- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2003


Death-row inmate released from jail

JEFFERSON CITY — A former death-row inmate walked out of jail yesterday after a prosecutor said there was not enough evidence to retry him in the stabbing death of another inmate.

Joseph Amrine, 46, wearing a green shirt and khaki pants, carried two garbage bags of belongings as he left the jail to cheers from supporters.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled April 29 that there was an absence of credible evidence against Mr. Amrine for the 1985 killing. Mr. Amrine had been in the Jefferson City penitentiary for robbery, burglary and forgery and would have been released in 1992.


Officials to fight fire with fire

WEST GLACIER — Fire officials positioned equipment to light a huge backfire to protect the headquarters of Glacier National Park, but they hadn’t given the go-ahead yesterday.

Officials planned to burn about 2,000 acres of dense forest by dropping incendiary devices from the air, aiming to remove fuel from the path of a wildfire that had covered an estimated 9,300 acres as of late Sunday.

The weather was not expected to help, with low humidity, temperatures rising into the 90s and a possibility of wind. Officials said fire conditions in the region are the worst in 42 years.


Woman dies from West Nile virus

MONTGOMERY — A Talladega County woman in her 80s became the first Alabamian to die from the mosquito-borne West Nile virus this year, officials said yesterday.

The Alabama Department of Public Health would not release her name nor the day she died, citing confidentiality laws.

Besides the woman’s death, four human cases of West Nile have been reported since the first human case in Geneva County last week. Three of the four persons are recovering and the fourth, a man in his 80s, is hospitalized, health officials said.

“We’ve seen West Nile virus human cases, and the message remains the same,” Dr. John Mosely Hayes, spokesman for the department, said yesterday. “People need to protect themselves against mosquito bites, and communities need to come together to establish integrated mosquito-control programs.”

Alabama reported 49 human infections and four deaths from the virus last year.


Nursing-school slots fall behind demand

LITTLE ROCK — Nursing-school officials say their resources haven’t kept up with the demand for nursing education.

The nursing program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, for example, has increased its enrollment by 30 students, to 140. However, even with the increase, the program is turning people away or telling them they have to wait.


Court stands by segregation in prison

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court declined yesterday to reconsider a decision that upheld limited racial segregation in prisons, although several judges issued a strongly worded dissent.

In February, a three-member panel of judges at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that jailers could consider race in deciding where to place incoming prisoners in an effort to lessen racial tensions.

The court yesterday denied a request for the entire court to hold a rare en banc sitting to reconsider the matter, although four judges issued a dissenting opinion that said that by considering race in prison-cell assignments, the prison system could allow old stereotypes to fester.


Museum to present Marian Anderson exhibit

DANBURY — The Danbury Museum and Historical Society is restoring the practice studio of Marian Anderson for a public exhibit.

The former Danbury resident was the first black singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in 1955. She also sang at President Kennedy’s inauguration.

The museum hopes to record oral accounts of her life from Danbury neighbors.


Inquest opens into hanging death

BELLE GLADE — Relatives of a black man whose hanging divided this rural community learned at an inquest yesterday that the noose was probably his grandmother’s bedsheet and agreed that meant his death was probably a suicide and not a lynching.

Palm Beach Circuit Judge Harold Cohen convened the coroner’s inquest into the death May 28 of Feraris “Ray” Golden to determine whether he committed suicide, as police said, or was lynched, as had been rumored.

Mr. Golden, 32, was found hanging from a tree outside his grandmother’s house, and relatives initially said it was impossible that he had committed suicide, saying he was found with his hands tied behind his back. Friends said Mr. Golden was dating a white police officer’s daughter.

Uneasiness about the death became so strong that leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for the inquest.

The judge will rule whether it was a suicide or a suspicious death.


Sales-tax holiday to start Thursday

ATLANTA — Shoppers are working up their lists for this year’s four-day sales-tax holiday, which starts Thursday. The holiday is meant to stimulate sales in the days before the school year starts.

The state government estimates that it will take in $14 million to $16 million less during the holiday.


Officials end animal display at fair

INDIANAPOLIS — State wildlife officials have ended a popular display at the Indiana State Fair that allowed visitors to ogle caged deer, raccoons, opossums and other native wildlife during the August event.

Officials with the Department of Natural Resources, which sponsored the long-running exhibit, said they no longer want to be in the “zoo business.”


State said to be flatter than pancake

LAWRENCE — Scientists have confirmed what many cross-country motorists have long suspected: Kansas is flatter than a pancake.

A study published recently in the tongue-in-cheek Annals of Improbable Research compares the geography of Kansas with that of a griddle cake purchased at the International House of Pancakes.

“Simply put, our results show that Kansas is considerably flatter than a pancake,” wrote the researchers from Southwest Texas State University and Arizona State University.

Blame Brandon Vogt, a doctoral student at Arizona State University, for the topic. Three researchers were eating breakfast when the talk turned to how flat their pancakes really were. Mr. Vogt suggested comparing the pancakes with Kansas.

The researchers used a confocal laser microscope to map the terrain of a flapjack. Then they compared the data to elevation data for Kansas from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The researchers discovered the pancake is much bumpier than it first appears.


Tobacco firms win medical-cost lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS — Jurors rejected a claim that tobacco companies should pay for medical monitoring for 1.5 million Louisiana smokers and former smokers, but agreed that the companies should pay for stop-smoking programs.

The finding by the state district court jury yesterday was the second victory for tobacco companies against demands that they pay for routine medical monitoring.

In a case last year in West Virginia, attorneys for smokers prevailed in their argument that a person with a five-year, pack-a-day habit has a higher risk of disease. But the jury found that routine medical screening was not necessary. That suit did not ask for quit-smoking programs.

Phil Wittmann, an attorney for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., said the Louisiana jury’s finding was “almost a total victory” for cigarette makers as jurors also found that the companies had not manufactured a defective product.


Supporters hold rally for Islamic family

DETROIT — About two dozen people attended a rally yesterday for the wife and children of an Islamic charity’s co-founder who were being sent out of the country for overstaying their visas.

Salma Al-Rushaid and her four children, one of whom is a U.S. citizen, waved to supporters outside the immigration office before going inside. They were whisked out a back door to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

“This family has suffered at the hands of the United States government,” said Patricia Lay-Dorsey, who helped organize the rally. “If most people knew the story, they would be outraged.”

Mrs. Al-Rushaid’s husband, Rabih Haddad, was head of a charity that federal authorities accused of funneling money to al Qaeda. Neither he nor the charity, Global Relief Foundation, was charged with a terrorism-related crime.

Mr. Haddad was deported to his native Lebanon July 15.


Suit charges abuse against Boys Town

OMAHA — A fourth man who lived at Boys Town, the home for wayward youths made famous in a 1938 Spencer Tracy film, has filed a lawsuit saying he was sexually abused by a staffer.

John Sturzenegger, 20, said in the lawsuit filed this month that he was abused during a 1997 diabetic incident, the Omaha World-Herald newspaper reported in yesterday’s editions. He says that when he regained consciousness, he found teacher Glenn Moore fondling him.

The lawsuit says Mr. Sturzenegger told Boys Town officials about the incident at the time and that no action was taken against Mr. Moore.

Girls and Boys Town attorney James Martin Davis told the newspaper that Boys Town immediately reported the accusation to police, child protection services, the youth’s guardian and juvenile court. Mr. Davis said a police investigation found no substance to the accusation.

Mr. Sturzenegger’s attorney, James Sherrets, said a counselor’s notes corroborate his client’s story.


Forest Service to reseed wildfire-damaged area

RENO — The Forest Service will spend $200,000 to reseed half the nearly 2,200 acres blackened in a wildfire that threatened hundreds of homes on the edge of Reno this month.

The effort is intended to restore damaged deer habitat and prevent a fresh invasion of cheat grass, which prevents other plants from growing.


School superintendent killed in car crash

ALBUQUERQUE — The lead superintendent of Albuquerque schools was killed in a car rollover east of town, and alcohol was suspected as a factor, a deputy sheriff said.

Joseph Vigil, 49, was driving when the crash occurred about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Mr. Vigil apparently missed a turnoff along Route 41 near Moriarty, Torrance County Sheriff’s Deputy Ronald Crow said.

“There was alcohol in the vehicle,” Mr. Crow said. “But until we get blood-test results back, we can’t say whether he was drunk or not.”

Mr. Vigil had two passengers. Manuel Ruiz, 28, was hospitalized in critical condition. The other, Joseph Gallegos, 38, walked to a nearby house and called 911 after the crash but was later arrested on a warrant including charges of car theft and burglary, Mr. Crow said.


Slain council member lies in state

NEW YORK — Five days after he was fatally shot by a political rival at City Hall, council member James Davis was returned to the landmark building yesterday to lie in state, joining a list that includes Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and Henry Clay.

Mr. Davis is the first person conferred the honor since 1918 because of his lifelong dedication to public service, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.

Mr. Davis, 41, was shot Wednesday by rival Othniel Askew, 31, just before the start of a City Council meeting. Askew was fatally shot by a police officer moments later.


18 migrants injured in crash

ROCKY MOUNT — A tractor-trailer slammed into a farmworkers’ van yesterday, injuring 18 migrants, four seriously, authorities said.

The rig’s driver was trying to turn onto Interstate 95 when the collision occurred, police said. The van was carrying 13 men and five women to a job at a melon farm.

The rig’s driver was charged with a yield violation.

The seriously injured workers were taken to a hospital.


Labor officials push health care for children

SALEM — The AFL-CIO has filed initiative petitions to guarantee health care to every child in Oregon.

The federation will decide later whether to try to put it on the November 2004 ballot. It would be financed by a payroll tax on businesses. Tax credits would go to businesses that provide the coverage.

Legislators are considering whether to reduce the number of people covered by the Oregon Health Plan.


Cat helps mayor escape house fire

CHESTER HILL — Mayor Karen Kephart escaped a house fire thanks to her cat.

Miss Kephart said she doesn’t usually close the bedroom door but did the night she was awakened by her 3-year-old black-and-white cat, Nuggets, knocking on the door.

“I said, ‘This is it,’” she said Thursday from her sister’s home. “I opened the door, she ran in and I stepped out. The whole hallway was filled with smoke.”

The home had a smoke detector, the mayor said, but she did not hear it go off during Wednesday’s fire. Unable to get downstairs because of the fire and smoke, she yelled for help from a second-floor window. A neighbor brought a ladder allowing the mayor and Nuggets to escape.


The Station employees deal with guilt, scars

WEST WARWICK — Paul Vanner moves from nightclub to nightclub, setting up sound equipment for concerts benefiting survivors of the deadly fire at the Station in February.

It’s a somber gig, but it helps him honor his four colleagues who were among the 100 persons killed in the blaze.

The five months since the fire have been rough for surviving club employees. Some are still out of work; some have faced questioning by criminal investigators; and many say personal relationships are strained with friends and family members.

So they reach out to one another. On Thursdays, for example, some of them meet at Kent County Hospital for counseling.


Homeless man charged with starting wildfire

SALT LAKE CITY — A homeless man who said he set a wildfire so he could go to prison and get shelter was charged yesterday with starting the blaze.

Heinz Josef Bruhl faces 20 years in prison if convicted of starting the fire July 10. It burned 1,935 acres and forced the evacuation of several homes near Farmington, north of Salt Lake City. The fire is 100 percent contained.

Mr. Bruhl, 33, was found by police walking on a dirt road where the fire started, court documents said. When approached by the officer, Mr. Bruhl “raised his hands in the air and indicated that he had started and was responsible for the fire.” He told authorities he has schizophrenia and that he started the fire because he wanted to be arrested so he would have shelter behind bars. He remains in jail.


Cyclist takes long ride to help build homes

BLUEFIELD — During a recent bicycle trip, Abram Woodward enjoyed the view of two oceans, breathed the thin air of the Rocky Mountains and saw lots of wheat, all for the sake of building homes.

The Bluefield native traveled 3,750 miles this summer as part of an independent, nonprofit program called Bike & Build. The program benefits Habitat for Humanity, which provides housing for low-income families.

Mr. Woodward, 20, joined the Virginia-to-Oregon trip through an advertisement he saw at Virginia Tech. His group visited different cities, helping families build or update their homes.

He joined a group of 20 in Virginia Beach on May 16. Their travels took them through 12 states. The group reached the Pacific Ocean in Oregon on July 19.

The group raised enough money to underwrite a student-funded house for Habitat for Humanity. From wire dispatches and staff reports

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