Thursday, April 7, 2005


Sharpton praises Cochran at funeral

LOS ANGELES - Johnnie Cochran’s most celebrated clients, O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson, joined civil rights figures and stars at the lawyer’s funeral yesterday.

“He didn’t just love justice or admire justice ? he did justice, he achieved justice, he fought for justice, he made it happen,” said Mayor James Hahn.

The Rev. Al Sharpton drew applause from the packed West Angeles Cathedral by describing the emotional aftermath of the Simpson trial and saying the cheers from black Americans were not for the former football star: “We were clapping for Johnnie.”

“We were clapping because for decades our brothers, our cousins, our uncles had to stand in the well with no one to stand up for them. And finally a black man came and said, ‘If it don’t fit - you must acquit,’” Mr. Sharpton said, drawing a roar from the crowd.


Crack delays Discovery rollout

CAPE CANAVERAL — The rollout of Space Shuttle Discovery to the launchpad was put on hold yesterday after a crack was discovered in the foam insulation on the external fuel tank.

The flaw was discovered as the spacecraft was being readied for the first shuttle launch since Columbia fell to pieces two years ago — a disaster blamed on a chunk of foam that fell off the tank during liftoff and gashed one of the wings.

NASA spokeswoman Jessica Rye described the flaw as a hairline crack and said that after sending images of it to the tank’s manufacturer, the space agency concluded it did not need to make any repairs.

She said NASA would press ahead with the move from the assembly building to the launchpad, after a delay of at least two hours.


Grizzlies targeted to save moose

FAIRBANKS — State officials began issuing permits for hunters to use bait to kill grizzly bears in the eastern interior. It’s the first time that the state has targeted grizzly bears instead of wolves in its efforts to save the dwindling moose population.

Up to 81 of the estimated 135 bears in the area can be culled. Critics said the program lacks sufficient biological research.


Marriage law likely to wind up in court

TOPEKA — Both sides of the debate over homosexual “marriage” predicted yesterday that voters’ approval of a state constitutional amendment will result in court battles.

The final, unofficial results in Tuesday’s vote from 104 of the state’s 105 counties showed 414,235 Kansans, or about 70 percent, voting “yes,” and 178,167, or 30 percent, voting “no.”

The leader of a national group favoring the ban predicted yesterday that the amendment ultimately will fail in federal court.

“All these state amendments are going to be struck down by federal judges,” said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage. “We’re in a race now — in a race between the democratic process in Kansas and other states and the federal courts.”

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, agreed that the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately will determine the validity of state constitutional amendments against same-sex “marriage,” 18 of which are on the books now, with more expected this year.


Professor accused of manure theft

BOSTON — A Harvard professor who specializes in environmental economics was arrested on suspicion of trying to steal a load of manure from a Massachusetts farm, a police officer said yesterday.

Professor Martin Weitzman was arrested Friday near the town of Rockport, Rockport Police Officer Michael Marino said.

Philip Casey, who manages a horse stable at the farm, had called police after finding Mr. Weitzman and his truck on the farm and stopping him from leaving, Officer Marino said.

The Harvard academic was charged with trespassing, larceny less than $25, and malicious destruction of property — because the truck left marks on the farm, Officer Marino said.


Arthritic elephants move to sanctuary

ROYAL OAK — Wanda and Winky went West.

The Detroit Zoo’s aging and arthritic elephants left Tuesday for the Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary near Sacramento, Calif. The 2,300-mile trek is taking place in a retrofitted moving van.

The journey to California will take about 2 days.


Storms sweep damage across South

BRANDON — Lines of violent thunderstorms rolled through the South yesterday, blowing apart mobile homes, snapping dozens of trees and power lines and ripping the roof off a school while classes were in session.

A tornado touched down in Mississippi during an hours-long storm siege. No deaths were reported, but officials said at least eight persons were injured, including one in critical condition. Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, declared a state of emergency in storm-damaged areas.

The hardest-hit section of Mississippi was rural Rankin County, southeast of Jackson. At least 17 homes were destroyed in the county and 15 others had major damage, said Amy Carruth, a Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman in Brandon.

Another tornado destroyed about eight homes and damaged about a dozen other houses, barns and workshops near Heflin in northwestern Louisiana. One mobile home was torn down around a woman and her two sons.


Interlocks required for drunken drivers

SANTA FE — Chris Romero hops into his blue-and-white Ford pickup, clicks the ignition on and then off again and reaches for what looks like a black cellular phone hanging from his dashboard.

The twice-convicted drunken driver blows for about four seconds into a short plastic tube that sticks out of the top of the device, then hears a beep. He has passed the test.

With about 2,600 offenders a year ordered by courts to get interlocks, New Mexico has more of them installed per capita than any other state. All convicted drunken drivers will be required to get interlocks under legislation that Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, planned to sign yesterday.

Although interlocks are employed to varying degrees in more than 40 states, New Mexico will be the first to require such broad use.


House passes lottery bill

RALEIGH — The North Carolina House narrowly approved a lottery yesterday in a vote that could bring a state-operated numbers game to the only state on the East Coast without one.

The House voted 61-59 in favor of a measure that would dedicate profits from the games to school construction, scholarships and other education initiatives. The bill also would ban lottery advertising anywhere except the sites where the tickets are sold.

The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration. The Senate historically has favored a lottery, but hasn’t voted on a bill in a dozen years.


Medical records jam Cleveland traffic

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Clinic executives and security guards scrambled yesterday to retrieve 3,000 patient records that fell from a delivery truck onto a city street.

The confidential records from Lakewood and Marymount hospitals — both part of the Cleveland Clinic Health System — included personal information, such as names, addresses and Social Security numbers.

“We are currently identifying which patient records were impacted and will be contacting those patients directly,” a clinic spokeswoman told WEWS-TV.

Motorists watched and honked Tuesday as the officials from the renowned hospitals tried to retrieve as many of the records as possible after they were scattered across Cleveland streets.


School district bars birthday spankings

ANDERSON — Birthday spankings are a thing of the past and are not condoned by local school districts, officials said.

An incident in Hart County sparked action there after a parent complained that her daughter received a birthday spanking against the girl’s wishes during a physical education class at her elementary school. Superintendent Nancy Clark since has sent a letter to all schools prohibiting such spankings.

Separate investigations by the Hart County Sheriff’s Office and Assistant Schools Superintendent Glorianne Patterson cleared South Hart Elementary coach Joey Rider of any wrongdoing, the Anderson Independent Mail reported.


Web firm to give man a new name

UINTAH HIGHLANDS — A company that hosts Web sites will give Matthew Jean Rouse a new middle name.

The 31-year-old used EBay to auction the right to pick him a new middle name that would replace the despised “Jean.”

The bidding was cut off Monday when agreed to the $8,000 “Buy It Now” price. The company has not told him his new name.

“I’m guessing it will be,” he said.

Mr. Rouse undertook the move to rid himself of the moniker Jean — after his grandfather, Jean Stelter — because the two didn’t get along.


Lawmakers approve unwanted-babies bill

MONTPELIER —The state Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would make it easier for a parent to legally give up an unwanted child during the first 30 days of life.

The bill would allow a parent to take the child to a police station or hospital, rather than abandon the newborn and face criminal charges. The House has not voted on the bill.


Green Bay voters drop booze ban

GREEN BAY — Voters on Tuesday ended a prohibition on serving alcohol in a small swath of the Green Bay Packers’ hometown that has been dry for 110 years.

Residents in the 3-by-2-mile section on the city’s western side voted 58 percent to 42 percent to lift the ban, which has been in place since the city of Fort Howard merged with Green Bay.

Local lore says a minister’s wife gave land to Fort Howard on the condition that there would be no drinking. Mayor Jim Schmitt joined a coalition of hospitality and business leaders in pushing for the change.

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