- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 6, 2003


Mars launch delayed again

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA has been forced once again to postpone the launch of its latest Mars mission, this time aiming for a liftoff today after a battery failure forced a halt to the countdown yesterday.

The Mars Expedition Rover B, nicknamed “Opportunity,” has been delayed since June 24 by a series of problems including bad weather, warped insulation and an errant fishing boat that wandered into restricted waterways just before liftoff.

The new launch target was for 10:35 p.m. today. NASA has until July 15 to launch the $400 million mission before Earth and Mars move out of alignment.


Troops welcomed home

FORT STEWART — Army Staff Sgt. Joaquin Bethea stepped off the bus after arriving home from Iraq and was greeted by his 7-year-old daughter, Maiya, dressed in fatigues.

Sgt. Bethea and 600 fellow soldiers from the 24th Corps Support Group returned from Iraq late Saturday, welcomed by cheering friends and family at a Fort Stewart gymnasium.

The unit was part of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, which led the charge to Baghdad.


Board members oppose school chief

BIRMINGHAM — Bessemer school board members pledged to give up their $300-a-month paychecks for three years to pay an attorney to sue state Education Superintendent Ed Richardson.

All seven members voted to challenge Mr. Richardson’s decision to prolong the state’s control over the school system’s finances. Mr. Richardson said the lawsuit is not in the system’s best interest.


Coast Guard finds plane wreckage

JUNEAU — The Coast Guard found the wreckage of a missing twin-engine airplane Friday and said the five persons aboard were killed when it crashed.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane as it was making an unscheduled stop in Sitka, an island about 600 miles southeast of Anchorage.

The wreckage was found in a densely wooded area about 2.5 miles northeast of the Sitka airport.

The victims were en route from Colorado Springs to Anchorage. They were identified as Michael Baker and his wife, Cathy; Richard and Catherine Lohman; and Richard Mohnsen. All were from Colorado Springs.


Wildfire erupts in pine forest

PHOENIX — Firefighters battled a wildfire yesterday in a drought-stricken pine forest a few miles outside a central Arizona city, while crews in the southern part of the state kept a 2-week-old mountaintop fire away from more homes and cabins.

The central Arizona fire started late Saturday about eight miles south of Prescott — near Walker, a community of cabins and houses in the Prescott National Forest — said forest spokesman Steve Sams. Residents of about 100 cabins and houses in Walker were advised to evacuate.

In southern Arizona, fire officials said no additional buildings were burned during the night by the fire outside Tucson that destroyed more than 300 mountaintop homes in the vacation hamlet of Summerhaven. That 70,000-acre fire began June 17.


Navy SEAL killed during exercise

FORT SMITH — A Navy SEAL was hit and killed by live ammunition during an exercise at Fort Chaffee, military officials said last week.

Mario G. Maestas, 22, was hit about 11:30 p.m. Thursday and died en route to a hospital. Mr. Maestas was a native of Louisville, Colo., and had been stationed with a unit in Virginia Beach, said Lt. John Perkins, a Navy SEAL spokesman.

Training at the base has been suspended amid an investigation into the accident, said Michael Hardy, who is with the Military Police at the post.


Agents raid home, find snake pit

FIRESTONE — Federal agents who raided a small, orange home discovered that it was a snake pit.

They seized 98 snakes, several guns and resident Brook Berntson, 36, who is accused of illegally dealing in snakes from his home. The snakes include Western rattlers, a variety of exotic vipers and cobras, and a highly venomous Jameson’s mamba, native to Africa.

The snakes are being stored at the Denver Zoo, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

The agents say the serpents are part of a lucrative black market in poisonous snakes.


Officials seek help for displaced residents

WILMINGTON — Local officials were soliciting donations on behalf of Wilmington residents who were displaced after an explosion injured 12 persons and damaged property.

At least 50 persons have been displaced since the explosion Wednesday, possibly caused by a damaged gas line. Officials urged people to donate furniture, household supplies and money.

Donations are being taken by the West End Neighborhood House and the Latin American Community Center. About 30 displaced residents are being housed temporarily by the Red Cross, and about 30 are staying with family or friends.


In Waikiki, a push begins for more sand

HONOLULU — Millions of tourists have voyaged across the Pacific just to spread their beach towels on a patch of Waikiki’s warm, inviting sand. Trouble is, there’s not as much of it as there used to be.

Waikiki’s world-famous white-sand beaches have been eroding a foot a year on average since 1985, experts say. And as the shoreline shrinks and reefs fill with the sand moving offshore, many say it’s time to protect the key asset of Hawaii’s best-known tourist strip.

State lawmakers included $700,000 in the state budget that took effect last week to widen part of Waikiki called Kuhio Beach. But Samuel Lemmo, senior planner of the state Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, says it will cost as much as $25 million to fix the entire length of Waikiki.


Chronic headaches affect 1 in 10 children

CHICAGO — At least 1 child in 10 has chronic headaches that stunt emotional life and hurt school performance as much as illnesses such as cancer, researchers said today.

A study of 572 headache sufferers ages 2 to 18 at the Cincinnati Children’s Headache Center in Ohio concluded that the unpredictable, sometimes daily, attacks diminish quality of life as much as cancer or other diseases.

“We found that children with migraines reported a similar pattern of disability as children with rheumatoid disease or cancer,” lead researcher Scott Powers wrote in the journal Pediatrics this month.


EPA probes state about car pollution

BOSTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating whether Massachusetts misled the federal government about its efforts to curb pollution from cars, the Boston Globe reported yesterday.

Citing internal state documents, the Globe said Massachusetts never told the federal government that its test, instituted in 1999, did not measure two key tailpipe gases and that state officials had adjusted the test and reams of data in 2001 without alerting Washington.


More bodies of drowned recovered

ST. JOSEPH — The bodies of two persons who drowned along a three-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline were recovered yesterday, bringing to six the total number found dead in the choppy waters.

A seventh swimmer who disappeared in the area at the same time Friday was still missing and presumed dead.

The swimmers got into trouble during a three-hour period after thunderstorms ripped across the lake and hit western Michigan’s Berrien County, kicking up waves and creating what the Coast Guard described as strong rip tides and an undercurrent.


Baby twin boys thrown into river

ST. PAUL — A woman threw her twin infant sons off a bridge into the Mississippi River, then jumped in herself, screaming incoherently as she fell 75 feet to the water, police said.

Several people who were at the river’s edge for the city’s Fourth of July fireworks display jumped in after them. A man rescued one of the 11-month-old boys, then pulled the mother to safety with the help of others.

By then, the second boy had disappeared, said police Cmdr. Brian Coyle. The body of a baby was found last night about 17 miles downriver, and a police dispatcher said officials were “all but technically sure it’s the child.”

Naomi Gaines, 24, and the rescued boy were expected to recover, though the woman remained hospitalized yesterday.


Interned honored as World War II vets

BILLINGS — Armed guards and barbed wire fence confined thousands of Japanese-Americans to the hard land of northern Wyoming during World War II.

But when the government wanted the people at Heart Mountain relocation camp to fight in the war, they did not hesitate, said Tets Asato, a World War II veteran who had been interned there.

“I was born and raised in the United States, and my loyalties were to the U.S.,” said Mr. Asato, now 78, who was drafted to the U.S. Army and served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Mr. Asato is among 799 veterans from the camp whose names were painted on scrap tiles during their internment to create an honor roll. A replica was dedicated Saturday at the windswept site between Cody and Powell, Wyo., where Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta was among the 11,000 interned.


Judge enforces no-talking rule

NORTH PLATTE — Unless the judge asks you to speak up, it’s best to keep quiet in Lincoln County District Court.

Judge John Murphy enforced the court’s no-talking rule last week by ordering three men back to jail after they were caught chatting in a jury box while waiting for their cases to be called up.

Judge Murphy told the men that they could wait in jail until they learned to behave themselves in a courtroom.

Two of the men will have to wait until July 14 for their cases to be heard in court. One is suspected of carrying drugs, and the other is charged in a burglary.

The third man, who earlier pleaded no contest to possession of methamphetamine, will be sentenced later this month.


Sewage spill hits local fishermen

HIGHLANDS — It was shaping up as a good day for Robert Tomaszewski. His small boat was laden with baskets of clams bound for the dock, and they looked robust and healthy.

But it was one of the few good days that he and other clammers have had this year after being idle for about six weeks because of a spill in March that flooded the Raritan River with more than a half-billion gallons of raw sewage.

Although the leak has been repaired and watermen have been allowed back out onto the Raritan and Sandy Hook bays, all parties concerned are anxiously waiting to determine the long-term effects of the spill.

If algae blooms appear when the water starts warming up, it could have a serious effect on shellfish, said Andrew Willner, executive director of the New York-New Jersey Baykeeper organization. Algae consume a tremendous amount of oxygen and could cause temporary dead zones in parts of the bay by taking away oxygen that marine life needs to survive.


Ex-girlfriend leads police to suspect

GALLUP — The ex-girlfriend of a murder defendant who escaped from jail with three fellow inmates directed police to the Arizona motel room where he was captured 13 hours after the jailbreak, officials said Saturday.

Robert Kiro, 34, is accused in the 2001 death of a police officer. He faced trial next month in the killing, which happened during a hostage barricade in which the girlfriend was threatened, said Gallup police Capt. Bobby Silva.

Investigators went to the woman’s house after the jailbreak Friday to learn whether Mr. Kiro had contacted her. She said she had driven him to the motel that day and gave officers his room number, Capt. Silva said.

Mr. Kiro was recaptured late Friday at the Chieftain Motel in Chambers, Ariz.


Woman says she helped hide Rudolph

MARION — A woman charged with firing a shotgun into an abortion clinic says she expects to be indicted on charges of helping serial bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph elude capture, according to a published report.

Brenda Kay Phillips, 44, told FBI agents after her arrest in February that she had helped Mr. Rudolph hide when she moved in 2001 to the town of Murphy, where Mr. Rudolph was arrested May 31. She would not discuss how she knew Mr. Rudolph nor what she did to help him, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday.

“I can’t talk about Eric right now because the federal government is talking about going for an indictment for helping him,” she told the newspaper in a jail interview Saturday.


Former state official dies of heart attack

COLUMBUS — Anthony J. Celebrezze Jr., a former state attorney general and secretary of state, died last week. He was 61.

Mr. Celebrezze had a heart attack Friday night at an auto racetrack in DeGraff, near Dayton, family spokesman Wayne Hill said.

Mr. Hill said Mr. Celebrezze, who raced a replica of a 1937 Chevrolet sedan, complained after his first race that he wasn’t feeling well, and went to lie down. He was later pronounced dead at the site.

Mr. Celebrezze, a Democrat, was elected a state senator in 1974. In 1978, he was elected secretary of state, and in 1983, he was elected attorney general.


Fire destroys candle factory

NORTH FAYETTE — Fueled by flammable liquid wax, a seven-alarm fire roared through a candle factory in North Fayette, destroying its warehouse and causing an estimated $2 million in damage.

Investigators from the fire marshal’s office are probing the cause of the blaze at the St. Johnsbury Candles and Potpourri factory.

The cause of the fire is not believed to be suspicious, officials told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. No one was injured.


State lets priest continue ministry

DALLAS — The state attorney general agreed to let a Catholic priest’s ministry to immigrants continue despite its questionable spending and lax financial controls.

The Casita Maria charity agreed to require its founder and a top aide to pay $23,000 in restitution to cover credit card expenses that had benefited the two personally.


At least 12 hurt in deck collapse

GAULEY BRIDGE — A deck collapsed at a home during a Fourth of July party, injuring at least 12 persons, officials said.

As many as 25 people were on the deck when it fell late Friday as the town was putting on a fireworks display, officials said.

Victims fell 10 to 20 feet. Most of the injured had cuts and fractures.

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