- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

FLORIDA

EBay lists Virgin Mary sandwich

MIAMI — The authorities at EBay were no believers in this cheesy miracle: half of a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich whose owner claimed it bore the image of the Virgin Mary.

Diana Duyser put the sandwich up for sale last week, drawing bids as high as $22,000 before EBay pulled the item Sunday night. An e-mail Miss Duyser received from EBay said the sandwich broke its policy, which “does not allow listings that are intended as jokes.”

The Web site allowed bidding to resume yesterday, with the top offer reaching more than $16,000.

Miss Duyser, 52, said she took a bite of the sandwich after making it 10 years ago and saw a face staring back at her from the bread. She put the sandwich in a clear plastic box with cotton balls and kept it on her nightstand. The sandwich, she added, has never sprouted a spore of mold.

WASHINGTON

Teen to make full recovery

SEATTLE — Laura Hatch remembers only praying and trying to break free from her car after it crashed 200 feet down a ravine Oct. 2, leaving her severely injured and trapped for eight days.

The 17-year-old, who recently underwent complex reconstructive surgery, was expected to make a full recovery within months, her doctors said at a news conference Monday.

Miss Hatch did not speak publicly and her father said she has no recollection of the accident or how it happened, after she left a party in the east Seattle suburb of Redmond, where her family lives.

ALASKA

Company completes pipeline project

ANCHORAGE — Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. has completed a $6.5 million project to strengthen the 800-mile-long trans-Alaska pipeline.

The company says the pipeline should be able to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake through the Denali fault corridor. The pipeline carries about 1 million barrels of oil a day.

CALIFORNIA

NASA’s ‘scramjet’ reaches Mach 9.6

LOS ANGELES — A tiny unmanned NASA “scramjet” soared above the Pacific Ocean yesterday — at nearly 10 times the speed of sound, or almost 7,000 mph, in a record-breaking demonstration of a radical new engine technology.

The 12-foot-long X-43A supersonic combustion ramjet flew at about Mach 9.6 or slightly higher, said research engineer Randy Voland, leader of the scramjet propulsion team at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

Analysis of data to determine the exact performance will take several months.

GEORGIA

Crematory operator to plead guilty

ATLANTA — A former crematory operator accused of dumping 334 bodies on his property and passing off cement dust as ashes has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges in the case, the prosecutor’s office said in a letter sent to victims’ families.

The letter dated Nov. 10 does not give details of the plea agreement, but a source with knowledge of the deal said yesterday that Ray Brent Marsh will be sentenced to 12 years in prison with credit for the roughly seven months he has served while awaiting trial.

The sentence, which covers all 787 criminal charges against Mr. Marsh, will be followed by a lengthy probation period, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A court hearing to discuss the deal has been set for Friday.

ILLINOIS

Oh, deer: This buck had no boarding pass

CHICAGO — A deer found its way into a terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport yesterday but was captured safely near a baggage claim area, officials said.

The young buck apparently entered through an automatic freight door leading to the unsecured lower level of Terminal 2. He might have been injured elsewhere on the grounds and was seeking shelter, said Annette Martinez, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation.

She said animal-control officers were able to corner the animal and sedate him in an area where there were no passengers before taking him away for examination.

O’Hare, the country’s busiest airport in terms of air traffic, is located near large open grounds and forested areas.

INDIANA

Museum exhibit reveals heart condition

BLOOMINGTON — A trip to a children’s science museum proved to be a day of discovery for a 5-year-old boy and his mother, who discovered a heart condition in the child while checking out an exhibit.

The Rhythm of Life exhibit at the WonderLab hands-on museum allows two persons to sit on either side of a bass drum and grasp a horizontal metal bar. Brass sensors detect each person’s pulse, which triggers a drumstick to beat in time with the person’s heart.

Melissa Hinkle noticed that her drumstick was beating about 80 times per minute, while her son’s peaked at 150 times per minute. The average heart rate for a child his age is 100.

Later that day, she called the boy’s pediatrician, who made adjustments in Harrison’s medication for attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder.

Dr. Richard Malone, the boy’s pediatrician, said abnormal heart rates can be triggered by several causes such as fever, exercise, dehydration or anxiety. He said the condition often is treated successfully.

MINNESOTA

Blind police dog has eye operation

DULUTH — Newspaper readers were so touched by the story of a blind police dog named Timber that they paid for an operation to restore his sight. In fact, they paid for the $2,500 surgery many times over.

Officer Michelle Rafferty was ready to cover the cost out of her own pocket rather than let her cash-strapped department exchange her partner for a new dog.

But when a story about Timber’s cataract operation and Officer Rafferty’s devotion appeared in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis last month, readers sent more than $20,000.

“It has blown me away and changed my life forever,” Officer Rafferty said.

Two weeks later, 22-month-old Timber appears to see well, perhaps for the first time. When nature called last week, he had no trouble zigzagging through a stand of trees before selecting one that suited his purpose.

MISSOURI

State ethics panel clears governor-elect

JEFFERSON CITY — The state Ethics Commission cleared Gov.-elect Matt Blunt of accusations he used government money for political purposes by running pro-voting newspaper ads featuring his smiling face.

Mr. Blunt, as secretary of state, purchased $48,000 in advertisements with federal funds just before the Aug. 3 Republican primary.

MONTANA

Janitor leaves college $2.3 million

GREAT FALLS — A part-time janitor who worked at the University of Great Falls has left the college $2.3 million — the largest gift that the school has ever received.

Genesio Morlacci died on Halloween at age 102.

On Monday, university President Eugene McAllister announced Mr. Morlacci’s generous bequest.

“This is the largest single gift ever received by the university,” Mr. McAllister said. “Students on this campus will benefit from every hour of the 18-hour days he worked.”

Mr. Morlacci, a former dry cleaner, owned Sun Cleaners for several years before selling his business and going to work as a janitor at the university.

Mr. Morlacci and his wife always lived frugally, the man’s longtime friend Bill Foy said. “He patched the patches on his pants and turned the collars on his shirts.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Nader seeks recount, questions machines

CONCORD — New Hampshire is about to become a test case for the accuracy of optical-scan vote-counting machines because independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader has asked for a recount.

The request covers 11 of the state’s 126 precincts that use Diebold Inc.’s Accuvote optical-scanning machines to count paper ballots. Depending on the results, his campaign could ask for recounts in other states, spokesman Kevin Zeese said Monday.

Mr. Nader doesn’t expect to change the outcome: In New Hampshire, Democrat Sen. John Kerry defeated President Bush. However, the former consumer advocate wants to address concerns that the machines are inaccurate or can be tampered with, Mr. Zeese said.

Backers urged Mr. Nader to request a recount after a statistical analysis posted on the Internet appeared to show that some New Hampshire precincts using the Accuvote machines gave Mr. Bush up to 15 percent more votes than had been expected on the basis of exit polls and the 2000 presidential vote.

The secretary of state’s office said the recount will begin tomorrow.

NEW JERSEY

Court clears way for bear hunt

TRENTON — A state appeals panel yesterday struck down an attempt by New Jersey’s environmental chief to block a six-day bear hunt.

The three-judge panel ruled that Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell does not have the authority to stop the state Fish and Game Council from issuing permits for the bear season, slated to begin Dec. 6. Mr. Campbell said he will appeal the decision to the state’s Supreme Court.

The state revived bear hunting last year for the first time in 33 years to thin the bear population.

Mr. Campbell supported the hunt at the time, but said this year that the state can better manage the bear population with contraception and by educating residents in northwestern New Jersey, where most of the state’s bears are.

OHIO

Mother charged in fatal fire

TOLEDO — The mother of six of seven children killed in an apartment fire was charged yesterday with involuntary manslaughter after investigators discovered that she was visiting a neighbor at the time, a prosecutor said.

Melinda Ragland was at an apartment about 80 yards away when the blaze started, prosecutor John Weglian said.

“We believe the evidence established that she breached her duty of care for the children,” Mr. Weglian said.

The children, ages 6 months to 7 years, died of smoke inhalation on Oct. 24 after the fire started on a mattress in an upstairs bedroom. Investigators said a child playing with a candle, lighter or matches started the blaze. Six siblings and a cousin were killed.

She told family members and authorities that she was standing just outside her open front door when she noticed smoke coming from upstairs and tried to run back and save the children. She said was overwhelmed by smoke, then ran to a neighbor’s apartment for help.

PENNSYLVANIA

Wife pleads guilty to aiding escape

DOYLESTOWN — A Ukrainian immigrant pleaded guilty yesterday to helping her husband escape murder charges in the death of his mistress by fleeing to Europe, where he later hanged himself in jail.

Irina Sapiro, 42, pleaded guilty to charges including hindering apprehension and conspiracy for helping Paul Eduardovich Goldman flee the United States as he faced charges in the death of his lover, Faina “Fay” Zonis.

Mr. Goldman hanged himself with a bedsheet in his jail cell in the French Alps in April. Prosecutors were trying to return him to Pennsylvania for trial. Mr. Goldman’s parents also committed suicide, leaving a note saying they were shamed by their son’s conduct.

Police caught Mr. Goldman in Grenoble in southern France about two weeks after he fled.

RHODE ISLAND

Judge rejects holiday display policy

PROVIDENCE — A holiday display at Cranston City Hall that included a menorah, a Nativity scene and plastic pink flamingos in Santa hats didn’t violate the separation of church and state, but the mayor’s restrictions on what went into it did hinder free speech, a judge ruled.

Last winter, Mayor Stephen Laffey encouraged residents to put seasonal displays he deemed appropriate on City Hall’s front lawn. A menorah went up, followed by an inflatable snowman and Santa Claus and a Nativity scene. They were followed by a flock of plastic flamingos sponsored by a resident who said they represented the “Church of the Pink Flamingo,” a tongue-in-cheek protest of the holiday display.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of a resident, arguing that the city was violating the First Amendment separation of church and state and that Mr. Laffey’s oversight amounted to a restriction on free speech.

Mr. Laffey said he will rewrite the city’s policy based on U.S. District Judge William Smith’s decision and hopes to erect a new display outside City Hall this year.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Tyco Electronics unit moving to China

WATERTOWN — A major employer is moving most of its business to China to save money and be closer to most of its customers.

CoEv Magnetics, a unit of Tyco Electronics, is ending its manufacturing operations and laying off 111 employees, officials said. The Watertown location will become a business development and support center with a staff of 32.

TENNESSEE

Tuskegee Airmen awaiting museum

TUSKEGEE — At 85, Carrol Woods hopes he lives long enough to see a museum dedicated to his old World War II fighter group, the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

Six years after it was approved as a national landmark, the training site of the nation’s first all-black air unit still lacks a full-fledged museum. Visitors wanting to learn about the group have to visit a trailer on a hill near Moton Field.

The delay has been a disappointment for veterans like Mr. Woods, who was a German prisoner of war for six months after his P-51 Mustang was shot down over Greece in 1944.

The surviving Tuskegee Airmen gathered at Moton Field two years ago for the dedication of their rural training base as a national historic site.

Lawmakers authorized about $29 million for the project, with a museum and educational facility planned. But not much has happened since the dedication.

State Rep. Mike Rogers, Anniston Republican, said he is on top of the project, and work will begin next year.

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