- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2003

ARIZONA

Bible verses back up at Grand Canyon

PHOENIX — The Bible is back at the Grand Canyon — at least for now.

Three bronze plaques from the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary that were removed this month from scenic overlooks at the canyon’s South Rim have been reinstalled pending legal advice, David Barna, a National Park Service spokesman, said yesterday.

The plaques, placed 33 years ago to honor God for creating the canyon, were pulled from Hermit’s Rest, Lookout Studio and Desert View overlooks earlier this month after the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union insisted that they were an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

FLORIDA

Chevy-cruising Cubans sent home

MIAMI — The 12 Cubans who tried to sail a 1951 Chevrolet truck earlier this month from the communist-ruled island to the United States got no marks from U.S. authorities for their creativity.

The would-be emigrants were sent back home.

They attempted the 90-mile crossing of the Florida Straits in a floating flatbed truck with 55-gallon drums strapped to its sides, tires still in place, a propeller attached to its drive shaft and a driver behind the wheel.

“We’ve seen surfboards, pieces of Styrofoam, bathtubs, refrigerators. But never an automobile,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Doss said yesterday.

GEORGIA

Child in critical condition with equine encephalitis

ATLANTA — A 10-year-old from Valdosta is in critical condition after becoming ill with eastern equine encephalitis, state health officials said yesterday.

The child is the state’s second human case of the mosquito-borne disease, which has a higher death rate than West Nile virus, the Department of Human Resources said.

A Brunswick man — the nation’s first human case of the disease this year — died last month.

The virus kills about 50 percent of people who get infected.

HAWAII

Five killed in crash of tour helicopter

LIHUE — A tour helicopter crashed Wednesday on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, killing all five persons on board, including a woman who had survived several hours as rescue crews tried to get her off the cloud-covered mountainside, authorities said.

The woman and her male companion, another couple and the pilot of the Bell 206B helicopter died, said fire Battalion Chief Mitchell Ikeda.

The helicopter’s wreckage was spotted around noon at about 4,300 feet on Mount Waialeale, authorities said. The chopper went down in a crater on the peak’s eastern face, which is considered the rainiest spot on earth.

INDIANA

Five charged with giving HIV-tainted blood

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana prosecutor is dusting off a little-used law to charge five HIV-infected persons with knowingly selling their tainted blood to a plasma center.

“There were five people out there who knew they had HIV, but for 20 bucks were willing to possibly infect who knows how many men, women and children,” said Carl Brizzi, prosecutor in Marion County.

The three men and two women were charged last week with transferring contaminated bodily fluids, punishable by up to eight years in prison. Three of the five have been arrested.

IOWA

Hot line targets drivers of polluting vehicles

DES MOINES — Environmentally conscious Iowans are burning up a state hot line that helps citizens report about motorists driving smoke-belching cars. More than 400 people have called (888) END-SMOG since June 1.

State officials send the vehicle’s owner a packet of emissions information and a stack of discount auto-repair coupons.

KANSAS

City revokes Sunday liquor sales

LEAVENWORTH — The Leavenworth City Commission rescinded its decision to allow Sunday liquor sales at grocery and convenience stores.

Attorney General Phill Kline had warned he would intervene if the ordinance wasn’t revoked.

State law limits the stores to selling only cereal malt beverages or beer with low alcohol content.

MASSACHUSETTS

Schools can interrogate students, court rules

BOSTON — School officials can investigate potential criminal acts of students without having to offer them such constitutional protections as Miranda warnings, the state’s highest court ruled in two cases.

Lawyers for the juvenile defendants had argued that school officials were acting as de facto police agents.

MICHIGAN

Judge blocks immigrants’ deportation

DETROIT — A federal judge ruled that at least a dozen Lebanese immigrants who say they didn’t know their visas were fraudulent must receive court hearings before the government can send them home.

Under the decision Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn, the immigrants will remain jailed but will be able to seek bond. Officials also must begin traditional deportation procedures, which can take months or years.

Authorities say the immigrants entered the country on fraudulent visas from a Dearborn immigration consultant, Janice Halstead. Halstead and two others were federally indicted in April, accused of bringing at least 130 persons to Detroit from Yemen and Lebanon illegally, and Halstead pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy and bribery.

MONTANA

Hundreds leave park after wildfire grows

WEST GLACIER — Hundreds of hikers, campers and park employees were told to leave part of Glacier National Park yesterday because of wildfires that forced the closure of most of the western half of the site.

Park officials closed the west entrance and evacuated the Lake McDonald Valley because of a fire two miles from the entrance in the Flathead National Forest, park information officer Punky Moore said.

The fire had burned 1,945 acres and had spread into the park at the base of the Apgar Mountains, Fire Information Officer Lisa Kiebler said.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Father pleads not guilty to murder charges

MANCHESTER — The father of two New Hampshire children whose disappearance has led to a cross-country search pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of murdering the youngsters.

Manuel Gehring, 44, was arraigned on two counts of first-degree murder. He said nothing and looked down as his two public defenders entered the pleas for him.

Mr. Gehring was held without bail.

While no bodies have been found, authorities have said they believe he fatally shot the children, 14-year-old Sarah and 11-year-old Philip, in southern New Hampshire on July 4 and buried them a day later somewhere in the Midwest as he traveled to California.

OREGON

Indian tribe wins casino

FLORENCE — The north fork of the Siuslaw River was once the site of a bustling American Indian village, whose tribe fished for salmon and gathered oysters and clams.

Tribal leaders hope to restore that sustenance by building a surefire revenue stream: a Las-Vegas style casino, the first in Oregon on nonreservation land.

The casino was opposed by some residents who fear impending traffic snarls, gambling addiction and an influx of seedy characters.

The tribes are planning to build a 50,000-square-foot casino floor at the cost of $26 million. The operation is expected to net up to $12 million a year and will become the largest employer in Florence, by providing about 300 jobs.

PENNSYLVANIA

Religious order selling name rights

PHILADELPHIA — A small, cash-trapped Benedictine order that wants to build a new monastery and headquarters in eastern Pennsylvania is selling the “naming rights.”

In a seven-day auction that began Monday on eBay, the Benedictine Order of St. John the Beloved opened bidding at $1 million for a package including a church building, monastery and bell towers.

The structures can be bid on separately, and the highest bidders will have their items named after them or people of their choice.

RHODE ISLAND

Last of fire survivors released from hospital

PROVIDENCE — More than five months after a nightclub fire on that killed 100 persons and injured nearly 200, a Massachusetts man became the last of the survivors to be released from the hospital.

Joseph Kinan, 34, was released Wednesday from Massachusetts General, hospital spokeswoman Christine Johanson said. Mr. Kinan’s family said he has been moved to a rehabilitation center in Boston.

Mr. Kinan, of Canton, Mass., suffered burns over the upper half of the body, and lost his fingers and parts of his nose and ears. He has undergone more than 30 surgeries, and his attorneys have said his medical bills may top $4 million.

Mr. Kinan’s release came the day Gov. Donald L. Carcieri announced that the state has received a $494,568 federal grant to provide mental health treatment to those affected by the fire.

From wire service dispatches and staff reports.

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