- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004


Indigent cope with winter by camping

ANCHORAGE — Ron Feldhouse draws the line at 45 degrees below zero. Then it’s time to sleep indoors.

Otherwise, he sets up camp outside Fairbanks, where winter temperatures can hover around 20 below zero for weeks at a stretch, cold enough to be fatal for the unprepared.

Many of Alaska’s indigent — a population that is difficult to measure — cope by drifting from couch to couch or sleeping in motels, cars, boats and homeless shelters in the larger cities.

But Ed Heeckt set up a hand-me-down tent among spruce and alder trees just outside downtown Juneau. On cold nights, Mr. Heeckt burns a can of gel fuel inside his tent for 10 minutes to get it “nice and warm.”


Cloned mules healthy, researchers say

SEATTLE — Three young mules who are the first members of the horse family to be cloned are healthy, normal and enjoying life energetically, say researchers who put them on display here.

Idaho Gem, born May 4, was the first successful cloning of an equine. He was followed by siblings Utah Pioneer on June 9 and Idaho Star on July 27. The clonings were a project of the Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.

All three were born to surrogate mares from embryos that were cloned using eggs from horses and cells taken from the 45-day-old fetus of a mule.


Inmates taught math using drug units

NEWPORT — Good math teachers always try to make the material accessible to their students. Well, maybe they shouldn’t always.

The Arkansas Department of Correction has reprimanded one of its math instructors after he substituted units of cocaine and methamphetamine while testing inmates on their multiplication skills.

Instead of using apples and oranges to calculate ratios, the instructor at the Grimes Unit prison used rocks of cocaine and meth ingredients.

The teacher also gave the formula for making meth as part of a word problem.

Correction Department spokeswoman Dina Tyler said the teacher would have received an A for his meth production calculation. The teacher said he learned the equation from his students, Miss Tyler said.


Woman loses arms in dog mauling

ORANGE — A 91-year-old woman mauled by her great-grandson’s pit bull was in critical condition yesterday, with both arms amputated at the elbow, officials said.

Ruby Sharum and her granddaughter were putting away groceries Friday night when the dog growled and then lunged at Mrs. Sharum.

Next-door neighbor Shelbi Moore said Mrs. Sharum’s granddaughter pounded on her door, screaming that her grandmother was being attacked. She said she walked into her neighbor’s kitchen after calling 911 and saw the pit bull hovering over the woman with blood stains on the floor.

“I was terrified,” she said. “I had always thought that dog might hurt somebody.”

The dog was euthanized Saturday by county animal officials.


Officials close ice-making system

COLORADO SPRINGS — City officials shut down an ice-making system on a frozen waterfall in Cheyenne Canyon. A climbing enthusiast had used a network of pipes and hoses to create ice on an 80-foot sheet.

The decision upset ice climbers, whose numbers are growing. Officials said the parks department doesn’t allow man-made structures in parks, including ice.


Jury rejects lawsuit of accused burglar

WATERBURY — A jury rejected the claim of a man who was shot while burglarizing a home. Clarence Wiggins sued Louis Steponaitis Jr. for shooting him in the right arm with a shotgun on Dec. 16, 1998.

Mr. Steponaitis testified he fired one shot after Mr. Wiggins broke into his house and continued coming toward him.


Heater malfunction kills animals at lab

HAMILTON — Thirteen monkeys and dozens of hamsters used in disease research at a federal laboratory died after a heater malfunctioned and the temperature climbed to 100 degrees.

Many other animals in the same room were not harmed, said Marshall Bloom, associate director of Rocky Mountain Laboratories.

All of the animals that died were used to research chronic wasting disease and similar disorders. The monkeys had been exposed to the disease, found in deer and elk, to determine whether it can be transmitted to primates.

The temperature in the wing is normally 72 to 78 degrees. The heating malfunction occurred sometime after 4 p.m. on Feb. 7, Mr. Bloom said.


Soil too dry for spring flooding

MINNEAPOLIS — The snow is piled high in Minnesota, but analysts aren’t worried about spring flooding. The total snowfall in the Twin Cities is already 53 inches, just 2.4 inches shy of the average winter snowfall.

Barring an unforeseen wetter-than-normal March and April, the soil is too dry and the snow cover too fluffy for flooding to be considered a threat, they said.


Memorial honors black soldiers

VICKSBURG — Officials presented a monument for Mississippi’s black Civil War soldiers at the Vicksburg National Military Park. It is the first monument in the National Park Service dedicated to black soldiers in the Civil War.

About 20,000 Mississippians served with various units of the United States Colored Troops.


Gorilla-suited crooner serenades co-workers

GRAND ISLAND — Does “You Are So Beautiful” mean more when sung on bended knee by a gorilla?

It did to three employees at Zwink State Farm Agency in Grand Island, who recently were serenaded by a crooner in a gorilla suit.

Holly Fitch, who works at the agency, conspired with her co-workers’ loved ones to arrange for the musical missives as a special Valentine’s Day treat.

The lucky ladies were Darlene Zwink, Judy Price and Amye Lilienthal.

Miss Price said the unique Valentine delivered Thursday on behalf of her fiance brought her a little closer to the wild kingdom than she is used to.


4,450 clergy accused of abusing minors

NEW YORK — A draft of the upcoming national survey of sex-abuse claims against Roman Catholic priests has been viewed by CNN, which reported yesterday that 4,450 clergy have been accused of molesting minors since 1950.

The draft survey said 11,000 abuse claims have been filed against the U.S. churchmen during that period, CNN reported.

The survey is being overseen by the National Review Board, a lay watchdog panel that the American bishops formed, and conducted by researchers from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

John Jay refused to comment on the CNN report, and board members contacted by the Associated Press wouldn’t say whether the latest statistics were accurate. They stressed the report is not finished, and that any numbers tallied so far could change before the study is released Feb. 27.

CNN reported that the draft survey said 78 percent of those abused were between the ages of 11 and 17.


Crane accident kills three, injures two

TOLEDO — A crane collapsed yesterday onto a construction site in the median at an Interstate 280 bridge over the Maumee River, crushing a tractor-trailer and killing three persons, fire officials said.

At least two other persons were injured, Fire Capt. Robert Krause said.

The yellow crane fell in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes on the freeway’s approach to the bridge.


Student smoking rate continues to drop

SIOUX FALLS — Smoking rates for high school students continue to drop, a South Dakota Health Department report says.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey for 2003 says 30 percent of students smoke. That is down from 33 percent in 2001 and 44 percent in 1999. The Health Department surveyed more than 1,800 high school students last spring.


Bill gives parents medical control

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate passed the fourth version of a medical-neglect bill that says parents always have the right to control medical treatment for their children.

The bill would require that before the state Division of Child and Family Services can take a child medical neglect case to the attorney general’s office, the agency must investigate the child’s parents.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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