- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 11, 2004

CALIFORNIA

Two women die of West Nile

LONG BEACH — Two elderly women have died of West Nile, officials said yesterday, bringing the California death toll from the virus to four.

An 88-year-old Long Beach woman, whose name has not been released, died Monday of the virus after spending nearly two weeks in the hospital, said Dr. Darryl Sexton, the city’s health officer.

A 91-year-old woman, identified by relatives as Hester Martin of Northridge, died of the virus last week. Los Angeles County health department officials announced the cause of her death early yesterday.

West Nile, which first hit the United States in 1999 in New York, has killed more than 560 people in the past five years as it marched westward.

MASSACHUSETTS

Court upholds ex-mayor’s conviction

BOSTON — A federal appeals court yesterday upheld the corruption conviction of former Providence, R.I., Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, one of New England’s most popular politicians who oversaw a renaissance in his city even as corruption ran rampant.

The 2-1 decision by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came 20 months into Cianci’s five-year, four-month prison sentence for a single count of racketeering conspiracy.

He was acquitted of more than a dozen other corruption charges — including bribery and extortion — after a sensational seven-week federal court trial in 2002 that brought an end to one of the most celebrated and controversial reigns in contemporary U.S. politics.

ALABAMA

Lead attorney for Rudolph quits

BIRMINGHAM — The lead attorney representing accused Alabama abortion-clinic bomber Eric Rudolph has quit the case and been replaced by Judy Clarke, a lawyer best known for defending the notorious Unabomber, according to court documents.

In a one-page order released Monday, U.S. District Judge C. Lynwood Smith granted Richard Jaffe’s request that he be removed from Mr. Rudolph’s upcoming murder trial in Birmingham.

The judge did not give a reason for the changes, and Mr. Jaffe was unavailable for comment.

Mr. Jaffe began defending Mr. Rudolph in 2003, shortly after the suspected serial bomber was arrested in the mountains of North Carolina after five years on the run.

ALASKA

Ship to be sunk for artificial reef

JUNEAU — A 70-foot ship is being prepared for sinking in Juneau’s Auke Bay, where it will join another vessel at the state’s first artificial reef.

Volunteers with the Alaska Artificial Reef Society stripped and cleaned the Arctic Tern to Coast Guard specifications to get it ready for its new home 70 feet below the surface. The park was created to encourage diving in the area.

ARIZONA

Rival schools build campus together

PHOENIX — The presidents of the University of Arizona and Arizona State University said they’re setting aside decades of academic rivalry by agreeing to build a new joint medical campus downtown.

The planned Phoenix Biomedical Campus of the Arizona University System will be a joint project of UA’s medical and pharmacology colleges and ASU’s nursing college.

COLORADO

Birds released from center’s cages

DENVER — Hundreds of birds were left flapping on the floor of a bird-rehabilitation center after someone broke in and opened all the cages.

The center operates out of a house that has 50 cages stacked to the ceiling and five large cages outside. It houses about 200 birds.

The center cares for orphaned and injured birds that are returned to the wild after treatment.

“I think they thought we were going to make pets out of them,” Deborah Strimple, a federally licensed bird rehabilitator who oversees the house, told the Rocky Mountain News.

FLORIDA

Tropical storm heads for Gulf Coast

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Charley formed in the Caribbean yesterday and moved toward Jamaica, while Tropical Storm Bonnie was headed across the Gulf of Mexico toward the U.S. Gulf Coast, meteorologists said.

Bonnie, which grew to tropical storm status Monday, could hit the Gulf Coast anywhere from Louisiana to Florida, said Navy Lt. Dave Roberts, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.

The storm could make landfall by tomorrow, said James Franklin, a specialist at the hurricane center.

Bonnie was still more than 300 miles from the Florida Panhandle yesterday evening, with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph. But it was a small system with tropical storm-force winds extending only 30 miles from the center.

At 5 p.m., Charley was centered about 440 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving west-northwest near 26 mph.

ILLINOIS

Scientists report headway with vaccine

CHICAGO — Scientists say they are making headway in developing a vaccine against a common strep germ, the cause of millions of sore throats as well as a deadly but uncommon flesh-eating disease.

A test of an experimental vaccine in just 28 persons prompted an immune response with no serious side effects, but it’s still not known whether the shot would keep people from catching strep.

Still, it was the first human testing of such a vaccine in almost 30 years, although at least two other vaccines also are under development.

Results of the federally funded study were reported in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

INDIANA

Painter charged with starting fire

INDIANAPOLIS — Prosecutors accused a house painter yesterday of starting a fire in the back of a truck by flicking a lighter near paint thinner to annoy a co-worker, fatally burning two persons.

Tommy McElroy was among 13 painters trapped in the fire on July 29, 2003, as they drove down an interstate highway. He faces two counts of reckless homicide and one count of criminal recklessness.

All of the men jumped or fell out of the truck, most of them still on fire. All were seriously burned. Otis Turner, 46, and John “Jay” Webster III, 30, died later from their burns.

According to a probable-cause affidavit, Mr. McElroy and Mr. Turner had argued, and Mr. McElroy kept lighting the paper Mr. Turner was reading on fire with a lighter to bother him.

IOWA

Thief steals yellow clown car

ALTOONA — A clown isn’t smiling now that someone stole his clown car.

Delmer Jefferson drove the miniature, bright yellow tow truck in parades. But on July 5, someone stole the truck from the parking lot of the Za-Ga-Zig Shrine in Altoona.

“I’m heartbroken,” said Mr. Jefferson, who has been a clown for the Shriners for more than 30 years. “I can’t replace it. And it’s not worth anything to anyone else. It’s a clown car.”

Police Detective Jason Ferguson said the theft is being investigated.

“This thing is so unique,” Detective Ferguson said. “What would anyone do with it?”

KENTUCKY

Nuns to document boat trip on Internet

MAPLE MOUNT — The Ursuline Sisters of Mount St. Joseph in Daviess County will use digital and satellite technology to give the world real-time updates on a flatboat trip they plan to make down the Ohio River. There will be regular reports filed to a Web site.

The five-day trip, today to Sunday from Louisville to Owensboro, will re-create a journey made 130 years ago by five nuns. They were the nuns who left Louisville to establish a school for the growing Catholic community in Maple Mount.

MINNESOTA

Atheist camp built for children

MOUND — Atheists and humanists in Minnesota just finished the state’s first summer camp for children who don’t believe in God.

“The Secular Summer Camp” at Camp Quest Minnesota was modeled after an Ohio camp for atheist children that has been in operation for nine years. Camp co-founder August Berkshire says the camp will focus on critical thinking and skepticism.

NEW JERSEY

Aid flowing after floods

MOUNT LAUREL — Disaster aid is flowing to Burlington and Camden counties less than a month after rains and floods caused widespread damage to homes and businesses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration said Monday it has processed 23 disaster loans and has issued $1.3 million to business, homeowners and displaced renters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency received 2,010 applications for aid as of Sunday night, said a spokeswoman.

NEW YORK

Steinberg tossed from halfway house

NEW YORK — Joel Steinberg, who left prison in June after serving 17 years for the beating death of his 6-year-old adopted daughter, was thrown out of a Manhattan halfway house because of a magazine interview he gave in which he called himself “a good father.”

By giving the interview printed in this week’s New York magazine, Steinberg violated a condition of his stay that he not speak to the press while he resided at the house, said JoAnne Page, president of the Fortune Society, which runs the facility.

Steinberg, who served two-thirds of the maximum 25-year sentence after he was convicted of killing Lisa Steinberg, left the halfway house on Saturday, Miss Page said.

A telephone call to Steinberg’s attorney, Darnay Hoffman, went unanswered yesterday. A spokesman for Mr. Hoffman told the Daily News for yesterday’s edition that Steinberg had moved to another location in Manhattan.

NORTH DAKOTA

Corn train derails, halts Amtrak service

BISMARCK — A train full of corn derailed in northwestern North Dakota, spilling its cargo, damaging the tracks and disrupting Amtrak service between Chicago and Seattle.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas said 31 of the 110 cars jumped the tracks yesterday morning on the outskirts of Williston. No one was injured, he said. The train was en route from Clarkfield, Minn., to Seattle.

The cause of the wreck and the exact amount of corn that spilled were not known, Mr. Melonas said.

Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman in Chicago, said passengers would be bused 385 miles between Minot, N.D., and Havre, Mont., until the tracks, which are used by Amtrak’s Empire Builder, reopen.

Mr. Melonas said both lines should be open early today.

OHIO

FBI investigating brutality claim

CINCINNATI — The FBI said yesterday it is investigating whether any civil rights violations occurred in the death of a black man who was repeatedly struck by police with metal batons.

The FBI will report the findings from its preliminary inquiry to the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, which will decide whether a full investigation is justified, said Michael Brooks, a spokesman for the FBI’s Cincinnati office. He refused to give further details.

The Cincinnati chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for a federal investigation months ago, claiming that police used excessive force Nov. 30 on Nathaniel Jones, 41, of Cincinnati.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Michael Allen concluded that no criminal violations occurred in Mr. Jones’ videotaped beating and that officers were within their rights to defend themselves.

Police had been called to a fast-food restaurant parking lot on a report that Mr. Jones was behaving erratically.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Children in fire had throats slashed

COLUMBIA — Three children found dead in the ruins of their burned home had their throats slashed before one of their parents set the fire, authorities said yesterday.

The father had recently been accused of molesting one of the children.

The bodies of Denia Meza, 14; Denise Meza, 8; and Jayro Meza, 5, were found in their charred beds after the fire was extinguished early Monday, said sheriff’s Capt. Glenn Williams.

Autopsies determined that Jose Denis Meza, 39, and Marbely Zeldon Meza, 30, died from smoke inhalation and burns, but the children were dead before the fire was set, Mr. Williams said.

The parents’ bodies were found on the floor near the children.

Mr. Williams said the fire was set from inside the one-story, three-bedroom home by one of the adults.

VERMONT

Drunken driver pulls police car over

VERNON — It’s not often that police get pulled over by a drunken driver.

It happened recently to police Chief Ian McCollin, who was in his car when he spotted a driver looking befuddled at an intersection.

Thinking the man might be lost, Chief McCollin stopped on the side of the road. The man pulled alongside of him, rolled down his window and announced he was looking for an officer to arrest him because he was drunk. Chief McCollin was so startled he called for backup.

The man, Bryan S. Condo, 28, showed a non-driver’s ID, and said his license had been suspended. He said he already had been arrested once for driving drunk.

In a preliminary breath-analysis test, Mr. Condo registered more than four times the .08 legal limit, Chief McCollin said.

Mr. Condo was cited for second-offense DUI and driving with a suspended license.

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