- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2004


Wildfire forces evacuations

LOS ANGELES — Air tankers were up at first light yesterday to battle a Southern California wildfire that forced about 800 people to flee their homes.

The fire was sparked by an auto accident on Interstate 15 and had burned about 1,500 acres by late Tuesday. The California Department of Forestry said the fire was 40 percent contained yesterday.

In Northern California, evacuation orders were lifted in Lake County, where a 12,525-acre fire was nearly fully contained yesterday.


Kidney puts dad in record books

OMAHA — Karen Beckley, 57, gave a kidney to her 85-year-old father, and in so doing put him in the record book as the nation’s oldest person to receive an organ transplant from a living donor.

Harold Wendt, at 84 years and 11 months at the time of the operation in March, is thought to hold that distinction, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which began keeping records in 1988. The age of the previous record holder was 84 years and 2 months.


Stranger saves woman from assault

DENVER — Police congratulated a good Samaritan who climbed a ladder to rescue a neighbor screaming for her life.

Kevin Jackson, 43, an unemployed database administrator, said he went to the woman’s rescue because “a lot of guys who are bigger than I am were standing around not doing anything.”

Mr. Jackson spotted an apparently discarded ladder, propped it against the open second-floor window of the apartment building next to his and hustled up to help the woman, a stranger, from a knife-wielding assailant.

The woman, who had tried to barricade herself in her bedroom, fled down the ladder, Mr. Jackson told the Rocky Mountain News. Her Dalmatian fell off the ladder in its escape, injuring its right front paw.


Troopers issue 4,954 holiday tickets

MIDDLETOWN — State troopers issued 4,954 tickets over the Labor Day weekend, surpassing by more than 2,000 the number of highway summonses issued last year. Most tickets were for speeding.


Teen killer arrested on parole violation

FORT LAUDERDALE — Lionel Tate, the teen who walked out of prison this year after his life sentence for killing a 6-year-old playmate was overturned, was arrested on charges of violating his probation after authorities said they found him out late at night with a knife in his pocket.

A judge said earlier this year that Tate could be sent back to prison if he violated probation.

Officials found Tate, 17, and a friend walking near Tate’s Pembroke Park home at 2:20 a.m. Friday, sweating and panting as though they had been running, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said. They attracted attention in part because most people in the area were hunkered down in anticipation of Hurricane Frances.

As part of a January deal, Tate was to be under house arrest for a year and probation for 10 years.

“It appears that he didn’t commit a crime or anything. He was out of the house,” Henry Hunter, an attorney for Tate’s mother, said yesterday.

Tate was 12 when he killed 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick more than five years ago. He served three years of a mandatory life sentence for first-degree murder before the 4th District Court of Appeal overturned his conviction.


Lawsuit challenges public property bans

HONOLULU — A man who was kicked out of the Hawaii State Library for using its computers to access a homosexual Web site filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging a state law that allows authorities to ban people from public property.

The law prohibits people from entering a public place for up to one year after a written warning or request to leave the premises has been issued. It was aimed at removing squatters from public campgrounds, parks and beaches.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, filing on behalf of Carlos Hernandez, said people or groups could be thrown off public property for no reason and that the law could be used to keep voters out of polling places or to bar groups such as native Hawaiians from the grounds of the state Capitol.

Attorney General Mark Bennett, who along with Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, was named as a defendant, said the ACLU’s lawsuit is based on the flawed premise that authorities would abuse the law.


Celebrated tavern to be jazz club

CHICAGO — Gerri’s Palm Tavern, once a gathering place for black celebrities in Bronzeville, is slated for replacement by a new jazz club.

Preservationists say the neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side would benefit more from restoring the tavern to draw tourists and history buffs.


Coroner shoots selfduring gun lecture

BLOOMINGTON — A gun safety demonstration went awry and landed Monroe County Coroner David Toumey in the hospital after he shot himself in the leg.

Mr. Toumey said his gun discharged as he was checking to make sure it was unloaded and a bullet struck him in his left leg during the demonstration to a group of people at a Lake Monroe boat ramp on Sept. 1.

“It’s an unfortunate accident,” Mr. Toumey told the Herald-Times of Bloomington. “I’ve always been very, very safe.”


Antibiotic interaction increases death risk

BOSTON — Doctors have known for years that the antibiotic erythromycin can, in rare cases, spark an abnormal and sometimes fatal heartbeat. But combining it with some common drugs may increase that risk dramatically, researchers warned yesterday.

Their analysis of 1,476 sudden deaths in Tennessee found a fivefold increase in the chance of dropping dead from a heart attack among people taking erythromycin plus one of a few other drugs.

Even erythromycin, if used alone, doubled the risk of sudden death, said the team, led by Wayne Ray of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. Between 1970 and 1996, 49 cases of erythromycin-related fatal or life-threatening heart-rhythm problems were reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

But until the new study, published in this week’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, the scope of the erythromycin risk had not been assessed.

Two of the drugs found to interact with erythromycin are common. One is diltiazem, also known as Cardizem. The second drug is verapamil, sold under brand names Calan and Isoptin.


Las Vegas monorail resumes operations

LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas monorail reopened after safety concerns shut it down for nearly a week, costing the private venture an estimated $480,000 in lost revenue, a monorail spokesman said.

The monorail started shuttling people along the 3.9-mile route after inspectors deemed it safe. It closed when a 60-pound wheel fell off one train.


Clinton moved out of intensive care

NEW YORK — Former President Bill Clinton was moved yesterday from intensive care to a hospital room after his heart surgery, his office said.

Mr. Clinton walked with assistance, sat up in bed and sat in a chair while continuing to recover from surgery he had Monday to bypass four severely clogged arteries, the office said in a statement posted on his Web site.

Mr. Clinton will continue to recuperate in the hospital for the next several days, his office said.


Polka-dot tree called violation

WILMINGTON — A print shop owner is on the spot with city officials who say her dots are a don’t.

The officials don’t approve of the polka dots she has painted on an oak tree outside her store.

Elle Puritz said she was just trying to protect the tree, as well as spread some good cheer, when she repainted the plain white trunk red, then added dots. City officials say the splashy paint job violates sign ordinances.

The trunk of the roadside tree had been painted white years ago to make it more visible to cars. When Miss Puritz bought the property in January, she decided to spruce it up. She chose red paint close to the color of her building. But, Miss Puritz said, she realized the red wasn’t visible enough, so she added reflective polka dots.

Miss Puritz said she was given until the end of this week to get rid of the polka dots and until Sept. 24 to paint the trunk white — an acceptable color because of its utilitarian purpose, Mr. Fullerton said.


Special gear aids disabled farmers

TOLEDO — Parry Cochran climbs up silos, drives tractors and feeds cows — all the chores needed around his farm in northeast Ohio. Yet he lost his left hand in a truck accident 16 years ago.

“There’s nothing I haven’t been able to overcome,” said Mr. Cochran, 33, who runs a 700-acre farm near Wooster. The only special equipment he has are vise grips that attach to his prosthesis.

For generations of farmers, overcoming a disability had meant doing it on their own. Now there is specially designed equipment, such as tools that attach to prosthetic arms, and dozens of support groups for disabled farmers.

Breaking New Ground, a 25-year-old outreach program for disabled farmers that operates through Purdue University in Indiana, has published 30 guidebooks offering tips.

Employees of the federally funded AgrAbility Project, which is based at the University of Wisconsin , meet with farmers and suggest what tools and equipment will keep them farming. They also help pay for some items.


Glitch halts warhead disposal

HERMISTON — The failure of a trap door designed to release chopped-up parts of a nerve gas rocket halted the first day of chemical weapons disposal yesterday at one of the U.S. military’s last stockpiles of hazardous warheads left over from the Cold War.

It is not clear how long the glitch will delay the project at Umatilla Chemical Depot, which has been beset by years of delays in construction and testing, and a pending lawsuit to block the process.

Earlier yesterday, workers carrying gas masks and syringes of antidote used remote-controlled equipment to begin destroying nearly 3,700 tons of nerve gas rockets and other chemical weapons stockpiled since 1962 at the remote site near the Columbia River.

The process began with an M-55 rocket holding about 1 gallon of the nerve agent sarin. The nose of the metal rocket, which contains the explosive charge, was chopped off and about to be dropped through a trap door to a decontaminating furnace, but the door failed to open.

Mary Binder, an Army spokeswoman at the depot, said workers were trying to decide whether to don protective suits and enter that area to try to fix the problem.


Bank robber armed with pitchfork

AIKEN — A robber who used a rusty pitchfork to stick up a bank got away — and, so far, finding him has been like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The man, wearing sunglasses and a mask, entered Security Federal Bank Tuesday morning and threatened employees with the 4-foot-long pitchfork. The man took an undisclosed amount of money.

The robber dropped the farm tool as he ran from the bank through a wooded area to a golf course behind the bank, police said.

Bloodhounds tracked the robber to a fast-food restaurant parking lot, where police say the man got into a white van driven by a woman.


First lady begins walk across state

MEMPHIS — Focusing on the plight of young sex-abuse victims, Tennessee first lady Andrea Conte took her first steps yesterday on a 600-mile walk across the state.

She was joined for the first few miles by her husband, Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, and about 100 supporters who walked with her north along U.S. Highway 51. Supporters are expected to come and go, joining her for parts of the hike as she makes her way across the state.

She expects to raise more than $1 million from donors for Tennessee Child Advocacy Centers, where social workers, police, prosecutors and others can work with young victims in surroundings less intimidating than police stations or courtrooms.


Aryan Nations founder dies at 86

SPOKANE — Richard G. Butler, the notorious white supremacist who founded the Aryan Nations and was once dubbed the “elder statesman of American hate,” has died at the age of 86, authorities said yesterday.

Mr. Butler died peacefully in his sleep, sheriff’s Capt. Ben Wolfinger told the Associated Press. The time of death was not known.

“Everything appears to be natural,” said Capt. Wolfinger, of the Kootenai County, Idaho, sheriff’s department.

The Aryan Nations lost its church and 20-acre compound in northern Idaho in 2000 after a $6.3 million civil judgment led to a bankruptcy filing.

Mr. Butler’s church held that whites are the true children of God, that Jews are the offspring of Satan and that blacks and other minorities are inferior.


Marijuana growing outside sheriff’s office

GREEN BAY — Deputies didn’t have to go far to find this marijuana: It was growing right outside their Green Bay headquarters.

Green Bay television station WLUK-TV reported Tuesday that it received a tip and alerted the Brown County Sheriff’s Department about the pot in a planter on the south side of the courthouse.

Chief Deputy John Gossage wasn’t sure of the plants’ identity, but a drug officer confirmed the presence of marijuana.

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