- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003


Court declines abortionist’s appeal

PHOENIX —The Arizona Supreme Court on Friday declined without comment to hear the appeal of a Phoenix abortion practitioner’s manslaughter conviction for killing a woman in a botched abortion in April 1998.

John Biskind, 75, was convicted of manslaughter after the death of LouAnne Herron. He was sentenced in May 2001 to five years in prison.

“We are pleased that the court has refused to hear Biskind’s appeal,” Shane Wikfors, director of Arizona Right to Life, told LifeNews.com. “After all the horrific facts of the case were revealed and deliberated, justice was served to this notorious abortionist.”

Mrs. Herron lay bleeding for more than three hours from a punctured uterus as a medical assistant at the A-Z Women’s Center abortion facility begged her supervisor to call 911. By the time the supervisor paged Biskind to get permission to call paramedics, it was too late.


Beatle’s guitar sold for $434,750

LOS ANGELES — A guitar played by George Harrison during the Beatles’ last public performance was sold at auction for $434,750.

Mr. Harrison played the custom-made Fender Rosewood Telecaster during the filming of the movie “Let It Be,” said Bill Miller, president of Odyssey Auctions, the California auction house that conducted the sale Saturday. The Jan. 30, 1969, performance on the roof of London’s Apple Records was the last time the band performed together in public.

The winning bidder was an “anonymous West Coast collector,” the auction house said.

Mr. Harrison, 58, died of cancer Nov. 29, 2001.

The sale was part of a two-day auction of entertainment and pop culture memorabilia.


Academy policy targets alcohol

COLORADO SPRINGS — A new policy at the Air Force Academy imposes a three-month conduct probation for alcohol violations, a change prompted after leaders noted that alcohol contributed to cadet misconduct.

“While the public may tolerate college students who drink to excess, they demand more from Air Force professionals,” Brig. Gen. John Weida, commandant of cadets, wrote in an advisory to cadets obtained by the Gazette of Colorado Springs.

Meade Warthen, a spokesman for the academy, said Saturday he could not confirm the report.

The Gazette reported the probation could include confinement to base and submitting to a rehabilitation program. A second violation prompts Military Review Committee consideration, which can lead to expulsion.

The rules follow a sexual-assault scandal that erupted this year after female cadets said the academy did not take their assault reports seriously.

An Air Force inquiry completed in June found 40 percent of the 40 cadet-on-cadet sexual assaults investigated in the past decade involved alcohol.

The new alcohol policy restates existing bans on underage drinking, alcohol in dormitories and driving under the influence, but eases a rule imposed in March mandating expulsion for anyone who provides alcohol to a minor.

Cadets face expulsion if they abuse alcohol and then commit infractions such as aggravated assault or destruction of property that warrant dismissal from the Air Force.

Cadets 21 or older are banned from publicly consuming alcohol while in uniform unless attending an academy function or having a meal at a restaurant.


Muslim travelers feel unfairly profiled

SARASOTA — Some of the roughly 400 Muslims in Manatee and Sarasota counties say they feel the community’s attitude toward them has improved in the two years after the September 11 terrorist attacks. But when they travel, it’s a different story.

They feel they are treated differently in airports because of their names or the way they look, some said at the Islamic Society of Bradenton and Sarasota’s center after Friday afternoon prayers. About 100 Muslims went to pray at the center on Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota.


Chicago team forfeits to Southern Rebels

STRONGHURST — A Chicago charter school with an overwhelmingly black student body forfeited a scheduled football game because the host team has a Rebel mascot who carries a Confederate flag. Now the state’s high school association says it will investigate.

Longwood Campus of Chicago International Charter School was scheduled to play Saturday at Southern High School in the western Illinois town of Stronghurst.

But Longwood coach and athletic director Bill Ham said Southern coach Scott Dillard called Tuesday and asked if his school’s Confederate flag ritual would bother the Longwood players, who are from Chicago’s South Side.

Mr. Ham said he and the school’s director decided to forfeit to make sure that no confrontations erupted between fans of the two teams.

Illinois High School Association Executive Director Marty Hickman called the flag’s use insensitive and inappropriate and said Friday that the association would investigate.


Mold taking over New England schools

SPRINGFIELD — An unprecedented mold outbreak, following a rainy, humid summer, has delayed the opening of school for thousands of youngsters across New England and left some districts with six-figure cleanup bills.

“We are getting hundreds and hundreds of phone calls from schools all over the region,” said Eugene Benoit, regional coordinator of indoor environment programs for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Although he had no hard numbers, he said, “I haven’t seen as many school closings or delays in openings in the 10 years I’ve been working with this.”

More than 50 schools in Massachusetts alone reported mold problems after districts began reopening and cleaning their buildings, said Suzanne Condon, assistant commissioner for environmental health for the Massachusetts health department.


Officials probe state senator’s vote

JEFFERSON CITY — Military officials are investigating whether state Sen. Jon Dolan violated policies by taking leave from his post to vote as a politician while on active duty.

Mr. Dolan, a Lake St. Louis Republican who is a major in the Army National Guard, received a six-day leave of absence from his post in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so that he could return to vote Thursday for an override of Gov. Bob Holden’s veto of a concealed weapons bill. Mr. Dolan’s vote was critical for the override, which might not have been attempted without his presence.

Mr. Dolan confirmed that he was under investigation for his actions. He said one of his commanding officers in Cuba had called him Thursday night after he voted on the bill to discuss the situation.

“It’s very clear he is very upset, and that I face some kind of disciplinary procedures,” Mr. Dolan said. He confirmed he was under scrutiny because of a Defense Department directive that says an officer “may not hold, or exercise the functions of,” a political office while on active duty.


Hallucinogenic tea wins court’s favor

A federal appeals court decided that a New Mexico church’s use of hallucinogenic tea, brewed from plants found only in the Amazon River basin, is likely to be protected under freedom of religion laws.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration and other government agencies that sought to prohibit use of hoasca tea by Brazil’s O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal church, whose U.S. operations are based in Santa Fe, N.M.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court that the church has shown “substantial likelihood of success” in winning exemption for sacramental use of the tea, which contains a drug barred by the Controlled Substances Act.

Church President Jeffrey Bronfman sued the Justice Department after U.S. Customs agents seized 30 gallons of tea in a 1999 raid.


Muslims boycott talks with Anglicans

NEW YORK — Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams suffered a blow Saturday when Islamic scholars boycotted top-level talks between the faiths.

The Muslim academics abruptly withdrew from a two-day meeting with Anglican delegates in New York in protest at the appointment of the Episcopal Church’s first actively homosexual bishop. The talks were supposed to coincide with the second anniversary of the attacks and were to include a visit to ground zero.

But the Muslim group from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, one of the most authoritative centers of the Islamic world, canceled last week, leaving some of Archbishop Williams’ delegates stranded in the United States.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the Muslims blamed the Episcopal Church’s Aug. 5 decision to confirm the Rev. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, and said that their decision to withdraw was supported by Christian groups in Egypt.


Rural residents to vote on schools

BURNS — For decades, most people in Oregon ranch country held two things dear: their high school football team and their disdain for new taxes.

But lately, it’s begun to seem that only the hated taxes can save the beloved football team.

Schools in Harney County are reeling from a lack of funding, and in Burns school board members had to cut the entire sports budget.

So tomorrow, voters in the steadfastly conservative county will weigh in on a three-year, 0.75 percent income-tax increase for school activities and supplies.

If the tax vote is successful in remote Harney County, supporters and opponents alike say, it could mark the start of a change in how deeply rural Oregonians will dig for their local schools.


Groups will not push Commandments suit

WEST CHESTER — Groups that filed suit to force the removal of a Ten Commandments display from a courthouse facade have decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in October 2001 on behalf of the Freethought Society, an atheist group, and Sally Flynn, a Pocopson Township resident, contending the plaque violated the principle of separation of church and state.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case and said in June that a reasonable person familiar with the plaque’s historical significance would regard the decision to leave it in place as religiously neutral, rather than evangelical in nature.

The court’s ruling overturned a lower court decision that the plaque was inherently a religious statement and must be removed.


Minister translates Bible into Lakota

RAPID CITY — Jerry Yellowhawk, a member of the Cheyenne River tribe and retired Wesleyan minister, now spends much of his time at a computer translating the Bible into Lakota, a dialect of the Teton Sioux tribe.

Mr. Yellowhawk has completed Psalm 23 for use at funerals and is nearly finished with the Gospel of Luke.

The work is painstaking, Mr. Yellowhawk said, because Lakota uses a lot of imagery and is different from English.

The software Mr. Yellowhawk is using for the project comes from Wycliffe Bible Translators, whose regional director said the organization is working in about 1,200 languages and completes a New Testament in a new language every 13 to 14 days.


Gates dedicates law-school building

SEATTLE — When Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates was in high school, he used to wander the University of Washington campus searching for unoccupied computers.

Now, there is one more building he might have searched. Mr. Gates, 47, returned to the campus Friday for the dedication of the new law school building — William H. Gates Hall, named for his father, a graduate of the university’s law school and a regent at the university.

He donated $12 million toward the gleaming, $80 million, six-story structure.

Mr. Gates, the world’s richest man, said he was more than happy to help put his father’s name on the building. His father also is co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“I think it’s a fitting tribute to an incredible man and an incredible father,” he said.

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