- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 9, 2004


Kevorkian seeks pardon from governor

LANSING — An attorney for Jack Kevorkian asked the state parole board yesterday to recommend that the convicted killer be released from prison for health reasons.

Attorney Mayer Morganroth said Kevorkian has health problems, including high blood pressure, a hernia and arthritis, and the board should urge Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, either to pardon him or commute his sentence.

The request comes a week after U.S. Supreme Court justices decided against hearing Kevorkian’s appeal of his second-degree murder conviction for the 1998 poisoning of Thomas Youk. Mr. Youk suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease. His death, which Kevorkian called a mercy killing, was videotaped and shown on national television.


Turkeys not to blame in crop chomp

Purdue University researchers who set up cameras in fields to catch wild animals in the act of gobbling up crops found that deer and raccoons — not wild turkeys, as many farmers think — are the greediest crop raiders.

After two years of fieldwork, the Purdue team vindicated turkeys by showing that deer and raccoons caused 95 percent of the damage in the fields surveyed. Squirrels, groundhogs and other species, but not turkeys, inflicted the remaining damage.

The researchers staked out fields, using infrared cameras during their nighttime surveillance to catch the animals in action.


Teachers can give children candy

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas teachers have been told that they can continue to reward students with candy, despite a state battle against childhood obesity in schools.

The Pulaski County School District had told elementary school principals last month that teachers no longer could hand out candy or ice cream as rewards.

But state Education Department director Ken James said the state Board of Education has approved no such directive.

“We need to be conscious of what we are doing in terms of sugar content, but we have not dictated to schools that they cannot use those as rewards,” Mr. James said.

As a result, the district told teachers last week that they could resume handing out candy. The directive had been based on a misunderstanding of a new law, officials said.

The law requires schools to calculate the body mass index for each student and bars access to vending machines for elementary school students.


Santa is denied flu shot

DENVER — Apparently there is no special clause for Santa — at least not for flu vaccines.

Nick Pallotto, 62, who plays Santa Claus in malls, turned up at a flu clinic in Colorado Springs and was denied a shot because he wasn’t 65 or suffering from a chronic health problem.

“They asked me if I was 65, and I said, ‘No, but I am Santa,’” he said Saturday.

For the past four years, Mr. Pallotto has worked for Naturally Santa Inc., appearing as Santa Claus at malls in New Jersey and Denver. He will work this year in Virginia.

“He does not fit any of the high-risk categories set down by the [federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. We couldn’t break the rules just for Santa,” said Chris Valentine, spokesman for Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs.


Woman accused of sex with boy, 8

BRIDGEPORT — A woman faces charges of having sex with an 8-year-old boy whom investigators said she considered her boyfriend.

Tammy Imre, 29, was arrested Friday and charged with sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. A judge set bail at $250,000 yesterday.

Police began investigating in September after the third-grader’s mother discovered a letter the accused had written him, in which she tells the boy she doesn’t “want anyone but you.”

She continued: “Now tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, you can come over …. Love ya! I want you!”

Police said the boy, the playmate of the suspect’s 7-year-old daughter, initially denied doing anything with her because he feared getting into trouble. He later told police he had sexual intercourse with her and that she gave him a key to her apartment.


Cabdriver charged in passenger’s death

WEST PALM BEACH — A taxi driver killed a drunken passenger when the man refused to get out of his cab, police said.

Robert Lee Smiley Jr. was charged with first-degree murder and was being held without bail yesterday.

The victim, Jimmie Morningstar, became heavily intoxicated at a bar and started a scuffle early Saturday, and a bouncer paid Mr. Smiley $10 to drive Mr. Morningstar home.

Two witnesses told officers they heard Mr. Smiley yelling at Mr. Morningstar outside his home to get out of the cab, and one saw Mr. Smiley pull out Mr. Morningstar and zap him with a stun gun, a police report said.

Police said Mr. Smiley fired a gun twice into the pavement toward Mr. Morningstar’s feet, then twice at Mr. Morningstar, and drove off.


Powerful acid leaked from railroad car

CEDAR RAPIDS — A leaking Union Pacific Railroad car spilled super phosphoric acid across 11 Iowa counties from Cedar Rapids to Council Bluffs near U.S. Highway 30.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources on Sunday warned the public to avoid the length of track affected by the Saturday spillage, which ran through Linn, Benton, Tama, Marshall, Story, Boone, Greene, Carroll, Crawford, Harrison and Pottawattamie counties, the Des Moines Register reported yesterday.

Super phosphoric acid is a corrosive black liquid that causes severe burns to areas of contact.

The leaking container held 12,973 gallons of the acid. It was not known how much of the acid was lost.


Gas-line blast injures 8

IVEL — A gas line exploded yesterday in rural Kentucky, burning four houses and injuring eight persons, including an off-duty state trooper who helped others escape, officials said.

Rick Conn, the off-duty trooper, lived in the neighborhood and suffered third-degree burns, officials said. He was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., where he was in fair condition.

There were no reports on what caused the explosion, state Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Stacy Floden said.


Baby endangered by operator’s actions

NEW YORK — A New York City 911 operator’s preoccupation with the proper spelling of a street name reportedly endangered an abandoned toddler’s life.

Rosie Batista, 2, had been trapped in a sport utility vehicle with the body of her dead mother for five days. But when a caller initially notified 911 about the baby’s plight Oct. 24, the operator stumbled over her computer’s inability to locate a street name and did not note other critical information from the call.

The operator also failed to relay the information to police — including that a child was in the car, the New York Post reported yesterday.

Cesarina Colon had been killed five days earlier and left with her child inside an SUV parked on a Queens street. But because the 911 operator failed to record the car’s license-plate number or that there was a child in distress, police were unable to rescue the toddler until a second 911 call came in 24 hours after the first.

The 911 operator faces severe disciplinary action.


Prison door closure kills inmate

DRAPER — An inmate was killed when his head was crushed in a closing cell door, officials said yesterday.

John J. Gardner, 27, was peering out his cell at Utah State Prison on Thursday when an officer about 150 feet away activated the mechanism that closed the cell doors on the block, the sheriff’s department said.

The officer had been standing behind a wall, where the door mechanism is located, and could not see that Gardner was not completely inside the cell, prison spokesman Jack Ford said.

Mr. Ford said that when the cell doors are about to be shut, the guard shouts out his intentions and the doors begin closing 10 to 15 seconds later.

Gardner had been convicted of theft.


Golfer hits 2 holes in one

SPOKANE — Chris Varallo thought it amazing when he aced the third hole at Liberty Lake Golf Course. Then he hit a second hole in one on the 11th hole of the same round.

Odds against that are about 67 million-to-1, according to Golf Digest.

“The first one was pretty amazing,” Mr. Varallo said. “But after the second, everyone was in utter disbelief. Other people on the course heard the screaming and were coming over to see what had happened.”

The 22-handicapper, a lawyer, finished his round 31 strokes over par at 101.

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