- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

FLORIDACubans avoid Coast Guard to reach U.S.KEY LARGO — Four Cubans jumped from their rickety wooden boat into the Atlantic Ocean yesterday, and three of them made it to shore after treading water two miles offshore and refusing help from the U.S. Coast Guard.Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil generally are allowed to stay, while those intercepted at sea usually are repatriated.The Cubans were spotted by a Coast Guard jet around 2 p.m. and two vessels were sent out to the area, Petty Officer Ryan Doss said. The Cubans swung their oars to keep the vessels at bay, he said.The swimmers initially threw life jackets back to Coast Guardsmen trying to help them and swam away from the two Coast Guard boats. NEBRASKAWashing horses at car wash is illegalNORTH PLATTE — Washing his horses at a car wash didn’t seem like a bad idea to Jess Yager until it turned out to be illegal.Mr. Yager took his four horses to the car wash Monday afternoon to clean them, saying it’s hard to clip and trim horses when their hair is caked with mud.But animal-control officer John Pettit was ready to ticket Mr. Yager, telling him it was against the law to wash his animals at the car wash and let him off with a warning.Mr. Yager said that’s news to him since he’s been doing it for years. He said the horses love it and prefer the hot water of the car wash to the cold hose at home. Mr. Yager took his animals home after only two got the soapy treatment. ARKANSASActor returns home to film Ozark movieLITTLE ROCK — Billy Bob Thornton plans to return to his native Arkansas this month to film scenes for a new movie, said Ozark Film Society director James Nash Alford.The film, titled “Chrystal,” also will star Lisa Blount. Miss Blount’s husband, Ray McKinnon, wrote the film about an Ozark Mountain couple. The pair’s company, Ginny Mule Productions, is developing the movie.Mr. Alford said the cities of Fayetteville and Eureka Springs offered incentives to lure producers. Filming will take place at locations between the two cities for five weeks, he said. “We’re trying to kick-start a production industry in northwest Arkansas that hasn’t been in existence,” Mr. Alford said.CALIFORNIAAmid rancor, town scraps politeness planSAN FRANCISCO — A California city council proposal aimed at bringing a sense of decorum to its debates by banning offensive body language such as people frowning or sticking out their tongues was soundly defeated with looks of disdain after a rancorous debate.In a unanimous vote Monday night, the city council in the Silicon Valley city of Palo Alto voted down the measure calling for abstaining from “body language or other nonverbal methods of expression, disagreement or disgust” in council sessions.The proposed measure prompted widespread public ridicule, prompting council member Judy Kleinberg, who headed the committee that drafted the proposed rules, to vote with the “nays,” saying she had received critical mail from all over the world after the initiative was widely publicized.COLORADOTwo DJs suspended for playing Dixie ChicksCOLORADO SPRINGS — Country station KKCS has suspended two disc jockeys for playing the Dixie Chicks, violating a ban imposed after the group criticized President Bush.Lead singer Natalie Maines said during a March concert in London that she was “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”“We pulled their music two months ago, and it’s been a difficult decision, because how can you ignore the hottest group in country music?” station manager Jerry Grant told the Gazette newspaper.He said there’s been discussion about whether to reinstate the trio, but disc jockeys Dave Moore and Jeff Singer became impatient and played some of the group’s songs.Mr. Grant said the disc jockeys will be out for a couple of days.CONNECTICUTLibrary book returned 94 years overdueVERNON — The book Kelly Woodward recently returned to the Vernon Public Library was overdue — by about 94 years. It was due May 3, 1909.At the 1909 rate of 2 cents per day, the late fine would have amounted to $685. Library directors decided to waive the penalty.Miss Woodward said she found the 1904 edition of “100 Choice Selections No. 4,” edited by Phineas Garrett, in her parents’ attic. The book is a collection of plays, prose and poetry. She brought it back to the library in March.The book won’t return to the library shelves. Instead, it’s being kept in a display case with other library memorabilia.GEORGIATruck collides with Amtrak trainHINESVILLE — An Amtrak train collided with a lumber truck in southeast Georgia yesterday, killing the truck driver and injuring 23 persons aboard the train, state police said.The morning crash occurred after the truck pulled in front of Amtrak train No. 91 at a dirt crossing near Hinesville, about 250 miles southeast of Atlanta, according to a spokeswoman for the Georgia State Patrol.The train, also known as the Silver Star, was carrying 150 passengers and 14 crew from New York to Miami, according to Amtrak. The locomotive and all 10 of the train’s cars derailed during the accident, though none overturned.HAWAIISailor admits killing his wifePEARL HARBOR — A sailor on Monday tearfully admitted to fatally beating his wife with an iron skillet and fatally stabbing his mother-in-law at the couple’s home last year.Petty Officer 2nd Class David A. DeArmond, 32, pleaded guilty to charges of murder, voluntary manslaughter and abuse of a corpse in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges of premeditated murder, which could have resulted in the death penalty.A military jury will decide DeArmond’s sentence. That phase of his general court-martial is scheduled to begin in early June.ILLINOISGovernor proposes spending less on roadsCOLLINSVILLE — Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich said Illinois should spend $1.7 billion next year to maintain and improve its roads and bridges, a drop from this year’s $2.3 billion.The money, part of a five-year, $7.4 billion road program, would improve 808 miles of roads and replace or repair more than 122 bridges.LOUISIANAGrant helps create bird-lovers’ trailCAMERON — A $168,000 federal grant from the National Scenic Byways program will help create a trail for bird lovers that will run the length of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast.The Louisiana Great Gulf Coast Birding Trail is set for completion next year. MAINEPoisoning suspect’s death ruled a suicidePORTLAND — The death of a man believed responsible for the arsenic poisoning that killed one churchgoer and sickened 15 others has been ruled a suicide, state police said yesterday.Daniel Bondeson, 53, died of a gunshot wound to the chest Friday.Investigators quickly linked him to the April 27 arsenic poisoning at a church in New Sweden, in northern Maine, and a spokesman has said Mr. Bondeson was at least partially responsible.Police said he left a suicide note. The contents were not disclosed, but investigators said in a statement that because of “important information” in the note, “we will be continuing our investigation into the poisoning homicide.”MASSACHUSETTSReports show shellfish unaffected by oil spillBOURNE — Large areas of Buzzards Bay appear unaffected by a 15,000-gallon oil spill and could be reopened for shellfishing within a week, according to Massachusetts fishery officials.The state closed the bay’s shellfish beds shortly after oil leaked from a damaged barge April 27. About 200 commercial shellfishermen were idled by the closing.Initial reports indicate that the heavy fuel oil did not sink to the bottom of the bay, where shellfish live, said Mike Hickey, the state’s chief shellfish biologist.Shellfish are being tested for contamination said Dave Whittaker, a senior biologist at the state Division of Marine Fisheries.MICHIGANState representatives to take pay cutLANSING — Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson said yesterday he is ordering state representatives to take a 3 percent pay cut to save the state nearly $263,000 in next year’s budget.Mr. Johnson, a Republican, said the cut is intended to reimburse the state for each representative’s administrative costs. It will drop House members’ annual pay from $79,650 to $77,261.Last week, Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, also a Republican, said he would cut his pay by 3 percent next year, but will leave it up to other senators whether to do the same. MINNESOTAMan comes to dog’s rescueMINNEAPOLIS — Every once in a while, a man is a dog’s best friend.During the weekend, a dog swam about 300 yards into chilly Lake Harriet in south Minneapolis. Apparently, it got confused and didn’t know where to turn.The dog appeared to be in serious trouble.About a dozen folks standing on shore were talking to the dog’s owner when an unidentified man walked up, saw the dog, stripped to his shorts and swam into the 52-degree water. He reached the dog and swam back to shore, talking to the pooch the whole way.NEW HAMPSHIREState warns landmark lootersFRANCONIA NOTCH — Police and parks employees are keeping watch on the site where the Old Man of the Mountain crumbled last week, and warning people that taking fractured pieces of the granite profile is against state law.The warning against theft came after word that rocks reported to be from the debris field, or near it, had turned up for sale on EBay. Several EBay auctions offering pieces of rock were shut down Monday and police are investigating.”They ain’t selling my grandfather on EBay,” said Franconia Police Officer Bruce McKay. NEW JERSEYUnion officials, contractor accused of stealingNEWARK — Two union officials and a building contractor have been indicted on charges of stealing more than $350,000 from a union welfare fund.The embezzlement from Local 148 of the International Novelty Workers Union in Jersey City was conducted from 1992 to 2001 by the fund administrator and one-time president, Joseph Nardone Jr., and contractor Stanley Rothman, Monday’s indictment said.As part of the scheme, Mr. Nardone reportedly had the union pay $1,300 a month for a no-show job to a third man, Peter Hasho, president of a New York local of the International Brotherhood of Trade Unions.NEW MEXICOLoggers may cut in scorched areasSANTA FE — The Santa Fe National Forest is proposing to let loggers cut up to 14 million board-feet of timber from three areas scorched by wildfires last year.The proposals don’t call for new roads and wouldn’t allow cutting of live trees.OHIOInmates blame spiders for illnessORIENT — Some inmates at Pickaway Correctional Institution are so convinced spiders are to blame for an illness that has affected nearly 80 prisoners that they want duct tape to place on floors to catch crawling insects.But the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction insists there are no venomous spiders at the prison. The department said illegal tattooing is at least partially to blame for spreading a resilient staph infection that killed one inmate last week.”We absolutely know we do not have a problem with spiders,” spokesman Andrea Dean told the Toledo Blade. “We confiscated tattooing equipment.”OKLAHOMAOklahoma City stuck with 30,000 mice OKLAHOMA CITY — City police succeeded in breaking up a reported illegal rodent farm, but now authorities are faced with the problem of what to do with 30,000 white mice seized in the raid.Police raided the rodent farm Thursday, responding to a tip from a citizen who complained about a foul stench emanating from a barn.When police arrived, they found thousands of mice living in cages soaked with urine and feces, said Oklahoma City animal welfare supervisor Steve Lira. He said the mice were being raised as live feed for pet snakes.PENNSYLVANIAOfficials investigating credit cards’ usePITTSBURGH — State transportation officials say they’re investigating employees’ use of state-issued credit cards.An audit of about $370,000 in purchases found more than $250,000 in questionable spending, mostly for items printed with PennDOT logos, food and clothes.TENNESSEEThieves stealing trees from yardsMEMPHIS — Trees here have recently taken to leaving their yards, though not of their free will.Scott Williams recently walked into his kitchen, pushed aside the curtains and saw nothing. Three dogwood trees, each about 2 years old and nearly 6 feet tall, were missing from his front yard. That wasn’t the first tree caper in town. On April 28, Francis Cagle drove up to the First Seventh Day Adventist Church, where she’s a secretary. Two Japanese maple trees, each at least 4 years old, were gone from the front yard.A search of police reports showed numerous incidents of people having trees, bushes and plants stolen according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.UTAHSalt Lake Tribune names new editorSALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Tribune yesterday named Nancy Conway to succeed James Shelledy, who resigned last week after two of his reporters sold information about the family of kidnapped teen Elizabeth Smart to the National Enquirer.Miss Conway, who will take over June 12, is executive editor of the MediaNews Group chain’s ANG Newspapers in Northern California, which include the Oakland Tribune.Last week, Mr. Shelledy resigned two days after firing two of his reporters for receiving $10,000 each from the National Enquirer tabloid for salacious material about relatives of Elizabeth Smart. The two reporters were fired after Mr. Shelledy discovered their role in a July 2 article in the Enquirer was greater than they had first indicated.VERMONTPig moves to summer homePLAINFIELD — Sky the pig is living the good life. Children pamper him with back scratches and hose him down when it gets too hot. He winters at a cozy bed-and-breakfast and summers at a lush hilltop retreat.Not bad for a swine who started life as piglet slated to become pork.Six years have passed since then, and Sky now weighs 800 pounds. On Sunday, in a yearly rite of spring, owner Richard Rubin and four pig movers used force and persuasion to transport Sky to his summer home.If Sky is treated a bit like royalty, he has someone very special to thank: Mr. Rubin’s daughter Amanda, who was 14 when Sky entered the household as a 7-week-old piglet. Amanda vetoed plans to kill him.WASHINGTONTacoma city manager offers to take leaveTACOMA — City Manager Ray Corpuz offered to take paid leave while officials sort out how David Brame rose through the ranks to become the city’s police chief despite claims of unfitness.Brame fatally wounded his estranged wife and killed himself April 26.Mr. Corpuz, who appointed Brame as chief in 2001, said Monday he would take the leave while the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs investigates the case.His request for paid leave would have to be approved by the City Council, which was scheduled to meet yesterday evening. On Saturday, the council had voted 6-3 against forcing him to take administrative leave during the investigation.

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