- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Ten Commandments embroidered on judicial robe

MONTGOMERY — A judge refused to delay a trial on Tuesday when an attorney objected to his wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on the front in gold.

Lawyer Riley Powell, defending a client charged with driving under the influence, filed a motion objecting to the robe and asking that the case be continued. He said Covington County Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan denied both motions.

Judge McKathan told the Associated Press that he thinks the Ten Commandments represent the truth “and you can’t divorce the law from the truth. … The Ten Commandments can help a judge know the difference between right and wrong.”


Giant surf prompts beach closings

HONOLULU — Strong winds in the northwestern Pacific Ocean sent towering waves crashing along Hawaii’s coast, prompting officials to close beaches amid fears that some waves could reach as high as 50 feet.

The National Weather Service put high-surf warnings in effect for the north-facing shores of all the islands except Lanai until last night.

A handful of beaches on Oahu were closed Tuesday, and Kauai County officials closed beaches on the Garden Isle’s north shore as a precaution. In the past, such high surf has caused damage to beachfront homes and left beach-side roads and highways littered with debris.


Dense fog causes highway pileup

SACRAMENTO — At least 24 vehicles collided in a series of chain-reaction pileups yesterday on a foggy Northern California highway. Several people suffered minor injuries, authorities said.

Visibility was about 50 feet when the accidents occurred on Interstate 5 north of Sacramento, California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Bonilla said.

The first crash involved 15 vehicles — six tractor-trailers and nine cars — and the resulting traffic slowdown led to four more accidents involving nine other vehicles.

“This boils down to vehicles going too fast for the conditions,” Officer Bonilla said.


Man fatally shoots friend on a dare

OROFINO — A man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting his friend through a protective vest on an apparent dare, police said.

Alexander Joseph Swandic, 20, died of a gunshot wound to the heart on Monday after donning a protective vest and asking David John Hueth, 30, to shoot him, police said.

Mr. Hueth initially told police that Mr. Swandic’s wound was self-inflicted but later admitted to the shooting. The two apparently had tested the vest by propping it up and shooting it twice, police said.

Police said the vest was designed to protect against grenade fragments, not bullets.


Trustees OK new health facility

LEXINGTON — University of Kentucky HealthCare officials announced plans to build a new patient care facility on the campus that could cost an estimated $375 million.

University trustees unanimously approved the plan. It would be funded from existing revenues generated by the university’s hospital and a $250 million bond issue financed by UK HealthCare.


Archdiocese nixes plan to close church

BOSTON — After months of resistance and round-the-clock vigils at several churches, archdiocese officials Tuesday reversed a decision to close one parish and will re-evaluate four others to determine whether one of them should close.

Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley’s decision to shutter or consolidate 83 churches by year’s end came in response to declining attendance, a shortage of priests and financial pressure caused in part by the clergy sex-abuse crisis.

Tuesday’s decision marked the first reversal of a decision to close a parish.

The archbishop said the Blessed Kateri Tekawitha Parish, located in a rapidly growing area of Plymouth, would remain open.


Jehovah’s Witnesses learn to speak Arabic

DEARBORN — Some Jehovah’s Witnesses, known for their door-to-door evangelizing, have been learning Arabic as part of an effort to convert Muslims.

Jehovah’s Witnesses say 30 to 40 members have learned Arabic, and they make trips into Arab-American neighborhoods on at least a monthly basis.

“In six months, we have learned to read Arabic and to actually go out and give presentations,” said Recina Ward, who travels from her home in Westland to Kingdom Hall, which is shared by Jehovah’s Witness congregations in Dearborn and Detroit.


Hotel chain donates beds to charities

MINNETONKA — The Radisson Hotel chain is donating its old beds as it installs 90,000 new ones throughout its system in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

The beds, mostly one and two years old, will be donated to nonprofit agencies that will take at least 200. Nearly half of the beds have been spoken for. The company is switching to the new beds in the next two years.


Landlord cleared in campaign case

BILLINGS — The owner of a mobile-home park near Billings didn’t violate state campaign laws when he promised his tenants that their rents would go down if voters approved a $13 million sewer bond, a state election official ruled.

Linda Vaughey said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to conclude that Ivan Andrick was offering an illegal, direct financial incentive for renters to vote for the measure in February.


12-year-old boy saves three siblings

OMAHA — A 12-year-old boy says he feels like a “superhero” for getting his three siblings out of their burning home in Omaha, KETV reported.

Police said shortly after the parents of the four children left for work about 5 a.m. Tuesday the 12-year-old smelled smoke. The oldest brother went upstairs and found smoke and fire, called the fire department and then got everyone safely out of the home.

The boy saved his siblings from the fire that authorities said probably was caused by an electrical problem, KETV reported.


Airport screeners lose fake bomb

NEWARK — Baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport spotted — and then lost — a fake bomb planted in luggage by a supervisor during a training exercise.

Despite an hours-long search Tuesday night, the bag, containing a fake bomb complete with wires, a detonator and a clock, made it onto an Amsterdam-bound flight. It was recovered by airport security officials in Amsterdam when the flight landed several hours later.

The incident at Newark Liberty International was only the latest embarrassment for screeners at one of the airports from which the September 11, 2001 hijackers took off.

In October, the Star-Ledger of Newark reported that screeners missed one in four fake explosives and weapons in secret weekly tests conducted throughout the summer by Transportation Security Administration agents.


Judge rejects punch-card-vote suit

AKRON — Voting rights are not denied to those who use punch-card ballots, a federal judge ruled in the nation’s first trial to challenge the system that Democrats blamed for their defeat in Florida in the 2000 presidential election.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that the punch-card system is error-prone and that those ballots are more likely to go uncounted than votes cast in other ways. The group said Ohio violated the voting rights of blacks, who predominantly live in punch-card counties.

U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. disagreed.

“All voters in a county, regardless of race, use the same voting system to cast a ballot, and no one is denied the opportunity to cast a valid vote because of their race,” Judge Dowd said in his ruling Tuesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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