- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 29, 2004

TEXAS

Engineer killed in train collision

SAN ANTONIO — Two freight trains collided yesterday morning, killing an engineer, derailing 40 cars and releasing clouds of chlorine and ammonium nitrate that shut down two busy roads.

The gas clouds dissipated by late morning, after drifting up to 10 miles to the SeaWorld amusement park, and the four leaking cars were thought to be nearly empty, fire department officials said.

Police confirmed the engineer’s death. Fifteen persons, six of them from SeaWorld, were treated for respiratory irritation.

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train was pulling onto a siding when it was struck by a Union Pacific freight train at about 5 a.m., said Joe Faust, a spokesman for Fort Worth-based Burlington. No evacuations were ordered, but two heavily traveled roads in the area were closed.

LOUISIANA

Truckers strike over wages, fuel costs

NEW ORLEANS — Upset over wages, fuel costs and anti-union laws, hundreds of independent truckers went on strike at several U.S. ports yesterday, slowing the movement of cargo containers that can hold everything from furniture to electronics to frozen food.

Nationwide independent truckers, who get paid by the load, called for a strike from yesterday to Sunday.

About 200 independent truckers demonstrated at Port Newark, one of the nation’s busiest container ports, said Tiffany Townsend, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. About 30 independent truckers went on strike at the Port of New Orleans.

Dozens of independent truckers walked picket lines in South Carolina outside the Port of Charleston, the nation’s fourth-busiest container port.

ALABAMA

Straw-poll grocery put up for sale

SLAPOUT — Beulah Farmer, 75, is selling her Twin Pines Grocery. It was the site of a straw poll that drew political strategists and journalists trying to predict who was going to be the next governor or even president.

Voters in the rural voting district were known for an uncanny ability to predict the outcome of elections.

ARKANSAS

Gay parade held after a stink

CONWAY — Organizers of a Gay Pride parade awoke to find the parade route covered in cow manure, but it was cleaned up in time for the event.

Police said the dump-truck load was spread early Sunday morning. Authorities are investigating and criminal mischief and littering charges could be filed.

The parade attracted an estimated 275 marchers in the town of 26,000.

CALIFORNIA

Mountain lion attacks woman

LOS ANGELES — A woman was attacked by a mountain lion while hiking in central California, but was rescued when her friends stabbed the animal with a knife and threw rocks at it, officials said.

Shannon Parker lost her right eye, was injured in her other eye and suffered deep lacerations to her right thigh during the attack Saturday, officials with the California Department of Fish and Game said.

Miss Parker, 27, of Santa Monica, was transferred to UCLA Medical Center, where she underwent reconstructive surgery Sunday morning, department spokesman Steve Martarano said.

The lion was later killed by U.S. Forest Service officers and state game wardens, Mr. Martarano said.

COLORADO

Court rules vouchers are unconstitutional

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the state’s school voucher program is unconstitutional because it strips local school boards of control over education.

Colorado’s voucher law — the first in the nation since the U.S. Supreme Court said in 2002 that voucher programs are acceptable — was never put into effect because of legal challenges.

The high court’s 4-3 decision upheld a lower court ruling.

The law would have offered vouchers of $4,500 a year to public school students to help cover their tuition at private or parochial schools.

GEORGIA

Clemency denied in case involving Bible

ATLANTA — Georgia’s parole board denied clemency yesterday for a death row inmate whose lawyers argued the prosecutor suggested at trial that the Ten Commandments do not recognize insanity as a defense for murder.

Robert Karl Hicks’ lawyers said in their clemency petition that jurors followed the prosecutor’s instructions to apply divine law and spent the early part of their deliberations “in group prayer.”

His lawyers had asked the state parole board to commute the death sentence. The parole board rejected the petition.

Barring any successful last-minute appeals, the 47-year-old Hicks will die by injection tomorrow for killing 28-year-old Toni Strickland Rivers on July 13, 1985.

IDAHO

Health insurer accusedof threatening business

POCATELLO — Fourteen counties are suing BlueCross and BlueShield, claiming the Blues are trying to run the counties self-insurance program out of business.

BlueCross and BlueShield deny the accusation. The counties say the Blues want to resume charging excessive premiums.

ILLINOIS

Rare earthquake rattles Midwest

CHICAGO — A rare earthquake struck northern Illinois early yesterday, rattling windows and awakening residents across several states.

There were no reports of injuries or major damage from the quake, which occurred at 1:11 a.m. CDT.

Brian Lassige, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado, said the quake was magnitude 4.5, and its epicenter was about eight miles northwest of Ottawa in northern Illinois, close to the village of Troy Grove.

The geological survey said the three-second quake occurred at a depth of 3.1 miles in a geologic structure associated with the Sandwich Fault Zone.

Another quake early yesterday awakened residents of the Alaska Panhandle. No significant damage was reported from the quake, which occurred at 2:50 a.m. PDT. The quake, centered beneath the ocean, had a magnitude of 6.7, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

MINNESOTA

Frequent fliers line up to bypass scrutiny

MINNEAPOLIS — A group of frequent fliers stood in long lines at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport yesterday, hoping the wait would mean less time queued up in the future.

Those chosen for a three-month pilot program for the Transportation Security Administration will be able to bypass extra security inspections if they agree to submit to background checks in advance.

Only fliers who travel at least 75,000 miles a year contacted by Northwest Airlines are eligible. The TSA aims to sign up 2,000 people who fly often through the Minneapolis facility, said spokeswoman Amy Von Walter.

The test program, starting sometime in July, will be expanded to airports in Boston, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington between now and November, officials said. It could be expanded nationally based on the tests results and funding.

MISSISSIPPI

All-black school’s museum to open

JACKSON — A museum documenting the history and accomplishments of an all-black school will open this week. The Picayune Carver Culture Museum Board founded the museum in honor of George Washington Carver High School and its former students.

During segregation the school managed to field a nationally ranked football team and send students to top colleges.

TENNESSEE

Lottery winner wants some air conditioning

KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee Lottery’s biggest winner to date has hot plans for his cool million, like putting central heat and air conditioning into the converted barn his family calls home.

Mark Silor won $1 million Saturday in the Tennessee Lottery’s Millionaire Live Drawing in Nashville.

Mr. Silor, 35, and his wife, Rose, will have $750,000 in winnings after taxes. They are hoping to add central heat and air conditioning, a water heater and bigger bathtub and make other renovations to the barn, which is insulated with old newspapers.

Mr. Silor said he plans to give about $25,000 to breast cancer research in honor of his mother, who died of the disease when he was 15, and $1,000 apiece to 19 of his co-workers at Camel Custom Canvas Shop.

VERMONT

Wind uproots tent at wedding, killing one

ISLE LA MOTTE — A gust of wind uprooted a tent at a wedding moments after the couple recited their vows, killing one guest and injuring more than a dozen others.

Tent poles, stakes and broken glass and china went flying through the air Saturday at the wedding of Jason and Carrie Guyette as a storm moved in.

The bridegroom’s step-grandmother was killed by a pole.

The guests sustained mostly cuts and scrapes. One guest was held overnight at a hospital with a concussion and cuts.

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