- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

Missing girl reunited with family
RALEIGH A girl who was 11 when she was abducted nearly four years ago on June 4, 1999, came home from Mexico yesterday with two children of her own, and embraced her mother in a tearful reunion.
"Oh, my God, my baby, my baby," Wanda Pevia said as she held her daughter, Dana, at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. They walked hand in hand through the terminal while relatives attended to Dana's children, 3-year-old Sandra and 3-month-old Francisco.
Warrants have been issued charging 22-year-old Hector Majarro Frausto, a neighbor of the Pevias when Dana disappeared, with kidnapping and statutory rape.
Mrs. Pevia had all but given up hope that she would find her daughter when the sheriff's office called March 18 to say her daughter was safe at the U.S. Consulate General's Office in Guadalajara.

Woman convicted in fetal-death case
ERIE A woman was convicted yesterday of third-degree murder for kicking a pregnant romantic rival in the abdomen and killing the fetus she was carrying.
Corinne Wilcott, 21, wept as the jury's verdict was announced. She also was convicted of assault and making terroristic threats in the attack on Sheena Carson, which resulted in the death of the latter's unborn child.
Wilcott faces 20 to 40 years in prison on the murder charge when she is sentenced May 6, and could be sentenced to up to 67 years with the addition of the other charges.
She was convicted under Pennsylvania's rarely used fetal-homicide law. After about eight hours of deliberations that began Tuesday, jurors rejected a first-degree murder charge carrying a maximum life term.
Prosecutors said Wilcott attacked Miss Carson, 19, after a party on June 8 because she was carrying the child of Wilcott's husband, Kareem. Miss Carson said Wilcott dragged her to the ground by her hair, punching and kicking her repeatedly.

Backers file commandments briefs
MONTGOMERY Six conservative and religious organizations have filed legal briefs supporting Chief Justice Roy Moore's fight to keep a monument to the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Judicial Building.
The briefs, all filed this week, support Justice Moore in his appeal of U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson's decision that the 5,200-pound monument be removed.
"This case has really alarmed a lot of groups from across the country, because of its implications for people of faith everywhere," said J. Michael Johnson of Shreveport, La. He filed a brief for Focus on the Family, a national evangelical Christian organization headed by author James Dobson.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case in Montgomery during the first week in June.

Bodies of brothers found in frozen pond
ANCHORAGE Two young brothers who disappeared two weeks ago have been found dead in a partially frozen pond half a mile from their home.
Police had believed the brothers were abducted when they vanished March 10.
The bodies of 8-year-old Malcolm Johnson and 5-year-old Isaiah were recovered from the frozen pond Tuesday evening.
The bodies were found after police received a call that reported finding a child's shoe floating at the edge of the pond, Police Chief Walt Monegan said.
"Our hearts and prayers are with the family tonight," Chief Monegan said at a news conference.

Disconnected gas line source of explosions
PHOENIX A natural-gas hose disconnected from the back of a stove was responsible for two explosions that destroyed a two-story apartment building, killing one person and injuring nine, authorities said.
The disconnected stove was inside the apartment of Dale Barry, the apartment-complex handyman. He is still listed as missing, authorities said. Mr. Barry was evicted five days before the explosion, but was seen there shortly before the March 19 blasts.
The building filled with gas and an ignition source, possibly a match, caused the blasts, authorities said. Nine persons were injured, one critically, when two explosions about five minutes apart destroyed the eight-unit building.
Police, who are trying to identify a body found in the rubble, have obtained DNA samples from Mr. Barry's family.

Students to transfer before being forced
DECATUR One-third of returning Decatur High School students say they plan to transfer to neighboring districts next year.
The 575-student district could be targeted in a statewide school-consolidation plan. Many students believe moving now is better than being forced to move later.
Officials are trying to trim school costs after the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled the current method of funding them is unconstitutional.

Davis to keep funding for botulism program
SAN FRANCISCO Gov. Gray Davis reversed course yesterday, saying he will restore funding to a program that produces the only safe botulism treatment for infants and is considered key in combating bioterrorism.
The program is developing a botulism antidote that scientists say is the best available and the only safe treatment for infants, who represent 75 percent of all botulism cases annually.
Mr. Davis, struggling to surmount a nearly $35 billion budget deficit, had proposed cutting the $1.5 million program.
He changed his mind one day after federal officials said the botulinum toxin is a potential biological weapon. The U.S. government was considering taking over the program if the state cut funding.
The toxin is the most poisonous found naturally on Earth. Experts fear thousands would be sickened if terrorists found a way to get it into the nation's food supply.

Court says Reno can't be sued over Elian raid
MIAMI Miami relatives of young Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez cannot sue former Attorney General Janet Reno and other federal officials for using excessive force when agents seized the boy from the family's home, an appellate court has ruled.
Miss Reno, former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Doris Meissner and former Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. have immunity for their official actions unless it can be shown that they knew the agents would violate the Gonzalez family's rights, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a ruling made public yesterday.
The family failed to meet that standard, the Atlanta-based court said, reversing a lower court ruling.
Armed federal agents removed Elian, then 6, from the family's home before dawn on April 22, 2000, five months after he was rescued from the Atlantic Ocean. His mother and others died trying to reach Florida by boat. Elian was later reunited with his father, and they returned to Cuba.

DUI chief resigns over DUI charge
SAVANNAH A DUI coordinator in a Georgia court has resigned after being charged with drunken driving, officials said.
Police said Brian P. Harrell, 24, was arrested Friday in Athens after being stopped at about 1:30 a.m. while driving without his headlights on.
Mr. Harrell who had worked for two weeks as coordinator for the Chatham County State Court's newly developed DUI program said he had been drinking, but "not much," police said.
Tests indicated Mr. Harrell's blood alcohol level was 0.13. The limit in Georgia is 0.08.
The state court's DUI program is a pilot project intended to help offenders avoid incarceration by following probation.

NAACP chapter in danger of closing
HONOLULU With membership at an all-time low, the president of the state chapter of the NAACP says the local branch may be in danger of folding.
Benny King Jr. says the Hawaii-Honolulu chapter has 23 members and needs at least 23 more before July, when the national group holds its convention and may decide the fate of the 43-year-old chapter.

Giant wind farm slated for the plains
DES MOINES MidAmerican Energy has announced plans to build a massive wind farm with about 200 turbines in northern Iowa.
Company President Greg Abel says the $323 million project will generate electricity for 85,000 homes. Mr. Abel said Iowa will be the nation's third-largest producer of wind energy behind California and Texas.
Farmers will be paid about $4,000 a year for each turbine. MidAmerican said customers will benefit from a rate freeze negotiated with the state through 2010.

Entangled whale spotted off Cape Cod
ORLEANS An endangered North Atlantic right whale spotted last summer entangled in fishing gear was seen again off Cape Cod this week, still snarled in fishing line.
A team from the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown spotted the female whale Monday en route to monitor another group of whales. The whale was named Piper and is believed to be about 10 years old.
The whale was last spotted Aug. 4 caught in fishing line in the Bay of Fundy, off the coast of southeastern Canada.
"Whales aren't going to die immediately from an entanglement," said Joanne Jarzobski, the center's whale education and public-affairs coordinator. "But over time, it can kill them."

Park Service issues snowmobile plan
BILLINGS The National Park Service, aiming to curb noise and pollution, has finalized its plan to manage snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
The plan made public Tuesday differed only slightly from the Park Service's tentative proposal released last month.
Beginning next winter, snowmobilers will have to get reservations to enter the parks, and 80 percent of their machines will have to be accompanied by commercial guides.
The plan also sets daily limits for snowmobiles, along with noise and emissions standards.
The Park Service intends to monitor noise and pollution in the parks and change the plan for the 2005-06 winter season if necessary.

Ex-prostitutes want brothel to be museum
RENO The Mustang Ranch should be saved from demolition and turned into a museum, say some of the women who once worked at Nevada's most celebrated brothel.
The Bureau of Land Management obtained title to the property 15 miles east of Reno last month, then announced plans to demolish the pink stucco building and a smaller unit.
"I really think it would be a big tourist draw if they turned it into a museum. It's world famous," Sharnel Silvey, the ranch's madam from 1986 to 1999, said at a meeting Tuesday to gather ideas for long-term management of the riverfront property. "People still drive by to see it and they would pay to go inside. They could put memorabilia inside and show people what Mustang was like in its heyday."
The legal house of prostitution has been closed since the IRS seized it in 1999 after the conviction of the bordello's manager and its parent companies in a fraud and racketeering case. The women who worked there were evicted and the brothel was padlocked.

Teacher quits, won't remove anti-war button
ORADELL A teacher at a Catholic high school has quit rather than remove an anti-war button the principal said violated the dress code.
Other teachers at Bergen Catholic High School had worn the red, white and blue buttons which read "War is not the answer" but removed them after administrators objected. Teacher Gary Tankard, 63, refused.
"This was a matter of conscience," he said. He resigned weeks ago, before the war in Iraq began.
The principal at the 850-student boys school, Joseph Fusco, said the student dress code bars slogans on clothing, and the rules generally apply to faculty.

Feds fault handling of plutonium incident
ALBUQUERQUE A dozen workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory were exposed to plutonium after researchers failed to follow rules for handling the radioactive element, the Energy Department said.
The review of the exposures by the department's inspector general said the weapons lab had significant safety shortcomings, but had made improvements since the Feb. 15, 2001, incident.
The exposures occurred while a technician handled plutonium using an airtight device called a "glovebox." A tear in a glove allowed him to spread radioactivity after he removed his hands from the box.
The review also found that researchers failed to use certain tools, including insulated gloves, while handling the plutonium, which is most dangerous when inhaled.

CNN cancels
Connie Chung show
NEW YORK CNN dropped one of its best-known anchors, Connie Chung, who had been hired last spring as the centerpiece of a star-driven prime-time lineup.
"Connie Chung Tonight" had been criticized in some circles for its emphasis on crime and personality stories, but had drawn strong ratings in its time slot.
Her show was temporarily replaced by an Aaron Brown-anchored news program after the start of the Iraq war last week and Miss Chung had asked management for an update on when it would return. Instead, she was informed Tuesday that the show had been canceled, CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson said.
Miss Chung was asked to stay at CNN in another capacity, but she declined, Miss Robinson said. CNN has not named a replacement for that time slot.

Rabbi pleads guilty to groping females
OKLAHOMA CITY A rabbi pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that he groped two female employees of a religious school and two girls who attended classes.
Richard Marcovitz, 66, agreed to a 20-year sentence, five of which must be served in prison, said Oklahoma County prosecutor Steve Deutsch. Marcovitz's prison time can be reduced if he successfully completes a sex-offender program.
The rabbi faced five counts of indecent or lewd acts with two girls, ages 12 and 9. Six counts of sexual battery were filed against Marcovitz in connection with claims of inappropriately touching a teacher and a day care worker who was 17 at the time.

Enrollment climbs at University of Oregon
EUGENE More than 10,000 prospective students have applied to the University of Oregon for next fall, putting the school on track for another record enrollment.
That's despite Oregon's beleaguered economy, a series of tuition increases and a higher standard set for guaranteed admission.
The 10,000-plus applicants are an increase of 3 percent over last year, according to university statistics.

School system settles elections lawsuit
SIOUX FALLS A school district settled a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that claimed its system for electing board members was unfair to American Indians.
Filed about a year ago, the lawsuit claimed the Wagner school system's practice of electing board members from the district as a whole, instead of from districts within the system, diluted the Indian vote. The lawsuit also claimed that having only one polling place, in Wagner, kept Indians from voting. Many Indians in the community live in Marty, 12 miles away.
Under the settlement, the district will switch to a cumulative voting system, said Bryan Sells, a staff attorney for the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. It means residents can cast as many votes as there are seats up for election, and voters can use their votes however they want to.
The polling place also will be moved from the school to the local National Guard Armory, Mr. Sells said on Tuesday.

Starved sheep, cows found on farm
CADY More than 100 sheep and cattle apparently starved to death on a farm in western Wisconsin, authorities said Tuesday.
The St. Croix County Sheriff's Department received an anonymous call Monday about the farm, and deputies found the animals piled in a pasture and shed.
"It appears that some got stuck in the mud and didn't have the strength to move from where they had gotten stuck," Sheriff Dennis Hillstead said.
The department plans to turn over findings of its investigation to the district attorney yesterday and recommend animal-neglect charges, he said. No arrests had been made.
About 200 sheep and 80 cows were still alive. The sheriff said the farm owner complied with an order to get feed for the remaining livestock.

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