- The Washington Times - Friday, August 27, 2004

FLORIDA

Father of slain Marine burns himself in van

HOLLYWOOD — Melida Arredondo said that her husband knew what was coming as three uniformed Marines approached their front door.

When they told him Wednesday afternoon that his Marine son, Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo, had been killed in combat in Iraq Tuesday, Carlos Arredondo simply snapped, police said. Mr. Arredondo climbed into the Marine Corps van parked outside his home and set it ablaze, suffering severe burns.

He was taken to a hospital with burns over as much as 50 percent of his body and later was transferred to a Miami hospital burn unit, where he was in serious condition with severe burns to his arms and legs. His wife said he was expected to recover.

GEORGIA

Crematory operators, families settle suit

ROME — An $80 million settlement was reached yesterday in a lawsuit against the operators of a crematory in which the remains of 334 persons were found strewn across the grounds of the business.

The settlement was reached a day after the beginning of the trial, which stemmed from a lawsuit filed by nearly 1,700 people who claimed that their relatives’ remains were mishandled by the northwest Georgia crematory.

Brent Marsh and the estate of his father were being sued 2 years after the human remains that were supposed to be cremated were found.

Associated Press

Melida Arredondo explained how her husband, Carlos, climbed into a van and set it ablaze after learning that his son, Cpl. Alexander Arredondo, was killed in Iraq.

CALIFORNIA

Anti-ballistic missile misses target

LOS ANGELES — An anti-ballistic missile under development by Israel and the United States missed its target yesterday in its latest test off the California coast, a spokesman said. A test last month off California was a success.

The Arrow missile failed to intercept an air-launched missile over the Pacific and both fell into the water, said Chris Taylor, spokesman for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

“The engineers don’t yet know what happened,” Mr. Taylor said.

It was the 13th Arrow intercept test and the eighth test of the complete weapon system. Officials have not said how many of the tests have been successful. In yesterday’s test, the Arrow was trying to hit a short-range, air-launched target. Mr. Taylor would describe the target only as representative of a threat that Israel might encounter.

HAWAII

Mom sentenced in baby’s drug death

HONOLULU — An Oahu woman has received 10 years’ probation for causing her baby’s death by using methamphetamine while pregnant.

Tayesha Aiwohi was the first woman to be prosecuted in the state for causing the death of a child through drug use after her premature son died in 2001 with toxic levels of meth in his system.

Aiwohi, who has five other children, pleaded no contest to manslaughter earlier this summer and was ordered to undergo drug treatment and attend parenting classes, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported yesterday.

The case stirred up debate among health care professionals in the islands over whether her prosecution would discourage other drug-addicted mothers from seeking treatment, the newspaper said.

ILLINOIS

Overhaul proposed for toll-road system

CHICAGO — Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, a Democrat, proposed a 10-year, $5.3 million overhaul of the state’s toll-road system that would eliminate congested toll plazas and rebuild 274 miles of roads. The plan also would increase the rates for truckers and drivers not using the electronic I-Pass.

The tollway authority is expected to vote on the plan next month. Toll increases could take effect as early as Jan. 1.

KANSAS

Black farmers sue, claim discrimination

WICHITA — Two black Kansas farmers have filed separate lawsuits against the U.S. Agriculture Department, seeking $40 million as compensation for suspected racial discrimination by the agency that threatens to force them from their land.

The lawsuits — filed Monday in Washington — are the latest in more than a dozen similar individual lawsuits filed since January by civil rights lawyer James Myart Jr. on behalf of black farmers across the nation.

The lawsuits name Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman and Vernon Parker, assistant secretary for civil rights.

Mr. Myart cited a report released last month by the Environmental Working Group that found that thousands of black farmers have been denied payment under a landmark settlement of bias complaints against the department. The settlement was intended to resolve a 1997 lawsuit by black farmers who claimed they were denied federal loans and subsidies because of their race.

MASSACHUSETTS

MIT picks first female president

CAMBRIDGE — Massachusetts Institute of Technology chose Yale University Provost Susan Hockfield as its new president, school officials said yesterday.

Miss Hockfield, 53, will be the institution’s first female president, and its first with a background in life sciences at a school whose reputation was built on engineering.

She will replace Charles M. Vest, who announced his retirement in December. Miss Hockfield is expected to take office this December.

The appointment was approved yesterday by a special meeting of MIT’s governing corporation.

NEW JERSEY

Town recruits ‘litter marshals’

FAIR LAWN — This Bergen County community of 30,000 is trying a novel approach to curb an annoying and long-standing problem. It is recruiting “litter marshals.”

The volunteers will spot people tossing litter from vehicles and report the license numbers to the municipal office. The vehicle owners will be mailed a notice pointing out the offense and explaining a further offense could result in a fine.

MICHIGAN

Residents to review new-generation toilets

CHAMPION — Residents here are flush with excitement at being picked to review toilets.

American Standard, manufacturer of bathroom and kitchen fixtures, is installing its new Champion line of toilets free of charge to some local residents and businesses. In exchange, the consumers must participate in a marketing survey.

The new-generation commode replaces the standard ball-and-chain flushing system with a “flush tower” design and valve configuration that boosts water flow, preventing clogs and overflows. The company bills the toilets as so reliable that users can “throw away their plungers.”

They retail for $249 to $569, depending on model and color. About 115 of the toilets are being installed in 72 homes and six businesses, and users will be asked to record their impressions in a journal through the end of the year.

NEVADA

Wildfire burns homes, changes direction

RENO — A top firefighting team arrived yesterday to battle a blaze sparked by a target shooter and driven by strong, erratic wind that destroyed four homes and threatened hundreds more south of Reno before changing direction.

Residents of the Pleasant Valley area began returning home late Wednesday, but the wind, warm temperatures and five years of drought left grass, brush and light timber ready to explode.

More than 600 firefighters were being assisted by seven helicopters, at least 25 engines and 14 air tankers, a fire spokesman said. The fire was 10 percent contained.

The blaze began when a bullet fired by a target shooter ricocheted off a rock, Fire Marshal Larry Farr said. It spread to at least 3,000 acres within a few hours, officials said.

Mr. Farr said the man was target shooting in a legal location. Fire officials said the man tried to extinguish the fire with dirt, but it spread too fast for him to control.

OHIO

Phone call saves woman’s life

SUMMERFORD — A woman says her life likely was saved when she answered a hang-up phone call.

Mary Dhume was watching television Monday night when the phone in the next room rang. She got up to answer it, but there was no one at the other end of the line.

Suddenly, she heard breaking glass and saw her living room wall collapse onto the chair where she had been sitting. A pickup truck had missed the curve on the road in front of her home and smashed into the century-old house. She said she saw the driver run away as she dialed 911.

Three hours later, State Highway Patrol troopers arrested Carlos Cummings, 41, of Mechanicsburg, on a charge of failing to control a vehicle.

“The phone ringing at that particular time? That’s one of those things people would never believe,” she said.

OKLAHOMA

‘Killer’ bees feared traveling north

OKLAHOMA CITY — A swarm of bees that attacked a work crew earlier this month may be of the Africanized variety, which would mark the farthest north the so-called “killer” bees have traveled in the United States, scientists said.

DNA tests show the bees have African traits, said Russell Wright, head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University. “They certainly are more Africanized than European,” he said.

Mr. Wright said the bees have been sent to an Agricultural Department laboratory in Arizona for final confirmation. Those results are expected to take three to four weeks.

TEXAS

Chemical blast kills 1, injures 6

FERRIS — At least one person was killed and six others injured in a chemical explosion yesterday in a small North Texas town, officials said.

The blast occurred about 11 a.m. at a manufacturing plant in the downtown area of Ferris, about 10 miles south of Dallas, the Dallas Morning News reported.

A city official told WFAA-TV in Dallas that he was informed there was a second fatality but it could not be confirmed. The Texas Department of Public Safety said there was at least one fatality and six injuries.

Fire officials evacuated several blocks of downtown Ferris so they could secure the area. The chemical involved in the explosion was not determined.

Ellis County Commissioner Hallie Joe Robinson said the plant was involved in manufacturing aircraft parts.

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