- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Casino buys ‘sacred sandwich’

MIAMI — An online casino won the EBay bidding for a decade-old cheese sandwich bearing what some people consider a likeness of the Virgin Mary, and immediately began hawking Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese T-shirts.

GoldenPalace.com’s bid of $28,000 was the highest offer for the sandwich when bidding closed late Monday, the casino’s Web site said.

The seller, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident Diana Duyser, says she made the cheese sandwich 10 years ago and, after taking a bite, saw “the Virgin Mary staring back at me.”

The casino said the sandwich would be used to raise money for charity.


Hundreds evacuated during flooding

DALLAS — Hundreds of people spent Monday night as evacuees in central and southeastern Texas because of flooding caused by days of torrential rain that was blamed for one death.

Rain continued in some areas yesterday, and the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for a 17-county region. The rain began in southeastern Texas on Saturday, and on Sunday up to 15 inches fell across parts of Wharton and Jackson counties. Fifty to 100 homes and some businesses were flooded in El Campo.

High water blocked sections of Interstate 10 in the area, and one woman died in San Antonio when her vehicle was swept away as she tried to drive through a low-water crossing.


Study overstated obesity-related deaths

CHICAGO — A prominent study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might have overstated the number of obesity-related deaths in 2000 by as much as 20 percent, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

An analysis of the study, which was released in March and predicted that obesity would surpass tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death, found that mathematical errors might have inflated by 80,000 the death toll in 2000 attributed to obesity, the paper said.

The CDC’s chief of science, Dixie Snider, confirmed to the paper that the CDC will reduce the estimate of the number of deaths attributable to poor diet and lack of exercise, but he declined to say by how much.

The CDC launched an internal review of the study after researchers criticized its methodology. Mr. Snider told the paper that the CDC would submit a correction to the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the study.


Board dismisses charge against lawyer

LANSING — The state Attorney Discipline Board has dismissed a charge of professional misconduct against Geoffrey Fieger, ruling that his “revolting” and “vile” out-of-court remarks about appeals court judges are protected by the First Amendment.

In an opinion published Nov. 8, the board voted 5-3 in favor of Mr. Fieger, a former candidate for governor whose clients have included euthanasia advocate Jack Kevorkian.

The charge stems from comments the combative lawyer made while hosting a radio show in 1999. The board said he used an obscenity for three Michigan judges who had ruled against one of his clients, and he likened the judges to Nazis.

Mr. Fieger pleaded no contest to the charge and agreed to a public reprimand on the condition that he could appeal on constitutional grounds.


Classmates reunite on aircraft carrier

HASTINGS — Not only is it a small world, but it’s a small aircraft carrier, too.

Three former Hastings Middle School classmates who once worked at the same Wal-Mart now find themselves assigned to the same U.S. aircraft carrier.

Jessica Perches, Casey Delay and James Stack were acquaintances at the school from 1996 to 1997, and in 2002 all three worked at a Wal-Mart in Hastings. More recently, they have been Navy shipmates aboard the USS John F. Kennedy.

Classmates Perches and Delay, both cooks, wound up on the same ship in part because their Naval recruiter helped arrange it without their knowledge. The cooks grew up across the street from each other, and both graduated from Hastings Senior High School. They had expected to be separated once basic training was completed.

For Airman Stack, who caught his first glimpse of Seaman Perches in August — about six months into his tour of duty — the reunion with his friends was unexpected.

“It’s amazing, actually,” he said. “It’s nice to have someone to talk to that’s from the same city. There are not many people here from Nebraska at all.”


Boy, 12, held in slayings of relatives

MARIETTA — A 12-year-old boy was being held yesterday in the shotgun slayings of his grandmother and aunt at a rural home, deputies said.

Nancy Tidd, 61, and Emma Tidd, 40, were shot in the head with a shotgun Monday, the Washington County sheriff’s office said.

Washington County prosecutor Michael Spahr said he would charge Christopher Sturm with juvenile counts of delinquency by murder and delinquency by aggravated murder. A 12-year-old cannot be tried as an adult in Ohio.

Deputies said Christopher, who was in juvenile detention, told relatives that he shot the women.

“From the information we have, the boy was upset at the grandmother, and that led to the shooting,” Detective Jeff Seevers said.


Turnpike panel warns of strike

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is warning holiday travelers that toll collectors and others may go on strike today, the busiest travel day of the year.

About 650,000 cars and trucks are expected to use the 531-mile toll-road system today. About 2,000 union employees have been working under a contract that expired Sept. 30, 2003.


Lottery winner had declared bankruptcy

NEW YORK — With 78 cents in his savings account and $44,000 owed to creditors, parking attendant Juan Rodriguez plunked down $1 on a lottery ticket.

Good thing he wasn’t pinching pennies: He won a $149 million lottery jackpot.

The 49-year-old from Queens bought his Mega Millions lottery ticket about one month after filing for bankruptcy.

Mr. Rodriguez stepped forward this weekend to claim his prize, proving to be a man of many dollars but few words. At a press conference, he wore dark glasses and said he was “excited.” Asked what he planned to do with his millions, he said, “I have no idea.”

According to court papers, Mr. Rodriguez had 78 cents in his savings account and nothing in his checking account. He owed $19,486 on one credit card and $10,070 on another. He also owed the Internal Revenue Service $2,279.

There was one clue that Mr. Rodriguez wanted his cash fast: He opted for a lump-sum payment of $88.5 million instead of 26 annual installments.


Schools vote to stop corporal punishment

MEMPHIS — Memphis city schools no longer will allow paddling as a disciplinary measure.

In a 5-4 vote Monday night, the board of the 118,000-student system decided to consider alternative disciplinary measures.

“The real work begins now,” Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson said. She proposed a “Blue Ribbon Behavior Initiative” that includes a behavior and social skills curriculum, and sanctions for unruly students, such as Saturday school, community service and loss of sports-participation privileges.

Some in Memphis worry that students will see the board’s decision as a sign to misbehave.

“The kids are waiting up on this news, and there’s going to be fights,” parent Tonya Harris said.


Granny helps capture fleeing suspect

LYNNWOOD — When this granny saw a handcuffed man trying to flee from a department store, she didn’t just step out of the way of the charging scofflaw.

“I get pushed and shoved a little sometimes at the mall, but nothing like this,” said 60-year-old Janice Lewis.

Mrs. Lewis, who has 10 grandchildren, grabbed the man’s jacket and held on until he was tackled by Officer Anne Codiga. Mrs. Lewis broke a finger and bruised her hand in the scuffle.

The chase began across the street from Alderwood Mall on Monday when workers at Verity Credit Union reported a man was trying to use an account that wasn’t his. Police had arrested and handcuffed the man, and were leading him outside when he bolted.

The man was booked on charges of theft and assault.

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