‘Holiday tree’ roils campus
AUBURN — Student leaders at Auburn University got more than 20,000 irate e-mails and a flood of phone calls from people upset that the campus “Christmas tree” was called a “holiday tree.”
Despite the outpouring, the Student Government Association rejected a resolution, sought by conservative Christians, to rename the tree-lighting ceremony.
Suspect caught with empty tank
SEARCY — Daniel Townsend apparently had plenty of engine to outrun law officers, but he didn’t have enough fuel.
Townsend, 27, of Augusta, reportedly sped away Wednesday from a sheriff’s deputy who tried to pull him over. Authorities say he was driving a stolen Lexus recklessly on U.S. 67/167 north of Searcy.
White County Sheriff Pat Garrett said Townsend made it through Searcy and returned to the highway. Shortly after, the engine on Deputy Kyle Toler’s cruiser stopped running and Townsend continued onward.
But Townsend, spotted by other law officers, stopped about 23 miles later, when he ran out of gas and coasted to a stop.
Townsend was taken into custody on numerous charges for the chase, plus additional parole violations and an outstanding warrant, Sheriff Garrett said.
Court refuses to stop execution
SAN FRANCISCO — The state Supreme Court late last night refused to grant a stay of execution for gang member and convicted killer Stanley “Tookie” Williams, meaning Williams will be executed early tomorrow unless the governor grants clemency or a last-ditch federal appeal succeeds.
Williams’ supporters made another pitch to save his life yesterday, telling Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s staff that they had a new witness who could help prove Williams’ innocence.
The state’s high court ruled 6-0 against staying the execution, saying Williams’ last-minute appeal lacked merit and was untimely.
Williams, 51, is scheduled for execution at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow for the deaths of four persons in 1979.
Searchers find king’s time capsule
HONOLULU — Using radar equipment along a wall of a landmark Hawaiian building, military specialists Saturday quickly located a time capsule buried more than a century ago by King Kamehameha V.
Historians knew the capsule contained priceless pieces of the islands’ history, including photos of royal families dating back to Kamehameha the Great and a constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom. But until now, the capsule’s exact location was not known.
“We found it within the first 10 minutes we were here,” said Larry Conyers, a University of Denver professor who used ground-penetrating radar to find the hollow spot in the northeast corner of the Aliiolani Hale building.
The capsule was left undisturbed. Digging it up would destroy the building above, which is also a historic treasure, specialists said.
Residents seek to halt subdivisions
RATHDRUM — Concern about population growth has some residents of this northern Idaho town taking action. Friends of Rathdrum Mountain say they’ve been given first right to buy the local hill, and must raise up to $1 million by next July.
It’s mostly tree stumps now, after logging. Residents want to prevent it from being used for subdivisions.
Boy, 7, at wheel in hit-and-run
FLEMINGSBURG — Police got a surprise when they stopped a van after a hit-and-run crash on Kentucky’s Mountain Parkway: A 7-year-old boy was at the wheel, sitting on his father’s lap.
Donald Everett Waters, 39, of Flemingsburg, faces two felony counts of wanton endangerment and numerous other charges after the Friday afternoon incident.
When police caught up with the van on Interstate 64, Mr. Waters was working the foot pedals and his son, Cody, was on his lap steering, Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Estes said. He described Mr. Waters as “semiconscious.” Mr. Waters’ 3-year-old son was also in the van, Deputy Estes said.
The children were taken by social services. Mr. Waters, meanwhile, faces several charges, including resisting arrest, carrying a concealed deadly weapon, and driving under the influence.
University finds more depression
MINNEAPOLIS — The number of University of Minnesota students seeking help for depression and other mental illnesses increased 44 percent over five years, officials said.
Last year, about 2,200 students visited the mental health clinic on the Twin Cities campus.
Thousands face loss of food stamps
SALEM — Thousands of state residents could lose their food-stamp eligibility if a bill before Congress is approved, an analysis by a liberal-leaning think-tank showed.
The Silverton-based Oregon Center for Public Policy found that nearly 36,000 Oregonians would be cast off the food-stamp rolls if the U.S. House version of a budget-reconciliation bill prevails.
Truck strikes McDonald’s building
CHURCH HILL — The manager of a McDonald’s restaurant called police last week after two women, whom employees say were acting strangely as they ordered at a drive-through, struck the side of the building with their pickup.
When officers arrived, they found Heather Amber Anderson, 24, inside the restaurant and behind the counter, trying to open a cash register.
Sgt. Chad Mosely said she was unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. He charged her with public intoxication and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Outside, the driver of the pickup, Neeica Jean Mull, 41, also appeared intoxicated and told police she had taken prescription medication, authorities said. She was charged with driving under the influence.
State may sue FDA over pill delay
MADISON — The governor gave Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager permission to sue the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for delaying a decision on whether to make the morning-after birth-control pill available without a prescription. The attorney general needed Gov. James E. Doyle’s permission to sue.
She said the FDA’s delays have hurt rape victims and strained state programs with the costs of unplanned pregnancies.
From wire dispatches and staff reports