Biomedical research center to be established
BOSTON — Thanks to a $100 million donation from a billionaire couple, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and a top research center will team up to use the unfolding secrets of human genetics to fight disease.
The two universities, along with the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, announced yesterday they will establish the Broad Institute near MIT’s campus in Cambridge. It is named for the donors, Eli Broad, founder of the SunAmerica financial services company, and his wife, Edythe.
MIT professor Eric Lander, who took part in the effort to map the humane genome and will direct the institute, said it will help scientists fight disease by combining computational science, medicine and biology.
The institute, which is expected to open later this year, expects to raise as much as $200 million more in private funds over the next decade, as well as bring in federal research funds.
Bunyan, Babe statues find different homes
MINNEAPOLIS — After 45 years, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are parting ways.
Giant statues of the Minnesota icons that stand at Paul Bunyan Amusement Center will be shipped to different locations when the theme park in Baxter, Minn., closes later this year.
The legendary logger, all 26 feet of him, is headed east about 12 miles to an agricultural tourism site called This Old Farm. There, he will become the property of the nonprofit theater group Rhythm of the Rails. The 27-foot-tall Babe will move just a block to greet patrons of a bowling alley soon to be renamed the Blue Ox Bowl.
Hard times forced Don McFarland, who owns the theme park, to break up the pair. Since Mr. McFarland bought the park more than 20 years ago, attendance has dropped from 125,000 a year to 76,000.
State establishes homeland security agency
MOBILE — Gov. Bob Riley signed a bill establishing a separate Department of Homeland Security for the state.
He said Alabama’s military posts, strategic industries and busy port made it imperative to create the department, which is the first of its kind at the state Cabinet level.
Board says no to clemency request
LITTLE ROCK — The state’s parole board yesterday turned down a death-row inmate’s request for clemency, saying his application for mercy was without merit.
Riley Dobi Noel, 31, is scheduled to be put to death by injection July 9 for the execution-style killings of three children in 1995. His lawyers said Noel’s life should be spared because the mother of his victims doesn’t want him executed, and because he has brain damage.
The Post Prison Transfer Board voted unanimously against the clemency request. The matter now rests with Gov. Mike Huckabee, who will go over the case and decide whether to affirm his previous order scheduling Noel’s death.
Fugitive Max Factor heir returned to serve time
LOS ANGELES — The FBI put cosmetics heir Andrew Luster aboard a plane in Mexico and flew him back to California yesterday, five months after he was convicted in absentia of drugging and raping three women.
The former fugitive arrived in Los Angeles and was to be handed over to authorities in Ventura County, where he was found guilty in January and sentenced to 124 years in prison.
The 38-year-old great-grandson of Hollywood makeup legend Max Factor jumped a $1 million bail and vanished just days before the verdict. On Wednesday, Mexican police arrested him in the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta.
Doctor jailed in anti-Islamic plot
TAMPA — A Florida doctor was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison yesterday for plotting to blow up an Islamic center in retaliation for the September 11 attacks.
Robert Goldstein, a 38-year-old podiatrist, apologized to the Islamic community before he was handed the maximum sentence for conspiracy to violate civil rights, attempting to damage religious property and possessing unregistered firearms.
“I am truly sorry for my irresponsible behavior. I was so very lost at the time,” he said. “I am a good person.”
Goldstein was arrested in August after police discovered an arsenal of homemade bombs and automatic weapons in his house near St. Petersburg. They also found a detailed plan for attacking the Islamic Center of Pinellas County and a list of 50 other Islamic centers and mosques around Florida.
Goldstein pleaded guilty April 3.
Army water suppliers return from Iraq
SAVANNAH — Sgt. Ignacio Martinez’s troops did not fight on the front lines in Iraq. But they, nonetheless, performed a vital task in the war: They pumped and purified more than 2 million gallons of water that went from the Euphrates River into soldiers’ canteens.
“We provide the fuel for the soldiers who are the fighting machines,” said Sgt. Martinez, one of 150 troops from the 559th Quartermaster Battalion who returned home Wednesday to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah after a five-month deployment in the Middle East desert.
The soldiers, greeted by cheering spouses and children, make up the only battalion in the active-duty Army whose sole job is to collect water, make it safe to drink and distribute it to soldiers in the field.
Historic ‘Studebaker’ sign may be removed
SOUTH BEND — The world’s largest living advertising sign, visible only from the air, is in danger of disappearing.
A stand of trees spells out “Studebaker,” but they are now growing together, blurring the letters. Local officials said trimming the trees may be too expensive.
The Studebaker car plant here closed in the early 1960s.
Family sentenced on marijuana charges
DES MOINES — A former community college president accused with his wife and children of growing marijuana in their suburban home was sentenced yesterday to probation for two years.
David England, 50, and his wife, Donna, 49, also were ordered to perform community service.
They were arrested March 12 after a police search of their home turned up bags of marijuana worth about $2,500, as well as trays of marijuana seedlings. David England’s lawyer, William Kutmus, said it was for the family’s own recreational use.
David England, who resigned as president of Des Moines Area Community College after his arrest, and his wife pleaded guilty April 27 to possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and failure to affix an Iowa drug tax stamp.
Two charged in casino fire
LAS VEGAS — Two persons were charged in connection with a fire that destroyed the historic Moulin Rouge casino, the city’s first to welcome black customers in the Las Vegas Strip, authorities said.
The two, whose names were not released, were charged with first-degree arson, fire department spokesman Tim Szymanski said Wednesday.
The May 29 fire gutted the old casino building, a few miles northwest of the strip, but its distinctive Moulin Rouge marquee was spared. Three persons were injured and about 100 were evacuated from apartments that take up what was once the casino’s hotel.
Owner Bart Maybie has said that he thought the fire had been set in retaliation for a recent crackdown on drug dealers at the property. He has said he wants to rebuild the site.
College class donates record $14.4 million
HANOVER — As part of its 25th reunion, the 1978 class of Dartmouth College gave the school $14.4 million, a record for the institution.
The donation broke the previous record of nearly $6.5 million, raised by the class of 1951 for its 50th reunion.
Killer pleads guilty in sleeping-lawyer case
HOUSTON — A convicted killer who won a new trial because his lawyer slept through parts of his case pleaded guilty to murder yesterday in a deal that spared him from a likely death sentence.
Calvin Burdine, 50, received consecutive life sentences for the 1983 stabbing of his lover and roommate, W.T. “Dub” Wise.
In 1984, Burdine was found guilty and sentenced to die. But a federal judge threw out the conviction because of evidence that his lawyer, Joe Cannon, slept for up to 10 minutes at a time during crucial testimony.
Prosecutors agreed to the deal because of “the guarantee that he would die in prison,” District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said. Also, he said, the evidence had deteriorated over the years.
Mr. Cannon denied falling asleep. He has since died.
Teen’s Hawaii trip gets clipped by mom
NORMANDY PARK — It was a very short trip to paradise for one 13-year-old boy: He flew from Washington to Hawaii and back in less than a day.
The unidentified teen managed to charge the airline ticket online to his mother’s credit card — and got himself to the airport and aboard the flight to Maui.
But his mom figured out where he was going at her expense, so a Maui County officer met the teen on his arrival last week. The boy was booked on a return flight and was back home before midnight.
“He expected to get a flower in his ear. Instead, he got a ride in a police car,” Normandy Park police Chief Rick Kieffer said.
From wire dispatches and staff reports.