- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

ALABAMA

2 officers slain in apparent ambush

ATHENS — Two police officers responding to a call from a man asking to speak to the FBI were fatally shot in an apparent ambush last week.

Sgt. Larry Wayne Russell and Officer Tony Mims were shot with a rifle when they arrived at the home Friday afternoon, said Police Chief Wayne Harper. Officer Mims was pronounced dead at the scene and Sgt. Russell died at a hospital.

Farron Barksdale, 28, surrendered without incident to officers who arrived minutes after the shooting. He was charged with two counts of capital murder. Mr. Barksdale said he had been drinking and had been suicidal, authorities said.

KENTUCKY

Mine deaths fall to historic low

PIKEVILLE — The number of miners killed on the job in the United States fell to 55 in the past year, the fewest such deaths since the federal government began keeping track in 1910.

Preliminary figures from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration show that 29 deaths occurred in coal mines, up from 27 in 2002. There were 26 deaths in gold, stone and other types of mines, down from 40 in 2002. The 2002 figures had been the previous lowest.

COLORADO

Boys find, turn in $23,901 check

ASPEN — Five boys found a check for $23,901 in the snow and turned it over to police last week.

“The boys came in [with] their ski gear and said they had found a large check, and we expected it to be for a few hundred dollars,” police spokeswoman Kathy Tolle said. “They handed it over, and it was for $23,000.”

The check was written by an Aspen investment group on a local bank. Both were notified of the find, Miss Tolle said. Police took the boys’ phone numbers, in case a reward was forthcoming.

DELAWARE

Latin’s hot again in high schools

WILMINGTON — The language of Roman emperors and philosophers is becoming popular again in Delaware high schools.

Educators say Latin’s comeback can be attributed to recent pop culture, such as fictional wizard Harry Potter and toga-wearing movie stars, and a link to standardized test score improvements.

Latin classes vanished from most public-school schedules by the 1980s. Retired Latin teachers weren’t replaced; Spanish and French programs grew. Now, Latin is making a return.

Several studies show a link between higher verbal scores and students who take Latin, according to the National Council of State Supervisors of Foreign Languages.

In 2003, students who took Latin as a foreign language had a mean score of 559 on the verbal component of the SATs. French students scored 524, and Spanish students 501. The mean national verbal SAT score was 507.

HAWAII

Unruly passenger faces felony charge

HONOLULU — A science teacher who tried to break into the cockpit of a Hawaii-bound Northwest Airlines flight — screaming that the world was coming to an end — told a judge last week that he was on a mission to see the beach.

Brandon Gabriel Rines, 31, was charged Friday with interfering with a flight crew, a felony. During his court appearance, Mr. Rines was talkative, erratic and disruptive, arguing with his public defender and U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren.

“My sole purpose on this mission was to see the beach,” the Tennessee man said. “I have not seen the ocean. I have not tasted the rain.”

ILLINOIS

Tax amnesty nets $532 million

SPRINGFIELD — A six-week tax amnesty for people wanting to settle tax bills without penalty raised a total of about $532 million from about 81,000 taxpayers, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich said.

Ninety percent of the participants were individuals, but they accounted for only 5 percent of the proceeds, according to the state Revenue Department. The average individual income tax payment was $400.

Officials designed the plan as a way to bring additional money to a tight budget.

INDIANA

1 killed, 14 hurt in bus-truck collision

ELROD — A pickup truck collided with an oncoming tour bus Saturday, killing the truck’s driver and injuring 14 persons on the bus, the Indiana State Police said.

The pickup crossed the center line and hit the bus on U.S. 50 in Ripley County, Trooper Steve Weigel said. The truck’s driver died at the scene.

Most of the 17 persons on the bus, including the driver, were taken to hospitals for minor injuries such as scrapes and bruises.

MAINE

Solid-waste trucks to regain access

MADAWASKA — Trash-hauling trucks from northern Maine will be allowed into Canada beginning Friday after being turned back at the border earlier last week because of Canada’s restrictions on beef imports.

Two loads of solid waste were denied entry into Canada after the recent discovery of mad cow disease in Washington state prompted the import restrictions. The trucks were headed to a New Brunswick landfill, a Canadian customs spokesman said.

MASSACHUSETTS

Radar scientist dies at 105

BOSTON — Arthur R. von Hippel, a scientist who made critical contributions to the development of radar and was a pioneer in the study of material science, has died. He was 105.

Mr. von Hippel, who founded the Laboratory for Insulation Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died Wednesday of complications from the flu, the Boston Sunday Globe reported.

Mr. von Hippel received a certificate of merit from President Truman in 1948 for his laboratory’s contributions to the development of radar during World War II, said son Eric von Hippel. After the war, the elder Mr. von Hippel was one of the first to study the molecular structure of materials, a relatively new field.

MICHIGAN

City may require men to grow beards

DETROIT — The men of Zilwaukee soon might face a hairy dilemma every morning.

Some city council members want to require all adult men to grow beards — or buy a $10 shaving permit — as part of celebrations of the town’s 150th anniversary.

City council member Robert Bohnsack, who proposed the regulation, said the council would vote on it today.

If it passes, men in the town of about 1,800 would stop shaving as early as tomorrow and keep growing their facial hair until the anniversary celebrations in June, when a beard-growing contest would be held.

Supporters said the proposal was serious — but not too serious.

“If you don’t want to pay the fine, that’s cool,” said council member Eugene Jolin, who, like Mr. Bohnsack, is bearded. “We don’t want to make anybody mad.”

MINNESOTA

Dog survives railroad mishaps

ROSEMOUNT —A dachshund earned the nickname Railroad Joe recently, after running away from owners Tom and Cindy Caruth.

The stubby-legged dog took up life on the tracks and made a legend of himself by getting run over by freight trains at least three times in five days — twice by the same conductor.

The steel wheels nipped one of his floppy ears and sliced off part of his tail. But each time he ducked low enough between the rails for the trains to clear him.

“It’s hard telling how many trains went over that poor little dog,” said Union Pacific conductor Terry Vanderlinden, who ran over Joe twice and found the dog shivering in weeds, near starvation.

Mr. Caruth said his family’s 3-year-old pet “looked like a wet rat” when they were reunited through the tag on the dog’s collar.

“He laid by our fireplace for two straight days,” Mr. Caruth said. “His tail’s a little shorter now. But he’s fine.”

NEW JERSEY

Governor signs stem-cell law

WEST ORANGE — New Jersey yesterday became the second state to allow stem-cell research as Democratic Gov. James E. McGreevey signed a law that he said will “move the frontiers of science forward.”

Stem-cell research, which has been opposed strongly by pro-life groups and the Roman Catholic Church because it involves the use of fetal and embryonic tissue, also is permitted in California, and bills are pending in Illinois and New York.

“Today, we celebrate the possible in our state,” Mr. McGreevey said. “It is our obligation as a people and as a state to move the frontiers of science forward.”

President Bush, citing ethical considerations, has limited federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research to existing lines of cells.

Opponents of the bill said they were disappointed but not surprised that Mr. McGreevey signed it.

“We were hopeful that perhaps he would take the expert opinions and concerns into consideration before formulating his final decision, which unfortunately he did not,” said Marie Tasy of New Jersey Right to Life.

NEW MEXICO

‘Dead’ man makes short return to life

SANTA FE — A New Mexico funeral-home owner received the surprise of his career when a man pronounced dead at a hospital came back to life just before he was to be embalmed.

Russell Muffley, the owner of Muffley Funeral Home in Clovis, N.M., said he noticed Felipe Padilla breathing when the man pronounced dead at a hospital was being transferred to the funeral home on Wednesday. Mr. Padilla, 94, was rushed back to the same hospital, but did not recover. He was declared dead for a second time.

“When we were getting ready to move him from the stretcher to the embalming table, we noticed signs of life,” Mr. Muffley said.

Mr. Padilla was breathing on his own but not speaking when paramedics took him from the funeral home back to Plains Regional Medical Center. He died a few hours later and was taken back to the funeral home, where arrangements already had been made.

NORTH CAROLINA

Legislators question specialty plates

RALEIGH — Some legislators are questioning the state’s increasing number of specialty license plates, saying they pose problems for law enforcement and diminish the importance of some causes.

Among the 15 new groups that can have special plates this year is the Red Hat Society, a group of women older than 50 who wear red hats and purple dresses in public. There were 52 approved groups in 1997; now there are 105.

WASHINGTON

WTO protesters’ suit set for Jan. 20 trial

SEATTLE — A trial is scheduled Jan. 20 to determine whether the city is liable for damages from mass arrests of World Trade Organization demonstrators.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman has ruled that police had no probable cause when they arrested 157 protesters in December 1999 during the meeting of the WTO. The city said the protesters were arrested for pedestrian interference.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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