- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

CALIFORNIA

Homesick elephant returns to L.A. Zoo

LOS ANGELES — An African elephant sent from the Los Angeles Zoo to Knoxville, Tenn., in 2003 was back in Los Angeles on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The 43-year-old elephant, Ruby, was sent to the Knoxville Zoo in hopes that she would serve as a role model for younger female elephants. However, zoo officials said she often appeared lethargic and angry, leading them to believe she was having trouble adapting. Officials from both zoos decided it would be best to send Ruby home.

LOUISIANA

Beavers weave dollars into dam

GREENSBURG — These eager beavers had a whole new slant on money laundering.

A bag of bills stolen from a casino was snapped up by beavers that wove thousands of dollars in soggy currency into their dam on a creek in eastern Louisiana.

“They hadn’t torn the bills up. They were still whole,” said Maj. Michael Martin of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The money was part of $70,000 to $75,000 taken last week from the Lucky Dollar Casino in Greensburg.

ALABAMA

Mistrial declared in farm killing

LUVERNE — A mistrial was declared yesterday because of jury tampering in the capital murder trial of a man charged with fatally shooting six members of his girlfriend’s family at their southern Alabama farm.

Circuit Judge Edward McFerrin said a local woman was charged with multiple counts of jury tampering, forcing a premature end to the trial of Westley Devon Harris. District Attorney John Andrews declined to give details because the investigation is ongoing. A date for a new trial was not set.

Mr. Harris, 24, is accused of methodically killing his girlfriend’s parents, three teenage brothers and grandmother, a daylong slaughter in 2002 that came amid claims of incestuous sexual abuse at her rural home. Prosecutors contend that Mr. Harris was angry about being run off the farm.

FLORIDA

Judge blocks malpractice law

TALLAHASSEE — A judge yesterday blocked a just-approved state constitutional amendment that would yank the license of doctors who commit three acts of medical malpractice, saying some specifics need to be spelled out before it can take effect.

The amendment, known informally as the “three strikes for bad doctors” measure, was approved by 70 percent of voters earlier this month.

Circuit Judge Janet E. Ferris barred the amendment from going into effect while she considers arguments presented by the hospitals and the state, which is charged with enforcing the measure, and by a group called Floridians for Patient Protection, which pushed to get the issue on the ballot.

Judge Ferris said her injunction will expire at the end of the upcoming legislative session in the spring.

GEORGIA

Youth birthrate lowest since 1946

ATLANTA — The birthrate among American girls ages 10 to 14 has fallen to its lowest level since 1946, the government reported yesterday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the number of births among girls in this age group dropped 38 percent from 1994 to 2002 alone, even though the number of girls 10 to 14 climbed 16 percent during the same period.

CDC researchers attributed the decline to sex education.

In 2002, the most recent year with complete data, there were 7,315 babies born to girls 10 to 14, a birthrate of 0.7 live births per 1,000 females — about the same rate as nearly 60 years ago.

The birthrate dropped among all racial groups, but it was still higher for black and Hispanic girls than for white and Asian ones. In 2002, the birthrate for black girls was 1.9 live births per 1,000 girls and for non-Hispanic white girls it was 0.2 live births per 1,000 girls.

From 2000 to 2002, Maine had the nation’s lowest birthrate among girls 10 to 14 years old, at 0.2 live births per 1,000 girls. The District had the highest, at two births per 1,000 girls.

IOWA

Agency upholds firing over porn e-mail

DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals was justified in firing an employee for reportedly e-mailing pornographic pictures to colleagues, the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board ruled.

Robert Woods, who was fired in 2002, argued at his appeal hearing that his e-mail was “adult humor.” The board noted that in one five-month period Mr. Wood had sent or received at least 25 inappropriate e-mails.

MICHIGAN

State starts hospitality training for cabdrivers

ROMULUS — Southeastern Michigan tourism officials have started hospitality training classes for cabdrivers, waiters, bartenders and others. More than 100 cabdrivers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport will be the first to take the four-hour class.

Detroit hosts Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in 2005, the 2006 Super Bowl and the 2009 college basketball Final Four.

NEVADA

Low-fat diet best for keeping pounds off

LAS VEGAS — Regardless of how they shed pounds in the first place, big losers stayed that way by limiting fat rather than carbohydrates, according to new research that could add validity to the backlash against low-carb diets.

Dieters already have been turning away from Atkins-style plans as a long-term weight-control strategy, and the new study gives them more reason: Low-fat plans seem to work better at keeping weight off.

“People who started eating more fat … regained the most weight over time,” said Suzanne Phelan, a Brown Medical School psychologist who presented results of the study yesterday at a meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity.

The study used the National Weight Control Registry, a decade-old effort to learn the secrets of success from people who had lost at least 30 pounds and kept them off for at least a year.

NORTH CAROLINA

Attorney general to sue over pollution

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s attorney general said yesterday he will take the Tennessee Valley Authority to court unless it reduces the pollutants that waft into the state from the public utility’s coal-fired power plants.

“It is critical that we all do what we can to make sure that our air is clean,” Attorney General Roy Cooper told the Associated Press. “What we’ve done now is put the TVA on notice that they need to do the same thing.”

Mr. Cooper wrote the TVA last week that he will sue in federal court if the utility does not agree to significantly reduce the pollution coming from nine of its coal-fired plants in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.

TVA environmental chief John Shipp said North Carolina should get its own house in order before looking elsewhere. Mr. Shipp charged that North Carolina’s plant emissions have increased as TVA is spending billions of dollars to control emissions, reducing sulfur-dioxide emissions by 75 percent and summertime nitrogen-oxide emissions by 70 percent since the 1970s.

NORTH DAKOTA

15 cattle died from anthrax

BISMARCK — Fifteen beef cattle died from anthrax on a Dunn County farm last month and were burned and buried as a precaution, the state veterinarian says. Veterinarian Susan Keller said the Taylor-area farm is under quarantine, but the cattle deaths pose no threat to the public.

Dr. Keller chose not to publicize the information last month to avoid an unnecessary scare, she said. North Dakota has at least one case of anthrax in cattle each year. Cattle get anthrax by eating spores in the dirt.

PENNSYLVANIA

Charges dropped over $200 Bush bill

GREENSBURG — Charges have been dropped against a woman who paid for clothes with a fake $200 bill that featured President Bush’s picture and the serial number DUBYA4U2001.

Westmoreland County prosecutors dropped all charges Friday against Deborah L. Trautwine, 51, after she paid the store in real currency. Miss Trautwine wasn’t aware that the bill wasn’t actual legal tender, said her attorney, Harry Smail Jr.

A clerk at a Fashion Bug clothing store also apparently was fooled by the funny money. She gave Miss Trautwine $100.58 in change for the August transaction.

There is no valid $200 denomination bill, with or without Mr. Bush’s picture on it.

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