- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

State coin honors shuttle, early explorers
TALLAHASSEE Florida will pay tribute to astronauts and early explorers by putting a space shuttle and a Spanish galleon on U.S. quarters marking its entry into statehood.
Gov. Jeb Bush announced results yesterday from three weeks of online voting to choose among five designs for the 25-cent pieces. Voting began 11 days after the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart, killing all seven crew members.
The winning design shows a space shuttle and a 16th-century Spanish galleon with the inscription "Gateway to Discovery." It honors Florida's status as the home of Kennedy Space Center, where space shuttles are launched, and the site of early exploration by Spanish colonialists.
Voters cast more than 424,000 ballots to select the design that will go to the U.S. Mint as part of the "Fifty State Quarters Program" begun in 1999.

Female veterans statue said not feminine enough
CHARLESTON Some state lawmakers and veterans say a statue honoring West Virginia's female veterans is not feminine enough.
The statue, designed by sculptor Joseph Mullins, depicts a muscular woman wearing a casual uniform of pants and a T-shirt. It will be placed on the state Capitol grounds when completed.
State Sen. Jon Blair Hunter, chairman of the Senate Military Committee, said the statue, which is about 80 percent complete, should depict a woman in a skirt.
Mr. Hunter said it probably is too late to make major changes. "I sort of felt for the sculptor," he said. "It's hard to please everybody."

University president wants integrated Greeks
TUSCALOOSA University of Alabama President Robert Witt is encouraging racial diversity in the Greek social system on campus, where fraternities and sororities historically have tended to be either all-white or all-black. However, he said the administration should not intervene and "force the issue." He spoke at a news conference on his first full day as the university's new president.

Homeless families seen on the rise
TUCSON Charities report a large increase in the number of homeless families seeking help. The Salvation Army, Primavera Foundation and Travelers Aid Society all have long waiting lists for shelters. The Salvation Army said tough economic times have driven more families to seek help.

Misdialing leads police to marijuana plants
PALM SPRINGS Police found more than 75 marijuana plants inside a house after a woman who lived there mistakenly called 911 instead of 411.
Police said the woman dialed 911 shortly after 11:20 a.m. Tuesday. When she hung up, a police dispatcher called the number right back, and someone hung up again, police Sgt. Dan Rose said.
Two officers went to the house and found 76 plants valued at $76,000 growing in a room with sophisticated lighting. Officers also found three handguns and other weapons inside the house.
A man, who was not immediately identified, gave police a prescription for medical marijuana. However, Sgt. Rose said the quantity of plants made police suspicious.

No charges planned in 'home alone' case
GREELEY Criminal charges will not be filed against a mother accused of leaving her six children home alone while she took a 17-day vacation to Italy with her boyfriend, prosecutors said yesterday.
District Attorney Al Dominguez said he did not have enough evidence to charge Jennifer Ferrell, 33, with child abuse, although he did not condone her behavior.
Police said Mrs. Ferrell left Feb. 3 for Italy with her boyfriend. The next day, an anonymous caller alerted police that her son and five daughters, ages 6, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 15 were home alone, prompting a child-abuse investigation.
Greeley police found that Mrs. Ferrell's parents were taking care of the children when she left for the trip, but had to leave because of medical reasons.

Skakel complains about prison life
CHESHIRE Michael Skakel, serving 20 years to life for the 1975 murder of his teenage neighbor, has complained in letters to a cousin that he is receiving harsher treatment in prison than other inmates.
In letters to George Skakel III, of Greenwich, Skakel said he twice has been put in solitary confinement and has been denied his heart medication at Cheshire Correctional Institution, the Greenwich Post reported yesterday, saying George Skakel gave it access to the letters. Skakel's father is the brother of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel.
Department of Correction spokeswoman Christina Police told the newspaper that Skakel has never been in solitary confinement and has only once been placed in restrictive housing, for safety and security reasons.

AIDS carrier arrested after unprotected sex
COLDWATER A 17-year-old is charged with having unprotected sex with a local man without telling him she has AIDS.
Prosecutors charged Amber Jo Sours with the felony after police identified four men who said they had sex with her and didn't know she carries the disease.
She was charged under a 1998 law that deals specifically with people who know they are HIV-positive or have AIDS and don't tell their sexual partners.
The teen smiled and laughed when informed of the charge in court Monday.

Voter ID bill clears House
JACKSON Despite warnings it could reopen old civil rights-era wounds, the Mississippi House passed a bill yesterday requiring all voters to show ID when they go to the polls. The bill is likely to go to a House-Senate conference committee for negotiations later this session.
The 67-51 vote was on an amendment to require people to show any of 19 types of identification before they can cast ballots. If voters don't have the ID anything from a driver's license to a passport to a food-stamp card they can sign a sworn statement affirming identity.
The compromise proposal, crafted by a small group of black and white lawmakers, also makes voter intimidation a criminal offense.

Animal rights focus on Holocaust heats up
RENO Jewish leaders in Nevada are speaking out against an animal rights campaign that compares livestock slaughterhouses to Nazi death camps, saying a rally planned in Reno is disrespectful of Holocaust victims.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched "The Holocaust on Your Plate" campaign amid similar complaints in California last week.
The national tour was moving to Reno's casino district yesterday with a noon display of photos of slaughterhouse scenes alongside photos of World War II concentration camps.
"I have a hard time within my value system believing that an animal's life is equivalent with a human's life," said Gary Schiff, president of the Temple Emanu El in Reno.

Teen pleads guilty in Bush-threat case
CONCORD A teenager has pleaded guilty to sending a TV station a letter in which he threatened to shoot President Bush.
Elijah Wallace, 19, of Brentwood, admitted in federal court Tuesday to sending the letter in which he expressed his desire to shoot Mr. Bush with a rifle at point-blank range. The letter was sent last year to WMUR-TV in Manchester.
Wallace was to be sentenced June 17. The charge mailing a communication that contained a threat to the president's life carries a term of up to five years in prison.

Boys orphaned in crash showered in sympathy
ALBANY Three orphaned brothers who survived a plane crash have captured the hearts of those caring for them, and touched the lives of people they've never even met.
People are so moved by the plight of the little boys that hundreds have offered to take them in, officials said.
The boys, suffering from severe hypothermia when they were airlifted to the hospital Monday, were improving Wednesday. Their conditions were upgraded from critical to serious.
Offers to provide a home for the Ferris boys Ryan, 2, Jordan, 5, and Tyler, 10 were pouring in, but Leon Smith, the boys' great-uncle, said they will live with relatives in upstate New York once they are well enough to leave the hospital.
The family of seven was returning home to Swanzey, N.H., from a Florida vacation Sunday when their single-engine Piper Cherokee Six slammed into a snow-covered mountain in southwestern Massachusetts.

Legislators stall amendment passage
COLUMBUS More than 130 years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the state of Ohio still hasn't officially ratified the measure guaranteeing equal rights to all citizens.
A move this year to rectify that omission has been stalled by conservative legislators, the Dayton Daily News reports.
State Sen. Mark Mallory got the entire 33-member Ohio Senate to vote for a ratification resolution Feb. 25. But in the state House, the ratification is opposed by a handful of conservative Republicans who say they don't like how judges have used the 14th Amendment in cases such as Roe v. Wade, or in a federal court ruling last year that said reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in California schools was unconstitutional because it includes the words "under God."
"I don't want anybody to misconstrue our re-ratification of the 14th Amendment as also ratifying those cases where it's misapplied," said Republican state Rep. Tim Grendell.
Ohio is the only state that has not ratified the 14th Amendment.

Glitch gives student access to millions
PRINCETON An online banking glitch gave a Princeton University student access to university accounts totaling $9.9 million when he tried to access a student publication's account.
Freshman Ira Leeds didn't take any money.
Mr. Leeds, financial manager for the Princeton Tory, was attempting to access the conservative magazine's account with PNC Bank on Friday when he accessed all 15 of the university's accounts.
It turned out that the magazine's online log-on number is identical to the university's.

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