- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2003

CALIFORNIA

Iraqi dogs get early Christmas gift

LOS ANGELES — Five Iraqi dogs have a new home in Southern California thanks to an animal lover who saw them sitting forlornly in the desert during a television news report on April 10.

Marcy Christmas, 51, beamed as the four skinny puppies and their sad-eyed mother tumbled out of an Air France plane Monday after surviving war, hunger and a 9,300-mile journey from the Jordan-Iraq border.

The Jordan-based Humane Center for Animal Welfare rescued the dogs after Miss Christmas contacted them. “Actually, we were going to Iraq to save gazelles,” said Margaret Ledger, director of the center. But she promised to keep an eye out for the dogs along the way.

The puppies were spotted, with two more, in the village of Al Amanieh. One pup was adopted by an Iraqi family and another by military personnel. Miss Christmas, who has been rescuing dogs for decades, agreed to pay $1,000 for transporting the others to California.

WEST VIRGINIA

Mother tries to sell son for drugs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A mother has been charged with trying to sell her toddler son for $500 so that she could buy a stash of the addictive painkiller OxyContin.

Brianna Marie Burns could get up to five years in prison if convicted.

Miss Burns’ grandmother contacted authorities after the 23-year-old purportedly offered to sell her the 2-year-old child. An undercover officer wired the grandmother and provided her with $500 for the exchange, according to police documents.

Miss Burns was arrested Monday after receiving the money and signing custody of the child over to her grandmother. She was being held on a $102,500 bail. Child Protective Services has placed the tot with a family member.

ALASKA

Anchorage registers warmest-ever July day

ANCHORAGE — The high temperature of 84 degrees Tuesday was the warmest day ever recorded in Anchorage for July, the National Weather Service said.

That topped the 83 degrees reached July 11, 1953. It was the fourth-warmest day in Anchorage’s recorded weather history. The hottest day ever recorded in Anchorage was 86 degrees on June 25, 1953.

ARIZONA

House demolished by mistake

PHOENIX — Jenny Lopez’s home is a pile of rubble after a demolition crew mistakenly tore down the wrong house.

The house that was supposed to be demolished Wednesday was across the street from Miss Lopez’s, where she had lived for 30 years. Although the home was vacant, the family stored household items there and had hoped to sell it.

House numbers in the southwest Phoenix neighborhood are not well-marked and all the mailboxes sit on one side of the street.

CONNECTICUT

City ordered to pay in cop shooting

HARTFORD — A federal jury ordered the city of East Haven to pay $2.5 million yesterday to the family of a black motorist who was shot and killed by a white police officer in 1997.

The civil trial jury found that Sgt. Robert Flodquist used excessive force against Malik Jones, 21.

“Maybe this will give him peace,” said Emma Jones, the victim’s mother.

Mr. Flodquist shot Mr. Jones after a car chase that began in East Haven with reports of an erratic driver. The officer said he fired in self-defense when Mr. Jones tried to hit him with his car. A man who was riding with Mr. Jones testified that Mr. Jones was not driving erratically.

FLORIDA

Court rejects parental notification law

A Florida law requiring the notification of parents at least 48 hours before minors can obtain abortions violates privacy rights guaranteed by the state constitution, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

The justices voted 5-1 to strike down the 1999 law that was never enforced because of the legal challenge from abortion providers.

The court ruling relied heavily on a 1989 decision by the court that overturned a state law that required underage girls to get parental consent before an abortion.

Senior Justice Leander Shaw wrote for the majority yesterday that the court had to base its decision on law rather than morality and that the state’s privacy guarantee is more extensive than rights provided by the U.S. Constitution.

GEORGIA

HIV diagnoses rise among drug users

ATLANTA — The number of new HIV diagnoses among intravenous drug users in the United States rose in 2000, halting five years of steady declines, said a federal study released yesterday.

Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 25 states revealed that 2,514 persons who injected drugs had been diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS in 2000.

That figure was about 5 percent higher than in 1999, though considerably lower than the 4,226 infections reported in 1994.

LOUISIANA

600 pigeons ready to race

NEW ORLEANS — Flapping through the summer heat and Gulf Coast winds, more than 600 homing pigeons will race from Alabama to Louisiana today as part of a pigeon racing group’s annual convention.

“For the sport, it’s a super event,” said race coordinator Waldo Slie, who expected the birds to complete today’s 200-mile race from Castleberry, Ala., to New Orleans in less than six hours.

The Fly the Big Easy competition is a midlength course in this old and noble sport. But for Louisiana’s 300 pigeon fanciers, this event is the first of its kind.

MISSISSIPPI

Girlfriend of killer interrupts memorial

MERIDIAN — The girlfriend of the factory worker who killed five fellow employees this week interrupted a memorial service yesterday by standing up in the church and saying the gunman also should be viewed as a victim.

Mayor John Robert Smith was speaking during the community service when Shirley Price stood and spoke: “Excuse me. Don’t criticize this man. He was human too. … Don’t exclude him. He was a victim, too. … He was a kind and loving human being.”

Miss Price broke into tears and left the church. Her boyfriend, Doug Williams, committed suicide after shooting 14 co-workers, killing five, at the Lockheed Martin aircraft parts plant Tuesday.

NEW YORK

Court lets Connecticut charities exclude Scouts

NEW YORK — Connecticut did not violate the rights of the Boy Scouts when it deleted the group from a list of charities to which state employees contribute through a payroll deduction plan, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The Boy Scouts, based in Irving, Texas, and a Connecticut scouting council had filed the federal discrimination lawsuit against the state, saying exclusion from the list was a First Amendment violation.

Yesterday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that said the Connecticut State Employee Campaign Committee did not violate the Constitution when it removed the Boy Scouts from its list in 2000. The state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities had said including a group that bars homosexuals would violate antidiscrimination laws.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Two hit by car after fight at bar

SUMMERVILLE — A woman rammed her car into two persons after a bar fight just days after a similar incident outside a movie theater killed one teen and seriously injured another in the same small town, police said.

The latest crash followed a fight in a bar around 4 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

The police report said Michelle Floyd, 29, climbed into her car with another woman, said “I’ll settle this,” and ran into Kenneth Campbell and Alison Hubbard. Police said the two were carried several feet on the hood of Miss Floyd’s car before Mr. Campbell, 39, fell off and hit his head on the pavement. He was hospitalized in stable condition yesterday. Miss Hubbard, 23, had cuts and scrapes.

On Sunday, in what police said was a strikingly similar case in the same town, a car that police said was driven by Curtis Stock’s ex-girlfriend, Rebecca Oswalt, 18, of North Charleston, hit Mr. Stock, 17, and his girlfriend Cynthia Bowen, 17, outside a theater. Miss Bowen was killed, and Mr. Stock was hospitalized in intensive care at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

TEXAS

San Antonio plans toll road near SeaWorld

SAN ANTONIO — The city’s first toll road is planned as a 10-mile stretch that would help ease congestion near SeaWorld, officials say. Texas 151 would stretch from U.S. 90 to Loop 1604 near SeaWorld.

The San Antonio Mobility Coalition says the project could be operating by the end of 2004, with some lanes open next summer.

WISCONSIN

Conservatory doesn’t want tropical pets

MILWAUKEE — Notice to owners who no longer want their tropical pets: Don’t even think about dumping them in the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory.

That is the warning from the conservatory’s Rebecca Loehe, who has found three iguanas, two geckos, a box turtle, a Bengalese spice finch and a rare Cordon Bleu finch wandering around since she began working at the park in 1999.

In her four years at the park, which has arid, tropical and floral domes, Miss Loehe has seen the parakeet population grow from two pairs to more than 65. While Miss Loehe says she is certain that most of the bird boom is a result of reproduction, she suspects a few of her feathered friends were smuggled into the park by visitors.

Miss Loehe says the park sometimes accepts “donations,” but that no one gave approval for the other critters — and for good reason. The diets of people’s pets and birds at the park are so markedly different that many animals often can’t adapt and eventually die from malnourishment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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