- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003


Weather-reading monk to get honor

LITTLE ROCK — At the Subiaco Abbey, Brother Anselm Allen has more than one reason to look skyward.

Brother Anselm is one of the National Weather Service’s top volunteer weather observers and will be honored next week for his service to meteorology. For 38 years, his daily readings have included the Scriptures, thermometers and a rain gauge.

“The superior here pretty much assigned it to me,” Brother Anselm said Wednesday. “I’ve enjoyed doing it.”

On Nov. 13, the weather service will present Brother Anselm with one of its 25 yearly John Campanius Holm Awards, which recognize exceptional service in the network of 11,000 volunteer weather observers.


Restaurant counts calories for patrons

ORLANDO — If people eat too much at the Seasons 52 restaurant, they can never say they were not warned.

Waiters at the restaurant close to the theme parks that dominate Orlando walk around with pocket computers explaining the number of calories in each meal and then helpfully sum up the total.

Seasons 52 is one of the new initiatives being launched by the U.S. restaurant industry as it fights accusations of fueling the country’s obesity epidemic. The idea is to fight the fat while not diminishing the pleasure of eating out. No dish has more than 475 calories.

“Thirty percent of the tables ask for the calorie count. Some ask about it later, after they’ve had dinner,” said Paul Jager one of the waiters. “Some people don’t want to know.”


State says dealer plotted sheriff’s death

SOMERSET — Prosecutors yesterday accused a cocaine dealer of masterminding the murder of a drug-fighting sheriff, saying the defendant was responsible for the crime “just the same as if he had pulled that trigger.”

Defense attorneys, however, said Kenneth White only helped in the political campaign of another sheriff candidate.

The remarks came at the opening of Mr. White’s trial on charges of complicity to murder in the April 13, 2002, killing of Sheriff Sam Catron.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddie Montgomery said Mr. White, 56, wanted Mr. Catron out of the race and recruited Danny Shelley, a drug-addicted ex-Marine, to shoot Mr. Catron with a rifle.

Jeff Morris, a former deputy of Mr. Catron’s who was also running for sheriff, and Mr. Shelley, who was aiding Mr. Morris’ campaign, already have pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life in prison.


Woman’s last vote prompts runoff

OCILLA — Every last vote counts — even if it’s the voter’s last vote.

A city council race in south Georgia was thrown into a runoff by the absentee ballot of a woman who died on Election Day — and not the night before, as officials first thought.

Election officials initially said Tyrone Smith defeated Allan Smith 65-64 in Tuesday’s election. But one of the absentee ballots was rejected because poll workers thought the voter had died Monday night. They later learned that she died after the polls opened.

City Attorney Harry Mixon looked up the Georgia Election Code after going home. The law specifies that the ballot is invalid if the absentee voter dies before the polls open.

The ballot was opened Wednesday morning at City Hall, and officials called for the Nov. 25 runoff.


Hot-dog truck catches fire

DES MOINES — There was a giant weenie roast on Interstate 380, but there was no mustard for many a mile marker.

A truck carrying 43,500 pounds of Oscar Mayer turkey hot dogs caught fire about 10 p.m. Tuesday, said Trooper Tom Estrada of the Iowa State Patrol.

Instead of the aroma of roasting meat, troopers and firefighters had to endure black smoke and the acrid smell of burning rubber.

“Some type of mechanical problem caused a wheel to overheat,” Mr. Estrada said. “The driver pulled over and opened the hood of the refrigerator power unit. That exposed hot oil to the air and helped ignite the fire.”

The truck driver, Wayne A. Mathison, 60, of Cherry, Ill., was not injured.


Mayor resigns, ending ouster bid

TOPEKA — The city’s mayor resigned yesterday amid an attempt to remove him from office over accusations that he violated state campaign-finance laws.

An ouster trial for Mayor Butch Felker was scheduled to begin this month. The only penalty he could have faced was removal from office; no criminal charges were brought.

A judge suspended Mr. Felker last month while the case was pending. Mr. Felker was accused of masking donation amounts and the identities of some contributors. He did not admit any intentional wrongdoing.

Neither Mr. Felker nor his attorney returned calls for comment. The City Council will select a new mayor.


Convict clearedafter 14 years

BOSTON — Fourteen years after he went to prison for the murder of a 12-year-old girl whose slaying became a symbol of random gang violence in Boston, Shawn Drumgold walked out of court a free man yesterday, his conviction overturned at prosecutors’ request.

Prosecutors cited new evidence and flaws in the original case against Mr. Drumgold, and said they would not seek a new trial.

Suffolk County’s chief homicide prosecutor, David E. Meier, who filed the request, said the move had no bearing on Mr. Drumgold’s guilt or innocence; it was only an acknowledgment that he did not receive a fair trial.


Judges block law banning partial-birth

NEW YORK — Two federal judges yesterday blocked the government’s ban on partial-birth abortion — the second and third court wins for pro-choice advocates since President Bush signed the law.

U.S. District Judge Richard Casey in New York granted a request by the National Abortion Federation and seven abortionists to prevent enforcement of the ban.

Later yesterday, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in San Francisco also blocked enforcement of the ban in a decision affects abortionists at 900 Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide. Judge Hamilton called the law “an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose.”

The decisions follow a separate ruling Wednesday by a federal judge in Nebraska who also blocked the ban — less than an hour after Mr. Bush enacted the law. That ruling covers four abortionists, who together are licensed in 13 states across the Midwest and East, and their staffs.

The three rulings combined cover the majority of the nation’s abortionists.


Billy Graham plans quiet 85th birthday

CHARLOTTE — The Rev. Billy Graham planned a quiet celebration at home for his 85th birthday today before beginning another year of his evangelistic ministry.

“I never dreamed that I would live to be 85,” said Mr. Graham, who lives in Montreat in western North Carolina. “I am grateful to the Lord for the strength he gives me to hold additional crusades.”

Mr. Graham has met this fall with members of his Charlotte-based evangelistic association, including his son, Franklin, to discuss a crusade for the coming year. He said doctors think he has the stamina for additional crusades.

He will announce his 2004 crusade schedule in January.


‘Choose Life’ plate challenged in court

NASHVILLE — The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood sued yesterday to stop Tennessee from issuing specialty license plates with a “Choose Life” message.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, contends the plate, which repeats a slogan popular with the pro-life movement and others, discriminates against residents with an opposing viewpoint.

The General Assembly approved the plates in May. Half of the $35 extra fee is to benefit New Life Resources, the outreach and counseling arm of Tennessee Right to Life.

The lawsuit names Gov. Phil Bredesen and Safety Commissioner Fred Phillips as defendants and challenges the state’s entire specialty license plate program because “it discriminates against those with viewpoints that the General Assembly does not condone,” Tennessee ACLU executive director Hedy Weinberg said.


State board picks evolution-only texts

AUSTIN — The State Board of Education voted yesterday to approve biology textbooks, despite criticism from religious activists who say the books as written fail to present the anti-evolution point of view.

The 11-4 vote was preliminary, and the board was expected to give final approval today.

Some religious and alternative-science groups had argued that weaknesses in the theory of evolution weren’t adequately presented in the books. But scientists and educators argued that the theory of evolution is widely believed and is a cornerstone of modern scientific research.

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