- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2005


Giuliani asked to repay fee

COLUMBIA — A state lawmaker wants former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to return the $100,000 fee that he received to speak at a tsunami relief fundraiser.

Mr. Giuliani donated $20,000 from the fee to the event’s tsunami relief fund — twice the amount requested by the benefit’s sponsor, the South Carolina Hospital Association, said J. Thornton Kirby, the group’s president.

But Rep. Tracy Edge said the full fee should be returned because the Feb. 9 speech in Columbia was publicized as a charity event.

The hospital group originally had invited Mr. Giuliani to speak to its annual gala, which turned into a fundraiser after the Dec. 26 tsunami, Mr. Kirby said. The speech boosted the benefit’s profile and helped raise $60,000 for the relief fund, including Mr. Giuliani’s donation, Mr. Kirby said.


Church president opens conference

SALT LAKE CITY — The president of the Mormon Church opened the church’s 175th conference during the weekend, calling on members to “stand a little taller, lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater millennial mission.”

The words were the same that Gordon B. Hinckley used a decade ago, just weeks after he was elevated to lead the church on March 12, 1995.

“You must be the judge of how far we have come in realizing the fulfillment of that invitation given 10 years ago,” he told 21,000 followers who filled the church’s Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

Later, Mr. Hinckley offered condolences to the world’s Catholics on the death of Pope John Paul II.


Allergy sufferer installs artificial turf

NORTHPORT — Tacky turf, or a green dream? Hal Burleson’s yard is getting mixed reviews from the neighbors.

Mr. Burleson convinced his wife, Margaret, that it would be a good idea to rip out the grass and replace it with artificial turf, the stuff found on football fields. He was tired of all the yard work and allergy flare-ups.

“At first, there were a lot of comments about it. Different people thought it was just crazy,” Mrs. Burleson said. “Some even went to City Hall to try to do something about it.

“But, after it was done, people would compliment it and tell us that it made sense.”

The couple got the idea during visits to Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nev., where they saw plenty of homes with fake lawns.


Coast Guard to monitor ship traffic

ANCHORAGE — The Coast Guard this summer will begin electronically tracking ship traffic through the Aleutian Islands.

The data could help demonstrate the need for new equipment to prevent shipwrecks, agency officials told a shipping safety forum. About 1,000 to 2,000 large commercial ships take the route between North America and Asia every year.


Governor backs gambling expansion

OAK PARK — Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich gave his support to expanding gambling in Illinois, proposing a $300 million increase in school funding next year that he said would come from allowing riverboat casinos to add more slot machines and gambling tables.

The governor, a Democrat, didn’t support expansion plans in 2003 and 2004. Illinois’ nine casinos brought in more than $700 million in tax revenue last year.


Wildlife center treats injured goose

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — A rare, wayward goose was being treated at a Lake Tahoe wildlife center after spring snowstorms forced it to take refuge in a most unlikely place — a ski resort.

Sierra-at-Tahoe employees discovered the lone Ross’s goose last week, miles from where the birds are usually found in the California Central Valley.

“I think he was on his way north and got a little off course, probably because of the storms,” said Tom Millham of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

The goose was cold and afraid of the near-blizzard conditions at the ski resort but wouldn’t let anyone come near. After employees spent several minutes chasing the bird, it flew into a building and suffered what Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care operators said was a mild concussion.

Aaron Barnes, pub manager at Sierra-at-Tahoe, wrapped up the goose and took it to the South Shore wildlife care facility.


Girl’s death prompts debate on penalties

DES MOINES — Lawmakers are vowing to pass tougher penalties for sex offenders. This comes after the death of 10-year-old Jetseta Gage, who was reportedly killed by a 37-year-old convicted sex offender.

Debate topics ranged from longer prison terms and hard labor to bringing back the death penalty, which Iowa abolished in 1965.


Whale births reach near-record number

BOSTON — A baby boom has given a lift to the endangered North Atlantic right whale, with a near-record number of births in the just-ended calving season, said researchers at the New England Aquarium.

They warned, however, the species still faces significant hurdles.

Twenty-seven whales were born during the season that started in mid-December and ended Thursday, second only to the 31 births recorded in 2001, the best year since scientists started tracking births in the early 1990s. Five years ago, only one birth was recorded.

The species was hunted nearly to extinction in the late 18th century and its total population now numbers only 325 to 350.


Tree owner battles state

LANSING — A St. Clair County man continued his quest Friday to prevent the state from cutting down trees on his property that is near others infected with the emerald ash borer, arguing to a state agricultural official that he can save some of them.

John Horvath, 67, appealed the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s decision ordering him to remove 86 trees at risk of infestation. The state is worried the ash borer could spread from Mr. Horvath’s residence on Harsens Island across the St. Clair River into Ontario and eventually into Pennsylvania and New York.

In March, Mr. Horvath used a bulldozer to prevent officials from cutting down trees on his farm. The state wants the trees gone by the middle of this month at the latest.


Lawmakers let no-call law expire

JACKSON — Mississippi’s law prohibiting telemarketers from calling residents registered on the state’s no-call list will expire June 30, after lawmakers failed to re-enact it.

House and Senate members could not agree on a compromise bill to continue the law. More than 200,000 Mississippi consumers were registered, the Public Service Commission said.


Students bristle at bus to prom

LEBANON — Lebanon High School students are speaking out against a requirement that they ride a bus rather than rent limousines or take cars to the prom, saying it infringes on a cherished rite of passage.

The school is trying to prevent alcohol-related accidents on the 45-minute drive to the dance, Principal Jim Nourse said. “In issues of safety, nobody has a vote but me,” he said.


Postmaster sentenced for trashing fliers

GREAT FALLS — A former postmaster has been sentenced for doing something many might cheer: tossing away advertising fliers rather than cramming them into post office boxes.

Athena Mosxona was sentenced to 10 days of probation Wednesday.

“I’m really sorry,” she tearfully told U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon. “I did not know I was creating a criminal act, and if I had to do it all over again, I’d stuff every single box with every one of those things.”

Miss Mosxona, 61, supervised the Blackfoot Indian Reservation’s Heart Butte post office for 19 years before taking an early retirement after her indictment in November on a felony mail destruction count.

The Valier woman pleaded guilty after prosecutors reduced the charge to a misdemeanor. She also must pay a $10 court fee.


University fires pro-Nazi professor

TEANECK — An adjunct history professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University who hosts a webcast program called “White Viewpoint” has been dismissed for missing too many days of class, school officials said.

Jacques Pluss, 51, acknowledged he is a member of the National Socialist Movement, a pro-Nazi group.

University officials said Mr. Pluss was dismissed for missing too many days of a class, but Mr. Pluss said each of his three absences was excused with a doctor’s note.


Brigade to bring 2,800 new students

TACOMA — Area school districts are planning for 2,800 new students because of the arrival of a new brigade at Fort Lewis.

The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, with 3,900 soldiers and their families, is moving from Fort Polk, La., to become the newest Stryker brigade.


Operators sue over snow plane ban

JACKSON — A group of snow plane operators has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to lift a ban on the craft in Grand Teton National Park.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, said the National Park Service considered only two alternatives — allowing unrestricted use of snow planes or banning them completely — without considering reasonable limits before deciding to bar snow planes from Jackson Lake after the 2001-02 winter season.

A snow plane is a small craft on runners powered by an airplane engine with a propeller; it does not leave the ground. Before officials banned snow planes, citing their noise, about 125 people had permits to operate them on the lake.

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