- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004


Hundreds remove graffiti from synagogue

DENVER — About 300 people of different faiths turned out to clean up a synagogue vandalized with swastikas and Nazi symbols on the eve of the Jewish holiday Purim.

So many people showed up Sunday at the BMH-BJ Congregation, where the vandalism had been discovered the day before, that some had to stand in line for a turn with a brush and a can of paint thinner.

“This is a place for everyone,” said Doug Mix, who is not a member of the congregation. “There are Christians, Jews, Muslims and people who are not religious. We all came out here because America is still America, and we don’t tolerate this.”

A custodian for the synagogue discovered about 10 markings when he arrived Saturday morning. Purim was celebrated Saturday night and Sunday. Police had not made any arrests by yesterday.


High winds result in 200,000 outages

HUNTERSVILLE — A cold front that blew into North Carolina with winds of up to 70 mph snapped trees and power lines statewide, cutting electricity to up to 200,000 customers and resulting in two deaths.

Crews worked through the night to restore power from the late Sunday storm, reducing outages by midday yesterday to about 25,000.

In Huntersville, just north of Charlotte, a man was killed when struck on the head by a tree. Authorities said 81-year-old Howard Drustin had gone out on his deck to secure some furniture and watch the storm.

In Mount Airy, a man riding a motorcycle was killed when winds blew the bike into the path of an oncoming car, authorities said. Zachary Shelton was pronounced dead at the scene.


Ex-firefighter sentenced for igniting wildfire

PHOENIX — A former firefighter who admitted igniting what became the biggest wildfire in Arizona history was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison.

Leonard Gregg, who told authorities he was trying to make work for himself, pleaded guilty Oct. 20 in federal court to two counts of intentionally setting a fire. Gregg, 31, made no plea agreement and was given the maximum prison sentence.

He was also ordered to pay $27 million in restitution.

The fire started June 18, 2002, by Gregg, a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, merged with another started by a woman who was lost in the woods and trying to attract the attention of a helicopter. The fire burned 469,000 acres in eastern Arizona, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing 30,000 people to evacuate.


Fryer starts blaze at fire station

MELBOURNE — Firefighters responding to emergencies here were in such a rush that they forgot to turn off a fryer in their kitchen. So the next emergency call involved a fire that started at their own station.

No one was injured in the blaze Thursday, because all four firefighters working at the time were out responding to several calls.

The building suffered a combination of smoke and fire damage, and the battalion chief has asked the city for a live-in trailer for the firefighters. He said the fire was accidental and no one would be reprimanded.


Funds raised to display Commandments

OGHAMILTON — Bobby Haralson decided to raise money for a Ten Commandments monument after the County Commission gave up its legal fight to display the Commandments in the courthouse.

Mr. Haralson and about 20 friends, who call themselves the Hamilton International Breakfast Club, raised $1,800 for the 4-by-6 foot replica. It is made from weather-resistant Styrofoam and mounted on wood on the side of a building across from the courthouse.


Governor signs compensation bill

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, a Democrat, signed a bill that will provide more than $1 million to nine wrongfully convicted former inmates pardoned by former Republican Gov. George Ryan.

Before he left office in January 2003, Mr. Ryan emptied death row. He pardoned four men he believed were not guilty and commuted the death sentences of 167 others to life in prison. The former inmates will receive between $60,150 and $161,000.


Officer arraigned in shooting of black teen

LOUISVILLE — A police officer who shot a black teenager pleaded not guilty to a murder charge at his arraignment yesterday.

Officer McKenzie Mattingly was indicted Friday by a grand jury, which also charged him with wanton endangerment.

Officer Mattingly, 31, entered his plea in a Jefferson Circuit courtroom packed with at least two dozen uniformed officers and the family of 19-year-old Michael Newby, the man he is accused of killing.

Police have described the Jan. 3 shooting as an undercover drug buy gone bad between the undercover officer and Mr. Newby, who was shot in the back. Commonwealth’s Attorney David Stengel said the “placement of the shots” was a key factor leading to the indictment.


Lowering cholesterol saves patients’ lives

NEW ORLEANS — Lowering heart attack victims’ cholesterol to levels dramatically below current standards appears to be an important strategy for saving lives and preventing new heart problems, a major new study shows.

Drugs called statins are already standard medicine for people recovering from heart attacks. But the study suggests newer, more potent varieties work best for these high-risk patients. Those who did best saw their levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, plunge in half, to an average of just 62.


Gang members sue police

PORTLAND — Members of a purported street gang sued Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood and one of his lieutenants for a policy aimed at keeping gang members out of bars in the city’s Old Port section.

The federal suit says the department violated gang members’ civil rights by circulating their names and pictures among bar owners. Police warned that serving the men could affect renewal of liquor licenses.


Fire destroys Farrakhan barn

NEW BUFFALO TOWNSHIP — A fire destroyed a barn at a farm owned by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, killing 22 animals, authorities said.

The barn was destroyed Sunday, but firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to a nearby maintenance shed, New Buffalo Township Clerk Judy Zabicki said.

No one was injured in the fire and the cause was under investigation.


Pastor dies after assault inside church

ST. LOUIS — A 78-year-old clergyman has died nearly two months after he was robbed and beaten inside his church.

The Rev. Curtis McClain Sr. never regained consciousness after the Jan. 11 attack at Broadway Baptist Church. He died Sunday at a nursing home, according to his son, the Rev. Curtis McClain Jr.

The accused attacker, Thomas Gunter, had been charged with robbery and stealing. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said yesterday that she will seek a first-degree murder charge. The case was expected to go before a grand jury today.


Ranchers may care for wild horses

LAS VEGAS — The government is considering paying ranchers in Nevada and other Western states to care for wild horses removed from federal rangeland, instead of sending the animals to sanctuaries in the Midwest.

Officials at the Bureau of Land Management said the practice could save money and be healthier for the horses.

The nation has an estimated 38,000 wild horses, more than half of them roaming across Nevada.


Unemployed have mysterious benefactor

BISMARCK — Five unemployed persons have a mysterious guardian angel to thank.

An envelope was left at the offices of Bismarck Job Service, which links employers and would-be employees. Director Wayne Brostrom opened the envelope to find five $100 bills and a letter.

“After receiving numerous rejection letters, I was recently hired for my dream job in Bismarck. I would like to thank Job Service,” the letter said.

“Many people in Bismarck are actively seeking employment. In order to give them hope, I am enclosing $500 in cash. Please give a $100 bill to five unemployed people in Bismarck. Use your best judgment to determine the most deserving individuals.”


Parrot recovering from malnutrition

TOLEDO — Susan Orosz held the yellow-naped Amazon parrot in her hand — its talons clutching her finger — and squawked it a greeting.

“Hey, Big Bird,” it responded.

The interaction was a welcome sound for Miss Orosz, who has spent the last week treating the bird, hoping to bring it back from malnutrition.

The parrot was one of 30 exotic birds surrendered to the Toledo Area Humane Society. The birds were found in a house in cages filled with feces. Many of the birds had severe medical problems.

The owner has not been charged, according to the Toledo Blade.


TV show leads to fatal shooting

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma woman fatally shot her husband during a fight after the couple watched a daytime TV talk show on how to survive domestic violence, officials said yesterday.

Teri Lynn Carver, 35, is not facing charges for gunning down her husband, Cecil, 38, at their home in the northeastern Oklahoma town of Rose because evidence at the scene suggested the death was an accident, District Attorney Gene Haynes said.

Police and prosecutors said the couple was in bed Feb. 24 smoking marijuana and watching a Montel Williams TV talk show on surviving a lover’s attack. Teri told her husband that his actions resembled those of abusive husbands featured on the show, which caused Cecil to turn violent. He struck his wife, got a handgun and fired a shot into the bed’s headboard, police said.

Teri then called for help and when her husband tried to wrestle the phone away from her, she reached for the gun. Teri shot her husband in the arm and the bullet entered his chest, killing him, police said.


Note sent aloft returns after 20 years

CONNOQUENESSING — A note sent aloft on a green balloon 20 years ago by an elementary school student was returned last week by someone who lives halfway across the state.

Shane Fleeger, now 30, received the laminated note he had sent out as a fourth-grader in nearby Butler. The note, which arrived last week to the school office, had asked the receiver to please send it back.

Somehow, the note made its way about 170 miles southeast to Robert Brindle’s farm in St. Thomas, Franklin County.


Shelter dogs burned by chemicals

ANDERSON — An internal investigation into an incident in which six dogs were burned by chemicals at the Anderson County Animal Shelter led to disciplinary action against employees, officials said.

Environmental Services Director Vic Carpenter said he was unable to determine whether the Jan. 16 spill of an industrial-strength degreasing chemical on six dogs was intentional or accidental.


Researchers use laughter for healing

MEMPHIS — Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are testing the healing power of laughter. They are adding therapies such as massage, humor and relaxation training to the standard drug regimen.

They want to find out whether they provide more than short-term relief for young cancer patients. The hospital landed a five-year, $2 million National Cancer Institute grant for the study.


FBI investigates vandalized mosque

LUBBOCK — The FBI and police are investigating anti-Muslim graffiti and broken furniture at a mosque that Muslim leaders say was a hate crime.

Imam Mohamed El-Moctar said his office at the Islamic Center of the South Plains was ransacked when he arrived for morning prayers Sunday. Windows were smashed, furniture was broken and pro-American and anti-Muslim slogans were written on the walls.


Sheriff to write book on ‘Green River Killer’

SEATTLE — King County Sheriff Dave Reichert is working on a book about the case of Gary Ridgway, the so-called “Green River Killer.” Sheriff Reichert was the first investigator on the case in the early 1980s.

In November 2001, Ridgway was arrested. Last December, he pleaded guilty to 48 killings in a deal to avoid the death penalty. Sheriff Reichert’s book is scheduled to be published this year.

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