- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 7, 2004

Coast Guard seizes cocaine worth billions

KEY WEST, Fla. — More than 37 tons of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $2.3 billion, were confiscated during five seizures at sea this fall, the Coast Guard said.

The cocaine, seized between Aug. 21 and Sept. 26, was being hauled off a Navy frigate Friday.

The largest cocaine discovery in the history of the Coast Guard’s East Coast operations was made Sept. 17, when a detachment from the frigate USS Curts found 15 tons of the drug on a fishing vessel about 300 miles west of the Galapagos Islands.

On Sept. 23, a Coast Guard team aboard the USS Crommelin discovered more than 13 tons of cocaine aboard a fishing vessel some 650 miles southwest of the Galapagos. August and September seizures brought the total cocaine confiscated by the Coast Guard during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 to a record 240,519 pounds, worth approximately $7.7 billion.

Thirty-one persons arrested face prosecution in federal court in Tampa.

St. Helens sprouts 30-story lava lobe

SEATTLE — The new lava lobe inside Mount St. Helens’ crater has sprouted a piston-like protrusion the size of a 30-story building and glowing red at night.

“The magma is pushing the plug upward. It’s going high in the sky,” said hydrologist Carolyn Driedger of the U.S. Geological Survey at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, about 50 miles from the southwestern Washington mountain.

One section of the new lobe has risen by 330 feet in the past nine days, Miss Driedger said. Exact dimensions are not yet known, but will be determined from photos taken Thursday.

“It seems like every time you think you know what’s going on, [the volcano] twists and does something different,” said Jeff Wynn, chief scientist for volcano hazards at the observatory.

Two scientists flew into the crater by helicopter Thursday and landed beside the new structure, under strict orders to stay no longer than 10 minutes to collect samples, he said. The new lobe, which began building last month, had grown to roughly the size of an aircraft carrier. Scientists described it as 900 feet long and 250 feet wide.

Nurse asks judge to order HIV test

PITTSBURGH — A nurse has asked a judge to order a man to take an HIV test because she was accidentally stuck with a needle she used to give him insulin.

According to her petition, filed here Friday, Kimberly Pitts was stuck with the needle Oct. 31 at Mercy Hospital. The man, who isn’t named in the petition, is infected with hepatitis C and used drugs, placing him at a high risk to carry HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but he refused to take the test, the petition states.

Under Pennsylvania law, patients may refuse to take an HIV test, but hospitals can test their blood if a doctor agrees there was a “significant exposure” to the virus. It’s not clear if the hospital has a sample of the patient’s blood.

Garden State to get official soil?

TRENTON, N.J. — It may be the Garden State, but what about the garden soil?

The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved a bill Thursday to designate Downer Soil — a grayish-brown loamy sand found mostly in the southern half of New Jersey — as the official state soil.

The measure now goes to the full Assembly, and if it’s signed into law, Downer Soil will enjoy lofty status like the square dance and the brook trout.

Downer Soil, named after a Gloucester County town, is the most prevalent of the more than 150 types of soil found in New Jersey. It is found from Middlesex County on south, in the state’s sandy Coastal Plain.

It’s ideal for growing crops like Jersey tomatoes, lettuce and peppers, said Jim Sadley, director of the state Soil Conservation Committee. Fifteen other states, including New York and Pennsylvania, have official soils.

SCLC executive board suspends 2 leaders

ATLANTA — The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s executive committee has suspended the civil rights organization’s president and chairman.

No reason was given for the action against the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, the president, and Claud Young, the chairman. No SCLC official would say how long the suspensions would last, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Last month, Mr. Shuttlesworth attempted to fire a high-ranking official, the Rev. Randel Osburn, who was recovering from cancer when he learned he was fired. Mr. Osburn, a cousin of Coretta Scott King, was quickly reinstated by the board.

Spokeswoman Trish D’Abreau confirmed the suspensions without further comment.

The organization has been going through a power struggle since Martin Luther King III, son of founder Martin Luther King, resigned as president a year ago.

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