- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

KENTUCKY

Coal miners arrested in protest

LEXINGTON — Hundreds of miners marched through downtown Tuesday to protest a federal bankruptcy ruling that will cause thousands of retired coal workers to lose medical coverage. Seventeen persons were arrested.

“You can’t live in coal field country without knowing someone who died energizing this nation,” said Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America and one of those arrested.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge William Howard ruled Aug. 9 that Horizon Natural Resources does not have to abide by labor contracts protecting benefits for 1,000 active miners and about 2,300 retirees, including some sick from black-lung disease.

NEW MEXICO

Bush visit damages airport runway

LAS CRUCES — A cargo plane used in President Bush’s campaign visit to New Mexico last week damaged a runway at the Las Cruces airport, city officials said.

The runway, already in poor shape and scheduled for an $800,000 overhaul, had 2-inch-deep ruts and cracking asphalt after the landing by a C-17, which carried a helicopter and the president’s limousines.

The damage may increase repair costs or force replacement of the runway, now closed indefinitely, city Facilities Director Brian Denmark said. Mr. Denmark said city officials had told pilots and the president’s travel team that the Las Cruces airport could not handle heavy planes.

CALIFORNIA

Peterson search dog failed training exercise

REDWOOD CITY — A search dog handler who provided key evidence against Scott Peterson acknowledged yesterday that her canine had failed a videotaped training exercise.

Jurors looked on as the defense in Mr. Peterson’s murder trial played the video of the dog’s test, made before the dog was involved in the Peterson investigation.

Dog handler Eloise Anderson, of the Contra Costa County Search and Rescue team, had testified that the dog, a Labrador named Trimble, had picked up the scent of Mr. Peterson’s wife, Laci, at the Berkeley Marina four days after she was reported missing in December 2002.

The defense is trying to show that scent-sniffing techniques are unreliable and not based on science.

IDAHO

Railroad opens refueling center

HAUSER — At the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway’s new refueling station here, locomotive No. 4141 blasted through an opening ceremony ribbon.

Railroad officials hope that is the last time something breaks at the huge pit stop for freight trains hauling cargo between Chicago and Pacific Northwest ports. The ceremony was Tuesday, and the station was set to open for business yesterday just east of Spokane, Wash.

The facility is built atop an aquifer that is the sole source of drinking water for about 400,000 people in the Spokane area, but railroad officials insist they built so many safeguards in the $42 million project that the water will remain safe.

The facility can refuel and reprovision 10 locomotives at a time, in 30 to 45 minutes, railroad officials said. That compares with refueling stops of as long as 10 hours at crowded rail yards in Seattle, Vancouver or Pasco, Wash., company spokesman Gus Melonas said. Those facilities will continue to operate.

KANSAS

Harsher penalties argued for gay sex

TOPEKA — The state can punish illegal underage sex more harshly when it involves homosexual acts, even if the only goal is promoting traditional values, a state official told the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday.

In a closely watched case, Deputy Attorney General Jared Maag said legislators have such broad latitude in setting policy that “any conceivable, rational basis” would justify the different treatment.

Mr. Maag argued in favor of upholding a sentence of more than 17 years in prison for Matthew R. Limon, convicted of criminal sodomy for having sex at age 18 with a 14-year-old boy in 2000.

Had the victim been a girl, Limon could have been sentenced to one year and three months in prison under a 1999 “Romeo and Juliet” law that gives shorter sentences to heterosexuals if the partners’ ages are within four years and the older partner is younger than 19.

His attorneys argued the different treatment represents discrimination against homosexuals and is unconstitutional.

The state Supreme Court which could rule as early as Oct. 15.

LOUISIANA

Bengal tiger eludes deputies, soldiers

FORT POLK — A Bengal tiger on the loose in the thick brush surrounding an Army base is winning a game of hide and seek.

About 40 soldiers and sheriff’s deputies searched the woods in Fort Polk for a second day yesterday.

It was not clear from where the animal came, but it is likely that it was a pet that escaped or was set free, said Leslie Whitt, director of the Alexandria Zoo, who assisted in the search. Several witnesses said the animal was wearing a collar. Based on witness descriptions, the tiger is probably about 100 pounds and 1 year old, the zoo director said.

Scott Heinrich, a consultant who was brought in to track the tiger, said he and others scanned the woods from a helicopter Tuesday but did not see the tiger. They continued their search on the ground, he said.

The tiger was first spotted Friday near a Fort Polk gas station by Robert McElroy, who is retired from the Army.

NORTH DAKOTA

Judge suspended for sexual harassment

BISMARCK — A judge accused of sexually harassing female court employees was suspended without pay Tuesday for the last two months of his term.

Michael McGuire’s suspension will run from Nov. 1 until Dec. 31, when his six-year term ends.

The Fargo district judge was accused of touching or making sexually suggestive remarks to at least seven women over several years. Judge McGuire, on the bench for 25 years, has disputed the charges. He did not immediately return a call for comment.

The North Dakota Supreme Court’s ruling said Judge McGuire’s behavior was “not egregious, but was crude and uncouth. It is the type of conduct that erodes the integrity of the judiciary.”

OHIO

Shootings suspect enters insanity plea

COLUMBUS — A man charged in a deadly string of highway shootings in Ohio pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity yesterday.

Charles A. McCoy Jr., 29, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, according to court documents and his attorneys. They said psychiatrists found evidence Mr. McCoy did not understand right from wrong when the shootings took place.

Mr. McCoy previously pleaded not guilty. On Tuesday, a judge ruled he was competent to stand trial.

Mr. McCoy could be sentenced to death if convicted of murder in the slaying of a 62-year-old woman in November. His trial is set for Jan. 7.

PENNSYLVANIA

Store clerk accepts fake $200 bill

PHILADELPHIA — At first glance, it looked like the real thing, so store clerk Kathryn Miller was happy to accept the $200 bill as payment — and even make change.

The bill did carry a picture of President Bush, but he is not one of the presidents who appear on the U.S. currency and in any case there is no such thing as a $200 bill.

That did not stop Miss Miller, who works at Fashion Bug, a women’s clothing store in Greensburg, from taking the bill in payment for an item costing $99.

She also gave change to Deborah Trautwine, a resident of nearby Jeanette, said Jeanne Martin, a spokeswoman for the state police in Greensburg.

Miss Trautwine, who was located by police on the basis of information from the clothing store, was charged yesterday with forgery, theft by deception, and receiving stolen property.

TENNESSEE

Truck crashes into restaurant; 1 dies

MEMPHIS — A parked tractor-trailer rolled down a hill and crashed into a hamburger stand yesterday, killing a woman and injuring at least four other persons.

The driver had parked the 18-wheeler in a lot before walking about 25 yards to Rally’s Hamburgers to place an order, police said.

“The truck got free, started rolling down the hill and struck the Rally’s,” Deputy Fire Chief Donald B. Kuhn said.

A customer was killed when she was trapped between the truck and a car in the drive-through line. Her name was not immediately released.

UTAH

Panel finds evidence mayor misused funds

SALT LAKE CITY — A panel investigating Salt Lake’s mayor said yesterday that it found evidence she misused public money by hiring a bookkeeper for a nonprofit group where her daughter is the chief financial officer.

The panel said there was enough evidence against Mayor Nancy Workman to support two felony counts of misusing public money and a misdemeanor count of sidestepping hiring procedures. It stopped short of recommending prosecuting her, leaving that decision up to the prosecutor.

Mrs. Workman concedes using about $17,000 in Health Department funds to hire a bookkeeper for the nonprofit South Valley Boys and Girls Club, but has said she did the right thing “to help those kids.”

Her attorney, Ron Yengich, said the county has made a practice of using taxpayer funds to help nonprofit and charitable organizations. He denied that she broke the law.

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