- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2003


Jury: $100,000 for storage lock-in

MOBILE — A jury awarded $100,000 to a woman who claimed she was locked inside a rented storage space for 63 days.

Wanda Hudson, 44, sought $10 million. She claimed Parkway Storage was negligent when it locked her in her unit in November 2001. She said she survived on juice and canned foods.

Miss Hudson denied Parkway’s contention that she had lived in the 30-by-10-foot unit.


Anchorage loses rat-free distinction

ANCHORAGE — This city can no long claim to be the largest rat-free port in the Northern Hemisphere.

State biologist Rick Sinnott caught and killed two Norway rats found at a pond near a South Anchorage school and professional exterminators hired by the city placed more traps at the scene Monday afternoon.

Crews from American Pest Management planned to set both live and snap traps until at least a week passes without any more rats caught, said operations manager Larry Jones.

“This is the first time that we have a record of a confirmed trapping of a rat out in the environment” in Anchorage, said Mr. Jones.


Teenage gunman shot at school

SACRAMENTO — A young man with a shotgun took an administrator hostage at a high school yesterday and was shot by police who found the two struggling over the weapon.

Mario Rodriguez, 19, was in critical but stable condition after being shot in the shoulder.

The Rio Cazadero High administrator, whose name was not released, was in good condition with a leg injury. Though police initially said he was shot, either by police or the gunman, sheriff’s Sgt. Lou Fatur said the administrator may have injured his leg in a struggle with Mr. Rodriguez.

“He was hunting somebody down with a couple of guns,” Mr. Fatur said.


Jurors urged to heed God’s law

GOLDEN — A county treasurer is handing out booklets to potential jurors saying they are answerable “only to God almighty” and not to the law when it comes to deliberations.

Jefferson County Treasurer Mark Paschall, a former state lawmaker known for his antiabortion and pro-gun views, said the booklets are “my personal gift to the people.” He said the booklets, many stamped with his name and elected title, were bought with $500 to $600 of his money and that of two political allies who work in the treasurer’s office.

The 61-page booklets promote “jury nullification,” a concept promoted by conservative groups that say juries have the right to not only decide guilt or innocence, but also whether laws are just and adhere to God’s law.


Home-alone girl leaves hospital

JACKSONVILLE — A 2-year-old girl left home alone for 2 weeks while her mother was in jail has been released from the hospital after being treated for malnutrition and dehydration, officials said yesterday.

The child, who survived by eating ketchup, mustard and dried pasta, was released late Tuesday from Wolfson Children’s Hospital to the custody of the state Department of Children & Families. The agency granted temporary custody to her father.

The little girl had been left alone since her mother, Dakeysha Telita Lee, was jailed Sept. 10 for aggravated assault and petty theft, police said. The mother was charged Monday with child abuse, and was being held yesterday on $170,006 bond.

The child’s father, Ogden Lee, who is separated from the 22-year-old mother, said he had been trying to contact her for two weeks and did not learn until Sunday night that she was in jail.

While in the hospital, the girl ate four pieces of chicken, a cheeseburger, mashed potatoes, Cheerios and drank two pints of milk, the girl’s father told the Florida Times-Union.


Teen accused in murder plot

LOVEJOY — A 14-year-old student is accused of planning a Columbine-style attack on a high school south of Atlanta, planning to block fire exits and then pull the alarm and shoot people as they tried to leave.

The student was not named because of his age. Other students at Lovejoy High School said the boy tried to recruit them in the plot. They told school officials. The student is charged with making terroristic threats and conspiracy to commit murder. He is in state custody pending a psychological evaluation.

The plan was to “make history by turning Lovejoy into another Columbine,” said Clayton County police Capt. Jeff Turner.

Twelve students and a teacher were killed at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 when two students carried out a rampage before committing suicide.


Universities join to build computer

BLOOMINGTON — Indiana University and Purdue University will join in an effort to build the world’s fastest computer for open scientific research.

The schools will become part of the National Science Foundation’s “Teragrid” network. The foundation awarded $3 million to enable the universities to link their campuses in Bloomington, Indianapolis and West Lafayette to a national supercomputer network.


Board disbands book-review panel

BALDWIN CITY — A school board disbanded a panel that would have reviewed the merits of using the novel “We All Fall Down” in class.

The book examines teenage issues ranging from peer pressure to alcohol abuse. It was removed from a ninth-grade class after parents complained about sexually explicit text.

The school board will seek to establish a new policy on how to challenge classroom materials.


Jet evacuated after engine fire

BOSTON — An AirTran Airways plane was evacuated at Logan International Airport yesterday after an engine caught fire as the plane was taxiing to the runway.

Those on board — 26 passengers and five crew, according to the airline — got out of the plane on emergency chutes, said Phil Orlandella, spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan. AirTran Flight 771 was headed to Philadelphia.


Blacks sue for poor service

JACKSON — Eleven blacks have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Cracker Barrel, claiming they received poor service compared with whites at some of the chain’s restaurants in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

A Cracker Barrel spokeswoman said the lawsuit was unfounded and part of a campaign to discredit the company.

The plaintiffs charge they were subjected to unreasonable wait times for seating, were passed over for tables in favor of white customers and were eventually seated in segregated areas at restaurants in Jackson, Vicksburg and Brookhaven, Miss.; Hammond, La.; and Oxford, Ala.

The company operates more than 450 homestyle restaurants across the nation.


Mom seeks custody from Guatemala

LINCOLN — A Mayan Indian woman is relying on seven judges some 2,000 miles from her home in Guatemala to help her regain custody of her two young children, who were placed in foster care after her arrest on immigration charges.

Mercedes Santiago-Felipe will ask the Nebraska Supreme Court next week to rule that state officials violated her rights in taking custody of her children before her deportation more than 2 years ago.

She has neither seen nor spoken with her with her son, now 8, and daughter, now 6, since her arrest in March 2001.

Miss Santiago-Felipe, 33, sought asylum in the United States 10 years ago during Guatemala’s civil war. But in November 2000 she was charged with misdemeanor child abuse and the children were placed in foster care.


Official bans God from city signs

SPARKS — Patriotic signs showing an American flag and the words “God Bless America” have been displayed at City Hall since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

But City Attorney Chet Adams, concerned that reference to God could be construed as an endorsement of religion and attract lawsuits, ordered that the signs be altered.

Using scissors, a municipal employee edited the Almighty out of the signs, which now read, “Bless America.”

Mr. Adams said recent disputes make displaying the word “God” inside City Hall inadvisable.


Indebted man kills son, self

MILLBURN — An out-of-work investment banker who was deeply in debt killed his 8-year-old son before taking his own life by crouching in front of a commuter train, authorities said.

Richard Josephs, 53, of Short Hills, was struck and killed by a train Monday afternoon. His son, Eric, was found dead at the family’s home. Authorities would not elaborate on how or why the son was killed.

A New Jersey Transit spokeswoman said Mr. Josephs crouched on the tracks as the train approached, ignoring the whistle. Mr. Josephs’ wife was employed by the United Nations. The son was their only child.


Sex charges increase among school workers

RALEIGH — The number of teachers and other school employees charged with sexual misconduct with students is increasing in North Carolina.

From January to August, the state Board of Education investigated 30 teachers for inappropriate conduct with students and revoked 11 teaching licenses, board officials say. In 2002, the board investigated 24 cases and revoked nine licenses.


All graduates get scholarships

PHILADELPHIA — In a bid to boost its ranks of college-bound seniors, the Philadelphia school district says it will offer a scholarship worth up to $3,000 to every student who completes four years of public high school.

The $24 million program will be funded through federal grant money, private donations and contributions from the city. The program, announced Tuesday, would provide tuition aid to any graduate who attends all four years of high school in Philadelphia and enrolls at either a state-run college or university or the Community College of Philadelphia.

The grants would cover a student’s freshman college year and would only cover tuition expenses not covered by other financial-aid programs. As many as 4,000 students are expected to apply.


Suspensions upheld for student protesters

CHARLESTON — The school board refused to clear the records of two high school students who were suspended for 10 days in March after they left class to hold an antiwar protest.

Emily Basile and Jessica Grubb said the punishments were excessive and should be removed from their Capital High School records.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to uphold the suspensions.

On March 20, the day after the Iraq war began, two dozen students protested in the school courtyard. Principal Clinton Giles called the protest “a mob,” and said Emily and Jessica were “ringleaders.”

Six students were suspended after they refused to return to class. Emily and Jessica received 10-day suspensions.


Design picked for special coin

MADISON — Gov. James E. Doyle selected an agricultural design for Wisconsin’s commemorative quarter on Tuesday, siding with the public’s choice rather than a commission’s selection.

Mr. Doyle forwarded his pick to the U.S. Mint, which is expected to begin circulating the coin in October 2004.

A panel commissioned to select a design had voted for an explorer and an American Indian.

However, in an Internet vote, 40 percent of the people favored an agricultural design featuring the head of a cow, a wheel of cheese and an ear of corn. A banner with the state’s motto “Forward” adorns the lower portion of the coin.

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