- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004


Bird’s death leavesspecies’ future uncertain

HONOLULU — One of Earth’s rarest birds might have gone into extinction after the death of one of the last known po’ouli.

The aging male po’ouli died in captivity last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday. The bird had contracted malaria recently, but the exact cause of death won’t be known until tests from the necropsy are completed.

The remaining two po’ouli, thought to be a male and a female, haven’t been seen for nearly a year. The state, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Zoological Society of San Diego, which operates the Maui conservation center, began a search Tuesday to find them in the remote rain forests of Maui.


Half-mile pileupinjures three

CLARKSTON — A chain-reaction pileup involving dozens of vehicles left at least three persons injured and closed a busy stretch of highway slick from snow during the morning rush hour yesterday, authorities said.

A bright morning sun just above an overpass reflected off glistening pavement to create blinding driving conditions, state Trooper Bob Tomassi said. What started with a rear-ending turned into about 27 smaller crashes as the pileup on Interstate 75 stretched for about a half-mile, he said.

At least three persons were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. The most seriously injured, a 35-year-old man, had head lacerations and an injured shoulder but was doing fine, Trooper Tomassi said.


Lincoln photograph sold for $85,000

LOS ANGELES — A unique portrait of Abraham Lincoln sold for a record $85,000 and a copy of Robert E. Lee’s farewell address to his troops went for $70,000 at an auction of manuscripts and other historical items.

The buyers at the Nov. 23 Bonhams & Butterfields auction were private, and their identities were not disclosed.

The 16-by-19-inch Lincoln portrait, taken by Alexander Gardner on Aug. 9, 1863, is the only one known that shows the former president sitting in a chair with his head posed on his hand. In most photographs, his hands are crossed or placed stiffly on the chair arms, said Catherine Williamson, director of books and manuscripts for the auction house.

The Lee letter, addressed to his troops at the end of the Civil War, is formally known as General Order No. 9 and was composed April 10, 1865, a day after Lee signed the formal surrender of Confederate troops. It is one of the most collectible documents for Civil War buffs, Miss Williamson said.


Parents on drug binge when infant dies

BOCA RATON — A month-old baby died while his parents were on a three-day crack cocaine binge that began after Thanksgiving dinner, police said Tuesday.

The cause of death was not clear. Sonia Thomas, 39, and Neal Anthony Bryan, 46, have been charged with child neglect. More charges could be filed after autopsy results are available, police spokesman Jeff Kelly said.

Mr. Bryan told police that he awoke to find his son on the bed next to him, not wearing a diaper and not breathing, according to a police report. The infant’s name was not released.

The child’s mother said she could not remember when she had last fed the baby because “she was messed up on crack” and tired, the report said.


Student badly burned during drinking ritual

ATHENS — A student was severely burned during a fraternity drinking ritual when an oil lantern ignited a bottle of nearly pure grain alcohol, police said.

William Flynn Miller IV, 21, a senior at the University of Georgia, was drinking with other students at the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house early Tuesday, police said. The bottle of 190-proof alcohol ignited and set Mr. Miller’s clothes on fire.

He was hospitalized with third-degree burns. His injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.


Elderly woman leads police on slow chase

BONNERS FERRY — She’s not exactly the little old lady from Pasadena.

Nita Friedman, 66, led police on a puttering pursuit, driving at or under the speed limit for 15 miles through two counties. The creeping chase on U.S. Highway 95 ended when three of her tires were blown out by a spike strip.

Police Chief Mike Hutter said Miss Friedman reported being confused because she was being pulled over by a four-wheel-drive Chevy Silverado pickup. He said she told him that she was from New York and that its police drive cars.

The chase started in Bonner County after Chief Hutter got reports of a reckless driver.

Miss Friedman was charged with eluding police and reckless driving. She was jailed on $600 bail.


Priest gets 5 years for raping boy

CAMBRIDGE — A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced yesterday to 4 to five years in prison for repeatedly raping an altar boy in the 1980s.

The Rev. Robert Gale pleaded guilty on Tuesday to four counts of raping a child just as jury selection was set to begin for his trial.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 10 to 12 years, but the judge settled on the shorter prison term, to be followed by 25 years of probation.

The sexual assaults took place at St. Jude’s parish in Waltham between 1980 and 1985. The victim is now age 34.

Prosecutors said the boy was sexually abused by Gale about twice a month.


CEO, pilot killed in jet crash

ST. LOUIS — A small charter jet crashed on an island in the Missouri River, killing the charter company’s chief executive and his co-pilot, officials said.

The company had two crashes in less than 24 hours last year.

A police helicopter spotted the wreckage of the twin-engine Hansa 320 jet owned by Grand Aire Express Inc., which delivers auto parts and other cargo and operates a charter-passenger service, early yesterday, Sheriff’s Department Lt. Craig McGuire said.

The dead — the only two aboard the plane — were Grand Aire President and Chief Executive Officer Tahir Cheema, 50, of Toledo, and company pilot Eko Pinardi, officials said.

Airport director Richard Hrabko said workers reported that the jet had sounded as if it was having trouble during takeoff.


Impeachment trial opens for controller

CARSON CITY — A Senate impeachment trial opened yesterday against Nevada Controller Kathy Augustine, with a prosecutor describing how state employees turned her office into “campaign central” during her 2002 re-election bid.

In opening arguments, Dan Greco said staffers on state time wrote campaign speeches, solicited donations and even asked those who donated to Miss Augustine’s opponent why they were not helping her campaign.

John Arrascada, one of six lawyers representing the two-term Republican controller, argued that removal from office was too severe a penalty given the suspected offenses. He said no public official in the nation had been ousted based on such charges.

The impeachment trial is the first of its kind in Nevada’s 140-year history. A two-thirds Senate vote would be required to remove Miss Augustine.


Ex-Bush official indicted in phone case

CONCORD — President Bush’s former New England campaign chairman was indicted yesterday on charges that he took part in the jamming of the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002.

James Tobin, 44, stepped down Oct. 15 after the Democrats accused him of involvement. At the time, he called the accusations “without merit.”

In 2002, six phone lines run by the Democrats and the Manchester firefighters union were tied up for 1 hours by 800 computer-generated hang-up calls.

Federal prosecutors said Mr. Tobin and other Republicans hired a company to make the calls to disrupt the organizations’ get-out-the-vote efforts.

Mr. Tobin was charged with conspiracy to commit telephone harassment and aiding and abetting of telephone harassment. He could get up to five years in prison.


City puts decorations up for sale

EASTLAKE — Don’t blame the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge if this northeastern Ohio city isn’t quite as jolly and bright for Christmases to come.

City officials say money — or a lack of it — is causing them to put costly holiday decorations up for sale. In the past 10 years, Eastlake has spent $130,000 on holiday lights, displays and banners.

Mayor Ted Andrzejewski, whose community about 20 miles northeast of Cleveland has a $3.2 million budget deficit, said he’s willing to sell the decorations for the right price.

Available items include snowball-throwing teddy bears that cost the city $7,025, an animated giraffe and a lighted peacock.

The city plans to string lights on trees in front of City Hall this year, but most of the decorations will be kept in storage.


College bans alcohol at fraternities, dorms

NORMAN — Drinking will be banned at University of Oklahoma fraternities and residence halls under policies announced yesterday, two months after a 19-year-old student died of alcohol poisoning.

University of Oklahoma President Dan Boren said the rules will go into effect Jan. 18 at the start of the new semester. Three violations will end in a student’s suspension for one semester.

The university also will set up a hot line for students to report violations and will expand alcohol-education programs. Drinking already is prohibited at sororities.

Mr. Boren will present the policies to the Board of Regents for approval on Monday. Regents have been involved in creating the plan and support it.


Bush plans cutting salmon-saving areas

GRANTS PASS — The Bush administration on Tuesday proposed large cuts in federally designated areas in the Northwest and California meant to aid the recovery of threatened or endangered salmon. Protection would focus instead on rivers where the fish now thrive.

The critical habitat designation originally included rivers accessible to salmon, even if no fish occupied them, and covered most of Washington, Oregon and California and parts of Idaho.

Under the federal plan, critical habitats would be cut by more than 80 percent in the Northwest and 50 percent in California — and more cuts might be ordered based on public comments in the next six months, said Bob Lohn, northwest regional administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, the federal agency responsible for saving salmon from extinction.

Large areas could be cut where state and federal habitat protections are in place, such as national forests and sites where the economic benefits of development outweigh the biological benefits of habitat.


Tentative deal ends toll-worker strike

PHILADELPHIA — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said Tuesday that it had reached a tentative contract with striking toll collectors, ending a walkout that began a day before Thanksgiving.

The toll collectors were to return to work on their next scheduled shifts, beginning at 11 p.m. Tuesday, turnpike spokesman Bill Capone said.

Union officials had sought job protection, and the two sides also disagreed over health benefits, work rules and retroactive raises. Negotiations resumed Monday afternoon.


Lawyer admits leaking FBI tape

PROVIDENCE — A defense attorney came forward and admitted that he is the person who leaked an FBI videotape to a TV reporter now facing jail time for protecting the source, court papers filed yesterday said.

Joseph Bevilacqua Jr. confirmed to a special prosecutor on Nov. 24 that he provided the undercover videotape to WJAR-TV reporter Jim Taricani. Mr. Bevilacqua was the lawyer for former city tax official Joseph Pannone, who was convicted in a Providence corruption scandal.

Mr. Taricani, 55, was to be sentenced next week for criminal contempt and faces up to six months in jail. It was not clear whether the confirmation of the source’s identity would change Mr. Taricani’s fate.

The tape, which showed a top aide to former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr. taking a bribe, was aired in 2001 by the NBC affiliate before trials began in the case.


Governor blocks woman’s execution

HUNTSVILLE — Gov. Rick Perry blocked the execution of a woman two hours before she was to be killed yesterday so that her attorneys can conduct new tests on evidence in the 17-year-old murder case.

Elizabeth Newton, 39, was convicted of killing her husband and two children. She would have been the first black woman and the fourth woman put to death in Texas since the Civil War. She denied any involvement in the slayings.

The governor granted her a four-month reprieve a day after the Texas parole board, in a rare step, recommended it.


Residents show claws over pet law

SALT LAKE CITY — Animal lovers and lawmakers face a dog and cat fight over how many pets residents may own simultaneously in the small Utah town of Provo, officials said yesterday.

The law allows residents to own up to two dogs or two cats at the same time, but not a dog and cat together.

Provo resident Susan Sewell said her children had picked out a kitten from a local animal shelter, but burst into tears when they were turned down because the family already owned too many pets.

“Having two of each is not necessarily a problem,” said Provo City Council Chairman Dave Knecht, who has proposed allowing people to own two cats and two dogs.


Blast kills man cooking lava lamp

KENT — A man who placed a lava lamp on a hot stove top was killed when it exploded and sent a shard of glass into his heart, police said.

Philip Quinn, 24, was found dead in his trailer home Sunday night by his parents.

“Why on earth he was heating a lava lamp on the stove, we don’t know,” Kent Police spokesman Paul Petersen said Monday.

After the lamp exploded, Mr. Quinn apparently stumbled into his bedroom, where he died Sunday afternoon, authorities said. Police found no evidence of drug or alcohol use.

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