- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 15, 2003


Rape charge filed against cadet

DENVER — The military convened a hearing yesterday to determine whether to order a court-martial for an Air Force Academy cadet charged with rape, the first such charge since a sex scandal broke at the academy earlier this year.

The charge, filed Tuesday, accuses sophomore Douglas Meester of raping and sodomizing a female cadet in a dormitory room Oct. 18. He also is charged with indecent assault and providing alcohol to the victim.

Yesterday’s hearing was similar to a preliminary hearing in the civilian court process.

Mr. Meester’s father, Doug Meester of Marco Island, Fla., told the Gazette of Colorado Springs in yesterday’s editions that the acts were consensual.


18 die after being locked in trailer

VICTORIA — Sheriff’s deputies found the bodies of 17 suspected illegal immigrants early yesterday in and around a truck trailer that was packed with dozens of people and left at a South Texas truck stop. Another person who had been locked inside died at a hospital.

A suspect, believed to have been the driver of the tractor-trailer, was arrested hours later, Victoria County District Attorney Dexter Eaves said.

“This case involves the greatest loss of life in recent history in what appears to be an alien-smuggling case,” said Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for border and transportation security at the Department of Homeland Security.


Governor promotes large tax increase

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Bob Riley began trying to sell voters on what he said will be “the largest tax increase ever.”

He’s expected to be asking for more than $1 billion for financially strapped schools and state services. Mr. Riley hasn’t released details, but told a group of female leaders he needs their support.

He’s called a special legislative session beginning Monday.


Goats clearing grass near airport

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco, gateway to one of the most technologically advanced areas of the world, is turning back the clock and using an age-old method of clearing grass: goats.

Dozens of goats were herded on to land close to San Francisco International Airport yesterday to chomp on the grass and reduce its potential as a fire hazard.

The airport is turning to a private company, Goats-R-Us, to provide the goats and a shepherd for the swampy area over a period of two weeks.


Woman charged in nursing home fire

HARTFORD — A 23-year-old woman was charged yesterday with killing 16 fellow patients at a nursing home earlier this year by setting fire to her bedding with a cigarette lighter.

Lesley Andino, a former patient at Greenwood Health Center, was charged with 16 counts of arson murder and a single count of arson. She faces life in prison if convicted.

Patients at the facility included the elderly, mentally handicapped and younger psychiatric patients. Fire officials said there was no sprinkler system in the building, but it was up to code and fire extinguishers were present.


United Way to end grant to Boy Scouts

MIAMI — The United Way of Miami-Dade will no longer give nearly a half-million dollars a year to the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, citing the chapter’s failure to provide homosexual sensitivity training for its leaders.

At a private meeting Tuesday, the United Way’s board of directors voted unanimously to discontinue the annual $480,000 grant after the agency’s current fund-raising campaign ends June 30.

The funds represent about 20 percent of the Scouts’ South Florida Council’s operating budget. Most of the money goes to programs in the area’s poorer communities.


Quarter of adults get no exercise, report says

ATLANTA — A quarter of all American adults are couch potatoes, getting virtually no exercise either at work or on the weekends, a government study found.

Three-fourths of all Americans, though, engage in least moderate activity three times a week or more, according to the report released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of that number, roughly 20 percent are considered very physically active, exercising moderately five times a week for 30 minutes or vigorously three times a week for 20 minutes.

The study, based on 32,000 interviews conducted in 2000, gauged both work and leisure activities.


Lawmakers pass needle-prescription bill

SPRINGFIELD — In an attempt to fight the spread of AIDS, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation that would make it easier for drug users to obtain clean needles.

The Illinois House voted 70-48 Tuesday to lift a requirement that people have a prescription to buy needles and syringes. Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich expects to sign the legislation, spokeswoman Cheryle Jackson said.

The change would allow adults to buy up to 20 needles at pharmacies, which would provide them with information about proper handling of the needles.


Reeve attends benefit for paralysis foundation

INDIANAPOLIS — Christopher Reeve believes a cure for paralysis is close.

“Help is on the way, it really is,” Mr. Reeve said Monday after touring the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 50-year-old actor was paralyzed in a 1995 horseback riding accident.

He visited the speedway for a benefit for the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, named for the Indy Racing League team owner who was left a quadriplegic in a January 2000 crash during a test session.

Mr. Reeve, a strong supporter of stem-cell research, was told in 1995 that he would never regain any movement below his shoulders. Through a rigorous exercise program and extensive rehabilitation, he has regained some movement and sensation in his limbs.


Researcher gets married in China

IOWA CITY — Lin Wang’s face is covered by a white rounded mask to protect him from the deadly respiratory disease severe acute respiratory syndrome — but he’s happily thinking about his bride-to-be waiting for him in southwest China.

Mr. Wang was testing the mask, which he’s prepared to don when he boards a flight Sunday to Shanghai, on his way to Leshan to get married. His friends and family think he’s crazy, but he’s still going.

“My friends, they say, ‘Don’t come back now. Just wait for a couple of months,’” said Mr. Wang, 25, a University of Iowa graduate research assistant from Wenling in southeast China.

Mr. Wang’s trip will be rare among Iowa City’s more than 550 Chinese students and scholars — many of whom have canceled trips home.


Student charged with making threats

SALINA — Police held a 13-year-old student on a felony charge yesterday after a classmate reported seeing a plan to shoot other students in the boy’s notebook.

“He was talking about killing other people and had detailed plans and … was looking to recruit others to help,” police Lt. Mike Sweeney said.

The Salina South Middle School student, whose name was not released because of his age, was arrested Tuesday after the classmate told a teacher about the notebook. The student was held in a juvenile-detention center on a charge of making criminal threats.


Ex-Sen. Russell Long laid to rest

BATON ROUGE — In a solemn farewell to a political dynasty, former Sen. Russell Long was laid to rest Tuesday barely a mile from the Capitol where his tempestuous father held sway and was mourned in a massive funeral nearly 70 years ago.

Huey Long’s funeral in 1935, a populist benchmark in Louisiana history, was very different from his son’s, held at a downtown church replete with dignitaries, including Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Christopher J. Dodd and Ernest F. Hollings, and former Sen. Bob Dole.

By contrast, the throngs who flocked in on a sweltering September day for Huey Long wore overalls and their shabby Sunday best. Their grief for the assassinated senator still comes through in the old pictures. Ordinary folk did come Tuesday, but not in the majority.

Russell Long died Friday at the age of 84 in Washington, D.C.


State, Indians reach accord on trail system

AUGUSTA — An agreement by the state, the Friends of Bigelow and the Western Mountains Foundation calls for an 180-mile hut and trail system to be built on land owned by the Penobscot Indian Nation in Carrabassett Valley instead of the Bigelow Preserve.

The Friends of Bigelow opposed the original measure, saying the bill commercialized a state preserve.


Judge could release papers on altar boy case

NORTHAMPTON — A judge agreed to consider releasing court documents impounded in the unsolved murder of an altar boy three decades ago.

Hampshire Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis found Tuesday that enough time has elapsed since two impoundment orders were issued in the mid-1990s to warrant a complete review of whether all documents related to the 1972 murder of Danny Croteau should be made public.

The documents were sought by the Republican newspaper in Springfield and by a lawyer for an unidentified man who has sued the Rev. Richard Lavigne and the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese. The man claims he was sexually molested by Lavigne as a boy.

The priest was the only publicly identified suspect in the death of Danny, 13, whose bludgeoned body was found on a riverbank in Chicopee.

Lavigne pleaded guilty in 1992 to molesting two altar boys and was sentenced to a treatment facility and 10 years of probation. He was barred from serving as a priest and the diocese is defrocking him.


Ex-deputy chief says probe got him fired

DETROIT — The former head of the police department’s internal-affairs division claimed he was fired because he investigated claims of criminal behavior by the mayor, his relatives and bodyguards.

Deputy Chief Gary Brown, who was fired Friday, said he had been investigating reports of a drunken-driving accident, falsified overtime records and a possible cover-up of the incidents, all involving members of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s security detail.

Mr. Brown said Tuesday he also was looking into an incident at the governor’s official residence involving Mr. Kilpatrick, his family, a wild party and an assault that may have been concealed from police.


Officials say mine won’t hurt bears

HELENA — A proposed silver and copper mine could be operated under a wilderness in northwestern Montana without harming grizzly bears, according to a federal opinion issued Tuesday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s opinion would allow Sterling Mining Co. to proceed with the mine if it meets certain conditions. The mine beneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area still needs approval by the U.S. Forest Service.

Grizzlies are believed to number 30 to 40 in and around the area on the Montana-Idaho border, and critics were quick to condemn the Fish and Wildlife opinion.

“This mine is planned for this last little sliver of grizzly bear habitat in the Cabinet Mountains,” said Tim Preso, attorney for the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund. “This is the mine that looks like the nail in the coffin for the grizzly bear in the Cabinet Mountains.”


Students raise money for homeless shelter

HASTINGS — Hastings Middle School students raised nearly $3,000 for a local homeless shelter, one lollipop at a time.

The seventh- and eighth-graders sold the candy to help the Crossroads Center celebrate its 20th anniversary.

“It was pretty easy,” said seventh-grader Keiton Armstrong. “We just sat outside the lunchroom and kids would just see it and buy some.”


Parental notification removed from bill

CONCORD — A provision to require parental notification before girls under 18 can get abortions was stripped from a bill by a Senate committee, hours after Gov. Craig Benson testified in favor of it.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed an amended bill Tuesday that would instead require minors seeking abortions to receive counseling about abortion alternatives first.

New Hampshire, where residents are said to strongly favor abortion rights, had defeated similar bills in the past. This year, however, the Republican-dominated House passed a parental-notification bill by six votes. The Senate, also Republican-dominated, had been expected to follow suit.


Actress steps down from advisory post

SANTA FE — Shirley MacLaine has stepped down as chairman of the New Mexico Film Advisory Board, citing her busy schedule.

Gov. Bill Richardson appointed Miss MacLaine to the board in January.

“I just have too much to do now that I can’t honor that position sufficiently,” said Miss MacLaine, who said she will stay on as an honorary chairman. Miss MacLaine, who has a home near Abiquiu, said she has roles in three upcoming movies.

“I’m still completely committed to film production in New Mexico and still committed to New Mexico,” the 69-year-old actress said Monday.


Judge orders reversal of transit fare increase

NEW YORK — A judge ordered the city’s transit authority to roll back fare increases for millions of bus, subway and train riders yesterday after a commuter group accused the agency of misleading the public about its finances.

State Justice Louis York’s order applies to more than 7 million daily riders who began paying a 50-cent fare increase on subways and buses May 4 and to more than 400,000 daily commuters on Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains. Subway and bus fares had risen from $1.50 to $2.

The Straphangers’ Campaign had charged that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority violated the law by failing to make its financial situation clear before scheduling public hearings on the fare increase.


Children pulled from submerged car

FARGO — A car with two little boys inside plunged into a lake, apparently after they put the vehicle in gear, authorities said. One boy died and his brother was in critical condition yesterday.

Authorities said 3-year-old Bryan Thunder and 18-month-old Hunter Thunder were submerged for more than half an hour before divers rescued them Tuesday.

They were flown to a Fargo hospital, were Bryan died Tuesday night. Hunter was in intensive care.

The children apparently managed to put the car in gear after their mother went into a convenience store, authorities said.


Schools consider mandatory uniforms

TOLEDO — The state’s fourth-largest school district is considering requiring students to wear uniforms.

Toledo Superintendent Eugene Sanders and most school board members say uniforms would reduce peer pressure and increase attention on academics. Board member Terry Glazer says each school should make that decision.


Study: Without cigarettes, track of time lost

STATE COLLEGE — For smokers separated from their cigarettes, time seems to stand still. New research indicates there’s good reason for that.

Time perception, one of the simplest indicators of a person’s ability to concentrate, is severely impaired after just one day without cigarettes, according to a study in the current quarterly issue of the Psychopharmacology Bulletin.

In the study, 22 nonsmokers and 20 smokers were asked — after 45 seconds — how much time they thought had passed. Nonsmokers and active smokers were generally within five seconds of being right.

But smokers tested the morning after a day without cigarettes overestimated the time by an average of 50 percent.

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