- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2004

Man kills wife, firefighter in standoff

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A gunman who told a reporter he was battling “alien clones” during a 6-hour standoff at his home was charged yesterday in the deaths of his wife and a firefighter.

Patrick Hutchinson, 45, surrendered Friday night, hours after fire and police crews converged on his house in southeast Lexington following a report that a woman had been shot.

At one point during the standoff, a reporter from the Lexington Herald-Leader accidentally called Mr. Hutchinson while trying to reach his neighbors, officials said. An editor alerted police, who asked the reporter to end the call.

The reporter said Mr. Hutchinson made doomsday proclamations, calling the standoff “Armageddon” and rambling about the CIA and a conspiracy.

Glitch identifies anonymous reviewers

NEW YORK — Many sign their names. Many don’t.

They’re the book reviewers on Amazon.com who use such words as “masterful,” “page-turner” and “tear-jerker.”

But the ones who sign their critiques only as “a reader from (fill in the city)” lost their anonymity this week when their identities were revealed on Amazon.com’s Canadian Web site.

Among those named were authors who posted glowing reviews of their own work, apparently to boost sales.

The glitch, reported yesterday by the New York Times, replaced pseudonyms with reviewers’ real names, laying bare a culture of self-promotion and potential for revenge among authors and users of the online retailer.

Tremor rattles Calif., no damage reported

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A magnitude 4.4 earthquake rattled parts of rural Southern California early yesterday. There were no reports of damage or injuries, officials said.

The temblor was reported at 4:43 a.m. and was centered 11 miles west of Wheeler Ridge in Kern County, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The rural area is about 20 miles south of Bakersfield.

SUV shot at; highway shooter suspected

GRANVILLE, Ohio — A sport utility vehicle was struck by gunfire yesterday morning on Interstate 70, and investigators said it appeared to be linked to a series of 23 highway shootings near Columbus.

No one was injured in yesterday’s shooting near Pataskala, about 20 miles east of Columbus.

The Franklin County task force investigating the shootings said officers were headed to the site where the Chevy Suburban was struck, but they had not yet confirmed the link.

The driver described the shooter as a clean-shaven white man in his 30s driving a black compact car similar to a Chevy Metro, said Pat Snelling, a dispatcher with the patrol’s Granville patrol post.

The serial shootings began in May, though most have occurred since mid-October. One person has been killed.

Scientists prep rover for soil analysis

LOS ANGELES — Scientists fixed a glitch that froze the robotic arm on the Mars rover Opportunity and then prepared the robot explorer to dig a narrow trench in the Martian soil, NASA said yesterday.

Scientists hoped the patch of soil, dubbed “Hematite Slope,” would prove to be rich in the iron-bearing mineral, which typically forms in water.

Opportunity’s explorations were delayed on Friday because the rover failed to properly stow its robotic arm. Engineers sent instructions to the rover that fixed the problem, mission manager Jim Erickson said yesterday.

The glitch occurred because scientists had instructed Opportunity to perform what could have been an unsafe movement with the robotic arm. Faced with the conflict between that instruction and its safety instructions, the rover stopped with its robotic arm still extended until scientists revised the commands.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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