- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2003


Wind drags balloonover ground; 11 injured

HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP — Wind caught a hot-air balloon as it landed and dragged its basket 100 yards across the ground yesterday, injuring the pilot and at least 10 passengers.

Some passengers were thrown from the basket, Fire Chief Jim Crunk said, and at least six were taken to a hospital.

One of the passengers had been given the balloon trip as a birthday present.

Pilot Eric Horton said the wind picked up as he started to land and he told the passengers to bend their knees and hold on to the rope handles very tightly.

The Federal Aviation Administration was asked to investigate, sheriff’s Sgt. Arthur Cockrell said.


Covenant House names nun as president

NEW YORK — Covenant House, the nation’s largest privately funded international child welfare agency, said yesterday it has named Sister Patricia Cruise as its president.

Sister Cruise, a Roman Catholic nun, is currently executive vice president of the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, S.D.

She replaces the retiring Sister Mary Rose McGeady, 75, who is credited with rescuing the charity’s reputation after accusations of sexual misconduct involving its founder, the late Rev. Bruce Ritter.

Sister Cruise, 47, said yesterday that her job will mainly entail raising $120 million annually to assist the 66,000 homeless and runaway youths in 21 shelters in six countries.


Hungry burglars take the cake

SEWARD — Apparently, the Chocolate Suicide Cake at Resurrection Roadhouse is to die for. Or at least risk freedom for.

Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, two men broke into the restaurant and stole three slices of the cake from the kitchen cooler while the business was closed, state troopers said. The burglars didn’t steal anything else, officials said. They simply took the cake and left.

Breaking in could cost the burglars up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine, according to the Anchorage Daily News.


Town passes hat to return fugitives

LITTLE ROCK — When a lack of money shortened the long arm of the law, some residents of a small Arkansas community pitched in to lengthen it by bankrolling the extradition of two persons charged in a child-custody battle.

The people of Shannon Hills, a small community of about 2,000 people just outside Little Rock passed the hat around to collect the $1,100 needed to bring two fugitives caught in Idaho back to Arkansas. The fugitives would have likely been released in Idaho if money was not raised for the extradition.

Shannon Hills couple Richard and Maggie Howe, fled Arkansas May 9 with the woman’s 8-year-old daughter before a custody hearing. The Howes were arrested and held by police on July 17 in Boise, Idaho, and the girl returned to her biological father.

Shannon Hills, with a small municipal budget, will only allocate money for extradition in cases involving violent crimes.


Lightning kills giraffe at Disney theme park

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Lightning struck and killed a giraffe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the animal roamed among tourists, company officials said yesterday.

The accident occurred Monday as a severe lightning storm moved over the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction, Disney spokeswoman Diane Ledder said.

It was not clear if any tourists saw the lighting strike.

Betsy the giraffe, who was 6 years old, was the first animal to die from a lightning strike at the theme park, Miss Ledder said.


Blind man’s tickets paid in Chicago

CHICAGO — A kindly donor paid off $360 in parking tickets owed by a blind man on a car he didn’t drive, freeing him to obtain a street performer’s license and resume playing his harmonica for change.

Mike Perry, who is blind from a childhood case of glaucoma, told Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass he would go to Chicago’s City Hall yesterday to obtain the performer’s license, but had no intention of getting a driver’s license.

The mixup occurred because Mr. Perry’s brother had him sign papers making him responsible for the brother’s car in exchange for free rides, but the brother racked up a slew of parking tickets and then ended up in jail on another charge.


Suit claims prison sold pirated CDs

NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana jail illegally copied and sold its inmates copies of recordings by hundreds of artists, including the Rolling Stones, Eminem and Garth Brooks, according to a record company’s lawsuit.

The suit claims that the Claiborne Parish prison gave incoming inmates a list of 330 rock, rap, country and R&B; recordings available through the commissary for $3 per compact disc.

An inmate copied the ones requested by prisoners or visitors, said Roy Maughan Jr., the lawyer who filed the suit for Baton Rouge-based Utopia Entertainment.

The defendants are Claiborne Parish Sheriff Kenneth Volentine; LaSalle Management, the private company that manages the men’s section of the northern Louisiana jail; and an inmate who is accused of copying the CDs on a computer in a prison office.

Utopia, which produced three recordings on the prison’s CD list, is seeking $150,000 in damages for itself and other parties whose copyrights were reportedly violated.


Blueberry industry creates new products

ORONO — Mike Dougherty admits he’s more of a steak-and-potatoes guy than a fan of soy and blueberries.

But the University of Maine researcher has been won over by a creamy concoction known by the practical but unexciting name of “Frozen Blueberry-Soy Dessert.”

Trying to entice people to eat more blueberries, Mr. Dougherty and his colleagues are whipping up new recipes that combine wild blueberries with other healthy products, such as soy.

The push began two years ago when a record crop of 110 million pounds, combined with an oversupply from the previous season, led to a glut in Maine, which produces virtually all of the nation’s wild blueberries.


Prostate test misses tumors, study says

BOSTON — The widely used PSA blood test, designed to look for early signs of prostate cancer, misses 82 percent of tumors in men under 60, according to a study released yesterday.

The prostate-specific antigen test missed 65 percent of cancers in older males, the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found.

Dr. Rinaa Punglia of Harvard Medical School and her team said the accuracy of the test has been overrated because doctors do not routinely confirm what seems to be a healthy reading on the test.

Currently, a PSA level of 4 or under is considered healthy. Dr. Punglia’s team recommended lowering the “healthy” reading to 2.6 — even though many more men who do not have prostate cancer will have to undergo painful biopsies to verify they do not have cancer.


Court blocks order on death row

JACKSON — A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked implementation of wide-ranging changes on Mississippi’s death row.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday agreed to hear an appeal from the Mississippi Department of Corrections on improvements ordered at the Parchman penitentiary by U.S. Magistrate Jerry Davis.

The plaintiffs have until July 31 to respond.

Magistrate Davis’ May ruling came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of inmates at the Parchman prison who said they are daily subjected to excessive heat, human excrement, biting insects and the ranting of psychotic prisoners.

Among changes ordered by Magistrate Davis: Prisoners must be given regular mental health examinations, shaded exercise areas, and sneakers instead of flip-flops to exercise in.


Airport screeners find gun in official’s luggage

MANCHESTER — Rep. Howard Dickinson faces a possible fine but no criminal charges after a gun was found in his luggage at Manchester Airport.

Mr. Dickinson, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in New Hampshire, says he told federal agents that he didn’t realize the gun was in his carry-on bag.

Authorities say it’s the first time someone was caught with a gun since federal screeners took over security last September.


Convicted killer executed by injection

McALESTER — A man convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of a 39-year-old man and his teenage son was executed by injection Tuesday.

As Bryan Toles lay strapped to a gurney, he offered condolences to the family of Juan Franceschi and his son, Lonnie Franceschi.

“I’d like to apologize to the victims’ family and ask them for their forgiveness,” said Toles, 31, who was executed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Toles was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the slayings in 1993.

Juan and Lonnie Franceschi were shot after Toles forced his way into their home in an attempt to get the keys to the family car, prosecutors said.

“I have forgiven Toles,” said Norma Franceschi, Juan Franceschi’s widow and Lonnie Franceschi’s mother, who attended the execution. “I’m nobody to judge nobody. I’m just grateful he said ‘I’m sorry.’”


Judge hands down novel sentence

WEST CHESTER — A judge handed down a novel sentence to a defendant with a lengthy rap sheet: He ordered him to read “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Judge Juan Sanchez gave William Fowlkes, 46, of West Chester, his own copy of Harper Lee’s classic novel and instructed him to read it and write an essay about how his “disgusting” behavior relates to the book.

Judge Sanchez also sentenced Fowlkes to four to 12 months in prison and ordered him to pay $350 in restitution and fines earlier this month.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel centers on the wrongful conviction of a black man, defended by Atticus Finch, for raping a white woman.


Governor says bases could avoid closure list

BEAUFORT — The key role South Carolina bases have played in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq could help them avoid the Pentagon’s closure list in 2005, Gov. Mark Sanford said.

He has named an advisory panel to help the state avoid base closures.


Two women dead in office shooting

SAN ANTONIO — Two women were killed and another woman was wounded yesterday after a gunman opened fire in a real estate office, police said.

Authorities were searching for the gunman, who a police spokesman said might have been an employee at the office complex in northeast San Antonio.

Spokesman Rockey Escobedo said the shootings happened just before 3 p.m. The wounded woman was taken by helicopter to University Hospital, he said.

No other details were immediately available.


Potter revels in road-kill impressionism

PAWLET — Marion Waldo McChesney takes a mummified frog she has nicknamed Dorset George from a dusty cigar box and presses him into clay to make an impression on a stoneware meat platter for some friends.

George is one of a dozen stiff frogs in her gory road-kill treasury, which also contains petrified seahorses, starfish, lizards and chopped off bird feet. Their destiny is to rest in her large cigar-box collection above an old work table and then be used to make impressions in her pottery pieces.

Miss McChesney is known as the Pawlet Potter, creating artwork for more than a quarter of century that has been recognized by national critics and home-design magazines.


Ex-university astronomer dies at 102

SEATTLE — Theodor Jacobsen, a former University of Washington astronomer who studied the pulsation of variable stars for 70 years, died July 17. He was 102.

Mr. Jacobsen, the sole member of the school’s astronomy department during much of his tenure, retired to emeritus status in 1971 and remained active in the field.

He completed his final book, “Planetary Systems from the Ancient Greeks to Kepler,” published by University of Washington Press, at age 98. The book used modern mathematics to explain how the theories of astronomers through the centuries were derived.

A native of Nyborg, Denmark, Mr. Jacobsen found the fascination of his life at age 7 when his parents gave him a telescope with a 2-inch lens set into a paper tube.


Thief breaks into locksmith shop

CHARLES TOWN — A locksmith’s lock apparently wasn’t too tough for a burglar to bust.

A thief broke into the Charles Town Lock & Key store over the weekend and stole keymaking equipment, master keys and a set of key codes with about 50 corresponding business names, Charles Town Police said.

Master-key systems are used by businesses to create keys that give personnel access to restricted areas, locksmith Aaron Greenburg said. He said residential locks were not affected.

Store employees are warning affected businesses of heightened security risks.

“They’re all going to have to be rekeyed,” Mr. Greenburg said.


Budget-strapped museum now requests donations

MADISON — Trips to the Wisconsin Historical Museum now come with a price — and so does just stopping at its bathroom.

A sign popped up in front of the museum recently saying the toilets are “for museum visitors ONLY” — a change from decades of policy that let the public roam freely in the exhibits and toilets.

The sign accompanied a new museum policy that includes a suggested donation of $4 for adults, $3 for children and $10 for families.

Museum director Ann Koski said the levy is a regrettable fact of life in tight budget times. The museum has been forced to cut about 15 staffers and will lose around $750,000 from its budget, as legislators grapple with a $3.2 billion state budget deficit.

From wire service dispatches and staff reports

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