- The Washington Times - Friday, August 13, 2004


4 killed as dust storm triggers wrecks

TONOPAH — A blinding dust storm rolled across an interstate highway, causing a string of fiery crashes that killed at least four persons and injured 42. Authorities began pulling apart crumpled tractor-trailers in search of other bodies early yesterday.

Twelve rigs, along with a bus and nearly a dozen other vehicles, crashed Wednesday night on Interstate 10, authorities said. Two wrecks were in the Tonopah area, about 45 miles west of Phoenix; a third was 75 miles west of Phoenix.

One pileup began when a passenger vehicle stopped in the middle of the road, authorities said. The accidents shut down the interstate, and emergency crews initially had a tough time reaching the crash scene.


Man pleads for liver on billboard

HOUSTON — Todd Krampitz’s message to the world is simple: He needs a liver to save his life.

But the methods he is using to deliver his plea are unique. He has employed all the characteristics of a multimedia advertising blitz, including billboards; a Web site, www.toddneedsaliver.com; a toll-free number and press interviews.

The two billboards, acquired at a large discount, are along one of Houston’s busiest freeways. Each announces “I Need A Liver — Please Help Save My Life!” The Web site offers Mr. Krampitz’s story and a flier to print out and post.

Mr. Krampitz, 32, was diagnosed in May with liver cancer, and by July his doctors said that only a transplant would save his life. He is hoping for a directed donation, meaning that a family would request that their loved one’s harvested liver go to Mr. Krampitz.


Killers’ tapes deemed public

DENVER — Tapes and diaries made by the two teens who killed 13 persons at Columbine High School are public records and can be released, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.

The court, however, left open the prospect the records could remain secret because state law allows authorities to withhold documents if the release would be “contrary to the public interest.”

The videotapes, audio tapes and writings were seized when deputies got a search warrant after Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris attacked their school on April 20, 1999. The student gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

The Denver Post sought the release of the recordings in a lawsuit filed in 2002. A judge ruled the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department did not have to release the materials because they were not criminal justice records subject to public disclosure.

The appeals court agreed the documents were not criminal justice records but said they were still subject to disclosure because they were in custody of the sheriff’s department.


Candidate denied use of nickname

ORLANDO — A judge vetoed Doug Guetzloe’s plan to use his nickname on the primary ballot for the Republican state committee. Circuit Court Judge Janet Thorpe ruled Tuesday that Mr. Guetzloe hadn’t demonstrated a legal right to get the nickname “Ax the Tax” printed on the ballot in the Aug. 31 primary.

Mr. Guetzloe never produced any evidence to indicate that people really call him by the name of his private corporation and two political action committees he chairs, said an attorney for Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles. The county would have had to reprint tens of thousands of Republican ballots to include the nickname.

“The statutes have been violated today,” Mr. Guetzloe said. “A lot of people approach me whom I do not know and say, ‘It’s Ax the Tax Guetzloe,’ or ‘It’s the Ax the Tax man.’”


Fish jam dams turbines

AUGUSTA — Officials interrupted power generation several times at Thurmond Dam recently after tens of thousands of fish were killed in the dam’s hydroelectric turbines. Most of the dead fish were blueback herring, which school in large numbers near the dam during summer months.

Jamie Sykes, a district fisheries biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said about 18,700 fish were killed last Friday, 13,300 on Saturday and 14,120 on Sunday.


Tavern’s name upsets Buddhists

HONOLULU — Buddha said, “Everything is changeable,” and some Waikiki Buddhists would like to see the name of a local watering hole changed.

The famed Buddha Bar in Paris has imitators all over the world, but it’s one in Waikiki that’s running into opposition. Local Buddhists have started a letter-writing campaign to city and state government agencies to protest the name of the new Buddha Bar.

“In my letter, I said a Christian would find it offensive to see a Jesus Bar,” said Poranee Natadecha-Sponsel, president of the Hawaii Association of International Buddhists. Buddhism is estimated to be the second-largest religion in Hawaii after Roman Catholicism.

The bar opened last week in the space formerly occupied by the House of Hong, one of the city’s premium Chinese restaurants for 40 years before it closed earlier this year. Bar owners and promoters said they did not mean to offend anyone, noting that the concept of using Asian influences in a bar’s interior decorations is popular all over the world.

The Waikiki bar is not affiliated with other Buddha Bars.


‘To-do list’ robber returns to court

KANSAS CITY — If he is still keeping a to-do list, John Sarver could add some new entries: Go to prison, and pay restitution. Sarver, 48, pleaded guilty in April to robbing six banks, all in suburban Johnson County, in 2002 and 2003. The last took place just before Christmas, and Sarver was arrested Jan. 2.

When police searched Sarver’s house, they found a list including a reminder to “rob bank.”

Sarver was back in court Monday, drawing a prison sentence of 10 years and five months, plus two years under supervision after he gets out. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil also ordered him to make restitution of $13,834.


Inmates to pay for tracking gear

PORTLAND — A pilot program intended to reduce overcrowding at Cumberland County Jail will use global positioning technology to track low-risk inmates who are released early.

Inmates will pay $10 a day to cover monitoring equipment as they go to work or attend drug or alcohol rehab meetings.


Red-footed falcon sighted on island

EDGARTOWN — A red-footed falcon spotted for the first time in North America is enticing bird-watchers to Martha’s Vineyard. The slate gray, juvenile male bird of prey is thousands of miles from its normal summer home in Eastern Europe and winter home in Africa.

About 120 people rushed to Katama Airfield in Edgartown on Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the falcon. One observer was David Sibley, creator of an encyclopedic series on birds, who said he heard about the sighting Tuesday.

The final determination of the species will be made by the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee and the American Ornithological Union, said Wayne R. Petersen, chairman of the state group. He said the bird is not banded and there appear to be no other signs of captivity.


Environmentalists appeal river diversion

ALBUQUERQUE — Environmentalists are appealing the approval of a massive project to divert water from the Rio Grande for drinking water in Albuquerque.

They contend state engineer John D’Antonio didn’t have jurisdiction to approve a permit for the $275 million project. The conservationists also argue that water users downstream from Albuquerque would be harmed and that the project would damage efforts to preserve the Rio Grande ecosystem.


Shards planted in dog park

PORTLAND — Police are investigating the discovery of about 60 pieces of sharpened metal shards in an off-leash area of a Portland park.

Officials think the shards may have been buried there to harm dogs. The incident comes a year after a dozen dogs were poisoned in Portland following a dispute over off-leash policies in the city parks. Police say they are looking at any connection between the cases.


Mayor announces new ethics code

PHILADELPHIA — The mayor announced a new ethics policy for city employees yesterday, two months after his former treasurer was charged with accepting thousands of dollars worth of gifts from people interested in influencing city business decisions.

Mayor John F. Street, who signed two executive orders yesterday, banned city employees from accepting gifts, meals or favors from anyone doing business or seeking to do business with the city. He also impaneled a reconstituted city ethics board that will be empowered to root out ethics violations. The current ethics board, which was largely inactive, was being dissolved.

Seventeen people face charges in a federal anti-corruption probe that became public in October, when an FBI listening device was discovered Mr. Street’s office.


Robber panned by fashion police

COLLIERVILLE — A mustachioed man donning a green sun dress made off with $4,000 from a bank, but he didn’t make the best-dressed list. Witnesses say the bank robber could have used a little fashion help.

But his girlie get-up helped him get away. Police were searching Tuesday for the man who robbed a bank while wearing a woman’s wig and dress.

“It was a leaf design, but muted,” a woman who witnessed the holdup said of the robber’s frock. “He looked a mess,” said another witness.

The witnesses said the robber was obviously male, given away by his muscular legs — and the mustache. Police Capt. Tommy McCaskill said the robber threatened a teller at a branch bank in a Kroger store in this Memphis suburb but did not show a weapon. No one was hurt.

As the robber fled, he tried to cover the mustache with one hand while grasping what police said was $4,000 in the other.


House burglar favors food over jewelry

SEATTLE — A hungry burglar more interested in food than glittering jewelry broke into nearly a dozen Seattle homes in the past week to gobble down vast quantities of food before being arrested, police said Wednesday.

In one instance the ravenous burglar consumed six shrimp kebabs, a dozen mini corn dogs, half a large package of lunch meat, a box of Creamsicles, a dozen clumps of frozen cookie dough, several handfuls of M&Ms;, two fruit drinks and a glass of milk, said Julie Sanchez, one of the burglary victims interviewed on local television.

The man was not identified by the police since he has not yet been charged with a crime. He was arrested after being caught rifling through a purse at a church in Seattle, and his descriptions matched evidence from the burglaries.

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