- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2003


Belly-flop champ lands hard time

FANNING SPRINGS — Michael Sullivan knows the secrets to executing a great belly-flop: shoulders and head back, legs bent, belly out.

Most important, he said, is this: “Don’t be on house arrest.”

Sullivan, a 5-foot-9, 182-pound man — small by champion belly-flopper standards — won last year’s title at the Red Belly Day, an annual festival on the Suwannee River in Fanning Springs, about 36 miles west of Gainesville.

He even got his picture in the newspaper. That, as it turned out, was his undoing.

After seeing the picture, Columbia County sheriff’s officials arrested Sullivan for violating the terms of his house arrest, to which he had been sentenced for violating probation. It was part of his punishment for leaving an accident scene and driving without a license.

Now, Sullivan is serving a three-year term at state prison in Lake Butler. That meant he couldn’t compete at this year’s Red Belly Day, which was held Saturday.


Streep tells graduates to break barriers

DURHAM — Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep played her role flawlessly, as usual.

Speaking to graduates over the weekend at the University of New Hampshire, Miss Streep made them laugh, offered inspiration, even sang a bit and challenged them to change the world.

To the female graduates, she presented her own example of helping break the sex barriers in education. Miss Streep attended a drama class at Dartmouth College after graduating from Vassar College.

She then urged male graduates, who included her nephew, to help shatter the glass ceiling keeping many women from top positions in business and politics, and urged all the graduates to maintain optimism as they forged ahead.


Minnelli breaks knee, but show to go on

LOS ANGELES — Performer Liza Minnelli broke her right kneecap when she tripped over a step at a hotel in Bologna, Italy, but still plans to sing at a benefit concert with famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti, her publicist said.

Miss Minnelli, 58, was taken to a hospital after the accident Sunday and will have to wear a full-leg cast for about four weeks, Warren Cowan said.

“Even though she won’t be able to rehearse, she is going to perform Tuesday night with Pavarotti, even wearing the cast,” he said.

Miss Minnelli and her husband and producer, David Gest, were on their way to meet friends for dinner when she fell, Mr. Cowan said.


Numbers show more cadets punished

DENVER — An investigation into sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy has found that twice as many male cadets were punished as previously reported, a spokesman for the investigators said Saturday.

The increase, from 21 to 40, is because the initial number did not count administrative actions as punishment, said Lt. Col. Dewey Ford.

Air Force investigators examined 57 reported incidents, ranging from unwanted touching to rapes, between 1990 and 2003. In their full report, to be available in a few weeks, they do not assign blame for the scandal.

That lack of accountability drew criticism from Sen. Wayne Allard, Colorado Republican, who called for an investigation after his office began receiving complaints.


Woman set on fire during argument

MARIETTA — A woman has been charged with aggravated battery, accused of dousing another woman with a half-gallon of gasoline and setting her on fire during an argument at a gas station.

Anjail Durriyyah Muhammad of Gadsden, Ala., was charged with aggravated battery, a felony punishable by as long as 20 years in prison. She was being held yesterday in the Cobb County jail.

Authorities identified the victim as Nodiana Antoine, who was hospitalized in critical condition yesterday with burns over more than 64 percent of her body.


Board votes to expel students in hazing

GLENVIEW — The 31 high school seniors suspended as a result of a videotaped hazing incident in suburban Chicago have been expelled but will be allowed to receive their diplomas on time, school officials said.

At a meeting late Sunday, the Glenbrook High School District 225 Board of Education also voted to uphold the suspensions of all the students.

The students will be banned from the school grounds and all school activities, including the graduation ceremony, but the school will freeze their grades at previous levels instead of automatically flunking them, Superintendent Dave Hales said.

Videotape of the May 4 event shows juniors from the school being showered with mud, paint, feces and garbage as onlookers, some holding beer cups, cheered.


Elephant recovering from surgery

INDIANAPOLIS — The first African elephant born through artificial insemination is recovering from surgery with the help of a sling developed just for her.

The 2,000-pound female, named Amali, underwent surgery last week at the Indianapolis Zoo to remove an intestinal blockage that had left her weak and unable to eat.

The 3-year-old is wearing a “rescue sling” made of leather and canvas with wool padding. Designed for horses, the sling was adapted by Sabrina Brounts, a Purdue University veterinarian.

Amali needs the support because elephants generally sleep standing up. If they’re on the ground too long, their bulk makes breathing difficult and can crush their internal organs.


Experimental car crashes, killing student

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 14-year-old girl was killed last week when the experimental, three-wheeled electric car she was driving crashed into a railing in a school parking lot in front of dozens of other youngsters.

Meagan Hollingshead apparently lost control of the soap box derby-like car at the McKinley Middle School. She was wearing a helmet but was struck in the face.

The battery-powered cars, with a top speed is 20-25 mph., are built by high school students.


State conservation officer killed in chase

FORT MITCHELL — A state conservation officer was killed while chasing a suspect on Interstate 75 in Kenton County.

Douglas Bryant, 62, became the first conservation officer to die in the line of duty in seven years.

Police quoted witnesses who said Mr. Bryant’s truck and Lloyd Robinson’s car collided. Mr. Robinson was charged with manslaughter.


Adams descendant dies at 95

BRUNSWICK — John Quincy Adams, an architect, conservationist and the direct descendant of two presidents, died April 30 from complications related to a broken hip. He was 95.

Mr. Adams, who went by Quincy, was the great-great-grandson of the country’s sixth president and the great-great-great-grandson of the second president.

Mr. Adams lived most of his life on the family’s Lincoln, Mass., estate, where he raised horses.


School breaks world record

EAST LANSING — East Lansing High School sophomore Joe Kavanagh always wanted to break a world record, so he gathered 800 sets of black glasses with fuzzy eyebrows and mustaches.

About 800 students and faculty members donned the disguises last week in an effort to break the Guinness world record for most people in one place at one time wearing Groucho Marx glasses. The previous mark was 522 persons.

Mr. Kavanagh compiled photographs of the event, which he will send to Guinness representatives.


Residents to receive disaster aid

JACKSON — More than $7.8 million in federal and state disaster aid has been approved so far for Mississippi residents affected by severe weather in April.

The federal and state emergency management agencies said 3,603 Mississippi residents had applied for various forms of disaster assistance.


Legislature passes abuse-suit bill

JEFFERSON CITY — The Legislature passed a bill extending the statute of limitations for lawsuits against those reported to be sexual abusers of children.

If Gov. Bob Holden signs the bill, it is likely to increase the number of lawsuits against many organizations, including schools and the Roman Catholic Church.

The bill would give those who have been abused until age 38 to file suits.


Mayor removes door from office

LAS CRUCES — It would be hard to break the new Las Cruces mayor’s prohibition against closed-door meetings in his City Hall office. There isn’t a door to close.

Removing the door from the mayor’s office was one of Bill Mattiace’s first official acts upon taking office in March.

But he acknowledges that it took a little time to get used to the no-door policy. Several people didn’t want to meet with the mayor unless it was more private.

Mr. Mattiace, who was voted mayor in a special March election, after then-Mayor Ruben Smith left to take a job with the state, said one developer who came into the office looked for a door to close, saying he had something private to discuss with Mr. Mattiace.

“I told him there wasn’t any door, and if he really needed to say it then he could go ahead and say it without a door,” Mr. Mattiace said. “He left, and I heard him muttering, ‘There’s no door, there’s no door.’”


Sailor killed by livery cab

NEW YORK — A sailor visiting New York for the Fleet Week naval observance was killed Sunday when he stumbled off a sidewalk and was hit by a car, authorities said.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Phillip A. Simone, 20, was walking in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood about 3 a.m. when he fell and was struck by a livery cab. He died about 45 minutes later at a hospital, said Navy spokesman Capt. Bill Armstrong.


Rain-swollen lake breaches dam

HOPE MILLS — A dam burst yesterday under the pressure of a rain-swollen lake, forcing the evacuation of about 40 houses and a rest home.

The dam on Hope Mills Lake broke about 10 a.m., said Doc Nunnery, Cumberland County emergency-services director.

Police officers went to the homes and the Happy Valley Retirement Center to direct people to leave. A shelter was set up at a high school.


Student charged in death of friend

WILBERFORCE — A college student died last week from injuries sustained in a fistfight about a cell phone with a fellow freshman outside a residence hall, university officials said.

Jeffrey Wise, 18, was struck in the throat and fell to the pavement in the fight, campus police and Central State University officials said. He died about 12 hours later at a hospital 20 miles west in Dayton, where he had been taken by helicopter.

The other student, Randall Imes, was charged with murder and remains in custody, said Anthony Fairbanks, the university’s vice president for institutional advancement.


Singer missed award while co-writing song

OKLAHOMA CITY — Toby Keith says he missed picking up his award as country music’s entertainer of the year because he was singing and writing a song with Willie Nelson.

Mr. Keith had eight nominations at the Academy of Country Music Awards, presented in Las Vegas last week. But after Mr. Keith, a 41-year-old singer, was shut out seven times, he left the show.

“One of the good things about awards shows is getting to see your friends,” said a statement on Mr. Keith’s Web site. “I didn’t think I had any kind of shot at winning entertainer of the year, so I took advantage of a rare opportunity to write a song with Willie Nelson.”


Vacation starts early after budget cuts

HILLSBORO — The scene at Glencoe High School in Hillsboro is classic two-days-before-school’s out: Debris from just-emptied lockers litters the floor; students in flip-flops roam the halls; sun streams in through open windows.

Students all over Oregon are getting out of school early this year, after severe state budget cuts led almost 100 of the state’s school districts to cut days from the calendar to save money.

And nowhere are students being sprung earlier than in this leafy, wealthy suburb of Portland, where officials chopped 17 school days from the calendar, which made Friday the last day of school.


Statue donated to honor Flight 93 victims

SHANKSVILLE — A sculptor is honoring the victims on board United Airlines Flight 93 with a replica of a statue he created for rescuers killed in the September 11 attacks.

Rip Caswell, of Portland, Ore., donated a scaled-down version of his 12-foot bronze “Strength of America” to Shanksville, a hamlet of 245 persons near the crash site.

The statue depicts a man rising from the rubble of the World Trade Center clutching a lantern, representing truth and justice, and restraining a snake that symbolizes threats to freedom, Mr. Caswell said. The statue also has a bald eagle appearing to take flight from the tip of an American flag.

Investigators say they believe that United Flight 93 was headed toward a target in Washington, D.C., when it turned east near Cleveland. They say they believe that it was brought down when people on board confronted the hijackers.


Strong winds force airliner off runway

AMARILLO — A strong gust of wind swept a Southwest Airlines plane off the runway shortly after landing, but no one was injured.

The pilot was able to steer the plane back to the tarmac, but the landing gear failed afterward, and the 63 passengers were taken to the terminal by bus late Saturday.

The runway remained closed Sunday until some damaged lights could be replaced, said Southwest spokesman Ed Stewart.

Mr. Stewart said investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to look into the accident.


Firing-squad executions prepared by state

SALT LAKE CITY — The only state that dispatches condemned inmates by firing squad is assembling gunmen for back-to-back executions next month.

Exercising their right under Utah law, serial killer Roberto Arguelles and Troy Michael Kell, a white supremacist who stabbed a fellow inmate to death, have chosen the firing squad instead of lethal injection and are set to die at 12:01 a.m. June 27 and 28, respectively.

However, Kell has filed an appeal that will probably halt his execution.

The Utah Corrections Department is recruiting law-enforcement officers for two five-person firing squads, asking the police departments in the communities where the crimes were committed to nominate volunteers.


Homeland Security money reaching responders

COLCHESTER — Emergency workers in this Vermont town are dazzled by their new high-tech rescue trailer, paid for with a $58,000 grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Its drill can bore through concrete, and it has a camera designed for finding survivors in collapsed buildings. “This is truly spectacular,” said rescue-squad member Mike Cannon.

But some people are questioning the wisdom of sending so much antiterrorism money to such seemingly improbable targets as Colchester, a town of about 18,000, one of many places starting to receive the billions of dollars promised by the federal government after the September 11 attacks.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has called for changes in the way the government distributes federal aid so more goes to states that face the greatest threat of attack.


Thief steals goat, taunts police

WAUKESHA — Someone tried to get the goat of Waukesha police with a bizarre missive.

A goat was attached to a lamp post downtown last week, along with a message scrawled on an orange piece of paper:

“I stole a goat you … cops. I stole a goat and dropped it on this block. Let it run, let it play,” the message read in part. “It’s just a goat, be glad of that, next time a person, be sure of that.”

The black-and-white pygmy goat, about the size of a young Labrador dog, was taken to an animal shelter. So far no one has claimed it.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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