- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2004


Woman killed during Mardi Gras

NEW ORLEANS — Gunfire erupted among the crowd of people watching a popular Mardi Gras parade, killing a female bystander and wounding three persons. Four teenagers were arrested yesterday.

Hundreds of people watching the Krewe of Muses parade Wednesday night stampeded to safety when they heard the gunfire, and some members of a high school band marching near the shooting dropped to the pavement.

An argument among a large group of people apparently sparked the gunfire, but the victims were thought to be innocent bystanders, police Capt. Marlon Defillo said. The 20-year-old woman died shortly after the shooting.


Visionary MIT student wins award

BOSTON — An MIT graduate student won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize and $30,000 yesterday for inventing a device that makes low-cost eyeglass lenses within 10 minutes.

Saul Griffith, 30, a doctoral candidate, also created electronic goggles that diagnose vision problems.

Mr. Griffith, who grew up in Sydney, Australia, said that as a child he took apart anything he could to see how they worked. He tried several “fairly crazy schemes” before coming up with a desktop printerlike device that uses liquid-filled molds to produce low-cost lenses quickly and cheaply.

He became interested in the project after a Kenyan official told him that a scarcity of eyeglasses was one of their biggest problems.


Bishop’s prosecutors claim prior hit-and-run

PHOENIX — Prosecutors may try to offer evidence at Bishop Thomas O’Brien’s sentencing hearing that the Roman Catholic clergyman struck a car and fled the scene a year before his fatal hit-and-run.

During Bishop O’Brien’s trial, the judge wouldn’t allow prosecutors to tell jurors about an October 2002 incident in which Bishop O’Brien hit a parked car and left without reporting it. Prosecutors are hoping they can get in that material now.

The bishop, 68, was convicted Tuesday of leaving the scene of a fatal accident after killing a jaywalker with his car, a crash that ended his career as head of the diocese.

He could be sentenced to anywhere from probation to 3-3/4 years in prison.


Gibson’s film adds more theaters, prints

LOS ANGELES — The distributors of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” are expanding their planned Ash Wednesday opening by about 800 theaters and exhibitors are demanding more prints of the film in order to play it on multiple screens.

According to the movie trade paper Variety, Icon Productions and Newmarket Films said Wednesday that they have ordered an additional 1,500 prints of the film, bringing the total to 4,000, and plan to open in 2,800 theaters next week, instead of the planned 2,000.

“It’s really picked up in the last couple of days,” said Newmarket chief Bob Berney. “A lot of what we’ve been hearing [from theater chains] is that instead of two prints, we want four. They anticipate a much bigger opening, and they want to be able to handle it.”

“Passion” now stands to be distributed on the same scale as some of Hollywood’s biggest titles, an incredible feat for a film that Mr. Gibson financed himself and shot entirely in foreign languages with subtitles.

“I anticipate going up even slightly more because of increased demand, particularly after the great interview with Diane Sawyer,” Mr. Berney told Variety.


World War II flier replaces plane

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Six decades after his B-17 crash-landed in France, William Sheaves made amends by giving the Air Force an exquisitely detailed flying replica he built.

“Sixty-some years ago, I broke one of your airplanes,” Mr. Sheaves told Peterson Air Force Base commander Brig. Gen. Duane Deal on Tuesday. “Here’s a replacement.”

Mr. Sheaves was the flight engineer aboard the B-17 that was shot down in 1943. Using plans from Boeing Co., which built the workhorse bomber, he built a radio-controlled model with a 10-foot wingspan.

Like the original, his model is powered by four gasoline engines with triple-blade props. It has movable gun turrets, working bomb bay doors and retractable landing gear.

Mr. Sheaves was captured by the Germans after his plane was shot down. After a career in the Army, he retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1975 and then started work on his model. It is on public display at the Air and Space Museum here.


Feminist charges sex harassment

NEW HAVEN — A feminist author has written a magazine article accusing a noted Yale University professor of sexually harassing her while she was an undergraduate in the 1980s, and charging a long history of such events at Yale.

The article by Naomi Wolf is to appear in Monday’s issue of New York magazine and accuses Harold Bloom, a prominent literary critic and Sterling professor of humanities at Yale.

Miss Wolf was a consultant to Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and advised Mr. Gore that he was an “alpha male” who should be in charge. Mr. Bloom has written more than 20 books about the Bible, John Milton and poetry. Mr. Bloom was a professor and mentor to lesbian feminist Camille Paglia, who openly disdains Miss Wolf as “vapid” and a “twit.”

New York spokeswoman Serena Torrey told the Yale Daily News that Miss Wolf “will have a story outlining 20 years of incidents of sexual misconduct at Yale and her search and hope for an appropriate response from the administration to these situations.”

Mr. Bloom declined comment, but Miss Paglia did not.

“It really smacks of the Salem witch hunts and all the accompanying hysteria,” she told the New York Daily News. “Naomi Wolf for her entire life has been batting her eyes … in the face of men, and made a profession out of courting male attention by flirting and offering her sexual allure.”


Revised curriculum keeps ‘evolution’

ATLANTA — Georgia’s Board of Education yesterday unanimously adopted a revised state biology curriculum that leaves the word “evolution” in place when teaching science.

The board said it hoped the move will end a debate sparked last month when state Superintendent Kathy Cox called for the word to be replaced by the phrase “biological changes over time” in the curriculum.

Mrs. Cox reversed her position after a week of criticism from science teachers, college professors and politicians. Board members will consider giving final approval to the new draft in June.


State auctions road to gorge

AUGUSTA — The state has auctioned a 6-mile stretch of dirt road that provides the only access to Kennebec River Gorge.

Outfitters fear the change of ownership could limit use of the storied whitewater.

Robert Moore’s bid of $41,500 more than doubled the next highest offer. Mr. Moore hasn’t said what he plans to do with the road.


Prison workers cleared in suicides

DEER LODGE — An analyst who reviewed inmate suicides at the Montana State Prison concluded that prison employees did nothing to contribute to the deaths of four prisoners who hanged themselves in their cells since July.

Consultant Thomas W. White, hired by the state to determine whether prison operations were a factor in the suicides, said he found no common factor among the four deaths. Mr. White did suggest that the staff try harder to talk with inmates who spend most of their days isolated in maximum-security cells, as a way to detect any simmering emotional problems.

Mr. White was hired earlier this month after the suicide of Rodney Sattler, a twice-convicted murderer facing a death sentence. He and another death-row inmate, along with the two other inmates, used torn bedsheets, shoelaces or both to hang themselves.


Schools to offer sunflower butter

FARGO — With encouragement from the federal government, more students will have a chance to eat sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter in their school lunches. The question is, will they want to?

The Agriculture Department has added the product to its commodity list for school food service programs, which means cafeterias will be reimbursed for buying it. While agriculture officials are touting the decision as a boost to sunflower producers, students are shrugging their shoulders.

Richard Warner, principal at Fargo South High School, polled about 40 students in a study hall session Wednesday and none had heard of sunflower seed butter.

But Calli Cebulski, a senior, had tried it. “That stuff is really nasty,” Calli said. “I guess I would say there’s no substitute for peanut butter.”


Canadian Mounties train with troopers

GEORGETOWN — Five members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, minus their horses and famous red jackets, are training with state Department of Public Safety troopers.

DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said the Canadians, in civilian clothes, are riding in DPS vehicles to observe traffic stops and procedures. The Mounties will travel with troopers in the Waxahachie area through today.


Father kills himself in county jail cell

CONCORD — A man accused of killing his two children and burying them in the Midwest last summer apparently killed himself in his jail cell, the state attorney general said yesterday.

Manuel Gehring, 44, was found early yesterday at the Merrimack County Jail, Peter Heed said. He declined to elaborate.

Mr. Gehring, who was in a child-custody dispute with his ex-wife, was arrested in California a week after their children — Sarah, 14, and Philip, 11 — disappeared after a Fourth of July fireworks show in Concord last year.

Authorities believe he shot them in southern New Hampshire, began driving west, bought a shovel in western Pennsylvania and buried the children in the Midwest within 10 miles of Interstate 80. The bodies have not been found.


Red wine crushes production record

PORTLAND — Pinot noir, already the pre-eminent wine grape here, took another large jump in production last year, according to new data released by the Oregon Wine Board. Its white-grape cousin, pinot gris, also surged ahead in 2003.

Commercial wineries in Oregon crushed 10,072 tons of pinot noir last year, according to the new figures, up 19 percent from 2002. Pinot gris, which in 2002 moved ahead of chardonnay as the state’s favorite white-wine grape, came in second again in 2003, at 4,689 tons. The figure represented an increase of 17 percent over 2002.

“Those two varietals are absolutely leading the way,” Jim Bernau, president of Willamette Valley Vineyards in Salem, said of the role played by pinot noir and pinot gris in the state’s $200 million wine industry. “Nothing else even comes close.”


Ice storm causes $95 million damage

COLUMBIA — The ice storm that paralyzed much of central South Carolina last month caused more than $95 million of damage to the state’s timber industry, the Forestry Commission reported.

Up to 90 percent of trees downed by ice are unsalvageable and will be left to rot. Hardest hit was Clarendon County, which reported more than $19.5 million in losses.


Cursing criminal gets time for contempt

KNOXVILLE — A man was given 100 reasons why it doesn’t pay to curse in the courtroom.

Romelus Caraway, 28, who has criminal convictions and a pending felony case, angrily expressed displeasure with his legal situation in language peppered with an expletive, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft cautioned Caraway to avoid the offending word or face 10 days in jail for contempt. When the language did not improve, Judge Craft tallied nine offenses.

Caraway got in a 10th offense — loud enough for the judge to hear — after he was led from the courtroom, making it 100 days in all for contempt of court.


City posts police in council chamber

EAGLE MOUNTAIN — The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is stationing an officer inside the City Council chambers here after a meeting during which one resident threw a flag at the mayor.

Furniture in the council chambers also has been reconfigured to keep residents in front of council members.


Intercepted video leads to abuse arrest

MILWAUKEE — A woman who was seen striking two children in a video signal accidentally intercepted by a neighbor has been accused of child abuse, prompting authorities to remove six children from her home.

Theresa Smith, 39, was charged Wednesday with physical abuse of a child causing bodily harm after a surveillance system at a neighbor’s house intercepted a video signal Sunday coming from a monitoring system in Mrs. Smith’s home.

The video showed two girls, ages 4 and 2, standing in a bedroom with their hands in the air. The younger girl appeared to be struck in the abdomen by Mrs. Smith after the girl turned from her position. Later, Mrs. Smith appeared to strike the other girl in the head with an object.

Six children lived in the home: the 2- and 4-year-old girls and a 5-month-old boy, all in foster care, plus Mrs. Smith’s own children, ages 14, 12 and 10. All have been removed from the home.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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