- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 2004

NEW YORK

Santa visits recovering twins

NEW YORK — Carl and Clarence Aguirre, the Philippine twins who are recovering from their surgical separation last year, received a visitor from the North yesterday.

Santa came to see the formerly conjoined twins, along with their mother, Arlene Aguirre, at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center after a week of surgeries.

On Friday, doctors removed Carl’s and Clarence’s tonsils, which were blocking 90 percent of their air passages. On Wednesday, surgeons used skin grafts to begin the months-long process of reconstructing the boys’ skulls.

PENNSYLVANIA

None dead in 80-vehicle pileup

MERCER, Pa. — About 80 vehicles crashed in snowy weather yesterday on Interstate 80 near the Ohio border, closing westbound lanes, Pennsylvania State Police said.

State police from the Mercer barracks said no one was killed in the late-morning crash in Lackawannock Township, but did not know how many people were injured or how serious the injuries were. Police said they hoped to reopen the lanes last night.

The crash site is about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh and about eight miles from the Ohio border.

CALIFORNIA

Dangerous trees may close butterfly grove

PACIFIC GROVE — City Manager Ross Hubbard recommended closing a sanctuary for wintering monarch butterflies to allow removal of dangerous trees.

A New York woman was killed last month when a dead pine fell on her as she strolled through the popular tourist destination. An arborist found many potentially dangerous trees in the grove. The sanctuary will reopen in April.

FLORIDA

Marine’s dad sorry for setting fire

HIALEAH — A man has apologized for setting fire to the van driven by a team of Marines who had come to his house to tell him that his son was killed in Iraq.

“Thank God they opened their hearts to see me,” Carlos Arredondo said after a private meeting with the Marines during the weekend at a Marine base in Hialeah, a Miami suburb.

Mr. Arredondo was celebrating his 44th birthday at his home in Hollywood on Aug. 25 and had his phone in his pocket. He had been expecting a call from his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo.

But three Marines, members of a military Casualty Assistance Calls team, arrived and told him that his 20-year-old son had been killed in combat in Najaf, during his second tour of duty in Iraq.

“I got very upset. I felt like it was a bad joke or bad dream,” he said. “I was crying. … I was calling for Alex.”

MAINE

First transplantmarks anniversary

BELGRADE — Fifty years ago, Ronald Herrick wasn’t thinking about making medical history that one day would lead to saving countless lives. He just wanted to save one life — his brother’s.

He said it took him no time at all to agree to donate a kidney to his brother, Richard, who was dying from chronic nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys. But that 5-hour operation on Dec. 23, 1954, would not only keep his brother alive for eight more years, it would lead to thousands of kidney transplants and ultimately the transplant of other organs.

Mr. Herrick’s doctor, Joseph E. Murray, won a Nobel Prize.

MASSACHUSETTS

Police arrest 5 in Cape Cod thefts

ORLEANS — Five persons were arrested and more than $1.6 million worth of jewelry, paintings and marine equipment were recovered on Cape Cod, authorities said.

Police identified those arrested as George Upton, 52, his brother Frank Upton, 41, and Mark Fornal, 41. Police said they found the paintings behind a fake wall and the jewelry in a hollowed-out staircase in Frank Upton’s home.

MISSOURI

Soldier graduates with help of satellite

ST. LOUIS — Spc. Keith Lucas is a National Guardsman on duty in Iraq, where his job involves clearing bombs from roads, but that didn’t stop him from taking part in his college graduation.

Spc. Lucas, 26, participated Saturday in the commencement ceremony at the University of Missouri-St. Louis with the help of a satellite hookup.

“We go out and clear the roads from dangerous roadside bombs and save many lives,” he said as fellow graduates watched him live on a giant screen placed behind the stage. “Hopefully, we’ll get back real soon.”

Spc. Lucas, whose degree is in mass communications, was given a minute-long ovation and his parents, fiancee and other relatives were invited to the stage. They accepted the diploma on his behalf.

MONTANA

Board OKs resumption of bison hunting

HELENA — The hunting of bison that wander from Yellowstone National Park in search of winter forage will resume next month, more than a decade after the practice was canceled amid a barrage of protests across the country.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission approved a limited hunting season for the animals last week. The 4-1 vote authorized 10 bison hunting licenses to be issued between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15 in an area north of the park where migration is most likely as snow deepens in the park.

NEVADA

Mine construction starts despite concern

BATTLE MOUNTAIN — Newmont Mining Corp. began construction on the controversial Phoenix gold mine site where copper and gold have been mined for almost 150 years.

The $200 million project near Battle Mountain raised concerns over acid rock drainage and long-term effects on nearby water. A federal review found that actions by Newmont will minimize environmental risks.

TEXAS

Paper finds proof of cheating by schools

DALLAS — Dozens of Texas schools appear to have cheated on the state’s redesigned academic achievement test, casting doubt on whether the accountability system can reliably measure how schools are performing, a newspaper found.

An analysis uncovered strong evidence of organized, educator-led cheating on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) at schools in Houston and Dallas, along with suspicious scores in hundreds of other schools, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Texas education policies on student accountability became the model for the federal No Child Left Behind law enacted after President Bush’s election in 2000.

The newspaper analyzed scores from 7,700 Texas schools, searching for ones with unusual gaps in performance between grades or subjects. It said research has shown that schools that are weak in one subject or grade are typically weak in others as well.

More than 200 schools had large, unexplained score gaps between grades or between the TAKS and other standardized tests, such as the Stanford Achievement Test.

WEST VIRGINIA

City to replace Christmas toys

HUNTINGTON — Church and civic groups promised to replace more than 2,000 toys that were destroyed in a fire before they could be distributed to about 400 poor children for Christmas.

The toys, valued at about $7,000, were being stored for the annual Marine Toys for Tots program when the fire broke out Thursday in Michael Hines’ garage. The blaze destroyed the toys, Mr. Hines’ car and his garage.

Mr. Hines, who coordinates the Toys for Tots campaign in Huntington, had planned to distribute the toys at his home Saturday.

Mr. Hines said firefighters do not know how the fire started.

Donations to replace the toys began to come in almost immediately: Firefighters collected $120. Members of a local church said they would buy 200 toys. A local TV station collected nearly $8,000 and the Cabell County chapter of the Fire Chiefs Association pledged $500.

WISCONSIN

Hunter faces charges in llama shooting

MADISON — A hunter faces two charges in the shooting of a llama that he said he mistook for a deer.

John M. Burger was charged with trespassing and a misdemeanor count of mistreatment of animals in the killing of a llama named Snicker Doodle Silk that was grazing on land owned by Susan and Kevin Kovacs.

According to a criminal complaint, Mr. Burger was on land adjacent to the Kovacses’ property when he shot the animal Nov. 9.

Mr. Burger said he thought the animal was a deer and shot at it. He then walked toward the animal and realized his mistake after he saw herds of llamas running around.

Mr. Burger reported the accidental shooting to the Kovacs family and apologized.

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