- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003


Convicts found hiding inside prison

JEFFERSON CITY — Two convicted murderers who disappeared Wednesday after another inmate was fatally beaten at a prison ice plant were found yesterday, still inside the Missouri State Penitentiary.

Inmates Christopher Sims and Shannon Phillips were discovered in the same building where they were believed to have killed convicted murderer Toby Viles four days earlier, corrections department spokesman John Fougere said. He said both men surrendered without a struggle.

Prison officials said yesterday that Sims and Phillips had been placed in administrative segregation and would be questioned. There was no indication of a motive for the killing, Mr. Fougere said.


Circus showcases black performers

OKLAHOMA CITY — There are no ringmasters with tight white pants and smart red jackets at the UniverSoul Circus.

Its ringmistress is a gospel singer disguised in frumpy dresses and a ratty wig, and hip-hop music booms from the navy blue big-top tent. Most of its performers are black, and UniverSoul claims to be the nation’s only black-owned and black-operated circus.

With limbo queens and stilt dancers from Trinidad and Tobago, trapeze artists from Paris and Brazil and break dancers from South Africa and New Orleans, the circus promotes black performers and taps into the urban culture of the cities where it plays.

It celebrated its 10-year-anniversary this year, and stopped in Oklahoma City last week as part of its 50-city tour.


Mom loses 2 sons on same day

NOME — Two young brothers died on the same day — a newborn who was found not breathing and a 3-year-old who was hit by a sport utility vehicle.

“It is a very sad story,” said Nome Police Chief Ralph Taylor. “The first brother who died was a newborn infant.”

Chief Taylor said Catherine Kakaruk, the children’s mother, discovered upon waking Thursday that her 6-day-old son, Brandon, was not breathing. The baby was sleeping in the bed with her.

The child was rushed to Norton Sound Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 10 a.m., Chief Taylor said. The body was sent to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for an autopsy. The results were not available.

About 6 hours later, the mother called police to report that her 3-year-old son had been hit by a vehicle. Jacob Kakaruk was struck on a street near his home, Chief Taylor said.


Town bans smoking on beach

SOLANA BEACH — This laid-back, funky seaside town has businesses with names such as the Naked Cafe, Belly Up Tavern and Do-It-Yourself Dog Wash, and the dress code is more Grateful Dead than boardroom.

But it’s laying down the law on its 1.4 miles of beaches: No smoking.

Even ban opponent Travis Stevens is upset by the cigarette butts littering the beach, the stairs leading down from the parking lot, and the bluff overlooking the surf. During a recent cleanup, cigarette butts were the top item collected, Mayor Tom Golich said.

The ban in the northern San Diego County town of 13,000 people was prompted by a group of high school students, who first asked the city to declare September a nonsmoking month on the beaches and in parks, then pushed for a permanent ban.


Biologists attempt to capture rare bird

WAILUKU — A team of biologists are on Maui to capture what they believe are the last three po’ouli birds in the world and hope to breed them in captivity.

The first of four weeklong trips began Tuesday, with the final trip scheduled for mid-December. Previous efforts to capture the Hawaiian forest bird failed.

The po’ouli may be the rarest bird in the world. The small, stocky brown bird has a partial black face described as a bandit’s mask. It was first identified in 1973 in the upper rain forest of East Maui. The population then was estimated at 200.

After sighting the birds, wildlife officials will set up fine-mesh nets. If captured, the birds will be taken to the Maui Bird Conservation Center.


Man brandished weapon on plane

CHICAGO — An airline passenger accused of pulling a martial-arts weapon from a violin case and pacing the aisles with it during a flight was charged with aggravated battery and resisting arrest last week.

Police said Nathaniel Basa, 34, of Chicago, had boarded the Southwest Airlines plane in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday with a nunchaku, two pieces of wood connected by a short chain.

When he started pacing with the weapon, a flight attendant told him to sit down and alerted the pilot, who radioed to authorities. Mr. Basa was taken into custody at Chicago’s Midway Airport.

Mr. Basa also was charged with boarding an aircraft with a weapon. An Oct. 30 court date was set, said Officer Matthew Jackson, a police spokesman.


Six killed in collision of two trucks

BUTLER — Two pickup trucks collided head-on on a highway, killing six persons and trapping survivors in the wreckage for hours, police said.

The crash occurred Friday night, when one truck’s driver hit a car he was trying to pass, lost control and collided head-on with the other truck on U.S. Interstate 6.

DeKalb County police said it took nearly four hours to remove some of the victims from the wreckage.

Those killed included the 24-year-old driver who had lost control and two passengers, both in their 40s. The 33-year-old driver of the second truck and two of his passengers, ages 29 and 36, also were killed. Two survivors in the second truck were taken to a hospital, where one was in critical condition and the other was in fair condition.


Farmers warned about fire hazard

LARCHWOOD — Farmers are being warned to be extra careful with harvesting equipment this fall. Because of the recent hot, dry weather, sparks from machinery drawn across a dusty field could cause fires.

Fire officials say farmers should carry fire extinguishers as well as phones and inspect the equipment for dust and debris that could heat up and ignite.


Crime data errors lead to police firings

NEW ORLEANS — Five police officers were fired and another was demoted after a lengthy internal investigation into whether officers in one police district manipulated crime statistics.

The probe focused on whether the officers improperly downgraded complaints so that they wouldn’t show up in quarterly crime figures.


Basketball team fails to score any points

OLIVET — Shutouts happen in baseball, hockey and football. But basketball?

The Leslie High School girls basketball team failed to score any points and lost 61-0 last week.

Leslie’s players missed all 24 of their shots from the field and all four foul shots. The Blackhawks (0-13) entered averaging 15 points a game, with their highest output this season at 22.

The rival Olivet (14-0) is ranked third in the state in Class C and had defeated Leslie 56-9 this season.

“The whole bus ride home, I couldn’t believe it,” Leslie coach Jay Harkness told the Jackson Citizen Patriot.


Wellstone honored year after crash

EVELETH — Friends of Sen. Paul Wellstone and seven others killed in a plane crash a year ago gathered Saturday to honor their memory at the crash site.

Some speakers promised to carry forward the causes championed by Mr. Wellstone, a Democrat from the state, and his family.

Cars lined the roads near the St. Louis County Wellstone Historic Site, where Mr. Wellstone, his wife, and their daughter died in the Oct. 25 crash.

“It’s been a tough year. I miss them, so I focus on their life and keeping alive their passion,” said Lisa Radosevich Pattni, Mr. Wellstone’s former northern Minnesota director.

She praised the commitment of the senator and his wife, Sheila, to social justice, and Mr. Wellstone’s optimism and belief in “government, and that we as a society can do more than we could as individuals.”


Anthrax cleanup ends at postal facility

HAMILTON — A postal distribution center where four anthrax-laced letters passed through two years ago was fumigated with chlorine dioxide gas as crews wound up the decontamination process during the weekend.

The gas was pumped into the sealed Hamilton center beginning Friday morning, and the last of the poisonous gas was expected to be pumped out and neutralized by early yesterday.

Officials said it will take lengthy testing to determine whether all anthrax spores have been killed. After that, it will take six to eight months to refurbish the center, said Thomas Day, vice president of engineering for the Postal Service.


Bank robber caught despite ‘costume’

RALEIGH — It was a little late for Halloween, and vaudeville has been dead for decades.

So Graham Howard Ball didn’t get a laugh when he walked into a BB&T; bank branch in December, his face smeared with shoe polish and his girlfriend’s dress wrapped around the top of his head.

Ball, 42, got nearly six years in prison last week for robbing the bank. His girlfriend, Pamela Pendergrass Aiken, 42, whose dress was intended to be Ball’s turban, is awaiting sentencing as an accomplice. They pleaded guilty to bank robbery and conspiracy charges.

Aiken’s role in the fiasco: She wrote the robber’s note, in broken English, and did the driving, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.


Latin teacher wins award

GRAND FORKS — David Volk, a Latin teacher at Fargo North High School and Ben Franklin Junior High, is North Dakota’s 2004 Teacher of the Year.

Mr. Volk said he tries to use humor and asks questions to guide his students. North Principal Andy Dahlen credits Mr. Volk with getting more students interested in Latin.


Peace Corps women face increasing threats

DAYTON — Assaults against Peace Corps volunteers more than doubled from 1991 to 2002, with nearly 70 percent committed against women, the Dayton Daily News reports.

A Peace Corps database shows that assault cases jumped 125 percent during the period, while the number of volunteers increased 29 percent, the newspaper said in a report for editions yesterday. There were 283 assaults last year, compared with 126 in 1991, the newspaper said, and 132 assaults through the first six months of this year.

Peace Corps spokeswoman Barbara Daly disputed the newspaper’s interpretation. She said that since 1997, the agency has had a 30 percent decrease in the rate of major sexual assault cases — excluding such things as touching and unwanted kissing — and a 35 percent decrease in the rate of rape cases.

“They’re lumping major and minor assaults and coming up with this number. That’s where they get this number that’s so high,” she told the Associated Press on Saturday.


Twins see each other after separation

DALLAS — Egyptian twins Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim remained in serious condition Saturday but had the joy of seeing each other for the first time since an operation to separate them.

Doctors at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas upgraded Ahmed from critical to serious and said the two-year-old brothers were continuing to improve, according to the hospital.

On Friday, Mohamed was wheeled in a cushioned red wagon to his brother’s room and the boys were able to look each other in the eye for the first time since the surgery.

“He was clearly delighted by the ride, and when he saw his brother for the first time since surgery 14 days ago, he stared at him intently,” James Thomas, chief of critical care at the hospital said.


Mother Nature offers Halloween display

TAHUYA — Seems like Mother Nature is offering an early Halloween display in Western Washington.

The high floodwater last week had more than a few people spooked when pumpkins started floating by.

Maybe it was because the flooding came earlier this season — before Halloween — along rivers that run through some of the state’s best farmland. But pumpkins bobbing and bumping down the swollen rivers were a common sight after the floodwaters washed past the patches.

“In the 30 years we been living here we’ve seen everything — seafood, dead animals, deer. But we’ve never seen pumpkins,” said Becky Newbill, who picked eight pumpkins off her Hood Canal beach on Tuesday.

Until the rivers recede, Bill Hunter Jr. said it would be hard to tell how much of his pumpkin patch washed away.


Hot line helps smokers kick habit

CHEYENNE — The state established a hot line that helps residents kick their smoking or chewing tobacco habits for free.

The hot line, called the Wyoming Quitline, offers professional counseling and treatment programs to smokers and chewers over the phone with therapists from the Mayo Clinic Tobacco Quitline in Rochester, Minn. It opened Oct. 15.

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