- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2004


Dog found alive long after owner dies

ANCHORAGE — A Labrador retriever was found alive on an isolated cove of a southeast Alaska island more than a month after its owner had been given up for dead when his boat sank in rough seas.

Two local fishermen found the dog, named Brick, on Heceta Island several miles from the accident site. The men had known the dog’s owner, who went down with his boat late last month.

The dog swam to the men’s boat and was hauled aboard — underweight, with an injured leg, fur matted with tree sap, but wiggling with joy, according to friends of the fishermen.

The discovery of the 8-year-old dog last week sent a shock through the close-knit rain forest community of mariners and loggers, who had given up hope of finding Greg Clark, 48.

“I was blown away,” said John Pugh, a friend of Mr. Clark who has custody of the animal.


Thurmond’s daughter to help university

COLUMBIA — Essie Mae Washington-Williams returns to South Carolina tomorrow to kick off a monthlong campaign at Allen University to raise money for scholarships.

The $50-a-ticket banquet will be her first public appearance in South Carolina since confirming in December that she is the biracial daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond.

“This is the initial launch of her college lecture series,” said Frank Wheaton, an attorney representing Mrs. Washington-Williams. “We intend to be a voice for educational opportunities across the land. Essie’s strong suit, based on the fact that her father was a strong proponent of education, was education as well.”

The university asked her to speak because she can provide an example for students as someone who succeeded despite challenges and because she is a former educator, school President Charles Young said.

Allen University is expecting at least 500 persons to attend the event. morning after a 14-hour standoff that began when he took his former girlfriend hostage in her office at the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station, authorities said.

Landren T. Swearingen was taken into custody by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, officials said. Formal charges were pending.

In a news release, the base said the hostage, a civilian contract worker, had obtained a restraining order against Mr. Swearingen. He was armed with a semiautomatic handgun, but no shots were fired and no one was injured, the base said.

Mr. Swearingen entered the woman’s workplace, an office that handles requests for temporary housing for military families, early Wednesday evening and took her hostage, authorities said.


Poet’s missing gate found at antique shop

BOSTON — An ornate wrought-iron gate that guarded the New England cemetery plot of 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson has been found at an antique shop after being missing for two decades, a descendant said Wednesday.

Robert Magovern, president of the Dickinson Family Association, said he wanted to bring the gate, which disappeared in the mid-1980s, back to Amherst, Mass., as soon as possible.

He said he would pay the $300 an antiques dealer was asking for the piece when it was recognized on the front porch of the dealer’s store in Newfane, Vt. An old picture of the plot, visited by hundreds of the poet’s fans every year, confirmed the gate in Vermont was the one presumed stolen from West Cemetery in Amherst years ago, Mr. Magovern said.


Teen, truck driver die in crash

BOWLING GREEN — A school bus traveling at highway speed rear-ended a stopped, asphalt-loaded dump truck, killing a ninth-grade girl and a highway worker, authorities said.

The crash Wednesday was so severe that the impact sent asphalt flying into the pancaked front end of the bus, covering some of the students, Missouri State Highway Patrol Cpl. Al Nothum said.

Other motorists stopped to help dig out the students, using hands, shovels “and anything they could get their hands on” after the crash, Cpl. Nothum said.

The patrol said Samantha Griffith, 15, died at the scene, and the truck’s driver, Keith Breshears, 48, died later at a hospital. Both were from the Bowling Green area.


Man convicted in bank slayings

MADISON — A man accused of scouting out a Nebraska bank before five persons were fatally shot during a botched robbery was convicted of murder Wednesday.

Gabriel Rodriguez was convicted of five counts of first-degree murder and five weapons counts. All four suspects now have been convicted in the September 2002 killings of four employees and a customer at a U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk in northeastern Nebraska.

Juries have recommended that Rodriguez’s half brother, Jose Sandoval, and the other two convicted men receive the death penalty.


Hotel-casino to pay after rigging drawings

LAS VEGAS — A hotel-casino has agreed to pay $1 million for rigging three contest drawings, including one in which it awarded a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle to compensate a high roller who had lost a substantial amount of money gambling, regulators said Wednesday.

The Venetian casino agreed to settle the charges after an investigation revealed the Chinese New Year celebration drawings in February 2002 were a sham, according to a complaint by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The complaint and settlement show a casino executive hid the winning ticket for the SUV in his shirt sleeve and pretended to draw it randomly. Casino officials reported the incident to gambling regulators shortly after receiving information about the phony drawing.

In the settlement, the casino agreed to pay a $663,000 fine and $337,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.


Lawyer dies of heart attack

NEW YORK — Jeremiah S. Gutman, a well-known constitutional lawyer and political crusader, died Wednesday after having suffered a heart attack at a train station in Manhattan. He was 80.

In 1949, Mr. Gutman joined the law firm Levy, Gutman, Goldberg and Kaplan. He was a founding member of the New York Civil Liberties Union and was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

During his career, he represented such people as Jerry Rubin, the Hare Krishnas, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Martha Stewart.

He was also president of Meretz USA, which extended his civil liberties work to the Middle East — specifically Israel.


County sues publisher in fight over jail

FARGO — Cass County sued weekly newspaper publisher John Strand over his efforts to stop the demolition of the old county jail.

Mr. Strand, publisher of the High Plains Reader, led a group that sued the county over its plans to demolish the old jail and sheriff’s residence to make way for a new jail.

The county seeks $39,000 in damages.


Man admits taping sex with 5-year-old

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania man Wednesday admitted making videos of himself having sex with his 5-year-old stepdaughter and faces up to 50 years in prison on rape, deviate-sex and child-abuse charges.

Norman McDonald, 49, of West Goshen township pleaded guilty in county court to two charges of rape and eight charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse as well as 25 counts of the sexual abuse of children and two other child-abuse charges.

Police found more than 100 video clips of McDonald having intercourse and oral sex with his stepdaughter. They also found more than 10,000 images of child pornography on his computer, Chester County Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Pitts said.

McDonald was arrested in June after a call from the girl’s mother, who had become suspicious of her husband.


Pilot error blamed in helicopter crashes

FALCON HEIGHTS — Pilot error caused the January 2003 helicopter crashes that killed four Marines helping the U.S. Border Patrol in a drug-interdiction mission in south Texas, the military said Wednesday.

Investigators concluded that the two AH-1E Super Cobra Marine choppers, each with a two-man crew, were flying too close together during the nighttime operation.

The rotor blades tangled and the helicopters crashed, said Marine Forces Reserve officials in New Orleans. Two other helicopters involved in the operation landed safely.

The four victims were reserve aviators based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. They were helping the Border Patrol cover Falcon Lake, a popular transfer point for marijuana and cocaine along a stretch of the Rio Grande about 200 miles south of San Antonio.


Activist charged for research review

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah will allow a student concerned about its animal research program to review more than 100 pages of documentation at a cost of nearly $300.

Freshman Jeremy Beckham fought to be allowed to examine the school’s protocols used in animal research. The school responded by itemizing the cost of the work needed to compile the data.


Libraries credited for Internet access

SEATTLE — Build libraries and they will come — and surf.

Public libraries have helped narrow the digital divide by providing free access to computers and the Internet, said a report released Wednesday at the Public Library Association 10th National Conference.

More than 95 percent of the nation’s public libraries now offer Internet access to the public, with 14 million people using them regularly to get online, said the report sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Families earning less than $15,000 a year are two to three times more likely to rely on libraries than those earning more than $75,000. Since 1997, the foundation has spent $250 million to provide libraries with computer hardware, software, training and technical support.


Official pleads guilty to driving drunk

MADISON — Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager pleaded guilty to a civil drunken-driving violation and apologized to voters yesterday, saying “this was a big mistake.”

The state’s top law enforcement officer, 48, was cited Monday after she drove her state-owned car into a ditch.

She was alone and unhurt, with a blood alcohol level of 0.12 percent, above the state limit of 0.08 percent, according to a preliminary breath test. She refused to take a blood test, and her license was automatically revoked.

She had instructed her attorney to enter guilty pleas Wednesday to civil violations for drunken driving and refusing the blood test.

Her attorney, Stephen Meyer, said she paid the $784 fine, will have her license revoked for a year and will undergo counseling to assess her drinking habits. She can seek an occupational license in 30 days that would let her drive to and from work.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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