- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2003

City's luck runs out on rainy St. Pat's Day
SAVANNAH If ever Savannah needed a plumber to lead its annual St. Patrick's Day bash, it was yesterday, as gray skies opened to douse gaudy green revelers with rain.
But there was little that grand marshal Pete Conneff, a plumber for 43 years, could do about the weather but laugh it off as a soggy St. Pat's shenanigan.
"We told them this is a leak even you can't fix," Savannah resident Charlie Russo told his pal, Mr. Conneff, before the nation's second-largest St. Patrick's Day parade began yesterday morning.

Attorney says Mitchell sees girl as wife
SALT LAKE CITY The self-proclaimed prophet accused of abducting Elizabeth Smart told his attorney he considers the 15-year-old girl his wife and wants her to be renamed "Remnant Who Will Return."
"He wanted me to tell the world that she is his wife, and he still loves her and knows that she still loves him, that no harm came to her during their relationship and the adventure that went on," attorney Larry Long said in an interview aired late Sunday on KUTV.
Mr. Long, who said he had agreed earlier Sunday to become Brian David Mitchell's attorney, said his client would consider the girl's nine-month disappearance a "call from God," not a kidnapping.

6.9 earthquake hits Aleutian islands
ANCHORAGE An earthquake measuring 6.9 magnitude hit the Aleutian islands off the south coast of Alaska early yesterday, seismological experts said.
No damage was reported as a result of the temblor, which struck at 7:36 a.m. and was centered on the Rat islands, part of the Aleutian chain.
The U.S. Geographical Survey, the agency that monitors earthquake activity in North America, said the quake's epicenter was 1,400 miles southeast of Alaska's main city, Anchorage.
Anchorage residents said they did not feel the quake.

Company moves to dislodge tree sitters
FRESHWATER A lumber company sent climbers to dislodge 18 tree sitters from their perches in a grove of redwoods yesterday, four days after a court-imposed deadline ordering the activists down.
Police blocked access to the road that leads to the grove, which is about 10 miles east of Eureka, and an ambulance was parked nearby. The activists sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" as the climbers assembled at the base of the trees, ready to force the sitters down.
On Wednesday, Pacific Lumber served the sitters with a temporary restraining order giving them 24 hours to comply. But the sitters didn't budge, insisting that the ecology of the region is at stake.

Man accused of killing wife is arrested
DAYTONA BEACH SHORES A man accused of fatally shooting his wife as she slept in their Tennessee home was captured after a tipster contacted "America's Most Wanted."
FBI agents and police arrested Joseph Leroy Crouch Jr., 60, Sunday at a home in Daytona Beach Shores, where investigators found two handguns.
Mr. Crouch was on the run since June 2001, when his wife, Betsy, was found slain in the couple's home in Memphis, Tenn., authorities said. He is accused of putting a pillow over her head and shooting her several times.
His case was featured on the Fox television program "America's Most Wanted" on Feb. 15 and 22.

Flying J founder dies in plane crash
SUN VALLEY Jay Call, founder of the Flying J Fuel Co., which operates 167 travel plazas throughout the United States and Canada, died Saturday with two others when a private jet crashed in southern Idaho. He was 62.
The Cessna Citation flown by Mr. Call, and carrying Richard Germer, recently retired vice president of Flying J, and his wife, Ilene, went down Saturday near the Little Wood Reservoir, Blaine County sheriff's officials said. Mr. Call, Flying J board chairman, was flying Mr. Germer and his wife back to their home in Ketchum, Idaho.
Sheriff Walt Femling said search efforts were hampered by rain and heavy snow, and that the wreckage was not found until Sunday.
Officials said that they do not know what caused the accident, but that weather may have been a factor. The National Transportation Safety Board in Salt Lake City is investigating.

Fall in tobacco payments means budget problems
SPRINGFIELD Five years after Illinois struck a $9.1 billion deal with tobacco companies as part of a national lawsuit, the state is getting less money than expected. In part, it's because the settlement was tied to tobacco sales, which have been declining.
The Legislature's Economic and Fiscal Commission estimates that the state will receive $7.4 billion.
Government services, including education and free medicine for the elderly, could be affected, lawmakers say.

Airliner makes unscheduled landing
INDIANAPOLIS A United Airlines jet made an unscheduled landing at Indianapolis International Airport after the crew smelled a smoky odor in the cockpit.
None of the 71 passengers and crew members aboard the Boeing 767 Sunday night was injured, airport spokesman Dennis Rosebrough said.
United Flight 239 landed in Indianapolis about 8 p.m. while making a nonstop flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to San Francisco, United spokesman Chris Brathwaite said.
Mechanics planned to examine the aircraft to determine the source of the odor, Mr. Brathwaite said.

Wife convicted in death of husband
CEDAR RAPIDS The widow of a University of Iowa medical school dean was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter yesterday for fatally stabbing him in the heart during an argument.
Phyllis Nelson, 55, had been charged with first-degree murder in the December 2001 death of her husband, Dr. Richard Nelson, 54.
Prosecutors had argued that Mrs. Nelson intended to kill her husband when she picked up a paring knife during an argument about his affair with a former secretary. But her attorney said that she picked up the knife in self-defense, and that her husband was stabbed accidentally when the two collided in a hallway.
In finding Mrs. Nelson guilty of manslaughter, District Judge Thomas Horan rejected both scenarios, ruling that she had stabbed her husband of 33 years in a "sudden, violent and irresistible passion."

Study: Hormones won't improve mental state
BOSTON Long-term use of hormone-replacement therapy, shown to harm older women's physical health, is found to be no panacea for their memory or mental outlook either.
In a challenge to popular belief, a new study finds that estrogen and progestin pills do not make older women feel better by improving their memory, sleep and sex lives.
The results suggest that this is nothing more than a placebo effect. Researchers conclude that the pills are an effective treatment for short-term relief from hot flashes and night sweats but nothing else.
"The average woman will not experience an improvement in her quality of life by taking this pill," said Jennifer Hays of Baylor College of Medicine, a psychologist who directed the analysis.

Fog delays school openings
MINNEAPOLIS Dense fog socked in parts of the upper Midwest yesterday, delaying the opening of schools and disrupting air travel.
School openings were delayed as long as two hours in parts of southern Minnesota, northern Iowa and central Wisconsin as the fog cut visibility to one-16th of a mile in places. A few districts closed for the day.
The fog joined with malfunctioning lights to close two runways to arriving flights at the Twin Cities airport, Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said. One runway was reopened by 9 a.m.
Airlines canceled 44 flights, said Mary Stanik, a spokeswoman for Minnesota-based Northwest Airlines. Northwest also diverted eight flights to other airports, she said.

Cruise ship's docking is smooth at Gulfport
GULFPORT The cruise ship Carnival Conquest, unlike in its delayed arrival last week, docked on time Sunday at the Mississippi State Port at Gulfport.
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove was on hand to welcome the 3,420 passengers. Officials said shore operations went smoothly.
Last week, fog delayed docking for several hours, and passenger processing and baggage handling were sluggish. On Sunday, crews at the port appeared to have worked out the kinks.
This time, passengers were expecting to return to Gulfport, unlike in the earlier docking, when the ship was diverted from New Orleans because of high water in the Mississippi River and low-lying power lines.
Port, tourism and business officials are using the Conquest's run at the state port as an audition for a permanent cruise ship in Gulfport.

Students work hard at tuition-free college
POINT LOOKOUT Nobody pays tuition at the College of the Ozarks, but all students have to put their noses to the grindstone when they're not buried in the books.
The 1,500 students at the four-year liberal arts college in southwest Missouri each work 15 hours a week and pay only room and board. But even that can be worked off.
One of five colleges of its type in the nation, the College of the Ozarks is in great demand, as annual tuition averages $4,080 at public colleges and $18,273 at private schools, according to a recent survey by the College Board.
For every opening, the school has about 12 applicants, President Jerry C. Davis said. That is up from about 10 last year. Ten years ago there were three applicants for every opening.
Mr. Davis said the free education is enticing to parents but so is the school's emphasis on character, Christianity and getting ready for the working world.

Towns act to ensure safety of paper carriers
OMAHA Communities across Nebraska are taking steps to ensure the safety of newspaper carriers and other youth in response to last month's killing of a 15-year-old carrier in Gering.
Police officers in at least seven Nebraska cities are meeting with young people, especially carriers, to instruct them on how to avoid becoming victims of crime.
Newspapers and city leaders around the state's Panhandle, including Gering, are also collecting donated cell phones and providing personal alarm systems to carriers so they can summon help in case of an emergency.
The efforts are motivated by the case of Scottsbluff Star-Herald carrier Heather Guerrero, who was abducted while delivering papers near her home Feb. 11.

Catholics keeping collections in parish
MERRIMACK Parishioners at St. John Neumann Catholic Church are keeping church collections in the parish rather than sending them to the Diocese of Manchester.
According to a church survey, one of five who attend Mass also say they've either reduced their giving or stopped contributing because of the priest abuse scandal or the way Bishop John McCormack has handled it.

State looks to restore funding for arts
TRENTON An outcry from the arts communities over Gov. James E. McGreevey's plan to cut all arts funding from the next state budget prompted him to try to restore some money.
Mr. McGreevey gave no estimate of how much money would be returned. But sources in the governor's office told the New York Times that it would be reasonable to get back about half the $18 million it lost.

Living wage law faces state challenge
SANTA FE A contentious proposal by Santa Fe that would raise the resort city's minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, about 65 percent higher than the federal standard, may be halted by the state's legislature.
The New Mexico Senate approved a bill late Sunday that would prohibit any local government from setting a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, which is $5.15 an hour. That measure has gone to the state's House of Representatives.
"What Santa Fe is doing is taking power from the whole state. They're acting like big government," said Rep. Joe Thompson, a House Republican leader, who sponsored the bill.
The living-wage ordinance, approved by the Santa Fe City Council by a 7-1 vote in February, would raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour by Jan. 1.

Pro-life extremist goes on trial
BUFFALO A pro-life extremist went on trial yesterday for the slaying in 1998 of a doctor who performed abortions, with defense attorneys acknowledging that James Kopp shot the physician.
The case is being heard by a judge because Mr. Kopp waived his right to have the evidence considered by a jury. Mr. Kopp has pleaded not guilty to murder charges, saying he intended to wound Barnett Slepian.
Judge Michael D'Amico will rule based on a 35-page list of facts followed by attorneys' arguments over what those facts mean legally.

Teaching hospitals get more Medicaid money
RALEIGH Ten teaching hospitals are being reimbursed for a higher share of certain Medicaid expenses compared with more than 100 other state hospitals, according to the News & Observer of Raleigh.
The teaching hospitals would receive $100 million less had the reimbursement formulas been more equitable, the newspaper says.
A Greensboro lawyer who helped create the funding formulas and who represents six teaching hospitals calls the paper's analysis flawed.

District: charter school in breach of contract
SALEM The Salem-Keizer School District is threatening to revoke the charter of the new Crossroads Project Charter School, which is privately managed but receives public funding.
The Statesman Journal newspaper obtained documents showing a list of complaints since the school opened less than two months ago, including expelling students and firing teachers without due process.
The school's principal blames troubled students.

Park closes road to save amphibians
DELAWARE WATER GAP It's mating season, and the National Park Service says it believes that spotted salamanders, wood frogs and other amphibians should be able to let nature take its course without being run over.
That's why they're closing five miles of a road that passes through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
The park service said it will periodically close River Road when it rains at night so the creatures can safely crawl, hop and slither their way across the road to wetlands to mate.

Anti-French feeling hits woman's home
AUSTIN Francoise Thomas has tried to stay on the sidelines of the Iraq situation, but a hateful message scrawled on her garage door brought anti-French sentiment uncomfortably close to home.
"Scum go back to France," read the angry note, spray painted on the French native's garage door during the weekend.
"I nearly had a heart attack," Miss Thomas, a real estate agent who has lived in the United States for a quarter century, told the Houston Chronicle. "I love the United States."
Miss Thomas said she believes that the incident is a hate crime and is offering $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of the responsible party. Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Houston Police Department.

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