- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ALASKA

Study projects permafrost thaw

ANCHORAGE — Climate change could thaw the top 11 feet of permafrost in most areas of the Northern Hemisphere by 2100, altering ecosystems, according to a federal study’s most extreme scenario.

Using supercomputers in the United States and Japan, the study calculated how frozen soil would interact with air temperatures, snow, sea ice changes and other processes.

“If that much near-surface permafrost thaws, it could release considerable amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and that could amplify global warming,” said lead author David Lawrence, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

A permafrost researcher at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks disagrees that the thaw could be so large. Alaska’s permafrost won’t melt that fast or deep, said Vladimir Romanovsky, who monitors a network of permafrost observatories for the Geophysical Institute.

CALIFORNIA

Gunshot kills man 40 years later

LOS ANGELES — A man’s death this summer has been ruled a homicide, nearly 40 years after he was shot and wounded.

Los Angeles police shot 23-year-old Malcolm McWilliams during a confrontation on March 7, 1966. He was paralyzed from the waist down but lived for 39 more years, settling in a Dallas suburb.

The coroner examined Mr. McWilliams’ body and medical records and determined that his ailments — bowel and bladder problems, bed sores, gangrene that cost him some toes — were textbook examples of injuries suffered by somebody rendered a paraplegic from a shooting.

The determination doesn’t mean the officers who shot Mr. McWilliams acted improperly, but the 1966 incident will be logged as a fatal officer-involved shooting for 2005.

Police shot Mr. McWilliams after he threatened his wife and lunged with a 15-inch file at officers responding to an emergency call. Mr. McWilliams, 63 at his death on July 31, never sued police or blamed them for the shooting.

GEORGIA

Atlanta acquires Sherman’s orders

After months of negotiations, the Atlanta History Center has acquired 50 field orders handwritten by Union Gen. William T. Sherman and two penned by his aides, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

The orders will go on display by September, 142 years after the city’s surrender to Union forces on Sept. 18, 1864, said Jim Bruns, president of the history center.

Mr. Bruns who relishes the thought of Sherman’s orders returning to the city the general intended to ruin.

The orders are so valuable because they “show Sherman’s intentions, the deliberateness of his movements,” Mr. Bruns said. “They make it clear that he wasn’t going to camp here, and he wasn’t going to garrison the city. So he had to destroy the city.”

Twelve orders already are at the history center. They illustrate Sherman’s ruthlessness in pursuing the Atlanta campaign, including instructions to his generals to shoot Union soldiers if they were found to be “shirking, skulking and straggling behind in [a] time of danger.”

LOUISIANA

More rigs eyed as artificial reefs

BATON ROUGE — Damage to offshore oil and gas platforms from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could triple the number of rigs turned into artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries usually receives 10 to 12 requests each year to use abandoned rigs to create fish habitat. That number has soared to 40 this year, Rick Kasprzak, program manager of the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program, told the Advocate of Baton Rouge.

To date, 144 abandoned oil and gas platforms have been used as Louisiana reefs. Hurricanes this year damaged another 166 rigs.

MISSOURI

Cell phone lodged in woman’s throat

BLUE SPRINGS — A woman who police thought deliberately tried to swallow her cellular phone during an argument with her boyfriend was apparently the victim of an assault instead, authorities said.

Police have a suspect in the bizarre incident that sent the 24-year-old woman to a hospital last week, Sgt. Allen Kintz said. Police would not say whether the boyfriend was the suspect and would not explain exactly what they thought happened.

“It appears she didn’t voluntarily swallow this phone,” Sgt. Kintz said. “It’s not quite the way it was first portrayed.”

Early Friday, police responded to a call from a Blue Springs man who said his girlfriend was having trouble breathing. Police arrived to find a woman with a cellular phone lodged in her throat. Police initially were told that the boyfriend wanted the phone and that the woman tried to swallow it so that he could not get it.

OREGON

Surfer’s punch wards off shark

SEASIDE — A surfer says he reacted on instinct when he punched a great white shark that grabbed his leg near the northern Oregon coast.

Brian Anderson said he turned and saw the shark, “and I saw the nose of it and I just punched it in the nose, right by the eye, as quickly as I could. That’s all I could think to do. After I did that, it let go.”

Mr. Anderson, 31, said he learned from television shows including the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” that a shark’s nose is its most sensitive area.

He expects to make a full recovery from the lacerations he suffered on his ankle and calf, and the attack isn’t going to stop him from surfing.

“Oh yeah, I’ll go back out. Eventually,” he said yesterday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

WISCONSIN

Mother kills girl in driveway accident

SHEBOYGAN — A woman backing out of a driveway to get Christmas candy accidentally ran over her 6-year-old daughter and killed her, police said.

Cordelia Quistorf, 24, did not realize the girl had gone outside, police said.

Mrs. Quistorf’s other daughter and two sons were in the car with her.

Detective Ed Worthman said no charges were expected.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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