- The Washington Times - Monday, December 5, 2005

ALABAMA

Bill would allow Bible literacy class

MONTGOMERY — School boards in Alabama could offer courses in Bible literacy as an elective in public high schools under a measure viewed by critics as an attempt to promote Christianity in classrooms.

House Majority Leader Ken Guin, a Democrat, has pre-filed a bill that would authorize public school systems to offer the elective in grades nine through 12. The course would be based on the textbook “The Bible and Its Influence,” published in September by the Bible Literacy Project, a Fairfax, Va.-based nonprofit organization.

The bill can be considered in the regular legislative session, beginning Jan. 10.



Supporters of the bill say the course would not be a devotional study of the Bible, but an academic discussion of how it has influenced literature, art, history, music and Western civilization.

ARIZONA

Trips canceled after spending probe

PHOENIX — Phoenix officials canceled several previously approved travel requests after a newspaper’s investigation showed some city employees were spending public money frivolously.

The Arizona Republic’s probe found nearly $9 million spent on travel and training since 2001, with some of the money paying for excursions that included whitewater rafting, pricey meals, four-star hotels and dry cleaning.

FLORIDA

Epsilon strengthens into hurricane again

MIAMI — Epsilon unexpectedly strengthened again into a rare December hurricane yesterday in the open Atlantic, where it posed no threat to land.

The 26th named storm of the record-breaking hurricane season had top sustained winds near 85 mph, despite earlier predictions that it would weaken, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported. Epsilon had sustained winds of 70 mph earlier in the day; hurricanes have winds of at least 74 mph.

“There are no clear reasons and I am not going to make one up to explain the recent strengthening of Epsilon,” said hurricane specialist Lixion Avila.

He said cooler waters, higher wind shear and drier air should cause Epsilon to weaken later in the day. Epsilon first reached hurricane strength on Friday. It is the 14th hurricane of the season.

HAWAII

Surfer drowns after violent wave

HONOLULU — A Tahitian professional surfer drowned Friday after wiping out on a big wave off Oahu’s North Shore.

Malik Joyeux, 25, was under water for about 10 minutes after being struck by an 8-foot wave at Hawaii’s famous Banzai Pipeline surf break, said witness and photographer Bruno Lemos.

The wave exploded on top of Mr. Joyeux, snapping his board in half, Mr. Lemos said. Surfers spotted Mr. Joyeux’s body floating in a nearby break and paddled him to shore, where lifeguards and ocean safety officials unsuccessfully tried to revive him, Mr. Lemos said.

Mr. Joyeux was pronounced dead at Kahuku Hospital.

INDIANA

Meat trail leads to shoplifting suspect

MARION — Forget about bread crumbs. Police say a shoplifter here left a trail of meat.

Johnny McCray had grabbed 19 packages of meat, some weighing more than a pound, from Lance’s New Market in Marion, police said.

An officer tried to stop Mr. McCray in his car with the steaks and roasts, but police said he took off, chucking the meat out the window as he went.

Shortly thereafter, he abandoned the car near an apartment complex and was captured after he fled.

Police spent about 90 minutes retrieving the stolen meat from the streets of the city about halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

MISSISSIPPI

Cousin convicted in triple slaying

YAZOO CITY — A jury convicted a former truck driver Saturday of killing three relatives who vanished from their home on Valentine’s Day last year.

Earnest Lee Hargon was accused in the slayings of his cousin Michael Hargon, Michael Hargon’s wife, Rebecca, and the couple’s 4-year-old son, James.

The jury was to return to the courthouse yesterday to hear evidence in the trial’s sentencing phase. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Defense attorney Andre de Gruy said the defense will present Hargon as a good man troubled by an addiction to crystal methamphetamine.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Family will visit site of bodies

CONCORD — Family members of two children who were slain by their father in 2003 plan to visit the Ohio site where the remains were found.

The bodies of Sarah Gehring, 14, and her brother, Philip Gehring, 11, were identified Saturday by the medical examiner’s office in Summit County, Ohio.

They were found two days earlier, buried in a wooded area near the town of Hudson, by Stephanie Dietrich, whose dog led her to the burial site. The children’s mother, Teri Knight, had been searching for them since they disappeared in July 2003.

Mrs. Knight’s husband, Jim Knight, said yesterday that decisions will be made in the next few days about when they will go to Ohio, probably to have the children’s bodies cremated there and then bring the ashes home to New Hampshire.

PENNSYLVANIA

Troubled school sends in Marine

PHILADELPHIA — A retired Marine colonel has been hired to marshal school police and oversee discipline to shape up Philadelphia’s troubled Olney High School. Christopher Baker spent 30 years in the Marine Corps, has a master’s degree in business from the Wharton School, and most recently worked as a management consultant for Noguchi International Med-Line Clinic, a management and real estate consulting firm.

Paul Vallas, the city school district’s chief executive officer, said, “Obviously, if you’re in the military, you know a little something about discipline.”

Mr. Baker’s challenge is to help restore order at Olney, a sprawling complex with 2,000 students where teachers and parents have complained about fights, roaming of halls, vandalism and disruption. Nearly 30 students have been expelled from Olney High since September.

TEXAS

Woman calls 911 to rescue ‘Baby’

HOUSTON — Many people treat their pets like children, but a woman is in legal trouble after calling 911 and claiming that her baby was stuck in the sewer.

The woman, who was not identified, called the fire department three times saying that her cat was stuck in the sewer, police said. On the fourth call, the woman said her 2-year-old baby was stuck in the sewer. The cat’s name is Baby.

The firefighters arrived expecting to find a child, but rescued the feline from the sewer anyway. Police gave the woman a ticket for making a false report, a Class B misdemeanor.

“They said they were desperate, didn’t know what else to do,” Houston Fire Department Capt. Keith Ellery told Houston television station KPRC.

Members of the woman’s family said they tried to rescue the cat themselves before calling for help.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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