- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2004

CALIFORNIA

Jackson makes surprise visit to Los Angeles church

SANTA MARIA — A day before his scheduled appearance in court on child molestation charges, Michael Jackson made a surprise visit to a South Los Angeles church yesterday and met with about 35 Sunday school students.

One girl at the First AME Church asked whether the children could visit Mr. Jackson’s Neverland ranch, to which the pop star replied: “You’re welcome to come anytime.”

Today, Mr. Jackson’s family will be standing by him during a pretrial hearing.

FLORIDA

Building dedicatedto Columbia astronauts

PENSACOLA — A building at the Pensacola Naval Air Station was dedicated last week to two Columbia astronauts who were among the seven who died in the space shuttle disaster Feb. 1, 2003.

The ceremony Friday for the new Laurel B. Clark and David M. Brown Aerospace Medicine Academic Center was attended by relatives of the pair — both Navy captains on their first space flight when Columbia disintegrated on its return from orbit.

The red-brick school, built in the 1940s as a dormitory for Navy nurses, was converted to a classroom building for flight surgeons.

CONNECTICUT

Move ordered in hate-crimes suit

DERBY — A former Milford couple was ordered to move out of town and pay more than $11,000 in a hate-crimes lawsuit. A jury awarded the money to the interracial family of Tarvis Simms, who accused their white neighbors Wilfred and Michelle Chaisson of using racial slurs and making death threats.

The suit was filed nine months after the Chaissons were sentenced to two years of probation for harassing the family. This time the Chaissons were ordered to move and attend diversity-education classes.

HAWAII

University ex-president disputes charges

HONOLULU — The University of Hawaii’s ousted president says comments made by university regents accusing him of lying and misusing funds are untrue — and that the regents wouldn’t have settled with him otherwise.

Evan Dobelle spoke to the Associated Press on Friday after the board of regents released minutes of a June 15 meeting at which he was fired, an action rescinded with his agreement to resign.

The draft minutes reflect the regents’ version of the truth, he said.

After Mr. Dobelle was fired and he threatened to sue, both sides reached a mediated settlement in which the regents rescinded their action and Mr. Dobelle agreed to resign. The settlement gives Mr. Dobelle $1.8 million in severance. It also gives him a two-year, nontenured research position at the university and absolves both sides of any wrongdoing.

LOUISIANA

Serial ‘snuggler’ is sentenced

BATON ROUGE — The serial “snuggler” will have to keep his hands to himself.

The man who sneaked into women’s apartments just to cuddle with them has been sentenced to five years’ probation.

Before pleading guilty earlier this year to 12 counts of unauthorized entry, Steve Danos, 26, had led a commendable life, a judge said Wednesday before sentencing him.

None of the victims was hurt. Instead, the intruder roused the residents to ask about a party, helped himself to beer and pizza, folded clothes, made nachos and crawled into one woman’s bed to rub her stomach.

Before his arrest, Danos had a more notable claim to fame. He drove in the winning run in the state championship baseball game his senior year at John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge.

State District Judge Todd Hernandez attributed Danos’ bizarre behavior to the use of alcohol and drugs.

MINNESOTA

Teen attacks sleeping neighbor

NEW SCANDIA TOWNSHIP — A 14-year-old boy armed with a military knife stormed into a woman’s house last week and, for reasons not yet determined, stabbed his sleeping neighbor at least 20 times before she was able to fight him off, authorities said.

The woman, 20-year-old Jaclyn Larson, called 911 and identified her attacker before she was taken to a hospital in St. Paul, authorities reported.

The college student was listed to be in fair condition, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

MONTANA

Couple registering felon voters

HELENA — A husband-and-wife team from Bozeman is traveling the state to register felons to vote. Casey Rudd and her husband, Eddie Rudd, run Connections, a re-entry program for former inmates.

A survey by the program last year showed that many people do not know that felons can vote once they’re out of prison. Connections received a federal grant of $5,000 this year as part of the Help America Vote Act education campaign.

MISSOURI

Attorney general sues EPA

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s attorney general sued the federal environmental agency on Friday, saying it is behind on testing the state’s air for lead as required by law.

State Attorney General Jay Nixon said the federal lawsuit seeks to force the Environmental Protection Agency to comply with the Clean Air Act by conducting the air-quality test.

He said a review is required every five years, but that there has been none since December 1990.

High levels of lead have been found in some south Missouri communities, including in an area near St. Louis where the nation’s largest lead smelter is located.

Mr. Nixon said he notified the agency in a June 9 letter of the lapse, but that no action was taken.

OKLAHOMA

Texas blamed for air pollution

LAKE TEXOMA — Air pollution from Texas is causing some Oklahoma counties to have poor air quality, according to an American Lung Association report.

State and federal environmental officials say poor air-quality readings in Jefferson and Marshall counties are caused by smog carried from the Dallas area by winds blowing from the south. Officials say all Oklahoma counties meet federal clean-air standards.

PENNSYLVANIA

Police rescue suicidal man

SOMERSET — A 38-year-old man stabbed himself several times in the chest, then ran out of his parents’ beachfront home and jumped into the Taunton River, where he swam to avoid rescue boats for more than a half-hour, police said.

After the police on shore located the man, five officers boarded the police department’s marine patrol boat and motored to the scene. The fire department’s rescue boat, manned by two firefighters, assisted the police.

Two officers jumped into the river and were able to persuade James Maddaleno to climb into the Fire Department’s boat.

Police plan to charge the man with disorderly conduct, according to the Providence Journal.

RHODE ISLAND

Legislator helps find robbery suspect

EAST PROVIDENCE — A Rhode Island state legislator who witnessed a bank robbery helped lead police to the suspect.

Rep. Brian Coogan said he was opening a new account at the Bank of Rhode Island when an armed man entered with a bandanna over his face.

Mr. Coogan, the only customer in the bank at the time, stood at the manager’s desk by the front door as the man went down the row of tellers collecting money.

“I was going to lunge for him, but the bank manager said, ‘Stay right there and don’t move.’ I was ready to jump on the guy,” he said.

The robber reportedly left the bank in less than two minutes. Mr. Coogan followed him. The man peeled off his bandanna and hopped on a mountain bike. Mr. Coogan figured he could follow safely in his sport utility vehicle. The police captured a man, and Mr. Coogan identified him as the robber.

“It was key,” Lt. Stephen Enos told the Providence Journal. “It helped link the suspect to the crime for us.”

TENNESSEE

Report finds schools improving in state

NASHVILLE — State education officials reported a huge improvement in the number of schools meeting No Child Left Behind benchmarks this year. Eighty-one percent of Tennessee’s 1,677 schools succeeded in meeting the standards.

The rest failed at least one of the benchmarks. Last year, 47 percent of Tennessee’s schools failed to meet at least one standard.

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