen tradition was back in action. Although the canteen is gone, the staff at a local motel had dinner, with a bit of hospitality for dessert, for guardsmen coming in to rest after a long day on the road.

"We were told there would be a meal for us, but we weren't expecting anything this nice," said Duane Score, a 21-year-old construction worker who is a specialist with the 142nd Engineering Combat Battalion from Fargo, N.D.


American deported by Russia questioned

LOS ANGELES An American woman deported from Russia by officials who claim she made Internet contact with Islamic extremists was questioned by FBI agents.

Bureau spokeswoman Laura Bosley said Megan McRee arrived Wednesday night at Los Angeles International Airport on an Aeroflot airliner from Moscow.

Ms. McRee has not been charged with any crime.

Russian Federal Security Service said Ms. McRee had lived in Moscow without registering her visa as required by law.

The state-run TV Rossiya broadcast a report saying Ms. McRee had attempted to contact Islamic groups and had proposed attacks on "Hollywood studios and Hollywood actors."


Officials blame structure for billboard collapse

SNELLVILLE Faulty design and manufacturing led to a billboard collapse that killed three workers in August, federal officials said.

The report said the design by Thompson Engineering Group did not conform to steel industry requirements, and faulty welding by Phoenix Structures & Service also contributed to the collapse.


Syrian-American accused of aiding terror groups

CHICAGO A Syrian-born American was accused by federal prosecutors of leading a Muslim charity that the Treasury Department calls a terrorist group and helping Osama bin Laden obtain materials for a nuclear weapon.

The government said Mohammed Loay Bayazid was president of the suburban Chicago-based Benevolence International Foundation in 1994 the same year he is being accused of trying to obtain uranium for al Qaeda.

They also said the UBS financial services company and computer giants Microsoft and Compaq donated thousands of dollars to the foundation through an employee gift-matching program.

The accusations came in a 101-page filing made public Wednesday in the federal racketeering case against Enaam Arnaout, who heads Benevolence International.


Web site freezes after slew of requests

DES MOINES The Iowa government's new Web site on road conditions froze after thousands sought information about slippery roads during a winter storm.

Officials estimate the site was receiving 60 to 70 requests a second.


Rapper Juvenile arrested on drug charges

NEW ORLEANS Juvenile, a rapper also known as Terius Gray, was arrested on drug charges with three other persons.

Police made the arrests Wednesday after smelling, then seeing, two burning marijuana cigarettes when the suspects' car was stopped at a New Orleans intersection where police had set up a checkpoint to make sure drivers were carrying proof of insurance.

Mr. Gray, 27, was a front-seat passenger in the rented Lincoln Town Car.

The men later were booked with possession of cocaine after officers found a small amount in the trunk of the car.


Propane tanker explodes; driver killed

FLINT A truck hauling propane gas slipped off a freeway overpass and plunged 35 feet onto the CSX Railroad tracks early yesterday. The explosion killed the driver and cut a power line that serves 1,100 people, authorities said.

The tanker was headed west on Interstate 69 shortly after midnight when it struck a set of guardrails dividing an offramp from the main road, state police Sgt. Richard Arnold said.

The truck caught fire and burned for several minutes before exploding with a fireball that shot flames 600 feet into the air, witnesses said.

The truck driver could not be identified immediately, and the cause of the crash was not known, Sgt. Arnold said. No other vehicles were involved.


Sheriff forced to recruit jurors

PRESTON With a drug trial ready to start and not enough potential jurors on hand, the judge told Sheriff Jim Connolly to get jurors the old-fashioned way.

Sheriff Connolly nabbed his first two jurors right in the courthouse.

He only had to visit the Victory Cafe across the street to round up four more.

"You finish your lunch and be at the courthouse by 1 o'clock," Sheriff Connolly told them.

Sheriff Connolly's next stops were a grocery and nearby deli, where he picked up two customers and an assistant manager.

At the local newspaper, the Fillmore County Journal, Sheriff Connolly looked publisher John Torgrimson in the eye. "He came along without a problem," Sheriff Connolly said.

Ten persons with other plans had become 10 potential jurors.


University closes laundry, dry cleaners

STARKVILLE The students of Mississippi State University will have to find a new way to wash their clothes.

The university, which has operated a laundry and dry cleaners since 1902, is closing the business in May.

Officials said it lost $100,000 in 2002 and also lost money in previous years.


Malpractice insurance rates protested

JEFFERSON CITY More than 500 doctors wearing their white coats made their way to the Capitol to voice concerns and support legislation regarding rising medical malpractice insurance premiums.

The Missouri Medical Association is supporting at least two bills that would lower the maximum amount of money that could be awarded as punitive damages in malpractice lawsuits.


Stepfather questioned about child, mother

RENO The stepfather of a 3-year-old boy found abandoned in a Salt Lake City store was questioned by police. The boy's mother has been missing for two weeks, authorities said.

Police said they took Lyle Montgomery, 42, in for questioning Wednesday night after they served a search warrant in connection with the hunt for his wife, Jeannette Acord.

Mrs. Acord, 28, has not been seen since Jan. 13, and police said Mr. Montgomery has refused to discuss her whereabouts.

Mr. Montgomery is believed to be the man pictured on a ShopKo security videotape with his 3-year-old stepson, Jonathan Jacob Corpuz, authorities said.

In October, Mrs. Acord brought a criminal complaint against Mr. Montgomery.

In the complaint, she said he assaulted her by pulling a firearm on her at his home in the same room as her son.


Hit men sentenced for killing rabbi's wife

CAMDEN Two men were sentenced yesterday to more than 20 years in prison for beating the wife of a New Jersey rabbi to death at his request.

Leonard Jenoff, 57, and Paul Daniels, 28, confessed nearly three years ago to killing Carol Neulander in 1994.

The two later testified against Rabbi Fred Neulander and helped secure a murder conviction against him last year.

Neulander, 61, was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison.

Jenoff and Daniels were each given 23-year sentences for aggravated assault. For Daniels, the sentence will run concurrently with a 20-year sentence he is serving for robbery in the case. Both men will be eligible for parole in less than eight years.

The Neulanders were pillars of the community in Cherry Hill, a wealthy suburb of 70,000 southeast of Philadelphia.


Olsen twins cause stir on campus

CINCINNATI A college was besieged by phone calls after a fake Web site reported that twin teenage actresses Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen had applied for admission.

"There's no truth to it. They didn't apply. And Britney Spears isn't coming either," said University of Dayton spokeswoman Teri Rizvi.

Current and prospective students called admissions officers in droves after seeing the fake links Tuesday and Wednesday. The sites since have been removed from the Web.

The hoax is "all over the country," said Michael Pagnotta, a spokesman for the Olsens, who debuted as infants on the ABC sitcom "Full House" in 1987.

"In a way, it's flattering so many people want to believe [the twins] will be going to their school," Mr. Pagnotta said. "But at the end of the day, none of the reports are true."

The 16-year-olds have a year of high school left, he said.


Nuclear plant declares low-level emergency

BERWICK A higher-than-normal release of radioactive gas from a nuclear power plant was declared a low-level emergency Wednesday night by officials. They said the public was never in danger.

The higher-level release from the PPL Susquehanna plant near Berwick lasted less than an hour, company spokesman Herbert D. Woodeshick said.

The release had twice the radioactivity of normal gas releases but, because levels are normally low, there never was a threat to the public, Mr. Woodeshick said.

The plant continued to run at full power, and the cause of the incident was under investigation, Mr. Woodeshick said.

The release was classified as an "unusual event," the lowest of the four emergency classifications established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for nuclear power plants.


City increases tax by 12.8 percent

CRANSTON Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey announced the city will raise supplemental taxes by 12.8 percent to help the city recover from financial woes.

The mayor said he called for the cuts to help eliminate the city's $9.7 million deficit.

Earlier this year, the city imposed an 11.5 percent tax increase. Cranston, with a population of about 80,000, is the third-largest city in Rhode Island.


Creationists complain about professor's policy

DALLAS A biology professor who refuses to write letters of recommendation for his students if they don't believe in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is being accused of religious discrimination, and federal officials are investigating, the school said.

The legal complaint was filed against Texas Tech University and professor Michael Dini by a student and the Liberty Legal Institute.

The Liberty Legal Institute is a religious freedom group that calls Mr. Dini's policy "open religious bigotry."

"Students are being denied recommendations not because of their competence in understanding evolution, but solely because of their personal religious beliefs," said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for the institute.

Texas Tech spokeswoman Cindy Rugeley said the university stands by Mr. Dini and his policies because a letter of recommendation is a "personal matter" between a professor and student.


Bush proposes boost in conservation funds

NASHVILLE President Bush will propose a record $3.9 billion, an increase of $582 million over the fiscal 2003 level, for conservation programs to strengthen environmental stewardship on the nation's farmlands, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced yesterday.

The 2004 funding request is $1.9 billion higher, or more than double the funding for these activities, than when the Bush administration came into office two years ago.

During an address to cattle producers and ranchers at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's annual convention, the secretary also announced the release of proposed rules for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

"This administration has worked hard to ensure strong environmental programs are available to our nation's farmers and ranchers," Mrs. Veneman said. "Farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of the land and we will continue to ensure these programs are administered effectively."


Former senator Ted Moss dead at 91

SALT LAKE CITY Former Sen. Frank "Ted" Moss, a liberal Utah Democrat who championed conservation and social issues during his 18 years in Congress, died Wednesday. He was 91.

Mr. Moss died of natural causes and had been ill several months, said his son, Brian Moss.

Mr. Moss was elected to his first of three terms as senator in 1958, and served until Republican Orrin G. Hatch defeated him in 1976.

Mr. Moss, an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, pushed for the ban on cigarette advertising on radio and television and was an initial sponsor of the Medicaid program. But he was perhaps best known for his work in establishing national parks and recreation areas, including two parks in Utah.

Respect for Mr. Moss extended beyond political boundaries to Utah's current senators, both Republicans.

"He took the time to let me know when he approved of some of the positions I took, even going public with his praise on occasion," Sen. Bob Bennett said.


Body found hanging from noose in tree

OLYMPIA A man's body was found hanging from a tree in a rural area and it may have been there for a year, police said. No foul play was suspected.

The body was reported Tuesday by a man who said he first saw it a year ago but kept quiet because he was facing outstanding warrants and feared arrest, police said.

He called authorities after returning to the area a sparsely populated, heavily wooded part of Olympia and seeing the body still there, dangling from a noose about 40 feet off the ground.

Police did not identify the man who found the body.

An autopsy was pending, police said.


Potbellied pig to replace groundhog

COTTAGE GROVE The local Lions Club will use a potbellied pig to forecast the weather this weekend instead of a groundhog.

The club is also switching the date of its celebration from Groundhog Day on Sunday to Saturday because it cannot get enough volunteers to sell tickets at the door any other day, and the hall where the event is held has been rented by a local church.

The Lions argue that Hamlet the Potbellied Pig proved his powers of prediction last year when he agreed with Jimmy the Groundhog that a sunny dawn meant spring would wait awhile.

Some traditionalists say the Lions Club is making a farce of the holiday.

"They're making a fallacy of it. They're demeaning Jimmy," joked Sun Prairie Mayor Jo Ann Orfan.

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