- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004


Billboards target Christiansaddicted to porn

DALLAS — Chocolates are always nice, and a diamond necklace would be delightful. But a Dallas-based ministry thinks it has a better idea for Valentine’s Day.

“Her gift for Valentine’s? Stop looking at porn,” proclaim billboards put up by NetAccountability, a nonprofit software company that aims to help Christians confront the “secret sin” of pornography.

If national surveys are any indication, it is a personal battle waged by millions of Christians. Almost 18 percent of people who called themselves born-again Christians acknowledged visiting Internet porn sites, according to a 2000 survey of 1,031 adults by the evangelical group Focus on the Family.

“It’s definitely the church’s dirty little secret,” said Mike Foster, co-founder of the antiporn site XXXChurch.com, which hosts online support groups for Christians trying to kick the habit.

The billboards have been going up in Dallas over the past few days.


Novelist, 77, enjoys being the Gerber Baby

TAMPA — The urban legend about the famous Gerber Baby goes something like this: The cherubic image on the labels was actually a diaper-clad Humphrey Bogart, sketched lovingly by his artist mom.

Trouble is, the tough-guy actor was a grown man when the first Gerber jars appeared on store shelves in 1928. Ann Turner Cook — the real, honest-to-goodness Gerber baby — has heard the tale before.

These days, Mrs. Cook is an energetic 77-year-old fledgling novelist who is not above using her notoriety as America’s most famous baby to drum up interest in her murder mysteries, featuring an erstwhile female reporter sniffing out intrigue in small Florida towns.

Once she sold 10 copies in an hour at a book-signing at a Barnes & Noble store with a framed copy of her Gerber Baby drawing on the table next to her.

Mrs. Cook was about 4 months old in 1927 when family friend Dorothy Hope Smith sketched the image in charcoal. The next year, Gerber put out the call for images that could be used in ads for its new baby food products, and Miss Smith submitted the drawing.


School gets milk with cleaning fluid

MOBILE — Cleaning fluid was accidentally packaged in cartons of fat-free milk sent to an elementary school, but a teacher noticed the odd taste and no students were hurt.

“I’m glad it wasn’t chocolate milk,” Principal Barbara Freeman said. “We don’t usually get a lot of takers on the fat-free milk.”

The half-pint cartons contained a disinfectant used in milk plants. One ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, which can cause nausea if ingested.

Three students and a teacher at E.R. Dickson Elementary School picked up the cartons with their lunch Wednesday. All of the bad cartons were recovered.


Illegal immigrants found in home

MESA — More than 160 illegal immigrants — some who had not eaten in days — were found crammed inside a house in a well-to-do Phoenix suburb, officials said.

Several men believed to be immigrant smugglers were arrested during Wednesday’s roundup.

The immigrants from Mexico and Central America “were sitting shoulder to shoulder, back to back,” said Russell L. Ahr, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “You could not see the carpet.”

After the roundup, the immigrants were fed and checked against federal databases for criminal and immigration histories.


Firm gets contract after political donation

SPRINGFIELD — A firm that donated more than $20,000 to Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s political fund received a state contract worth $214,000, officials said.

The administration awarded the contract to Reston, Va.-based Maximus Inc. The firm was hired to recommend ways for Illinois to save $1 million on vehicle costs.


Suicide spurs others to quit drug trial

INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly a fifth of the volunteers testing a new antidepressant for Eli Lilly and Co. drug have dropped out since the suicide of one of the participants, the drug maker said.

Lilly also acknowledged that four other suicides have occurred during several years of human testing of duloxetine, the main ingredient in drugs Lilly is developing to treat depression and stress urinary incontinence.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether an entire list of similar antidepressants may sometimes cause suicide in children and teenagers.


Court upholds slander suit dismissal

DES MOINES — The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a slander lawsuit against Davenport Alderman Robert McGivern. Niky Bowles sued Mr. McGivern after he referred to her as “a freaking crazy woman” at a City Council meeting.

The court noted the words were “mere name-calling.” Miss Bowles, a frequent City Hall critic, ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor last year.


Northeastern U. to add 100 professors

BOSTON — Northeastern University plans to spend $75 million to add 100 professors over the next five years. It marks a move to transform the academic reputation of the former commuter school.

The school has spent hundreds of millions in the past decade for physical improvements on campus.


Scientists develop prototype reactor

MINNEAPOLIS — Researchers said yesterday that, for the first time, they have produced hydrogen from ethanol in a prototype reactor small enough and efficient enough to heat small homes and power cars.

The development could help open the way for cleaner-burning technology at home and on the road.

Current methods of producing hydrogen from ethanol require large refineries and copious amounts of fossil fuels, the University of Minnesota researchers said.

The reactor is a relatively tiny 2-foot-high apparatus of tubes and wires that creates hydrogen from corn-based ethanol. A fuel cell, which acts like a battery, then generates power.

“This points to a way to make renewable hydrogen that may be economical and available,” said Lanny Schmidt, a chemical engineer who led the study.


Coaches wed on the court

KANSAS CITY — It was one postgame celebration Aletha Penn and Steve Cassity couldn’t miss.

The girls’ high school basketball coaches were married on the court after their teams played against each other Tuesday night.

“Basketball brought us together,” said the bride. “I don’t know. It just seemed natural for us.”

She and Mr. Cassity met at a basketball camp and kept in touch.


Inventors to enter hall of fame

AKRON — Creators of superglue, the Dolby sound system and global positioning technology were among 20 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees.

They will be inducted into the Akron hall on May 1.

The living honorees include Harry Coover, who invented superglue; Ray Dolby, creator of the hiss-reduction system for recordings; and satellite-based GPS inventor Bradford Parkinson.

Also, Edith Flanigen, inventor of a molecular sieve; Charles Kelman, known for his work involving outpatient cataract surgery; and HIV diagnosticians Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier.

Among the 13 deceased honorees are Vannevar Bush, inventor of the differential analyzer, a precursor to the computer; John Gibbon, creator of the heart-lung machine; and sewing machine inventor Elias Howe.


Injured guests sue motel in fire

COLUMBIA — At least six guests injured in an arson at a Comfort Inn have filed lawsuits accusing the management of providing inadequate security despite a history of crime at the motel.

Four lawsuits filed Wednesday say poor security and use of building materials that were not fire resistant contributed to the deaths of six persons and injuries to 12 more in the Greenville fire last month.

Authorities say the fire was deliberately set.


Ring returned to grateful family

EVERETT — Shortly after her husband died, Judie Vann gave her prized gold and diamond ring to his best friend in appreciation for the kindness he had shown her family.

On Wednesday, more than 30 years later, the best friend’s 90-year-old mother returned the ring to Mr. Vann’s daughters — and they can hardly wait to return it to their mother.

Raymond Vann drowned Dec. 14, 1969, and his widow persuaded Bill Lund to accept the ring. When Mr. Lund died in 2000, the ring passed to his mother, Eunice Severson of Ketchikan, Alaska.

Mrs. Severson said she tried to find Judie Vann for months to return the ring, and finally had some luck when she met Patricia Lindell at a dinner party in Everett. Mrs. Severson eventually told her about the ring, and Miss Lindell said she had worked with a Raedean Vann whose dad had drowned many years ago.

Mrs. Severson called Raedean Vann, whose married name is Tibbetts, and they arranged a meeting.

From staff reports and wire service dispatches

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