- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003


Governor ousts child-services chief

NASHVILLE — Gov. Phil Bredesen ousted the chief of the state’s troubled child- services department, saying not enough had been done to comply with a federal order to improve foster care.

The governor, a Democrat, said Tuesday it pained him to ask for the resignation of Mike Miller, but he wasn’t satisfied with reforms in the Department of Children’s Services.

Tennessee is under a federal court order to improve its foster care system as the result of a lawsuit settlement.


Ridge speaks at Gettysburg

GETTYSBURG — The ideals that Abraham Lincoln emphasized in his Gettysburg Address 140 years ago are the same principles that American soldiers are defending in the war on terror, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said yesterday.

“Lincoln’s powerful message still applies today,” Mr. Ridge said at Gettysburg College’s Christ Chapel for the annual commemoration of Lincoln’s 1863 speech dedicating the battlefield cemetery.

More than 45,000 soldiers were killed or injured in the three-day battle in July 1863. Gettysburg ended Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s biggest attempt to take the war from Virginia into the North.


State urged to improve schools

LITTLE ROCK — A report by the Southern Education Foundation ties the state’s economic future to better schools.

The report said a less-educated work force is the main reason why Arkansas’ per-capita income is 75 percent of the national average. Increased spending on preschools and college preparation would help improve incomes within a generation, the foundation said.


Robber forgets to cut eyes in mask

MODESTO — Talk about being robbed blind.

Police said a masked man who robbed a Modesto bank Monday forgot to cut eye holes into his disguise, occasionally lifting up a corner of the flannel cloth to see his feet as he fumbled his way through the heist, and crashing into the Oak Valley Community Bank’s steel door frame on the way out.

The robbery was successful, and the man, who was wearing a pink shirt, big white gardening gloves and tight jeans, was last seen driving away with an accomplice and an undisclosed amount of money, Detective Tom Blake said.

Police did not return messages Tuesday asking whether the man had been caught.


Deal allows police to drive Saabs

ASPEN — Police in Aspen won’t have to feel inferior driving around in their tony resort community. They can keep their luxury import cars, for now.

The Aspen Police Department has extended its deal with Saab that will allow officers to drive the sleek silver sedans until Jan. 31, 2005.

“We’re all set,” Assistant City Manager Randy Ready said. “We have extended the lease for one more year.”

For a quarter of a century, the Swedish automaker has sold the vehicles to Aspen at a loss.


Driver indicted in biker deaths

PANAMA CITY — A man who admitted deliberately ramming a stolen pickup truck into six Outlaws motorcycle gang members, killing two, was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder.

Timothy Pilgreen 26, of Texarkana, Ark., also was charged Tuesday with assaulting a law-enforcement officer as he tried to flee.

Police said Mr. Pilgreen argued with the bikers Oct. 29 before chasing them and plowing the truck through the motorcycles, killing Nola Zietler, 47, and her husband, Donald Dunham, 61.


Lawmakers overhaul capital punishment

SPRINGFIELD — After years of heated debate and the release of prisoners who were wrongly condemned, Illinois lawmakers overhauled the state’s capital punishment system yesterday to reduce the risk of an innocent person being executed.

The state House, in a 115-0 vote, approved a series of changes to a death penalty system that led to the wrongful convictions of at least 17 men.

The action, an override of a veto by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, a Democrat, makes the measure law immediately. The Senate overrode the veto earlier this month.

Among other things, the legislation gives the Illinois Supreme Court greater power to throw out unjust verdicts, lets defendants have more access to evidence and bars the death penalty in cases that depend on a single witness.


Seat-belt law urged for trucks

FORT WAYNE — State Sen. Tom Wyss wants to change Indiana’s seat-belt law to require truck drivers to buckle up along with other motorists.

Drivers of minivans and sport utility vehicles now may ignore the seat-belt law if their vehicle is licensed as a pickup truck. Some vehicle owners apparently choose to pay $9 more for a truck plate to avoid the seat-belt law.


AIDS drugs shown to increase heart risk

BOSTON — The powerful drugs that beat back the AIDS virus may have a deadly drawback — they might increase the risk of heart attack, according to a study in today’s New England Journal of Medicine.

However the findings may not be the final answer on whether the AIDS virus, HIV or the drugs used to treat the disease heighten the odds of heart problems.

The study, led by Jens Lundgren of Hvidovre University Hospital in Copenhagen, found that the heart attack risk rose by 26 percent per year for people taking the drugs.


Skunk scent used to deter tree thieves

MINNEAPOLIS — There is nothing like the bracing smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree to fill the house with that holiday feel. Unless, of course, it’s the aroma of dead skunk.

Thieves who raid the University of Minnesota for a Christmas tree this year will find the greenery booby-trapped. The university is spraying balsam fir, Scotch pine and anything that looks like a holiday tree with skunk scent specially ordered from a West Virginia trapping store, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reported.

Grounds superintendent Les Potts took action after losing seven evergreens last year to poachers.


Insurer settles cancer patient suit

LINCOLN — A Nebraska company has agreed to pay $20 million to settle claims that it sold cancer insurance to people nationwide but paid only a fraction of the benefits when they got sick.

Central States Health and Life Co. of Omaha will pay $7.5 million to about 1,240 people who were denied coverage and $2.5 million to attorneys. The remainder will go into a fund to pay future medical expenses for the 1,400 people who filed claims or any of more than 18,000 other people nationwide who bought the policies but have not developed cancer.


Jet crashes at training range

LAS VEGAS — An attack jet on a training mission crashed at an Air Force range, but the pilot ejected safely, officials said.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II went down shortly after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Nellis Air Force range in southern Nevada, the Air Warfare Center said. The cause of the crash was under investigation. The pilot, Capt. John Dyer, was treated at a base hospital and released.


Boy, 3, fatally shot by brother, 4

WEST VALLEY CITY — A 4-year-old boy fatally shot his 3-year-old brother after apparently unlocking a home safe where a handgun had been stored, police said.

West Valley Police Capt. Craig Black said the 4-year-old apparently found the keys to the safe, unlocked it and used the handgun inside to shoot his brother in the head.

The children’s mother was home when the shooting occurred Tuesday in this Salt Lake City suburb. “It appears to be an accidental shooting at this time, and we’re investigating how the child got the gun,” Capt. Black said.

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