- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Light-plane crash kills one

MIAMI — A pilot was killed yesterday when the ultralight aircraft he was flying clipped the top of a mangrove tree and crashed into the waters of Biscayne Bay at Virginia Key.

The crash was witnessed by restaurant employees, beachgoers and water skiers in the area, the Sun-Sentinel newspaper of Fort Lauderdale reported.

The pilot, who was not identified, was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. He died there shortly before 5 p.m. A passenger on the rented plane also was hospitalized.


Bank heists plague Austin

AUSTIN — A wave of bank robberies is breaking over the Texas capital, and although the uptick in heists has authorities concerned, they’re not exactly on the lookout for a gang of savvy bandits.

Austin banks have been robbed 30 times this year, a remarkable spree given that during all of last year, 18 such crimes were reported. Still, the spike seems far from organized, with nine suspects having been arrested in 20 of the robberies, which have yielded sums ranging from $400 to $10,000.

“Cowboy Bandit” Ernest Rodriguez Jr., of San Antonio, was arrested in April on suspicion of robbing five Austin banks this year. The nickname came about after bank cameras showed a robber wearing a cowboy hat that concealed part of his face. Police say Mr. Rodriguez committed the robberies to support a heroin addiction.


Court hears appeal of ex-Klansman

MONTGOMERY — An attorney for a former Klansman said yesterday that his client was unfairly convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for a deadly 1963 church bombing because key witnesses died before the 2002 trial.

Defense attorney Frank Myers said Bobby Frank Cherry’s wife, Virginia, told police that she was home with Cherry from the night the bomb was planted until after it exploded the next day at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

But Mrs. Cherry and others who could have provided an alibi have died, Mr. Myers told the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. The appeals court judges did not say when they would rule.


Sam’s Club markets ‘Passion’ to churches

LITTLE ROCK — Retailer Sam’s Club began offering 50-copy “church packs” of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” this week, in a twist on usual ways of selling to religious groups.

Advance sales for the film’s Aug. 31 release on digital video disc and videocassette already have exceeded expectations for the retailer, the warehouse club division of Wal-Mart Stores.

Although specialized companies usually handle sales to religious groups and stores — “Passion” has different distributors for the secular and religious markets — the bulk packaging of the film fits the Sam’s Club strategy, company spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart said.


Soldiers wed from afar

DURANGO — Two National Guard soldiers married while gazing into each others’ eyes — yet separated by thousands of miles.

Staff Sgt. Shadow Evans, 30, said “I do,” from her post in Iraq to Sgt. Rick Everton, 29, at a motel in Durango. The wedding was made possible using videoconferencing.

“It was amazing,” Sgt. Everton said. “I could actually see her and look into her eyes.”

La Plata County Judge Martha Minot officiated at the Friday night event. The couple had planned to marry in August, but Sgt. Everton was told he soon would be assigned to Iraq. The couple decided that they should get married quickly so they could be together if either is wounded.

Fellow troops found Sgt. Evans a white blouse and bouquet. Rings will be exchanged in person later.


Lasers fail to help acne cases

CHICAGO — Treating acne with a laser does not appear to work, researchers who conducted a 40-person study said yesterday.

Most adolescents and young adults develop acne at some time in their lives, and the red, raised lesions can leave scars.

Lasers, along with medications and light therapy, have shown potential as treatments. But because no single cause of acne has been identified — it can result from the body’s reaction to hormonal changes in adolescence, changes to the layer of skin where hair follicles form or bacteria — no treatment has been found to be fully effective.


Earthquake jiggles New Madrid area

NEW MADRID — An earthquake shook southeast Missouri in the area of the New Madrid fault early yesterday, rattling dishes but causing no damage or injuries.

The temblor, with a preliminary magnitude of 3.7, was centered about 15 miles west-northwest of New Madrid, said the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.

The New Madrid fault is the most active fault in the United States east of the Rockies. Three quakes in 1811 and 1812 devastated what was then a sparsely populated area and were felt as far away as Boston. Geologists estimate that there is a one in 10 chance of a similar quake in the next 50 years.


City leases goats to control weeds

HELENA — This city is going decidedly low-tech get rid of its weed problem.

Officials plan to spend $11,000 to lease 850 goats so they can eat the Dalmatian toadflax, leafy spurge and spotted knapweed that choke Mount Helena.

“If you level the playing field, the grass will win. The weeds didn’t come in overnight, and we’re not going to take care of it overnight,” said Joe Dooling of Helena, who owns the goats and leases them to ranchers for weed control.

Helena’s weed-control plan also includes use of chemicals after the goats leave.

The new plan includes two herders and three dogs to keep an eye on the goats. The city plans to keep the goats on the job for a week or so. They will be penned at night and will receive water trucked to points nearby.


Hog farm neighbors to get damages

LINCOLN — The owner of farms housing thousands of hogs must pay damages to 11 neighbors who said the stench forced them indoors, the state Court of Appeals said yesterday.

A trial court will determine the amount owed to the residents, who live within two miles of farms owned by Progressive Swine Technologies.

One neighbor said the smell was so overpowering that it affected the taste of the food in her garden. Others compared it to sewage, saying the smell forced them to keep windows closed and not hang clothes out to dry.

The decision reversed a 2002 ruling that Progressive Swine did not owe damages, even though its four farms were a nuisance. As part of that ruling, the farms were told to reduce the smell. Pat Knapp, the landowners’ attorney, said that has not been done.


Portland mayor fighting cancer

PORTLAND — Mayor Vera Katz is fighting cancer for the second time in four years, but said she will remain in office until her term ends in January.

Miss Katz, 70, a breast-cancer survivor, recently learned she has adenosarcoma of the reproductive system, a rare cancer. She announced last year that she would not seek a fourth term.

“I am blessed to have been born with an abundance of energy,” she said Monday. “This will allow me to continue to lead this city while completing my treatment.”


Robber ruffles feathers at zoo

OSHKOSH — A foul robber has made off with a fowl haul.

Nine birds — a screech owl that is blind in one eye, three ring-necked pheasants and five quail — were snatched by someone who broke into a zoo’s Wisconsin Native Bird Aviary.

Terry Steele, enrichment coordinator with the Oshkosh Zoological Society, said children he was teaching in a class noticed a hole cut in the wire screening at the aviary Monday.

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