- The Washington Times - Monday, March 15, 2004


Clark campaign goods sold

LITTLE ROCK — About 300 people packed into the offices that once served as Wesley Clark’s campaign headquarters for a chance at history — and used office supplies.

Some who attended the auction Friday were supporters of the former Democratic presidential hopeful, while others were adding to their offices. Still others hoped to make money reselling the items.

Steve Lopata couldn’t pass up a pile of campaign memorabilia — including stickers, posters, mouse pads and a miniature Clark Bar candy bar — for $27.50. The event netted about $27,000.


Soldier turns himself in, seeks discharge

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE — A Florida soldier who refused to return to duty in Iraq turned himself in to military authorities yesterday and said he would seek conscientious-objector status and an administrative discharge.

Accompanied by his attorney, Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, 28, surrendered at the base’s gate to two military police officers, who drove him away. A crowd of peace activists cheered Sgt. Mejia: “We love you,” “Go with God.”

Sgt. Mejia was in Iraq from March until October last year, when he returned home on leave. “I am saying no to war; I have chosen peace,” he said earlier at a news conference at Sherborn arranged by antiwar activists.


Navajo soldier to receive decorations

CHINLE — An American Indian who used his fluency in Navajo to help U.S. Marines in World War II finally will get the Purple Heart he long has deserved.

Teddy Draper Sr., a so-called “code talker” who communicated with other Navajo Indians in the Battle of Iwo Jima, also will receive veterans benefits for hearing loss, temporary blindness and other injuries suffered in a mortar blast in the 1945 battle.

Mr. Draper and more than 400 other Navajos used their language to befuddle Japanese efforts to decipher secret U.S. military communications during World War II.

Mr. Draper was treated by battlefield medics who made no record of his injuries and promptly returned him to combat. His requests for benefits first were denied in 1946.


Massacre victims died from gunshots

FRESNO — All nine family members discovered slain in a Fresno home over the weekend had been fatally shot, the coroner’s office said yesterday.

The victims were found tangled in a pile of clothes when police went to the home about a child-custody dispute on Friday. Marcus Wesson, thought to be the father and grandfather of the victims, walked out of the home covered in blood and was booked on suspicion of nine counts of murder.

Authorities are expected to release the names of the victims by Friday: a 24-year-old woman and eight children ranging in age from 1 to 17. The victims, who had six different mothers, showed no signs of physical or sexual abuse, Coroner Loralee Cervantes said yesterday.

Mr. Wesson, 57, is thought to have fathered children with at least four women, including two of his daughters. His arraignment was scheduled for tomorrow, and bail was set at $9 million.


Father jailed in death of baby left in car

HALLANDALE BEACH — Florida officials are investigating the death of a 9-month-old girl inside her father’s car at a racetrack.

The baby’s father, Antonio Francisco Balta, 27, was arrested and charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child. He was being held Sunday at the Broward County Jail without bail, the Miami Herald reported yesterday.

The death occurred Saturday at Gulfstream Park as crowds arrived to hear a concert and watch the Florida Derby, Hallandale Beach police said.

The child’s mother, Michelle Bashford, 22, was working as a waitress at the track’s Royal Palm restaurant when the baby died.


CDC chief decries outbreak readiness

ATLANTA — Doctors in the United States are “woefully underprepared” to recognize the start of a disease outbreak or a release of toxic chemicals, the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday.

Better diagnostic tests are needed to help doctors detect unusual diseases and substances in time to stop major outbreaks, said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC.

Dr. Gerberding spoke at the start of the International Conference on Biomarkers for Toxicology and Molecular Epidemiology, which examines the latest in biosensors for detecting dangerous substances.


Study recognizes hospital improvements

EVANSTON — Solucient for the first time is recognizing 100 U.S. hospitals with the highest rates of improved patient outcomes and financial performance in a five-year period.

Senior management at these hospitals developed an organizationwide culture of performance improvement, said the study, which appeared in yesterday’s edition of Modern Healthcare magazine.

Based on an analysis of overall U.S. hospital-improvement rates from 1997 to 2001, the study identifies organizations that have improved in critical measures at a faster rate than other U.S. hospitals. These measures include quality of care, operational efficiency and financial performance.


Painted baseball aims for record

ALEXANDRIA — A man who has spent years applying layers of paint to a baseball that has grown to enormous proportions is hoping to have it declared the world’s largest ball of paint.

For the past 27 years, Mike Carmichael has been painting a baseball that hangs in a shed behind his home. It now weighs 1,300 pounds, is more than 35 inches in diameter and has a 111-inch circumference under more than 18,000 layers of paint.

On Saturday, Mr. Carmichael watched as a crew took a core sample from the green ball that is needed before it can earn a spot in the Guinness Book of Records.

In honor of Mr. Carmichael’s work, Saturday was declared Ball of Paint Day in Alexandria, about 25 miles northeast of Indianapolis. It started with a proclamation honoring Mr. Carmichael on the steps of City Hall, followed by a photo exhibit and ending with the core sample taken at his home.


Upper Plains gets hit with snowstorm

DES MOINES — A late-winter storm dumped as much as 6 inches of snow on southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska.

Meteorologists said the storm, which left up to a half-foot of snow in the Upper Plains late Sunday, was spreading through Iowa and northern Missouri early yesterday, leaving 4 to 8 inches of wet snow in its path.

Farther south, isolated severe thunderstorms with large hail and gusty winds were forecast for southeastern Oklahoma and the Arkansas-Louisiana-Texas region as a cold front pushed in from the Northwest.


Police arrest two in off-campus rapes

NEW BRUNSWICK — Police have arrested two men in an attack on three women who were raped and robbed in an apartment one block from the Rutgers University campus by a gang of intruders in ski masks.

The men were arrested Sunday and jailed without bail. Timothy Heard, 18, was charged with aggravated sexual assault, burglary and robbery. Raymond E. Dargan, 20, was charged with robbery and burglary.

The attacks occurred early March 8 when a group of at least three men, wearing ski masks and armed with a knife and a gun, entered the ground-floor apartment, police said. Some of the victims were said to be students.


Police name suspect in sniper shootings

COLUMBUS — Authorities released the name of a suspect yesterday in two dozen highway sniper shootings that have left one woman dead and unnerved motorists for months.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said Charles A. McCoy Jr., 28, of Columbus, should be considered armed and dangerous.

Chief Deputy Steve Martin would not say what evidence led investigators to Mr. McCoy, and authorities did not have a warrant for his arrest. He didn’t say when investigators would seek one.

“The key issue for us right now is to locate this guy,” Chief Deputy Martin said. “We believe he bought another gun.”

The shootings at vehicles and buildings around Interstate 270, which circles the city, and other highways started in May, although most have occurred since October. The most recent was on Valentine’s Day. One woman was killed in a November shooting.


Suspect denies Iraq-agent charges

NEW YORK — A former journalist and Democratic congressional aide pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges she was a paid Iraqi intelligence agent and defended her antiwar efforts as “always good for homeland security.”

Susan Lindauer emerged from U.S. District Court in Manhattan blaming President Bush for her troubles, saying the president would rather see her testify in court than before commissions investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.

“I am incredibly proud of my work,” Miss Lindauer said after entering the plea to charges she conspired to act as an unregistered agent of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and engaged in prohibited financial transactions with Iraq.

“I have actively contributed to peace-building efforts and conflict resolution in the Middle East for many years,” she said.

Prosecutors say she accepted $10,000 from the Iraqi government and plotted to aid resistance groups loyal to Saddam Hussein.


FBI arrests logging opponent

PORTLAND — A radical environmentalist has been arrested by federal officials on charges of setting fire to logging and cement trucks in 2001, the FBI announced yesterday.

Fugitive Michael Scarpitti has been on the FBI’s most-wanted list since disappearing two years ago. He is among four activists charged with setting logging trucks on fire on June 1, 2001, to protest logging on the slopes of Mount Hood.

Three other suspects were captured after one of them told a girlfriend about the crime, according to arrest papers. The girlfriend’s father is a deputy state fire marshal.

Mr. Scarpitti also is accused of taking part in an April 15, 2001, arson attack that damaged three cement trucks at Ross Island Sand & Gravel in Portland. Mr. Scarpitti, also known as Tre Arrow, has had ties to the Earth Liberation Front, which the FBI lists as its top domestic terror priority.


State officials halt 2 executions

HOUSTON — Prosecutors said yesterday that they want two death sentences put on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue of executing juveniles.

Jane Scott, an assistant Harris County prosecutor, said the office has asked judges to cancel the scheduled June executions of Raul Omar Villarreal and Efrain Perez. They were 17 when they raped and strangled two Houston girls in 1993.

The Supreme Court already has stayed two Texas juvenile executions until it can hear a Missouri case in which the execution of juveniles was ruled unconstitutional.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said there are 72 U.S. death row inmates who were juveniles at the time of their crimes. Mr. Dieter expects the Supreme Court to rule on the issue early next year.


Attorney says Janklow on duty during crash

SIOUX FALLS — Bill Janklow was on duty as South Dakota’s congressman when his car collided with a motorcycle last summer, meaning federal taxpayers would pay any civil damages arising from the fatal crash, a prosecutor has concluded.

U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger’s decision came in connection with a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the former congressman and governor by the family of motorcyclist Randy Scott.

In concluding that Janklow was on duty at the time, Mr. Heffelfinger filed a notice yesterday asking that the case be moved from state to federal court and that the federal government be substituted as the defendant for Janklow.


Textbooks recycled to Iraqi colleges

MEMPHIS — Students at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center have a good use for their old textbooks. They are now on their way to Iraq.

Jonathan Erpenbach, a third-year medical student, said the idea came to him after he learned students studying medicine and health care in Iraq had little with which to work after years of dictatorship, sanctions, war and looting.

He led fellow students in a roundup of used textbooks. They have collected about 2,200 that will be heading for Iraq. Although the U.S. military will help by providing the transportation overseas, the medical students have to come up with the money to get the books as far as the American Red Cross in New York.


Woman denies guilt in baby’s death

SALT LAKE CITY — The woman charged with murder after avoiding a Caesarean section that doctors say would have saved the lives of her unborn twins pleaded not guilty yesterday.

One of the babies, a boy, was stillborn. The other, a girl, survived and has been adopted.

Melissa Ann Rowland, 28, appeared in court via video teleconference from jail. Her attorney entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf to one count of criminal homicide.

Miss Rowland, who has denied refusing a Caesarean section, also faces child-endangerment charges for the surviving baby, who was found to have cocaine and alcohol in her system. She is scheduled to be in court today on that charge.

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