- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2003


Father kills 3 children, hangs himself

GADSDEN — A father apparently upset over marital problems killed his three children and hanged himself over the weekend in rural northeastern Alabama, authorities said.

William Eric Krost, 36, was found dead by his wife, Wendy, at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday after she returned home from a night out with friends, Etowah County Sheriff James Hayes said.

Investigators found the couple’s children — Brandon, 10, Ashley, 8, and Katherine, 4 — dead in their beds, he said. The mother told police she had thought they were only sleeping.


State considers sitting out terror alerts

PHOENIX — Budget and personnel constraints have become enough of a burden that Arizona officials are giving serious consideration to taking a pass the next time the nation’s terror alert status is raised to orange, the Arizona Republic said yesterday.

“It creates incredible problems: overtime, financial, functional,” Frank Navarrete, state homeland security director, told the newspaper. “It is not quite to the point where it creates havoc, but it’s quite disruptive.”

Both Mr. Navarrete and Gov. Janet Napolitano support the idea of not following the federal government’s lead in ratcheting up security measures unless a specific threat to the state is detected. Mr. Navarrete also said the periodic nationwide orange alerts dilute the public’s sense of urgency.


Researchers brewing malaria drug

SAN FRANCISCO — Genetic engineers in California say they’re close to perfecting a new biotechnology recipe of an ancient Chinese remedy for malaria.

The researchers at the University of California Berkeley hope to manufacture cheaply a malaria fighter called artemisinin in E. coli bacteria, rather than finely grinding the wormwood plant as Chinese herbalists do.

Each year, 300 million to 500 million new cases of the mosquito-borne disease are diagnosed, according to the World Health Organization.

The work of Berkeley chemical engineering professor Jay Keasling and his colleagues was published yesterday in the online edition of Nature Biotechnology.


Habitat for Humanity to open ‘theme park’

ORLANDO — Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit group that builds low-cost housing, is opening an unorthodox “theme park” at its world headquarters this week designed to give tourists a look at the world’s worst slums.

Millard Fuller, founder of the organization, said he expects the Global Village & Discovery Center to attract as many as 70,000 tourists in its first year of operation.

After touring mock slums from Africa, Asia and Central America, visitors to the Global Village will see examples of the modest homes Habitat builds in those regions.

“You see what a steep improvement acceptable housing makes in someone’s life. We think we’ll recruit a lot of volunteers this way,” Mr. Fuller said.


Lawmakers pass $53 billion budget

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers signed off on a $53 billion state budget, bridging an estimated $5 billion deficit by targeting businesses with higher taxes and fees recommended by the new governor.

Trucking firms will pay more to travel Illinois highways. Natural gas bought outside the state will be more expensive. And state residents who inherit property, buy private airplanes or get special license plates will see an extra hit to the pocketbook under the plan.

The fee increases, along with the ending of some tax exemptions, selling of some state buildings and tapping of special government fund, are expected to bring Illinois more than $1.8 billion in new revenue.


Suit calls cockfight ban cultural discrimination

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana cockfighters and breeders have sued the federal government, claiming its ban on shipping fighting birds discriminates against Cajuns and Hispanics because cockfighting is integral to their culture.

The federal lawsuit was filed in Lafayette on May 23, nine days after a law banning the interstate transfer of cockfighting birds went into effect.

The law denies equal protection to Cajuns and Hispanics in Louisiana — two groups that widely practice cockfighting, said John R. Kramer, a Tulane University law professor representing the United Gamefowl Breeders Association, two breeders, two owners of fighting birds and an arena that hosts cockfights.


Poisoning survivor released from hospital

NEW SWEDEN — The last of 16 persons poisoned by arsenic-tainted coffee at an after-church gathering was released from the hospital last week.

One person died in the April 27 poisoning at Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church in New Sweden, a northern Maine town with 621 residents. The others spent weeks hospitalized.

Lester Beaupre, the last of the 15 survivors, was released from the Eastern Maine Medical Center. He had no comment upon leaving, a hospital spokeswoman said.


State may investigate fire at singer’s home

PONTIAC — Authorities investigating an Oct. 25 arson that destroyed singer Aretha Franklin’s mansion plan to ask the state Attorney General’s Office for help.

A meeting of police and fire officials and the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office last week failed to produce a consensus on what, if any, charges could be issued, prosecutors said.

They said “legal and factual complexities” in the case prompted them to request an independent review and analysis by Attorney General Mike Cox’s office.


Paper asks Indians about new name rule

MINNEAPOLIS — The Star Tribune would drop its 9-year-old ban on Indian nicknames in sports pages under a tentative policy being circulated among staff and American Indian groups for comment.

In a memo to staff last week, Editor Anders Gyllenhaal characterized the planned shift as a matter of accuracy in reporting.

Mr. Gyllenhaal said the paper intended to replace the ban with a series of sensitivity guidelines, including using alternative logos that might offend and avoiding slang terms such as “Skins” for “Redskins.”

The editor said the policy change was detailed in a letter sent Friday to American Indian leaders in the region, and wouldn’t take effect until they and staff had a chance to respond.


Confederate flags fly over cemetery

HIGGINSVILLE — Confederate battle flags flew again yesterday over the graves of about 700 Southern soldiers and wives at a historic site in Missouri where the flag was abruptly ordered down in January.

The battle flag is still absent from the main pole at the Confederate Memorial State Historic Site, under orders from the state.

But volunteers — with state approval — placed smaller flags on all of the graves May 24. Yesterday was Confederate Memorial Day. A park administrator said there have been no complaints about the flags.

“What does that tell you? Anyone coming to a Confederate memorial site would expect to see a Confederate flag, and it is being flown in tribute to brave soldiers and in its proper context,” said Gene Dressel, commander of the Missouri Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans. “It should fly year-round, and it will fly again someday when we make some changes in the leadership of this state and get away from political correctness.”

At the behest of Democratic Gov. Bob Holden’s office, Confederate flags were ordered down in Higginsville and at Fort Davidson, site of the 1864 Battle of Pilot Knob.


Carson’s boyhood home still up for sale

NORFOLK — A dozen bids were made on an Internet auction site for Johnny Carson’s boyhood home, but owners rejected them as too low.

The home of the former host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” has been for sale on EBay for a month. The highest of 12 bids was $154,400, only $4,400 above what owners Jim Pruett and Rick Runge paid for the house.

Mr. Pruett said the house will again be listed on the auction site in hopes of a higher bid. He also will contact the city or the University of Nebraska about buying the house, possibly for a museum.


Smart beauty wins reality show spot

ALBUQUERQUE — While other contestants lead prayer meetings or quote cartoon characters, “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Elyse Sewell quotes a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, complains of “vapid” conversations with her competitors and calls modeling irrelevant.

Miss Sewell’s brother, Everest, 18, says she answered the casting call for UPN’s latest reality TV show because “she thought it would be hilarious.” The joke was on her, it turns out, after she was chosen over thousands of contestants nationwide.


Man convicted of murdering fourth wife

DELAWARE — A man whose first two wives were slain in the 1970s was convicted last week of murdering wife No. 4 and a longtime friend.

Gerald Hand, 54, could get the death penalty during the sentencing phase, which begins Wednesday. Defense attorneys said they will appeal.

Hand was accused of shooting to death his wife, Jill, 58, and friend Walter “Lonnie” Welch, 55, at the couple’s home north of Columbus.

Prosecutors also suspect Hand, with help from Mr. Welch, killed his first two wives, but he has not been charged.


Cash proposed for organ donations

PITTSBURGH — A group wants Congress to test whether cash incentives would encourage more families to donate the organs of dead relatives.

The Pittsburgh-based group wants a 1984 law prohibiting financial incentives for organ donations to be rewritten to allow a project that would award $5,000 to families who authorize a deceased relative’s organs to be used for transplantation.

The unnamed coalition of transplant surgeons, academics, religious leaders and activists sent a letter last week to 40 senators and members of Congress.


Family buries victim of suicide bombing

AWENDAW — About 300 friends and family members packed a funeral service for one of the nine Americans killed in the May 12 suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia.

The body of retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Quincy Lee Knox, who worked for Fairfax, Va.-based Vinnell Corp. training the Saudi National Guard, was returned to his native South Carolina, where he grew up and graduated from high school in 1977.

“Anyone who has family in the numbers gathered here today is certainly a very rich man,” Vinnell executive John Naylor told those attended a two-hour church service Saturday.

Mr. Knox’s son, Quentin, 6, and ex-wife, Mary Dell Knox — the couple planned to remarry, family members said — traveled from Texas for the service.

After the church service, an Army color guard gave a 21-gun salute and presented an American flag to Quentin. Without shedding a tear, the youngster raised his right hand to his brow in a military salute.


Meth-lab raid nabs former fire official

JOHNSON CITY — A former Johnson City assistant fire chief was one of several men arrested last week in raids on methamphetamine labs in upper East Tennessee.

Herbert Hoover Harrah, 54, of Elizabethton, was arrested Tuesday and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

His arrest came as the 1st Judicial District Drug Task Force raided four methamphetamine labs in four days in Carter, Johnson and Washington counties.

The Carter County Sheriff’s Department had received numerous complaints about unusual odors and heavy traffic at Mr. Harrah’s residence, task force director Kenneth Phillips said.


Black ballerina dies at 86

FORT WORTH — Janet Collins, the first black prima ballerina to appear at the Metropolitan Opera and one of the few black women to become prominent in American classical ballet, died last week. She was 86.

In 1951, Miss Collins performed lead roles in “Aida” and “Carmen,” and danced in “La Gioconda” and “Samson and Delilah” at the Met in New York. That was four years before Marian Anderson made her historic debut as the first black to sing a principal role at the Met.

In a 2000 interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Miss Collins recalled she was not allowed to tour with the company during the off season because she could not perform onstage with white dancers in the South.

Miss Collins left the Met in 1954.


County to close farm after 114 years

WHITEHALL — A 114-year-old county-owned farm that housed a training program for beginning farmers has auctioned off its herd of nearly 200 Holsteins and is closing, suffering the consequence of low milk prices..

County farms were once the norm in Wisconsin and provided food and work to the elderly or disabled residents of the county’s care centers. Most have been closed for many years.

The cows, many of them descended from prize cows purchased by the farm in the 1920s, were auctioned off last week at prices ranging from $1,400 to $2,000 each. They left by truck on a warm and sunny day.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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