- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 10, 2004

CALIFORNIA

Man takes hostage at Mexican Consulate

LOS ANGELES — A man demanding media attention took a female employee hostage at the Mexican Consulate yesterday before he was wounded by police outside the building. The hostage escaped unharmed.

The hostage-taker was in critical condition, police Chief William Bratton said. The incident was not thought to involve terrorism, he said.

PENNSYLVANIA

College freshman finds new animal

PITTSBURGH — A freshman geology student on a field trip stumbled across the fossil of an oversized, salamanderlike creature that lived about 300 million years ago, paleontologists said.

Scientists say the find is both a new species and a new genus, a broader category in the classification of plants and animals.

University of Pittsburgh student Adam Striegel picked up what appeared to be a softball-sized rock along a fresh road cut near Pittsburgh International Airport and, thinking it was of little interest, threw it aside. He later retrieved the stone and showed it to class lecturer Charles Jones.

“It was immediately clear that this was rare,” Mr. Jones said Monday.

ARKANSAS

Governor gives push to covenant marriage

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife plan to convert their nuptial vows into a covenant marriage during a Mass on St. Valentine’s Day, giving a public push to the movement that seeks to strengthen marital ties and make it harder to get divorced.

The governor, a Republican and former Baptist minister, said Monday he hopes more than 1,000 other couples will join him for the conversion ceremony at a North Little Rock arena. Arkansas has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.

Covenant marriages, which also are an option in Louisiana and Arizona, usually require pre-wedding counseling and allow divorce only in cases of adultery, imprisonment, abandonment, abuse and after a substantial waiting period.

GEORGIA

Lawsuit challenges gay ‘marriage’ ban

ATLANTA — Homosexual-rights supporters filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to throw out a same-sex “marriage” ban voted into Georgia’s constitution last week.

They said the amendment contained misleading language, asking voters only if they wanted to define marriage as between a man and a woman, not whether they wanted to ban civil unions. The measure passed by a 3-1 margin on Nov. 2, winning with huge margins among almost every demographic.

In the Fulton County lawsuit, the homosexual-rights supporters call the amendment “fatally flawed” and say the language on the ballot “had the effect of unfairly attempting to influence voters.” The plaintiffs include two Democratic state legislators and a University of Georgia law professor.

The lawsuit names Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, as defendant. At a caucus meeting Monday for Republican Party members of the state House, members promised to fight the lawsuit.

“We will take all actions necessary to defend the decision of the people and will not look kindly upon any tampering with our state constitution,” said Rep. Glenn Richardson, Dallas Republican.

INDIANA

Ten children hurt in school bus crash

STOCKWELL — A truck slammed into the rear of a school bus that had just picked up a student along a highway yesterday, injuring at least 10 children.

The last two rows on the driver’s side of the bus were smashed in the crash, which happened along four-lane U.S. 52 near Lafayette in western Indiana.

The bus went off the side of the road and struck a van and a car in a church parking lot. The box truck ended up in the highway’s median, with much of its cab crushed.

Fourth-grader Kyle Flanagan, who was sitting in the middle of the bus, said he saw the truck just before it struck and grabbed his seat.

“Right after it happened, everybody screamed,” said Kyle, who was bruised under his left eye.

LOUISIANA

Obesity bad for heart even without disease

NEW ORLEANS — Just being obese — even if you don’t have diabetes, heart disease or ailments — is still a heavy load on your heart, researchers said yesterday.

A study of 27 obese persons found that these “non-complicated” patients, those obese but without diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, were more likely to suffer from a stiffened aorta, making the heart’s main artery less able to expand and contract normally. A control group of 12 non-obese subjects also was studied.

“It’s actually not a small subpopulation of the 300 million obese worldwide,” said Monique Robinson, cardiovascular research fellow at the University of Oxford and a study author. “The take-home message is that just being overweight or obese without disease is not OK.”

The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in New Orleans, where obesity — a primary risk factor for heart disease — is a hot topic.

In the study released yesterday, the obese patients’ aortas were on average 40 percent less flexible than the control group’s.

MICHIGAN

Bomb suspect killed, officers injured

KENTWOOD — A man died yesterday after breaking into the home of a woman he had been stalking and setting off a bomb that injured five officers, police said.

It was not certain whether the man died of injuries suffered in the blast or from shots fired by police. Most of the officers suffered headaches and other minor injuries from the blast.

Police said a standoff began after the woman called police yesterday morning to report that someone had broken into her home. The woman escaped, but when officers entered, the man detonated a bomb.

Police said the man was preparing to detonate another bomb when officers shot at him. The explosion caused a small fire in the home, which was quickly extinguished.

Police Chief Richard Mattice said the woman had filed multiple restraining orders against the man. It was not immediately known how the two knew each other.

NEVADA

Pilot survives fighter plane crash

LAS VEGAS — A Navy pilot ejected moments before his fighter crashed yesterday near Nellis Air Force Base, military officials said.

The single-seat F-18 went down about 15 miles north of the base on the northeast side of Las Vegas, the Air Force said.

The pilot was rescued and taken to a base hospital, where he was listed in good condition.

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

The pilot, based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, was attending the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis, the military said.

NORTH CAROLINA

Ballance pleads guilty to conspiracy

ELIZABETH CITY — Former Rep. Frank W. Ballance Jr., who resigned from his congressional seat this summer, pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal conspiracy charge related to mishandling money by his charitable foundation.

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle accepted Ballance’s guilty plea to one charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.

A sentencing date was not set. Under a plea agreement, Ballance, 62, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

Ballance also agreed to make restitution in the amount of $61,917 and to forfeit $203,000 in a bank escrow account in the name of the John A. Hyman Memorial Foundation.

“One of these days, I’ll have a story to tell you,” Ballance said outside court.

The Democrat was in his first term representing the 1st Congressional District, which covers eastern North Carolina, when he resigned in June, citing ill health.

UTAH

Car kills amputee trying to retrieve leg

MAGNA — An amputee whose artificial leg fell off as he crossed the street was struck and killed by a car as he crawled back to pick up the limb.

Motorists stopped to try to help Allen Coleman, 42, but could not reach him before he was run over along a dark stretch of highway Monday night, authorities said.

No charges were filed against the driver.

WASHINGTON

Doughnut cakesubmitted for record

ISSAQUAH — Carefully, carefully, 1,818 Krispy Kreme doughnuts were built into a 5-foot-3-inch heap in an attempt to set a world record for the highest doughnut wedding cake.

Then backers of the effort Sunday at a Jewish celebration trade show in this Seattle suburb dismantled the 363,600-calorie mound and gave away the glazed doughnuts, five at a time.

The result will be sent for consideration in Guinness World Records, which now has no height record for a doughnut cake, said Carin Freedel, chief executive of Mitzvah Mavens, which hosted the event.

Christiann Thomas, 26, a high school teacher, put her heart and soul into the confectionery. Each doughnut weighed less than 2 ounces, but the three-hour effort took its toll, Miss Thomas said.

“I am sore, my back and calves especially,” she said.

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