- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

TEXAS

Border agents seize Mexican bologna

EL PASO — Border agents last week landed a meaty raid, seizing 756 pounds of bologna arranged in the shape of a car seat and covered with blankets in a man’s pickup.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 81 rolls of Mexican bologna Friday at the Paso Del Norte bridge as the pickup entered the United States.

“It puts the ultimate consumer at risk,” said Customs spokesman Roger Maier. “Who knows how long these products have gone without refrigeration or without proper handling?”

Children were sitting on top of the illegal load before it was discovered, Mr. Maier said. The rear seat had been removed from the extended-cab pickup, and the bologna was put in its place.

Mr. Maier said the agency plans to pursue civil penalties against the Mexican man driving the truck. He said the agency won’t release the man’s name until the case goes to trial.

TENNESSEE

KKK initiation wounds participant

JOHNSON CITY — A gunshot fired into the air during a Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony wounded a participant when the bullet came down and struck him in the head, authorities said.

Jeffery S. Murr, 24, of Erwin, remained hospitalized in critical condition, and Gregory Allen Freeman, 45, of Elizabethton, was charged with aggravated assault and felony reckless endangerment in the Saturday night incident.

“We don’t think it was an intentional shot at this point, but we did end up charging him,” Washington County Sheriff Fred Phillips said yesterday.

Several people, including two children, gathered for the ceremony at about 8 p.m. near Limestone, authorities said.

Another man who was being initiated was blindfolded, taken to a wooded area, tied with a noose to a tree and shot with paintball guns as Mr. Freeman fired a 9 mm handgun into the air to “simulate actual fire,” the sheriff said.

ARIZONA

Impalas eyed for police fleet

PHOENIX — Police may test Chevrolet Impalas as eventual replacements for the city’s fleet of Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars. Crown Victoria patrol cars have been implicated in nearly a dozen fire deaths in the nation, including three in Arizona.

The Police Infrastructure Committee recommends buying 30 Impalas for $552,000 and 90 Crown Victorias for $3 million.

CALIFORNIA

Teamsters to support strikes at groceries

EL MONTE — The Teamsters union said yesterday its members will stop delivering groceries to three Southern California supermarket chains where grocery clerks have been on strike or been locked out for more than a month.

The move effectively shuts off supplies to Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons stores during the critical Thanksgiving shopping week.

The action, taken after the striking clerks moved to expand their picket lines to regional distribution centers, was called a “silver bullet” by Jim Santangelo, president of Teamsters Joint Council 42 in El Monte.

Teamsters have refused to cross picket lines at individual stores, forcing management and nonstriking workers to unload trucks.

About 70,000 grocery workers are either on strike against Vons or locked out by Albertsons and Ralphs stores, affecting nearly 860 stores from San Luis Obispo to San Diego.

COLORADO

Charities hesitate to take part in survey

DENVER — The Salvation Army and other metro area charities may give up federal grants rather than participate in a survey of the homeless.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development wants the groups to collect the names, Social Security numbers and other information from the people they serve to get a better idea of the scope of homelessness. Charities worry that such intrusion may make homeless people wary of seeking help.

CONNECTICUT

Kennedy kin appeals murder conviction

HARTFORD — Attorneys for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel filed an appeal yesterday seeking to overturn his conviction for the 1975 murder of a teenage neighbor.

Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in 2002 of beating Martha Moxley to death with a golf club in Greenwich when they were both 15. Skakel, 43, is serving a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

The appeal filed in state Superior Court argues that the case never should have been transferred to Superior Court from Juvenile Court, where Skakel was first charged, because of his age at the time of the murder.

It also argues the statute of limitations for the crime had expired by the time Skakel was charged in January 2000.

FLORIDA

University president seeks large salary

GAINESVILLE — Bernie Machen, the incoming University of Florida president, could become one of the highest-paid public university presidents in the nation.

According to a draft of his proposed contract, Mr. Machen’s salary could average $685,625 a year if he stays for eight years. Only a dozen public universities pay their presidents more than $500,000 per year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

GEORGIA

TVs to show traffic information

ATLANTA — Truck stops, highway welcome centers and office towers across Georgia soon will be able to buy plasma-screen TVs with running traffic updates.

The screens will show the flow of traffic, including average speeds, on nearby arteries. Other monitors can show highway construction zones, or a map of the area with congested areas colored red.

The state is hoping the $20,000 systems will be snapped up by Atlanta office towers so employees can plan drives home. The monitors also are being shipped to truck stops around the state because they can be tailored to report on any area in the state, not just Atlanta.

HAWAII

Search for big cat is called off

OLINDA — Nearly a year after the first reports of a mysterious large cat lurking in the hills of Maui prompted an intense and expensive state search, the hunt has been called off — catless.

Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman Peter Young said the effort involved a “large investment of manpower” and would cease unless new, credible evidence of the animal emerges.

The state has tried everything from on-foot searches to infrared cameras. Three weeks ago, 19 traps were set up, costing about $3,000 a week to monitor. When they were installed, state wildlife biologist Fern Duvall estimated the cat hunt already had cost the state $15,000.

Mr. Young said the animal may have moved elsewhere, is being confined by its owner or is dead.

ILLINOIS

Retired detective to help Chicago police

CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department is turning to a retired detective for help in clearing up hundreds of homicide cases that remain unsolved. Lt. Joe Murphy, who retired last year, has been hired to review open homicide investigations as well as develop a checklist for detectives to follow in their investigations.

MASSACHUSETTS

State’s sex offenders to be registered

BOSTON — Under a provision brought by Gov. Mitt Romney and approved by the legislature, sex offenders would soon be registered 48 hours before they are freed from prison, a move many say will help reduce the burden on the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board.

It’s a felony to fail to register and many sex offenders don’t. Massachusetts has 3,000 sex offenders in custody.

NEW JERSEY

Animal allies seek delay of bear hunt

NEWARK — Animal advocates asked national park officials to delay next month’s bear hunt, the state’s first in three decades.

Opponents are asking the superintendent of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to stop the hunt from taking place on land there until it is decided whether the hunt follows federal environmental protection guidelines. The bear hunt is scheduled to begin Dec. 8.

NEW MEXICO

University sees rise in foreign students

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State University seems to be bucking the national trend when it comes to international students.

The university has 212 new foreign students this semester, which is a 22 percent increase over last year.

Nationwide, the increase of international students is just over 1 percent, according to a survey.

School officials said students are attracted by NMSU’s quick response time to applications, respected engineering, computer science and agricultural programs and mild weather.

NEW YORK

Conjoined twins undergo surgery

NEW YORK — Surgeons began the delicate task yesterday of separating the shared blood vessels of 18-month-old Filipino twins joined at the head.

The procedure, expected to last up to seven hours, was the second stage of a months-long process at the Montefiore Children’s Hospital in New York to separate Carl and Clarence Aguirre.

Instead of performing one lengthy operation, the medical team at the hospital has decided to conduct the separation over the course of as many as four shorter operations.

The first surgery took place one month ago with a five-hour operation to place balloons underneath the boys’ scalps in a process called tissue expansion. The hope is that enough skin will be available to cover the twins’ brains after final separation.

Yesterday’s operation will involve opening “a window” in the twins’ shared skull to allow doctors to begin separating and tying off the mass of shared vessels.

NORTH DAKOTA

More Canadians cross border to shop

GRAND FORKS — Observers report more Canadian shoppers since the country’s currency began to increase in value. Border officials said passenger vehicles crossing into the United States last month were up about 12 percent from a year ago.

The Canadian dollar has been on a steady climb against the U.S. dollar since last summer.

OREGON

Muslims rail at U.S. during sentencing

PORTLAND — Two American Muslims who tried to join the Taliban were sentenced to 18 years in prison yesterday during a hearing in which they denounced the Bush administration and pleaded in song for freedom.

Patrice Lumumba Ford, 32, and Jeffrey Leon Battle, 33, had pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to levy war against the United States.

Both said that in trying to reach Afghanistan, they were fulfilling their Islamic duty to defend fellow Muslims.

Ford, once an intern at Portland’s City Hall, said he felt obliged as a Muslim to defend his fellow Muslims against “President Bush’s cruise-missile diplomacy.”

Battle, a former Army reservist, also spoke of his obligations as a Muslim and concluded by singing a 10-minute song he said he had written in prison. The courtroom was silent during the song, which ended with the stanza, “Free, free, free, for all humanity, release me.”

PENNSYLVANIA

County program to recycle roadkill

ALLENTOWN — The hundreds of deer killed by cars and trucks as they wander onto roads could spur new life — along the roadside.

Under a new program in Lehigh County, deer carcasses would be taken to a compost facility and turned into raw material for fertilizer to nurture plants along the roads.

The carcasses are now hauled to private landfills or pits on state game lands, and the roadkill-recycling plan could save the state money as well as provide fertilizer.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Douglas Killough, regional director of the state Game Commission. “The carcasses could be utilized in a more ecological way than by wasting them.” The deer would decompose in three to nine months, creating compost that would be tested for safety, county compost specialist Cary Oshins said.

WISCONSIN

Top cop surprised at her own success

MILWAUKEE — Nan Hegerty is starting her first full week as the first female police chief for the state’s largest city. It’s a position she never considered as a child, growing up when women weren’t on the police force — let alone leading it.

She said in an interview that she used to admire the police squads as they drove by her childhood home. “I always thought that would be a neat job but it couldn’t be at the time,” said Chief Hegerty, 53.

She soon changed her thinking. Chief Hegerty worked her way through the ranks, becoming the city’s first captain, heading a U.S. Marshals Service district office and leading the police department’s sensitive-crimes division before becoming the city’s 17th chief.

WYOMING

Student challenges ban on same-sex date

BIG PINEY — A heterosexual teenager is challenging a school district policy that bars students from bringing same-sex dates to school dances.

In September, Amanda Blair tried to defy the rule by taking another young woman to the homecoming dance at Big Piney High School. They were kept out by sheriff’s deputies at the request of school officials.

Miss Blair, a senior at Big Piney, has now enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union in formally calling on Sublette County School District No. 9 to lift the same-sex date ban.

In a letter sent last week to Superintendent B. Weldon Shelley, the ACLU stated the policy violates a 1980 federal court ruling out of Rhode Island. The decision handed down in Frick v. Lynch found that students who bring same-sex dates to school dances are not only protected by the Constitution but that schools must take steps to ensure their safety.


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