- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 2004

UTAH

Mormon author disciplined for book

SANDY — A former Mormon seminary teacher escaped excommunication after being put on trial for writing a book suggesting that early church history was revised and embellished.

After a six-hour hearing before church leaders on Sunday, Grant Palmer was “disfellowshipped,” or temporarily suspended, meaning that he will retain his membership but lose certain privileges, such as being able to go into temples or serve in an official church capacity.

Mr. Palmer published “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins” in 2002. The book suggests church founder Joseph Smith did not translate the Book of Mormon “by the gift and power of God” from an ancient set of gold plates, as the church teaches. He suggested that Smith wrote it himself.

MASSACHUSETTS

Dead whale found on beach

CAPE COD — A dead humpback whale, known to locals in life as Beacon, has washed up on the shore of Newcomb Hollow Beach on Cape Cod.

The 6-year-old humpback died an unexpectedly early death; humpback whales can live 50 to 60 years. Katie Touhey, director of the Stranding Network, told the Cape Cod Times that advanced internal decomposition means the cause of death likely would never be known.

“Although the animal looked fairly fresh, she was not at all fresh on the inside. She was pretty rotten,” she said.

ALASKA

Oil spill not as bad as first feared

ANCHORAGE — An oil spill near a sensitive wildlife reserve unleashed when a freighter snapped in two off Alaska last week appears to be less serious than initially feared, officials said yesterday.

About 40,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil has escaped into the Bering Sea from the hull of a Malaysian-flagged freighter that was cleaved in half in treacherous weather near the Aleutian Islands on Wednesday.

“A break in the weather allowed us to fly over the ship twice [on Sunday] and put a salvage team down on its deck, and we now have initial indications that no more than 40,000 gallons seems to have spilled,” said Jill Owesny, spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation joint information center.

ARIZONA

Senate leader refuses run for governor

PHOENIX — State Senate President Ken Bennett says he won’t run for governor in 2006. Mr. Bennett, a Republican, said he is shelving his earlier consideration of a run for the office now held by Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat.

At least two other prominent Republicans have said they might run for governor.

CALIFORNIA

Gates grant to fund malaria drug research

SAN FRANCISCO — Combating malaria has been one of the primary goals of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and its latest gift of $42.6 million will fund a nonprofit drug company’s high-tech take on an ancient Chinese remedy.

Working with a biotechnology company, the San Francisco-based Institute for OneWorld Health will try to turn the genetic-engineering efforts of Jay Keasling of the University of California at Berkley into an inexpensive drug to fight malaria in the Third World. An announcement was expected yesterday.

Mr. Keasling is developing a new way to manufacture artemisinin, which is made from finely ground wormwood plants. Chinese first extracted artemisinin from the sweet wormwood for medicinal use more than 2,000 years ago. Since then, it has been applied to a variety of ailments, but the method is expensive, time-consuming and limited by access to wormwood.

FLORIDA

Man, 80, survives 18 hours in Atlantic

MIAMI — By the time spear fisherman Ignacio Siberio realized that his boat had drifted away in the chilly waters off the Florida Keys, it was too late to signal for help.

Instead, the 80-year-old who dives nearly every weekend called on his instincts, mustering all his mental and physical strength to move his legs underwater to prevent hypothermia. As night fell, the temperature dropped to the 50s.

Mr. Siberio had to apply all he knew just to live and spent more than 18 hours holding on to a buoy in the cold, rough ocean before he was found by his great-nephew, Carlos Lopez, who was on a friend’s boat when they spotted the man swimming to shore early Sunday.

GEORGIA

State cuts calories for female prisoners

ATLANTA — The state Department of Corrections is cutting the average number of calories female prisoners may consume each day by about 20 percent to 2,472.

The policy doesn’t affect male inmates, who still get about 3,000 calories. Critics say the policy discriminates. The National Academy of Science recommends about 2,200 calories per day for teenage girls and active women.

MISSOURI

Christmas tree theft prompts kindness

ST. LOUIS — Organizers of a Christmas tree sale supporting youth hockey programs figured that a tree or two might get swiped from their outdoor lot after hours.

What they hadn’t predicted was someone stealing more than 90 Christmas trees — clearly not adhering to the spirit of St. Nick — or the random acts of kindness that followed. Others in the area have stepped forward, dropping off additional trees or donating money since last weekend’s theft.

Tire tracks on a nearby field were the only clue about how the trees, worth about $3,000, were taken.

Proceeds from the Christmas tree sale were supposed to pay for improvements at a community ice rink, said Erica Parks, the fund-raising director for the Affton Athletic Association.

She said the Brentwood Optimist Club donated 15 trees from their own sale, and some area residents have made $10 or $20 donations, even if they don’t want to buy a tree.

NEW JERSEY

Times workers claim racism, anti-Semitism

WHIPPANY — Nine New York Times employees are saying they were subjected to racial and religious discrimination at the paper’s Edison, N.J., printing plant.

Their lawsuit, filed in Middlesex County Superior Court on Nov. 3, includes complaints that supervisors aimed racial and religious epithets at employees — or ignored such epithets coming from others — and that Hispanic, black and Jewish employees were denied seniority rights, promotions and pay scales commensurate with their years of service, as well as plum assignments that would have enabled them to pick up overtime pay, the Jewish Times reported.

The newspaper maintains “a hostile and pervasive work environment” based upon the widespread use of racial and religious epithets and the disparate treatment of employees “based upon race, color, national origin, and religion,” the 16-page complaint says.

The Times management has denied the accusations.

NEW YORK

Campaign launched to restore Ellis Island

NEW YORK — The Save Ellis Island Foundation yesterday began a campaign to raise $300 million to restore 30 historic buildings on the island where more than 12 million immigrants first set foot on U.S. soil.

Bill Bradley, a former three-term Democratic senator from New Jersey, was named chairman of the National Leadership Committee of the foundation, which is working with the National Park Service to preserve the island.

Ellis Island served as New York’s immigration center from 1892 to 1954.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Couple leave infant in parking lot

SIOUX FALLS — A South Dakota couple were charged with child abuse and neglect after their 7-month-old son was left in a Kmart parking lot.

Francisco Pinto-Gutierrez, 22, and Lacota Odette Stonearrow, 27, were arrested after a shopper discovered the child sitting outside in his car seat, KELO-TV in Sioux Falls reported yesterday.

The parents apparently had argued about who was going to take care of the infant when Miss Stonearrow removed him from the car and left him in the parking lot with Mr. Pinto-Gutierrez. The mother drove off, and Mr. Pinto-Gutierrez walked away.

Both parents were arrested, and police also removed a 2-year-old girl from Miss Stonearrow’s custody.

WEST VIRGINIA

State issues warning about mercury in fish

CHARLESTON — West Virginians were warned yesterday to limit their consumption of game fish caught in state waterways to avoid mercury contamination, the first time a general advisory has been issued for the pollutant.

The warning covers waterways from the Ohio River in the west to the Shenandoah River in the Eastern Panhandle.

Yesterday’s mercury advisory was based on a two-year West Virginia University study that examined fish samples from 56 sites across the state.

The advisories warn that children and pregnant or nursing women should restrict their consumption.

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