- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2004

FLORIDA

Legislators honor National Guard

TALLAHASSEE — Tributes to state residents serving overseas in the military and those who have returned home were part of yesterday’s ceremonial opening of the Florida Legislature.

The House warmly received Rep. Carey Baker, Eustis Republican, who served in Iraq as a Florida National Guard 1st Sergeant.

“These men fought for the very reason we’re in this building — for safety, for freedom, and opportunity of democracy,” said Sgt. Baker, who wore military fatigues and remembered the four Florida National Guardsmen who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan,

Meanwhile outside, the Rev. Jesse Jackson led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other liberal organizations in demonstrating against Gov. Jeb Bush with the slogan, “Enough is Enough — A Call to Action.” The main issues of the protest were jobs, education, racial equality and health care.

TEXAS

PAIGE APOLOGIZES FOR REMARKS

DALLAS — EDUCATION SECRETARY ROD PAIGE APOLOGIZED FOR CALLING THE NATION’S LARGEST TEACHERS UNION A “TERRORIST ORGANIZATION,” SAYING IN AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED YESTERDAY THAT HE MADE A “VERY POOR WORD CHOICE.”

“I CHOSE MY WORDS CARELESSLY, AND I AM SORRY FOR THE HURT THEY CAUSED,” MR. PAIGE WROTE IN AN COLUMN PUBLISHED IN THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS.

MR. PAIGE SAID HE SPOKE IN FRUSTRATION WITH THE LACK OF PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION’S EDUCATION REFORMS AND BLAMED THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION.

ALABAMA

Accused bomber fights death penalty

BIRMINGHAM — Eric Rudolph’s lawyers are asking a judge to disallow the federal death penalty if he is convicted in a deadly abortion clinic bombing.

In court papers released yesterday, the defense argued that the federal death penalty is cruel and unusual and imposed arbitrarily.

Mr. Rudolph is scheduled to stand trial Aug. 2 for a bombing that killed an off-duty policeman and critically wounded a nurse at a Birmingham clinic in 1998.

He also is charged with the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and with two 1997 attacks in Atlanta.

ALASKA

Self-defense skills save woman’s life

ANCHORAGE — A woman’s quick thinking and self-defense skills might have saved her life, though the family dog she left behind when she fled fell victim to a stranger’s drug-fueled rampage through her home, police said.

Tommie Earl Smith of Anchorage was charged with cruelty to animals, first-degree burglary, fourth-degree assault and third-degree criminal mischief.

Mr. Smith is accused of strong-arming his way into the home of Theresa Keppler and torturing and killing her German shepherd as he kept police at bay outside.

ARIZONA

School districts boost classroom funding

PHOENIX — Arizona school districts are increasing the percentage of funding that goes directly to classrooms, according to a state audit.

The annual report shows 58.6 percent in 2002-2003 went to teacher salaries, classroom supplies and other instructional spending. That’s up from 58.2 percent the previous year but still under the national average of 61.6 percent.

CALIFORNIA

Man faces child porn charges

EL DORADO — A 41-year-old man has been ordered held without bond on federal child pornography charges. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents say they seized images from his home showing he engaged in sexual acts with his 2-month-old daughter.

ICE agents said yesterday the infant, now 8 months old, is one of the youngest sexual assault victims they have ever encountered.

Larry Michael Jeffs of El Dorado Hills was arrested at his home Thursday after ICE agents operating as part of “Operator Predator” recovered sexually explicit video images showing him engaging in sexual acts with the infant, ICE spokesman Michael E. Keegan said.

GEORGIA

Doctors urged to limit antibiotics

ATLANTA — Two leading medical groups are expected to recommend this spring that doctors stop treating most middle-ear infections in children with antibiotics, federal health officials said yesterday at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Health officials believe if they can reduce child antibiotic use for ear infections, then they can help reduce the rise of antibiotic-resistant germs created by overuse of the drugs.

MAINE

Asbestos slows building cleanup

BANGOR — The discovery of asbestos will delay the cleanup of rubble from the downtown Masonic Hall building.

A fire during a January cold snap led to the five-story building being encrusted in a thick glaze of ice. Later, officials demolished the building because the heavy ice made it unstable. Asbestos was found in the furnace area, lodge officials said.

MASSACHUSETTS

JFK library opens Kissinger papers

BOSTON — The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is making available papers pertaining to Henry Kissinger’s work as a consultant to the National Security Council during the Kennedy administration.

Mr. Kissinger, who later served in the Nixon and Ford administrations as secretary of state and assistant for national security affairs, was appointed a part-time consultant to Mr. Kennedy in 1961, a job he performed while continuing to work as a professor at Harvard.

MISSOURI

Surveyors halt bridge construction

LEXINGTON — Construction stopped on a half-mile-long bridge over the Missouri River after surveyors discovered the span is as much as 6 inches lower than it should be over three stretches.

Contractors already had laid 200,000-pound steel girders, some of them 120 feet long, when the flaws were discovered. The steel plates on which the girders rest were built too short.

NEBRASKA

Woman’s bedmaking worth her while

OGALLALA — Ida Doggett made her bed … and now she’s $4,444 richer.

Miss Doggett, head housekeeper at the Ogallala Super 8 motel, used her skills at making a bed to take third place out of 28 contestants in the Super 8 Motels International Bedmaking Championships in Minneapolis on Jan. 31.

She changed the sheets and did the necessary tucking and folding in 2 minutes, 5 seconds.

In the final round, misfortune struck when one of Miss Doggett’s pillows fell on the floor, resulting in a five-second penalty. She lost to the first-place winner by less than 2 seconds.

NEW MEXICO

Truants will lose driving privileges

ALBUQUERQUE — Students who habitually skip school could lose driving privileges under legislation signed by Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.

The law defines a habitual truant as a student with 10 or more unexcused absences in a school year. Such students would lose their driving privileges for 90 days and up to a year for subsequent infractions.

NEW YORK

Police ordered to see ‘Passion’

NEW YORK — New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit cops have been ordered by their supervisor to see actor/director Mel Gibson’s film about the last hours of Jesus Christ, the New York Post reported yesterday.

Inspector Dennis Blackman told the 20 detectives under his command to watch “The Passion of the Christ” in light of concerns the movie could lead to an upsurge in anti-Semitism.

The Post said about half the cops in the unit have done so.

NORTH CAROLINA

Ex-official jailed for taking payoffs

GREENVILLE — Former state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison for taking payoffs from carnival operators seeking contracts to work at the North Carolina State Fair.

Phipps, 48, pleaded guilty in November to extortion, fraud and conspiracy. She admitted accepting about $12,000 in illegal contributions for her 2000 campaign and spending some of the money on herself.

U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard also fined Phipps $25,000.

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