- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 11, 2004

NEW YORK

Officers confiscate man’s monkeys

NEW YORK — A man will have to find a way to live without his prize possessions — six little monkeys and a spider.

Two marmosets, two capuchins, two squirrel monkeys and the tarantula were confiscated from the home of Orlando Lopez on Tuesday, leaving him brokenhearted.

Mike Pastore, director of field operations for Animal Care and Control, said the monkeys were in good condition, but they did not belong in an apartment.

Mr. Lopez was allowed to keep his Great Dane, a Chihuahua, a cat and a tank of fish. He was issued a summons to appear before the environmental commission.

TEXAS

Man sentenced in plague vial case

LUBBOCK — A former Texas Tech University professor who started a bioterrorism scare when he reported plague bacteria missing last year was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison.

Thomas C. Butler, 62, also was fined $15,000 and ordered to pay restitution of $38,000. He earlier had agreed to retire from the school and surrender his medical license. He remains free on bail but must report to federal authorities April 14.

The father of four had faced up to 240 years in prison and millions in fines for convictions that stemmed from an investigation after his report in January 2003 that 30 vials of the bacteria were missing from his lab.

ALASKA

Four-time winner drops out of Iditarod

TAKOTNA — Blind in one eye, four-time winner Doug Swingley dropped out of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race yesterday, saying he froze his corneas after removing his goggles.

The 50-year-old musher said he took off his goggles two days earlier because they were fogging up as he went down a gorge along a treacherous part of the route.

Thirty-eight miles up the trail, three-time Iditarod winner Jeff King held the lead, followed by four-time winner Martin Buser.

The 1,100-mile Anchorage-to-Nome trek is the world’s longest sled dog race. A record 87 mushers are competing in the 2004 Iditarod, which began Sunday. First prize is $69,000 and a new truck.

ARIZONA

Highest growth rate of children is in state

PHOENIX — Arizona, long thought of as a retirement state, is adding young children to its population at the fastest rate in the nation, according to census figures.

Census Bureau estimates show that between April 2000 and July, Arizona had the highest growth rate of children under age 5. By July, census officials estimated there were 436,170 children under 5 in Arizona out of an overall population of 5.6 million.

The majority of the increase is attributed to families moving to Arizona from other states and from Mexico because of a promising economic environment and the low cost of living, according to economists.

CALIFORNIA

Student arrested in SUV arsons

LOS ANGELES — A California Institute of Technology graduate student was arrested Tuesday in connection with an August arson and vandalism spree targeting 125 sport utility vehicles at four car dealerships, the FBI said.

William Cottrell, 23, used an alias when he e-mailed the Los Angeles Times, claiming to be a member of the eco-terrorist group Earth Liberation Front and offering specific details to prove his involvement in the firebombings, the FBI said.

Authorities searched campus classrooms and tracked the e-mail to Mr. Cottrell, a grad student in the physics department, according to the affidavit. They also seized six computers from the campus.

FLORIDA

Woman jailed after probation violation

PORT CHARLOTTE — A woman who says she could not hear her probation officer knocking and yelling because she was in the shower during the visit got a loud and clear message from a judge.

Valda Lenette Morris was sentenced to 30 months in state prison Monday for violating her probation.

The probation violation was her second since Circuit Judge Ric Howard spared her prison time for pleading guilty to grand theft in 2002.

GEORGIA

Dreaded cotton pest virtually wiped out

ALBANY — The boll weevil, the ravenous pest that dethroned cotton as the king of Southern crops, apparently has been wiped out across most of the region, thanks to a 20-year program largely funded by farmers.

Workers monitoring traps around cotton fields in Georgia, Virginia, northern Florida and the Carolinas did not find a single weevil last year, said Jim Wilson, program manager for the Southeastern Boll Weevil Eradication Program.

“North Carolina had done it before, but this was the first year Georgia was zero,” said Phillip Roberts, a University of Georgia entomologist who specializes in cotton. “To me, it’s a milestone.”

ILLINOIS

Program will train math teachers

SPRINGFIELD — The University of Illinois at Springfield received a $250,000 grant to create an online certification program that would help train math teachers.

University officials say more than 1,200 math teachers will be needed in Illinois by 2006. The program is designed for professionals who want to become math teachers but cannot leave their jobs to return to school.

MAINE

Man bucks plans for shopping center

AUGUSTA — A man who lives in a modest home on a dead-end street may soon find his house in the middle of a big shopping center’s parking lot.

Leonard Smith said he has no intention of seeing the Storey Street property where he has lived for five years sold under terms offered by the developer. But the owners of eight other homes on the street have decided to sell to Packard Development Corp.

The Newton, Mass., developer wants to build a 400,000-square-foot shopping center, which would include a Target department store and a Lowe’s home-building supply store.

The developer’s present plans show a parking lot surrounding Mr. Smith’s house. The shopping center would open in 2006.

LOUISIANA

Scalia returns, talks of judges’ independence

NEW ORLEANS — Two months after a hunting trip to Louisiana that had some questioning his integrity, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia returned Tuesday to talk about good and bad judges, but made no mention of the earlier controversy.

Justice Scalia was criticized in January because he flew down on a government plane with Vice President Dick Cheney after the Supreme Court had agreed to consider a privacy case involving Mr. Cheney’s energy task force.

Some legal ethicists, Democrats and the Sierra Club, one of the plaintiffs, have called on the justice to recuse himself from Mr. Cheney’s case. Justice Scalia has refused. He has also flatly rejected criticism that his independence was compromised by the trip and denied suggestions he could no longer impartially judge the suit against the vice president.

But it was that very topic — the independence and accountability of judges — that was the subject of the conference Justice Scalia was addressing. Justice Scalia himself took up the theme indirectly, castigating what he regards as a drift away from objectivity and integrity in judges’ decision making.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Inmates’ ruse led to fatal transfer

CONCORD — A man jailed on charges of killing his two children committed suicide last month after three inmates planted a homemade knife in his cell, causing him to be moved to a segregated unit, authorities said Tuesday.

Manuel Gehring used a bedsheet to strangle himself Feb. 19. He was facing trial on charges that he killed his children last summer and buried them somewhere in the Midwest.

Authorities said the inmates had personality conflicts with Gehring and planted the piece of sharpened steel where it would be found so that he would be moved from their unit. Initially, officials had said Gehring was moved because he violated prison rules.

No criminal charges against the inmates will be brought but they will be disciplined by Merrimack County jail authorities, officials said.

OREGON

Assisted suicide increases in state

PORTLAND — Physician-assisted suicide increased slightly in 2003 in Oregon, the only state that allows doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to terminally ill patients, according to a report released yesterday.

Forty-two terminally ill patients killed themselves last year under the assisted-suicide law, said the report by the Oregon Department of Human Services. It was an increase of about 10 percent from 2002, when 38 persons committed suicide legally.

The assisted-suicide law allows terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request a lethal dose of drugs after two doctors confirm the diagnosis and judge the patient mentally competent to make the request.

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber, a physician, signed the law in 1998. Since then, at least 133 persons have used the law to end their lives.

PENNSYLVANIA

CDC-backed meeting ends in anti-Bush rally

PHILADELPHIA — Public health advocates rallied yesterday against President Bush’s plan to expand abstinence education, calling instead for teaching youngsters about condoms.

About 200 people attended the rally at the close of the National STD Prevention Conference, chanting: “Bush get wise, condoms save lives.”

The conference was sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The Bush administration needs to fund comprehensive sex-education programs,” said Lauren Oshman, president of the American Medical Student Association, a co-sponsor of the rally.

Mr. Bush has proposed doubling funding to $270 million for abstinence programs, saying in his State of the Union address in January that abstinence is “the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.”

SOUTH CAROLINA

Workers oppose privatizing health care

COLUMBIA — State prison workers told Corrections Director Jon Ozmint they oppose a proposal to privatize health care at prisons because it could cost them their jobs.

Mr. Ozmint said the state is accepting bids on the prison health care contract until March 31. A committee will review proposals before a decision is made, he said.

TENNESSEE

Girl, 4, left in day care van

MEMPHIS — A 4-year-old girl was mistakenly locked in a day care center van for nine hours. Police said Karlissa Singleton was not harmed because Monday’s high temperature was only 61 degrees.

Since 1997, four children have died from the heat when left in vans by Memphis child care workers. State regulations require vans be checked for children at the end of trips.

WASHINGTON

Ferry towed for restoration

SEATTLE — After three years of uncertainty, delays and false starts, the once-proud ferry Kalakala has finally headed out of Lake Union for restoration.

A tug boat towed the ferry Tuesday away from its berth in the middle of Seattle toward Puget Sound to Neah Bay, where it will be moored for the work. The Kalakala, built in the mid-1930s, was once a Seattle icon, a pinnacle of art-deco elegance. It last carried passengers in 1967, but the following three decades brought less glory.

Since 1999, the rusted 276-foot ferry had languished at Lake Union.

NEVADA

Teen pleads guilty to arson

LAS VEGAS — Tim McCleary pleaded guilty to setting a fire in September that caused an estimated $10 million in damages to a partially built apartment complex.

McCleary, 17, will be sent to a juvenile correctional facility. The plea allowed him to avoid being tried as an adult.

WYOMING

Malpractice provider to leave state

CHEYENNE — Hundreds of doctors will have to find new medical malpractice insurance after the state’s largest provider of the coverage decided to leave the state.

The news about OHIC Insurance Co.’s withdrawal comes after lawmakers rejected major tort reform plans in the just-completed legislative session. The company will stop writing policies in Wyoming after August.

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