- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005


Habitat for Humanity announces new leader

COLLEGE PARK — Habitat for Humanity International, the group that builds homes for the poor in 100 countries, tapped a Minnesota pastor and former retail executive to be its new leader.

The group yesterday picked Jonathan Reckford, a former Best Buy and Circuit City executive who served for the past two years as executive pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, Minn.

Mr. Reckford will try to move the 29-year-old charity beyond a bitter rift that erupted between the group’s board members and founder Millard Fuller.


Red Lake reservation celebrates youth festival

RED LAKE — Plans to form the Red Lake Nation Youth Council had been in the works even before a troubled teenager killed nine persons on the reservation in March, in the nation’s worst school shooting since Columbine.

On Tuesday, while watching basketball players celebrate 3-point shots and children squeal their way down a water slide, the council pronounced its first event a success.

Hundreds of people turned out for the opening of the three-day festival, called “REZiliency.” Organizers hoped the event would persuade young people to get involved in the school and community.

The reservation has been reeling since Jeff Weise, 16, killed five fellow students, a teacher and an unarmed security guard at Red Lake High School after killing his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend at their home. He later killed himself.


Navajo Nation bans peyote misuse

WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. has signed a measure that makes it legal for Navajos to transport and possess peyote for ceremonial purposes on Navajo Nation land.

The new tribal law also allows peyote that Navajo police confiscate from people who have it illegally to be given to the Native American Church to be used for approved ceremonies.

Mr. Shirley said the legislation is a way to preserve the Navajo way of life.

The Navajo Tribal Council approved the measure by a 63-1 vote. The July 29 signing included an all-night ceremony in a sacred hogan near the Navajo Nation Museum. Officials at the event stressed the importance of using peyote properly.


Black applicants get police exam settlement

DOVER — State officials and the U.S. Justice Department resolved a lawsuit that claimed a written exam once given to state police applicants discriminated against blacks.

Under a proposed agreement, the state would pay more than $1.4 million to qualified blacks who were denied trooper positions between 1992 and 1998 based on their exam performance.


Swimmer crosses Lake Superior

CHICAGO — Long-distance swimmer Jim Dreyer survived rip currents and the chilly waters of Lake Superior to complete a U.S.-Canada crossing of the largest of the Great Lakes, a supporter said yesterday.

The more than 50-mile swim in which Mr. Dreyer, 41, towed a raft with supplies and a Global Positioning System transponder, began Monday at Whitefish Point, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and ended about 84 hours later at Gargantua Bay near Wawa, Ontario.

“He did make it, and he’s in awfully good shape,” said Dale Knepper, owner of the Mad Moose Lodge in nearby Montreal River Harbor.

Mr. Dreyer, who raised funds for the Big Brother Big Sister program and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, has swum across all five of the Great Lakes since 1998. It was his sixth attempt in Lake Superior and his first without a support boat.


TV sports fan gets death for killing wife

PANAMA CITY — A man who became angry with his wife because she wanted to cuddle after sex when what he really wanted to do was watch sports on television was sentenced to death for killing her with a claw hammer.Christopher Offord, 30, was sentenced Wednesday by Circuit Judge Dedee Costello, who said the brutality of the crime outweighed any mental problems Offord might have had.

“The defendant struck his wife approximately 70 individual blows after spending a happy interlude with her,” the judge said. “Her desire to cuddle after sex does not justify the extremely violent, brutal response of the defendant.”

Offord pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2004 slaying of Dana Noser, 40, at his apartment.


Coal miner killed as roof collapses

CUMBERLAND — The roof of a coal mine collapsed suddenly, killing one miner, and rescue crews were searching for another who could be trapped in or behind a wall of fallen rocks, authorities said yesterday.

The 400-square-foot section of roof gave way about midnight as a crew of about eight performed retreat mining, which involves removing coal pillars that support the roof, said Paris Charles, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing.


ACLU sues to stop alcohol tests

LANSING — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit yesterday on behalf of four teens who were forced by police to blow into a Breathalyzer at a party.

The ACLU says Michigan is the only state in the country where pedestrians younger than 21 cannot refuse an alcohol test if police don’t have a search warrant.

Katie Platte was 19 last year when Thomas Township police directed her and some friends to take the test. She faced a $100 fine if she refused.

“I don’t think it’s fair for young people to have to choose between a $100 fine and an invasion of privacy,” said Miss Platte, who said she was not drinking at the time. “With this, you’re guilty until proven innocent.”


Mother, son shot in road-rage fight

LYNN — A man was arraigned yesterday after reportedly shooting a woman and her teenage son in the second case of road rage in the state in two days.

Lynn police charged William Green, 55, with two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a firearm; two counts of armed assault with intent to murder; and firing a gun within 100 feet of a residence.

Investigators said the motorists in the two cars had been feuding for several blocks Wednesday. At a stop sign, the teenager spat at the other car, after which the driver got out of his car, then threatened and ultimately shot the woman and her son, the Boston Globe reported. Both were both in fair condition with undisclosed injuries yesterday.

Tuesday, after a heated traffic dispute in Brockton, a 60-year-old man reportedly hunted down and fatally shot a 27-year-old driver, who had been holding an infant in his arms.


Riders, group sue city over subway searches

NEW YORK — Five city subway riders and a civil liberties group sued the city yesterday to stop random police inspections of bags in subways, calling the searches ineffective, unconstitutional and a publicity stunt that does not enhance safety.

“It’s a needle-in-the-haystack approach to law enforcement,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Christopher Dunn, the New York Civil Liberties Union’s associate legal director, said the policy announced July 21 was akin to a random search of people’s bags and packages on public streets and a violation of a fundamental civil right.

Spot checks by the NYCLU since the policy began show that police conduct the searches at few stations with little effect because anyone can refuse the search and enter the subway’s 468 stations at another point, he said.


Passenger tries to open door in flight

SEATTLE — A woman was arrested Wednesday for attempting to open an airplane exit door while the plane was still in the air, police said.

The 52-year-old woman from Dania Beach, Fla., left her seat and tried to open the door as the United Airlines flight was descending into Seattle to land, police said. The plane was at an altitude of about 4,000 feet at the time. She failed.

A flight attendant persuaded the woman to sit down, but nobody physically restrained her.

The woman was arrested for investigation of malicious mischief when the plane landed. Police were investigating whether alcohol and prescription medication were involved.


GOP holds forum for schools candidates

LUSK — The local Republican Party held a forum for candidates to replace Trent Blankenship as superintendent of public instruction, the state’s top education job. Mr. Blankenship resigned this week after taking a job in Alaska.

Marc Mason, a retired teacher and school administrator from Cheyenne, became the 10th person to seek the job.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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