- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 21, 2005

ALASKA

Double-hull tanker heads to Valdez

JUNEAU — A new double-hull tanker touted by BP Amoco PLC as the safest in the world is on its way to Valdez to take on its first load of North Slope crude oil. The 941-foot-long tanker can carry 1.3 million barrels of oil.

The Alaskan Explorer is the second of four double-hull tankers meant to transport North Slope crude oil to the West Coast. The last is scheduled to be in operation by mid-2006.



CALIFORNIA

Judge cites, fines juror for yawning

LOS ANGELES — Call it a rude awakening.

A juror was cited for contempt and fined $1,000 by a judge for yawning loudly while awaiting questioning in an attempted murder trial. The fine later was reduced to $100.

The yawn came after the man, identified as Juror No. 2386 in an April 1 court transcript, had been sitting in a courtroom for two days as part of jury selection.

“You yawned rather audibly there. As a matter of fact, it was to the point that it was contemptuous,” Superior Court Judge Craig Veals said.

The juror paid the fine after it was reduced to $100. He ultimately was questioned but not selected for the trial.

FLORIDA

Man puts car ‘out of its misery’

MIAMI — Fed up with his troublesome car, a Florida man fired five rounds from a semiautomatic pistol into the hood of the 1994 Chrysler LeBaron.

“I’m putting my car out of its misery,” John McGivney, 64, said after the incident outside an apartment building in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, according to a police report that listed the car as “deceased.”

Mr. McGivney surrendered to police, was jailed on a firearms charge Friday and released on bail a day later. He told them the car had been giving him trouble for years.

“I think every guy in the universe has wanted to do it,” the South Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted Mr. McGivney as saying. “It was worth every … minute in that jail.”

MASSACHUSETTS

Eyebrow ring called expression of faith

WEST SPRINGFIELD — A woman who was fired by Costco in 2001 for refusing to remove her eyebrow ring has accused the company of religious discrimination, saying she is a member of the Church of Body Modification.

Kimberly M. Cloutier said she wears her eyebrow ring as a sign of faith. She has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider hearing the case.

The church, established in 1999, counts about 1,000 members who participate in practices such as piercing and tattooing, according to a December ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a trial judge’s finding in Costco’s favor.

Lynn A. Kappelman, an attorney for Costco, declined to comment. The company has argued that Miss Cloutier’s beliefs are political or social instead of religious.

MINNESOTA

Auditor shuts down license tab site

ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s online site for license tab renewals contained “serious security weaknesses” and should remain shut down until sensitive customer data are better protected, the state’s legislative auditor said.

Auditors cited budget cuts as one reason for the insufficient security. The site has been down for two weeks. Officials said they intend to follow the report’s recommendations.

NEVADA

Mines get boost from gold prices

CARSON CITY — Rising gold prices continue to provide a major boost to Nevada mines. The total value of the state’s gold production climbed from $2.6 billion in 2003 to $2.8 billion in 2004, said Alan Coyner, administrator of the Nevada Division of Minerals.

Nevada remains the world’s third-largest gold producer behind South Africa and Australia, Mr. Coyner said.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Bill would provide work leave for victims

CONCORD — Crime victims would be able to attend legal or investigative proceedings without fear of losing their jobs under a bill considered by a Senate committee.

The bill would require employers to give unpaid leave to crime victims so they can meet with investigators, attend court hearings or testify at trials. The House passed the bill last month.

NEW MEXICO

Water rights hinge on settlement costs

SANTA FE — The Navajo Nation would have the rights to more than half the available water in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin if Congress agrees to pay for an $800 million settlement reached by tribal and state leaders.

Gov. Bill Richardson, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley and other officials signed the settlement Tuesday, the product of several years of negotiations over water rights in northwestern New Mexico.

The proposed agreement must be approved by Congress and the secretary of the interior. But Sen. Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico Republican, said it may need revision because of the high costs assumed by the federal government under the plan.

NEW YORK

Muslims sue U.S. over border detentions

NEW YORK — Five Muslims filed a federal lawsuit yesterday claiming violation of their rights by U.S. border agents who detained them as they returned from an Islamic conference in Canada.

The three men and two women say they were held, along with dozens of other Muslims, for more than six hours and interrogated, photographed and fingerprinted against their will in December.

The lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs were singled out after telling customs officials they had attended a “Reviving the Islamic Spirit” conference in Toronto.

All were later released without charge.

Defendants named in the lawsuit filed in New York federal court included Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is helping represent the plaintiffs, condemned what she described as the “overzealous and counterproductive ethnic and religious profiling” encouraged by government security policies in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

TEXAS

Inmate granted stay of execution

HOUSTON — One of two men scheduled for execution in Texas yesterday got a reprieve when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said his case should be reviewed because of claims he may be mentally retarded.

Milton Mathis, 26, was set to receive a lethal injection after 7 p.m. for a 1998 shooting spree that left two persons dead and one critically wounded, but the court ruling gave him an indefinite stay, a prison spokesman said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the mentally retarded cannot be executed.

Still set for execution yesterday was Douglas Roberts, 42, who was condemned for a 1996 kidnap and murder.

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