Muslims cheer return of banners
SAN DIEGO — Banners celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan were again flying from a neighborhood’s light posts, a week after the city removed them.
Abdur-Rahim Hameed said he cried with joy on Wednesday when he saw the 2-by-6-foot banners, which have been raised annually for six years.
“It was just like the ‘Grinch Who Stole Christmas,’” he said.
A city code enforcement officer ordered the removal of the banners, which say “Ramadan mubarak,” or “blessed Ramadan,” around a star and crescent moon. City officials say someone complained and a check found there was no permit for them.
Taste sensitivity tied to weight
TRENTON — Could a sensitive palate be the key to a svelte figure?
Researchers at Rutgers University have found that people especially sensitive to bitter compounds in broccoli and other foods tend to eat less and be thinner than others.
A new Rutgers study, of nearly 50 women in their 40s, found that “super tasters,” people most sensitive to bitter tastes, were 20 percent thinner than “nontasters,” those not sensitive to bitter tastes.
State attorney general under investigation
ANCHORAGE — Attorney General Gregg Renkes sold his stock in KFx Inc. after it was revealed that he was trading shares while promoting the company for a proposed state project. He is now under investigation.
KFx, a Colorado firm with a patented coal-drying process, is part of a $1 billion trade agreement between Alaska and Taiwan.
Plane’s landing gear falls on mobile home
SAFETY HARBOR — Part of the landing gear of a Delta airliner bound for Tampa fell from the sky and onto the roof of a mobile home where a retiree was sitting down to sip a beer.
No one was injured, and the Boeing 767 aircraft landed at Tampa International Airport Wednesday without incident, authorities said.
A 7-by-7-foot aluminum door that covers the landing gear fell but did not affect the airplane’s integrity, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Pilots aboard Delta Flight 432 may not have known about the malfunction until after the plane landed.
On the ground, John Nork had just opened a can of beer while on his screened-in porch. Mr. Nork, 62, a former Marine and retired auto-plant employee, stayed in his lawn chair for more than five minutes, he said, too shocked to move, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Golf club to fight gay rights ordinance
ATLANTA — An Atlanta golf club is expected to challenge the city’s four-year-old homosexual rights ordinance over a lesbian member who argues that her partner should get spousal benefits from the club.
Druid Hills Golf Club was ordered by Mayor Shirley Franklin to change its policies about the homosexual member or face sanctions, citing a 2000 ordinance that guarantees equal rights for homosexuals in public accommodations.
Richard Ling, the club’s membership chairman, said Druid Hills would consider a lawsuit against the city if it tries to enforce the ordinance.
Diocese settles with abuse accusers
DAVENPORT — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport agreed to pay $9 million yesterday to settle 37 claims of sexual abuse by priests.
The deal could allow the diocese to avoid bankruptcy, and averts a potentially embarrassing series of trials over the church’s handling of abuse claims dating back 50 years or so.
The settlement, reached after weeks of negotiations, will be covered by insurance and diocesan funds, Bishop William Franklin said.
Couple accused of enslaving mentally ill
WICHITA — A couple who run a mental health facility forced mentally ill adults to labor on their Kansas farm in the nude and subjected them to other forms of physical abuse, a criminal federal complaint unsealed on Wednesday charges.
Arlan Kaufman, 68, and his wife, Linda, 61, were charged with involuntary servitude in the 1999 incident at their farm home in Potwin. They remained jailed Wednesday after making an initial appearance before a federal magistrate.
Authorities also said the couple’s mental health facility in Newton failed to provide any treatment to its residents for 15 years.
Their attorney, James Fletcher, who also is Linda Kaufman’s brother, said the couple is not guilty.
First suspect arrested on DNA indictment
NEW YORK — A career criminal faces robbery and sexual-assault charges after becoming the first person arrested in the state on an indictment based solely on DNA.
David Martinez, 46, was arrested Wednesday on charges that he robbed a German exchange student of $27 at gunpoint in 1996 and tried to rape her in a subway station.
In 2001, prosecutors used DNA from semen found on the woman’s clothing to draw up a John Doe indictment, which uses DNA samples to charge an unknown sexual attacker before the statute of limitations expires.
Prosecutors said the match was found using the national DNA data bank. Authorities had taken a DNA sample from Martinez, who has a long arrest record for strong-arm robberies, under a 1999 law that requires felons to undergo such testing.
Stolen snakes returned to retailer
HIGH POINT — Call it the return of the snakes. Someone had stolen about 80 snakes from a heated storage shed and hid them in the woods, apparently hoping to sell them. But two persons shunned the solicitation and alerted the owner.
Howard Hayes, a recreational reptile breeder working to build the hobby into a business for his son, reported that the snakes had been stolen Tuesday. The 26 ball pythons, 10 red tail boas and about 45 corn snakes were worth about $2,600, he said.
A young man and woman came to Mr. Hayes’ home Wednesday saying they had met with some acquaintances who were peddling the potential pets.
Internet donor jailed over child support
CLEVELAND — A man who donated a kidney to someone he met over the Internet was jailed yesterday for failing to pay child support.
Rob Smitty, 32, surrendered to sheriff’s deputies, accompanied by his attorney, who warned that Smitty still was taking medication after the Oct. 20 surgery.
After the operation, news surfaced that Smitty was being sought on a civil warrant for failing to pay child support.
Attorney Bill Speek said Smitty would remain in jail until bail is set or he pays a portion of the $8,100 he owes his ex-wife, who has custody of their 10-year-old daughter.
Smitty’s arrest came eight days after he gave a kidney to Bob Hickey, a Colorado man who had been waiting for a transplant since 1999. The two men met through MatchingDonors.com, a Web site created to match organ donors and recipients for a fee.
Experts expect good deer season
COLLEGE STATION — Experts say abundant rain in parts of Texas should make for a good deer season this fall and early winter. Texas Cooperative Extension reports that the rain helped thicken the ground cover that provides food and shelter for the animals.
Officials said the deer are looking healthy. Texas is home to approximately 4 million deer, agency officials said.
Hunters plow way out of snowy forest
PROVO — A hunting party plowed its way out of the snowbound Utah mountains yesterday after waiting nearly a week for the road to be cleared.
The six deer hunters were snowed in by a blizzard Oct. 21 and turned down rescue offers that would have required them to leave their vehicles behind until next spring.
KSL-TV in Salt Lake City said the hunters and their families back home arranged to have a front-end loader dig its way to the camp where they had hunkered down amid steady snowfall and bitter cold.
Leader of Freedom From Religion to retire
MADISON — The president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. has announced plans to retire from the Madison-based group, known for filing lawsuits that seek strict separation of church and state.
Anne Nicol Gaylor, 77, who helped start the 5,000-member foundation in 1976, told the Wisconsin State Journal that she has glaucoma and can no longer handle the burdens of her job.
From wire dispatches and staff reports