- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2005


Blizzard cancels flights, obscures roads

DENVER — A blizzard blew across eastern Colorado yesterday, piling up wet, heavy snow that shut down airline flights and stretches of highway, and canceled church services across the region.

Seven to 10 inches of snow was forecast in Denver itself, but up to 30 inches was possible in the foothills west of Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder. More than 2 feet was possible in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the southern part of the state.

Whiteout conditions shut down a 16-mile stretch of heavily traveled Interstate 25 between Denver and Colorado Springs, 60 miles to the south, and eastbound I-70 between Aurora and Limon.


Three killed in university fire

OXFORD — A fire early yesterday morning at a house near Miami University killed three persons believed to be students and injured two others, authorities said.

The cause of the fire is not known, and the identities of the victims have not been released, city officials said. Two females were found in separate, second-floor bedrooms, fire Chief Len Endress said. A male was found near the front door.

Eight of the nine male students who leased the two-story house have been accounted for, said Thayer Talbott, an administrative assistant for the police department.


Giant pandas mate successfully

SAN DIEGO — The two giant pandas at the city’s zoo retired to their favorite spot under a few bushes and mated during the past two days — the only successful natural insemination of a panda this year in the United States, officials said Saturday.

It was the second mating for Bai Yun and Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo, which closed its panda exhibit to visitors and pointed its Internet “panda cam” elsewhere for the occasion. Bai Yun gave birth in 2003 to Mei Sheng and did not mate last year because she was nursing the cub.

Bai Yun likely will give birth to her third cub in about 4 months, said Don Lindburg, the zoo’s giant panda conservation team leader. Bai Yun gave birth to Hua Mei in 1999 after artificial insemination. The father was Shi Shi.

Female pandas are in heat for only a day or two a year. Natural mating attempts in recent weeks were unsuccessful at zoos in Atlanta and Washington. Both females then were artificially inseminated, but it is too soon to tell whether they are pregnant.


Panel rules governor had right to fire

CHICAGO — Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich had the right to fire dozens of people appointed to state jobs by his predecessor in the final days of his administration, a state appeals court has ruled.

A three-member panel of the Illinois Appellate Court ruled Friday that the four-year appointments made by Gov. George Ryan in 2002 were illegal because Mr. Ryan did not follow guidelines for eligibility and veterans’ preferences.

Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, fired 27 appointees after he took office in January 2003. But the state’s Civil Service Commission and the Cook County Circuit Court ordered that they be reinstated.


Bail money smells like marijuana

GREENSBURG — A man who went to the sheriff’s department to bail out his brother-in-law also ended up in jail when police realized the money he handed them reeked of marijuana.

Timothy Richards, 45, of Columbus, went to the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department last week and handed dispatcher Julie Meyers $400. She counted the money and noticed it was damp and smelled odd. A jailer who sniffed the money told her it smelled like marijuana, she said.

Indiana State Trooper Chip Ayers was nearby and asked for the money, she said. He smelled it and then asked Mr. Richards for consent to search him and his car, Miss Meyers said. Trooper Ayers said he found a pipe and a small amount of marijuana and charged Mr. Richards with possession.

Mr. Richards remained in jail for several hours, until his brother-in-law made bail and came back to pay his own $250 bond.


Ambassador sued over dog removal

LOUISVILLE — The ambassador to the tiny Eastern European country of Latvia has been sued for failing to remove her dog from her home. But her attorney says it is a case of mistaken identity.

Catherine Bailey and her husband, Irv, are accused of violating a settlement in which the couple agreed to remove their pit bull from their home in Louisville.

The lawsuit was filed by Eric J. Haner, a lawyer who argues the dog has been seen on two occasions at the Baileys’ home since Jan. 30 — the date Mrs. Bailey was supposed to get rid of the dog.

An attorney for the couple called the lawsuit a “case of mistaken identity.” Christina Norris said the dog identified in the lawsuit is an English bulldog owned by a housekeeper.


Dead snake found near transformer

NEW ORLEANS — Where there was smoke, there was a 5-foot-long snake. A dead snake.

Workers at the Archdiocese of New Orleans called the fire department because they smelled smoke Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters found a smoking transformer and the snake on the ground nearby, burned behind its head, authorities said.

No one knew how the snake got into the Central Business District. Perhaps it climbed the transformer for refuge from the driving rain, one Entergy crew member suggested. Maybe someone released it there, another speculated.

The building was evacuated and power cut so the transformer could be repaired. Some power was restored about 5:30 p.m.


Sorority shut down because of hazing

ANN ARBOR — University of Michigan’s Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority will be shut down at the end of the semester for drinking and hazing abuses.

More than 40 women living at the house must leave, and all of the roughly 100 women in the university chapter will have their membership rescinded. The national organization intends to open a new chapter in future years.


Senate approves meat labeling

HELENA — The state Senate tentatively approved a requirement that meat and other foods sold in Montana be labeled to identify where the items were produced.

Critics fear it would hurt state ranchers whose cattle spend so much time out of state for feeding and slaughter that they couldn’t sport the Montana label.


Standards lowered on GED test

TRENTON — The state is making it easier for residents to obtain the equivalency of a high school diploma.

The Board of Education lowered the minimum allowable scores on several portions of the General Educational Development exam, putting the state’s standards in line with national standards.


Longtime grudge blamed in stalking

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Police say a 30-year grudge boiled over when a former elementary school teacher littered the driveways of former co-workers and bosses with roofing nails and splattered paint on their garage doors.

Thomas R. Haberbush, 72, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count each of stalking, criminal mischief and criminal tampering, all misdemeanors.

Police said three former school board members, a retired principal and a retired assistant principal at Caroline Street Elementary School were among the nine victims Mr. Haberbush targeted during the past two years. Their car tires were damaged by roofing nails that Mr. Haberbush threw in the driveways, police said.

Police said Mr. Haberbush had been angered after receiving poor work reviews.

Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney David Harper requested that Mr. Haberbush undergo a mental health evaluation as part of the plea agreement. He also will be barred from contacting the victims.


Man charged with raping, killing girl

SIOUX FALLS — A man was arrested Saturday on charges he kidnapped his girlfriend’s 8-year-old granddaughter, then raped and killed her, authorities said.

Jessica Rae Delatorre’s body was found under some trees on a gravel road near Fulton, about 70 miles west of Sioux Falls, authorities said. Police said the suspect, Murray James Jones, 41, led them to the body.

Mr. Jones was expected to be arraigned today on charges of first-degree murder, rape and kidnapping, Police Chief Doug Barthel said.

Chief Barthel said Jessica’s grandmother had asked Mr. Jones to watch Jessica and her two brothers, ages 4 and 11, when she was away Friday night. Jessica lived with her mother in Sioux Falls, but was staying with her grandmother.

Chief Barthel said that while Jessica’s brothers were sleeping, Mr. Jones kidnapped the girl and drove her to Fulton, where he raped and killed her.


Four die in minivan hit at train crossing

COLUMBUS — A freight train smashed into a minivan yesterday at a crossing that lacked lights or gates, killing all four persons in the vehicle, authorities said.

The minivan’s driver apparently was trying to cut through a highway construction area to get to Columbus when the vehicle was hit by the train and pushed about a mile down the tracks, authorities said. The train was traveling about 60 mph.

The four victims — two women and two men — were thought to be from southeastern Wisconsin, police said. Their identities were not released.

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