- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 2, 2005


Court clears execution pathfor founder of Crips gang

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court yesterday refused to consider blocking the execution of Stanley “Tookie” Williams, a founder of the notorious Crips street gang who was nominated for a Noble Peace Prize while in prison.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to grant a new hearing on Williams’ claim that prosecutors violated his rights when they dismissed all potential black jurors. Williams will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, defense attorney Andrea Asaro said.

Williams was sentenced to death in 1981 for killing a convenience-store worker and also was convicted of killing three other persons.

Williams was nominated in 2001 for a Nobel Peace Prize for his series of children’s books and efforts to curtail youth gang violence.


Small jet skids off runway,across six-lane highway

TETERBORO — A corporate jet skidded off a runway yesterday on takeoff and hurtled across a six-lane highway during the morning rush hour, smashing into two cars and punching through the wall of a warehouse. About 20 people, including two injured in their cars, were taken to hospitals.

The cause of the crash at Teterboro Airport was not known. The Bombardier Challenger CL-600 was carrying investment bankers from several companies to Chicago, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said.

All 11 persons on the plane were taken to hospitals; the most seriously hurt among them was one of the pilots, who had a broken leg. One of those injured in a car was in critical condition. Five firefighters were treated for minor injuries, and a man in the warehouse also was hurt.


Prosecutors defend Bible-studying jurors

DENVER — Jurors who sentenced a convicted killer to die did nothing wrong when they studied the Bible during deliberations, prosecutors told the Colorado Supreme Court.

They want to have the man put back on death row. Defense attorneys challenged Robert Harlan’s sentence after discovering that five jurors had looked up Bible verses and talked about them behind closed doors.


Release of prisoners blocked by governor

DOVER — Gov. Ruth Ann Minner has signed into law a bill to overturn a Delaware Supreme Court ruling that could have resulted in the release of nearly 200 inmates serving life sentences for murder, rape and other heinous crimes.

The November ruling by the state’s high court said sentences of life with parole should be considered 45-year prison terms under the language of the state’s sentencing laws and applies to convictions before June 1990. It caused significant outcry from lawmakers and victims’ families.

Questions remain about whether the legislature, which swiftly passed the bill last week to void the ruling, has constitutional authority to overturn an opinion by the state’s Supreme Court. Mrs. Minner, a Democrat, has asked the court to look into the matter and ultimately rule on the bill’s constitutionality.


Millions paid to settle sex abuse claims

MIAMI — The Roman catholic Archdiocese of Miami says it paid $5.2 million last year to settle sexual-abuse claims against its priests, more than double its payments during the previous 37 years.

Archbishop John Favalora says the archdiocese has settled 31 of 35 abuse lawsuits. All were filed after the church’s sexual-abuse scandal erupted nationwide in 2002.


Senators end smoking in their chamber

SPRINGFIELD — Senators ground out their last cigarettes in their chamber, more than 15 years after they banned smoking in most public places across Illinois.

Senate President Emil Jones, a smoker, ended the longtime practice with a memo telling the 59 senators that the chamber would follow the ban in the state’s 1990 Clean Indoor Air Act. The House banned smoking in its chamber years ago.


Saddlebred exhumed to solve mystery

VERSAILLES — Crews worked under a federal court order yesterday to exhume the remains of Wild-Eyed and Wicked, a champion saddlebred whose mysterious death has led to suspicions of sabotage in Kentucky’s horse country.

The chestnut gelding — who twice won the saddlebred Triple Crown — was among five horses at Double D Ranch in June 2003 that had nearly identical circular wounds on the back of their left legs. Veterinarians think someone injected the animals with an unknown substance.

Three horses, including 11-year-old Wild-Eyed and Wicked, had to be euthanized because of swelling and deterioration in their legs.

Kentucky State Police launched an investigation but have made no arrests.


Stroke risk higher in Southern blacks

NEW ORLEANS — Blacks in the South apparently get a double whammy of stroke risk: They die at much higher rates than either Southern whites or blacks who live elsewhere.

Researchers have long known that stroke deaths are greater among blacks and other people in the “Stroke Belt” across the eastern part of the nation’s midsection. But they thought that the combined risk posed by race and geography was small.

“Much to our surprise, the finding is: No, it’s not,” said George Howard, a biostatistician who presented his research yesterday at an American Stroke Association conference in New Orleans.

The rate of stroke deaths among black men in the South was 51 percent higher than it was among blacks elsewhere. And black men in the South had roughly four times the risk of dying of a stroke as white men living outside the South.

Leading theories for the racial and geographic differences are that Southerners are more likely to smoke, be overweight, have high blood pressure and be in poor general health. Lack of good medical care also may be a factor.


Governor pushes watching the pennies

HASTINGS — Mike Johanns is out as Nebraska’s governor, but his stationery will stay.

Gov. Dave Heineman said he would have his name printed at the bottom of Mr. Johanns’ stationery. To do otherwise would be wasteful, Mr. Heineman said.

“That’s just one small way for me to send a message to every single agency. Let’s watch our pennies, and if we watch our pennies together, ultimately, we can save millions,” he said.

Mr. Heineman said the state also would continue handing out state maps with photos of Mr. Johanns and his wife on them.

Mr. Heineman, the former lieutenant governor, became governor Jan. 20 after Mr. Johanns began his job as U.S. agriculture secretary.


Governor signs Guard insurance bill

SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson signed a bill yesterday making New Mexico the first state to underwrite $250,000 in life insurance for National Guard members.

“Our troops need more than speeches and pats on the back. … They need help for their families,” he said.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously Tuesday before sending it to the governor. The House passed it unanimously last week.

The measure would provide reimbursement for life insurance for more than 4,000 New Mexico Guard members, about 400 of whom are in Iraq. The basic premium is about $16 a month, which would cost New Mexico an estimated $840,000.

Mr. Richardson said 21 states have contacted him about the program. “Many are preparing legislation based on the New Mexico model,” the governor said.


Circumcision blamed in baby’s herpes death

NEW YORK — City health officials are investigating the death of a baby boy who was one of three infants to contract herpes after a rabbi circumcised them.

Ten days after Rabbi Yitzhok Fischer performed religious circumcisions on twins in October, one died of herpes and the other tested positive for the virus, according to a complaint filed by the Health Department in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The complaint, reported yesterday in the New York Daily News, also said health officials later found a third baby who had contracted herpes after being circumcised by Mr. Fischer in late 2003.

Under Jewish law, a mohel — someone who performs circumcisions — draws blood from the circumcision wound. Most mohels do it by hand, but Mr. Fischer uses a rare practice in which he uses his mouth.


School bus driver charged with drinking

CHARLOTTE — A school bus driver who had been drinking was tracked down by authorities after one of his passengers called 911 from a cell phone and reported that the man was asleep at the wheel.

Vernon Tobias Wallace, 23, was charged Tuesday with driving with alcohol in his system after police and school officials finally found him and pulled over his bus. Another driver finished the route.

None of the about 30 students headed for Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology was injured, said a school district spokeswoman.

Police would not release test results of Mr. Wallace’s blood-alcohol concentration but said it was below 0.04. The legal blood-alcohol concentration in North Carolina is 0.08 for recreational drivers, 0.04 for commercial drivers and 0.0 for drivers of school buses and day-care vans.


Teen gets year for airline bomb threat

PHILADELPHIA — A young woman who had a friend call a bomb threat into the Philadelphia airport to avoid missing her flight to London was sentenced yesterday to a year in prison.

Hatice Ceylan, 19, Edgewater Park, N.J., also was ordered with her friend to reimburse American Airlines $9,075 and pay $100 to each of the about 20 people aboard a flight delayed by the bomb scare.

She also was given three years of probation after getting out of prison.

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