- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003


It’s gator season

ALBANY — In an effort to reduce alligator nuisance complaints, Georgia is holding its first gator-hunting season in September, following the lead of Louisiana, Texas, Florida and South Carolina.

Because of conservation efforts since the 1960s, Georgia’s alligator population has surged to an estimated 200,000.

About 1,000 hunters have applied for permits. After the July 31 application deadline, the department will pick 180 hunters at random for the Sept. 13-28 hunt.


Astronauts honor Wrights

DAYTON — Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first steps in aviation were honored yesterday by former astronaut Neil Armstrong on the 34th anniversary of his famous first steps.

Mr. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, was joined by fellow former astronaut John Glenn at a service commemorating the Wright brothers’ invention. This year marks the 100th anniversary of powered flight. The Wright brothers invented and developed the airplane in their hometown of Dayton and made the first flight on the sands of Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17, 1903.


Minorities in schools called underrepresented

PHOENIX — Minorities remain underrepresented in Arizona’s teacher ranks, despite a diverse student population, state education officials say.

Almost half of the state’s public school students are minorities, but 16 percent of teachers are minorities.

A teachers union official says cultural sensitivity is more important than race, but minority teachers say they provide examples for minority students.


Experts debate limit of longevity

SAN FRANCISCO — Fancy living an additional 100 years or more? Some experts said during the weekend that scientific advances will enable humans to last decades beyond what is now seen as the natural limit of the human life span.

“I think we are knocking at the door of immortality,” said Michael Zey, a Montclair State University business professor and author of two books on the future. “I think by 2075 we will see it, and that’s a conservative estimate.”

Mr. Zey spoke on the sidelines of the annual conference of the World Future Society, a group that ponders how the future will look across many different aspects of society.

In a presentation at the meeting in San Francisco, Donald Louria, a professor at New Jersey Medical School in Newark, said advances in manipulating cells and genes, as well as nanotechnology, make it likely humans will live beyond what has been possible.

Outside the conference, many scientists who specialize in aging are skeptical of such assertions and say the human body is just not designed to last past about 120 years. Even with healthier lifestyles and less disease, they say failure of the brain and other organs will condemn all humans.


Officer who shot teen accused of harassment

DENVER — A police officer who shot and killed a mentally disabled teen during a confrontation is accused of threatening his former mother-in-law in Iowa.

James Turney faces a harassment charge, accused of phoning Rozella Orme, 60, of Shenandoah, Iowa, and threatening to shoot her, Page County Attorney Richard Davidson said during the weekend. An arrest warrant for Mr. Turney was issued.

Mr. Turney is suspected of making the threat July 4, the day before he fatally shot Paul Childs, 15. The teenager had refused to obey an order to drop a knife.


State stops paying for Islamic school

TAMPA — A state program that pays tuition for some low-income private school students will cut payments to an Islamic school co-founded by a professor accused of terrorist ties, officials said last week.

Parental Rights in Deciding Education will eliminate funding for the Islamic Academy of Florida for the fall semester pending an investigation into how the money was spent, program Chairman John Kirtley said.

About 100 of the school’s 300 students were assisted by more than $300,000 from the program last year. The students will be able to use their scholarships at other schools, and another Islamic school in Tampa has offered to accept them, Mr. Kirtley said.

The program acted after Democrats in the state Senate urged Gov. Jeb Bush to exclude the school from the program because one of its founders, Sami Al-Arian, is accused of leading the U.S. operations of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.


Two boys killed in van’s rollover

KANKAKEE — A van carrying 18 persons overturned on a highway during the weekend, and 16 persons were ejected when the vehicle’s roof was torn off. Two young boys were killed, authorities said.

Police found no child safety seats, said State Police Master Sgt. Scott Koerner.

The driver lost control and overcorrected on Interstate 57 south of Kankakee, police said.

A 3-year-old boy died at the scene, and an 8-month-old boy died at a hospital, Iroquois County Coroner Bill Cheatum said. He said the boys were traveling with relatives.

Neither Mr. Cheatum nor Mr. Koerner would comment on the injuries to other passengers. A blood sample was taken from the driver for toxicology tests, Mr. Koerner said.


Jazz trumpeter dies after illness

NEW ORLEANS — Alvin Alcorn, a trumpeter whose trio started the jazz brunch that is now a tradition in New Orleans restaurants, died July 10 after a long illness. He was 90.

Mr. Alcorn was born Sept. 7, 1912, in New Orleans and spent much of his career playing in the French Quarter. It was his trio, with a guitar and stand-up bass, that strolled among tables of customers at Commander’s Palace and started the tradition of the New Orleans jazz brunch.

“He played a sweet trumpet,” said Dick Allen, a jazz historian who had known Mr. Alcorn since 1949. “But he also played lead. You don’t play lead without that power.”

As a teenager, Mr. Alcorn played with Armand Piron, one of the pioneers of traditional jazz.


Police say kitten was thrown from car

DETROIT — A man is accused of throwing a kitten out his car window while driving down Interstate 275, and he was charged with one felony count of animal cruelty.

“This was a wanton and willful disregard of life,” Assistant Prosecutor Robert Donaldson told the Detroit Free Press.

Carlos Eduardo Valladares-Guillen, 24, of Wixom, told police he found the kitten in the alley of his apartment complex and wanted to give it a home. The cat was to be a pet for his 5-month-old daughter.

Authorities say that when Mr. Valladares-Guillen decided the kitten couldn’t stay, he got in his car last week, drove down I-275 and threw the kitten out the window, killing it.

He pleaded not guilty to the animal cruelty charge and was freed $5,000 bail.


Ship’s repair team honored by Navy

PASCAGOULA — The Navy has honored a team of civilian and military workers for their repairs to the USS Cole, damaged by a terrorist bomb in October 2000.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Hansford T. Johnson presented the team — called SUPSHIP, which stands for Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repairs — with a Meritorious Unit Commendation on Friday.

Capt. Philip Johnson accepted the award on behalf of the 300 civilian and 40 military personnel he leads.

Capt. Johnson told a group of more than 100 at the ceremony at Northrop Grumman shipyard in Pascagoula that repairing the Cole was important in several ways.

SUPSHIP had a plan within 30 days on the $250 million project and “denied victory of the terrorists by placing the USS Cole back with the fleet,” he said.


Tape found on cable in fatal fall

COLUMBIA — Rust and duct tape were found where a climbing- wall safety cable snapped, dropping a woman about 25 feet to her death, according to court documents.

Christine Ewing, 22, of Jefferson City, died Tuesday after falling the night before while descending the 30-foot wall outside a minor-league baseball game at the University of Missouri’s Taylor Stadium.

“The cable appeared to be rusted,” university police Sgt. Shawn Spalding stated in a police affidavit filed Wednesday in Boone County Circuit Court. “There was duct tape covering the point of break on the cable.”

Mr. Spalding said crimes may have been committed in the fall, including involuntary manslaughter and illegal operation of an amusement ride.

No arrests have been made in the case, which federal, state and university officials are investigating.


Comic opera staged in real court

RENO — The judge reels drunkenly into the courtroom, where the defendant is a two-timing cad and the plaintiff a tearful, jilted ingenue.

And, as has happened for 128 years, the comic opera “Trial by Jury” ends with a verdict that resolves everything in typical Gilbert and Sullivan implausibility.

The twist in the Nevada Opera’s version is that the jurors are sitting in a real jury box and the judge on a real bench. And it’s a real judge, District Judge Peter Breen, in his 30th year on the bench.

Necessity and invention combined to lead the company to select the one-act opera and stage it in a real courtroom. Like many arts groups around the country, the Nevada Opera is strapped for cash. Using the courtroom was cheaper than building a set, said Julie DeHan, the opera company’s fund-raising and special events director.

More than 150 people showed up for the opening performance Friday, but the courtroom could barely accommodate 100, so the cast immediately voted to stage a second show for the overflow. The opera, part of Reno’s monthlong Artown festival, was scheduled to run through yesterday.


666 signs turning into hot items

ALBUQUERQUE — The main stretch of asphalt that cuts across northwestern New Mexico’s desolate mesas is living out its final days as the Devil’s Highway, but drivers wouldn’t necessarily know it.

Not a single sign remains labeling it as the infamous U.S. 666.

“Since the reports that we were changing the name, we virtually had everything stolen. It was a feeding frenzy,” said S.U. Mahesh, spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

The two-lane highway runs 194 miles from Gallup north through southwestern Colorado and then west to Monticello, Utah. Colorado and Utah transportation officials also reported a rash of sign thefts after the American Association of State Highway and Transportation changed the number from U.S. 666 to U.S. 491 in June.

Colorado officials have installed new U.S. 491 signs. New Mexico and Utah are waiting for a ribbon-cutting event July 30 in Shiprock, N.M.


Group opposes WTC site project

NEW YORK — A group representing the families of September 11 victims has criticized Gov. George E. Pataki, Republican, for allowing construction where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers once stood.

The Port Authority is constructing four emergency exits for a temporary trade-center train station set to open in November. One of the structures will stand where the trade center’s North Tower was.

“I feel betrayed, and it’s very painful,” Patricia Reilly, whose sister, Lorraine Lee, was killed in the attack, told the New York Post in yesterday’s editions.

The Coalition for 9/11 Families is asking New York’s Democratic senators, Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, to sponsor a federal law barring more construction in the space, the Post said.

Port Authority spokesman Greg Trevor said the exits are in the best positions to evacuate the temporary station in the event of an emergency and that they would be removed in about three years, when the permanent train station opens.


TVA study says air quality is improving

KNOXVILLE — A Tennessee Valley Authority study released last week suggests that the air in the Southeast has gotten cleaner during the past two decades, though critics say it isn’t clean enough.

“Contrary to many headlines, the country and region have made significant strides toward improved air quality,” said the report, titled “How Clean is The Air?,” which charted air monitoring from 1979 to 2002 in a 226,000-square-mile region including the Tennessee Valley.

“With few exceptions, the air is much cleaner today than more than two decades ago,” the 33-page report said, though it cautioned, “This doesn’t mean that we can rest on our laurels.”

The report said levels of suspended particulates, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, which can irritate lungs and create haze, have fallen more than 40 percent. Ozone or smog levels have fallen, too, at a lower rate.

The region included TVA’s seven-state service area — Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi — plus portions of Missouri, Arkansas, South Carolina, Indiana, Illinois and West Virginia.


Neighbor discovers bullet-riddled bodies

HOUSTON — When Angel Amador saw neighbors running and heard screams in his normally quiet, tree-lined street, he figured someone needed help.

But what he found two houses down was a gruesome scene beyond help: In the living room were the bullet-riddled bodies of Tiffany Rowell, 18, and three of her friends.

Yesterday, Houston Police identified the three other victims as Marcus Ray Precella, 19; Rachel Ann Koloroutis, 18; and Adelbert Nicholas Sanchez, 21.

Detectives said each of the victims was shot multiple times and that two had blunt trauma to their heads. Officials said they do not know of a motive.


Lightning kills two at campground

SALT LAKE CITY — Two adults were killed and their three children injured by lightning that struck a mountain campground where the family sought shelter under trees.

The adults were identified as Richard Goff and his wife, Lisa, both 34. Their children, whose ages were not released, were expected to recover from unspecified injuries, authorities said. The family’s hometown was not released.

The family took cover under trees Saturday near the shore of Crystal Lake, about 60 miles east of Salt Lake City in the 12,000-foot Uinta mountain range.

The children were taken by a medical helicopter to Salt Lake City hospitals. Two went to Primary Children’s Medical Center and the other to University of Utah Hospital. The hospitals declined to release information about their conditions yesterday.

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