- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2005

CALIFORNIA

Highways blocked by snow, flooding

LOS ANGELES — Heavy snow shut down a major highway north of Los Angeles yesterday and slowed post-holiday travel in the Sierra Nevada as Californians grappled with a second week of stormy weather.

Pounding rain flooded roads, and snow dumped onto Southern California mountains, turning the morning commute into a white-knuckle obstacle course.

About 2 feet of snow shut down Interstate 5 at Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles, stranding some travelers. At lower elevations in the Los Angeles region, flooding closed the Long Beach Freeway at the Pacific Coast Highway. Downtown Los Angeles had accumulated about 1.5 inches of rain by late morning.

MISSISSIPPI

Instructor teaches students the blues

CLARKSDALE — Andrew Turner holds the heavy metal door open, leaning his head into the room cluttered with instruments and chairs to check on his students at the Delta Blues Museum.

“Listen,” Mr. Turner tells his students in the beginners blues education class. The former blues musician wants his proteges to concentrate on the instruments they are playing while keeping the beat.

Beginner instructors Billy Williams and Mr. Turner, 48, known as “Mr. Shine,” are teaching this uniquely American music style to students ranging from preschool age to a college professor.

Students learn to play the blues in a corner room of the museum, located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, where most agree the music style originated.

ARIZONA

Man guilty in death of boot-camp youth

PHOENIX — The director of a boot camp for troubled youths was convicted of manslaughter yesterday in the death of a 14-year-old camper who collapsed in triple-digit desert heat.

Charles Long, 59, was charged with second-degree murder in the July 2001 death of Anthony Haynes, but the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of reckless manslaughter.

Anthony died of complications from dehydration after collapsing near Buckeye.

Long, a former Marine, was accused of telling counselors to bring Anthony back to the America’s Buffalo Soldiers Re-enactors Association boot camp rather than taking him to a hospital.

ARKANSAS

Evacuation ends after waste plant fire

EL DORADO — The last of the nearly 1,500 people evacuated after a hazardous waste plant warehouse caught fire Sunday morning were allowed to return home yesterday afternoon.

Employees of the Teris Inc. warehouse said Sunday morning’s fire started in a drum of explosive magnesium, Fire Chief Floyd McAdoo said.

“One of the employees discovered a drum smoking. By the time they got back with a fire extinguisher, it was too late,” he said.

Some of those displaced by the fire were treated for headaches, nausea and eye irritation, but environmental tests yesterday showed conditions were safe, officials said.

El Dorado police spokesman Capt. David Smith said about 500 people evacuated overnight in the area closest to the warehouse were allowed to return yesterday.

COLORADO

20-year-old on way to medical degree

DENVER — Alex Oshmyansky may be in his second year of medical school, but he still can’t buy a drink. He is 20.

Mr. Oshmyansky, who took a year to graduate from college, is on his way to becoming a brain surgeon so he can study the mathematical modeling of the brain’s pathways. The possibilities include finding ways for paraplegics or quadriplegics to move prosthetic devices using brain waves.

Mr. Oshmyansky graduated from high school in 2002 and from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2003. He is in his second year of medical school at Duke University. This fall, he will pursue a doctorate in mathematical biology at Oxford University as one of 40 Americans awarded a Marshall Scholarship from the British government.

GEORGIA

Carter urged to give fish a chance

ATLANTA — A prominent U.S.-based animal rights group yesterday urged former President Jimmy Carter to give up fishing on the grounds that the activity was inconsistent with the Nobel peace laureate’s humanitarian efforts.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made its appeal in a letter faxed to Mr. Carter’s nonprofit Carter Center. The group said the letter was prompted by Mr. Carter’s recent appearance on “The Tonight Show.” Mr. Carter told Jay Leno of the pain he suffered when he accidentally hooked himself through the face on a fishing trip.

“We’re asking President Carter to think this through and to grant fish peace by leaving them in the water where they belong,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a press release.

A Carter Center spokesman said the center does not comment on Mr. Carter’s private correspondence.

ILLINOIS

Residents pick state amphibian, reptile

CHICAGO — The eastern tiger salamander slipped by two other finalists in balloting for the title of state amphibian, while slow and steady was a winning strategy for the painted turtle in the state reptile race.

The public chose the winners in Internet voting. The legislature still has to approve them as official state symbols.

IOWA

Icy winter storm slams Midwest

DES MOINES — Freezing rain coated streets and sidewalks in an icy cocoon from Iowa to Illinois, closing Des Moines schools on the first day of class since Christmas break.

Police said highways in southern and central Iowa were 100 percent covered with ice, but road crews were out early with salt trucks and no major accidents were reported.

A winter storm watch was in effect across the region as the rain and ice mix switched to snow. Up to 4 inches of snow was expected in Iowa, the Des Moines Register said.

A winter storm advisory was in effect in northern Illinois and Wisconsin, where forecasts called for several inches of snow today and tomorrow.

NEVADA

Sierra Club battles freeway widening

LAS VEGAS — In a case with broad national implications, the Sierra Club wants to stop the widening of a freeway in fast-growing Las Vegas until the government proves that the automobile exhaust won’t harm the health of people living nearby.

At issue is a five-mile stretch of U.S. 95 that would be widened from six to 10 lanes between the Las Vegas Strip and the prosperous bedroom communities of Summerlin and Centennial Hills to the northwest.

The environmental group wants the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order the Federal Highway Administration to rethink the project. The court will hear the case Jan. 10 in San Francisco.

NEW YORK

Empire State Building lights dimmed

NEW YORK — Lights on New York’s Empire State Building were to be dimmed for 15 minutes yesterday, and flags at all government buildings flown at half-staff this week, in tribute to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for the management of the Empire State Building, said the dimming of the iconic skyscraper’s lights from 9 to 9:15 p.m. would be a visual tribute to the victims.

RHODE ISLAND

Ruling requested on same-sex benefits

TIVERTON — The Tiverton School Committee asked a judge whether it can extend health care coverage to the same-sex partner of a retired high school teacher.

Cheryl McCullough, who worked as a health teacher and guidance counselor at Tiverton High School for 27 years, applied for health insurance for Joyce Boivin in June, days after the couple were “married” in their home state of Massachusetts, where same-sex unions are recognized.

Attorneys for both sides say this is the first case of this kind in Rhode Island, where the law is silent on homosexual “marriage.”

TEXAS

Former first lady released from hospital

AUSTIN — Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson was at home and feeling better yesterday after being treated for bronchitis at a hospital over the weekend, a spokeswoman said.

The 92-year-old widow of former President Lyndon B. Johnson was rushed to a hospital by ambulance on Saturday after she almost fainted when she tried to stand. She received intravenous antibiotics at Seton Medical Center and was released a few hours later.

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