- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 6, 2005


Storm ices highways, shuts schools

KANSAS CITY — Motorists and pedestrians slid on pavement yesterday morning as a storm spread snow and thick layers of ice from the Rockies to the Northeast, cutting off electricity to thousands of homes and businesses and giving some children a holiday from school.

Up to an inch of ice had formed in the Kansas City area, and layers a half-inch thick glazed highways and power lines in Iowa and the Texas Panhandle, causing numerous traffic accidents.

Snow was scattered from the Colorado Rockies across the Plains and Great Lakes all the way into sections of New England.


Man who lost 450 pounds recovering

SIOUX FALLS — His recovery was slowed because of an infection, but a man who once weighed half a ton may leave a hospital soon after losing more than 450 pounds.

Patrick Deuel, 42, is scheduled to go home to Valentine, Neb., on Jan. 22. He is still receiving treatment at a Sioux Falls hospital for a staph infection.

Mr. Deuel weighed 1,072 pounds when he checked into Avera McKennan Hospital in June. At the time, he was suffering from potentially fatal heart failure. His doctor recommended gastric-bypass surgery, but Mr. Deuel wasn’t healthy enough to undergo the procedure.

The hospital staff structured an exercise program and a 1,200-calorie-a-day diet. The 420 pounds Mr. Deuel lost by late October helped control his heart problems, and the stomach surgery was performed Oct. 26.


Rare Alutiiq artifact returns home

ANCHORAGE — Two Alaskan museums have reclaimed a 150-year-old cultural relic transported from a home in southeast Alaska to a California auction house.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art banded together to offer the winning $160,250 bid for a rare Alutiiq spruce-root hunting hat.

The hat was the highest-bid item in a sale of American Indian, pre-Columbian and tribal art by the San Francisco auction house Bonhams and Butterfields.

It was returned to Alaska, bound for Kodiak Tuesday, after gathering mold in a basement of Alaskan residents who were unaware of its cultural and monetary value.


Court to hear case over newspaper letter

PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court said yesterday it will decide whether a newspaper can be sued for publishing a letter suggesting that American soldiers in Iraq respond to attacks by killing Muslims at nearby mosques.

The Supreme Court agreed without comment to hear the Tucson Citizen’s appeal of a judge’s decision to hold a trial in a lawsuit accusing the newspaper of distressing residents by printing the letter.

The Supreme Court ordered legal briefs filed within 30 days. No date was set for oral arguments.

The lawsuit filed by two Tucson men in January 2004 argued that the newspaper’s decision to publish the letter was not constitutionally protected because it was a direct call to violence that could extend to Muslims in the United States.


Necklace clue sought from BTK girlfriend

WICHITA — A serial killer known as BTK may have taken a necklace from one of his victims in 1977 and given it to a woman he was dating at the time, authorities said yesterday.

The killer has sent several letters to police since resurfacing in March after years of silence. Police said that in one recent communication, he said he took items from the crime scene after killing Nancy Fox on Dec. 8, 1977.

Police are looking for a necklace described as a gold chain with two pearls. Authorities are asking anyone who might have seen the necklace or received a similar necklace as a gift in December 1977 or early 1978 to call the BTK tip line.

The killer’s self-coined nickname stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill.” He is linked to eight unsolved homicides that terrorized Wichita, the first in 1974.


Judge blocks access to tortoise habitat

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to ban off-road vehicles on more than a half-million acres in Southern California to protect the endangered desert tortoise.

The ban will be implemented immediately, but BLM officials predict it will last only until a report on the desert tortoise is released by the end of February.

Last week’s injunction has been praised by environmentalists, who say it sends a message to the Bush administration and public land agencies that wildlife habitats and endangered species must be protected.


Supreme Court justice reports for jury duty

BOSTON — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer reported for jury duty this week in Massachusetts, where he is a part-time resident, but was not picked for a trial.

Justice Breyer, one of nine justices on the U.S. high court in Washington, walked into the Marlborough, Mass., district courthouse Tuesday unnoticed, officials said.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his credentials, Justice Breyer was not chosen for a case. He was called to sit on one jury, but a defense attorney had him excused from the panel.


Legal questions end tsunami donation offer

CHATTANOOGA — A city judge has rescinded his offer to dismiss misdemeanor traffic charges for violators who agreed to make a $100 donation to a tsunami relief charity, citing questions about whether it was legal.

Judge Russell Bean had planned to offer the amnesty option for two weeks but had to end it after one day on Tuesday.

In a statement released yesterday, Judge Bean said the donation option created an “equal justice” problem, and he discontinued it after “some of the other judges questioned the legality” and it caused confusion for traffic violators in other city courts.


Cop to donate kidney to colleague

MINNEAPOLIS — The brotherhood of cops in Minneapolis is about to get even closer thanks to one officer’s decision to offer a kidney to an ailing colleague.

Officer Ron Reier, police department spokesman, was scheduled to donate a kidney this week to fellow officer and friend Jeff Seidl.

Officer Seidl has to undergo kidney dialysis three times a week. He needs another kidney transplant because the kidney he received from a relative began to fail about a year ago.

Officer Reier recalled an e-mail he received about Officer Seidl’s failing kidney. He said it was like a radio call from an officer in trouble.

Officer Reier said testing showed they are “enough of a match to make it work.”


Inmate executed for killing prisoner

HUNTSVILLE — A condemned killer was executed Tuesday night for the fatal prison beating of a convicted child molester.

James Porter, who dropped his appeals and ordered that nothing be done to stop the first execution of the year in the nation’s most active capital punishment state, apologized to relatives of his victims and expressed love for his family.

Porter, 33, was sentenced to die for using a rock wrapped in a pillowcase to fatally beat prisoner Rudy Delgado, 40.

Porter said Delgado made a pass at him.


Smart family urges plea deal

SALT LAKE CITY — The family of Elizabeth Smart is looking to settle out of court with her abductors to save the teenager further trauma.

“Why should Elizabeth have to go through it all?” father Ed Smart asked Salt Lake City radio station KSL-AM.

Elizabeth reportedly was kidnapped by Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, leading to a highly publicized search that lasted several months.

Mr. Smart said his daughter also wanted the case settled in a plea bargain.


Seattle named as fittest city

SEATTLE — Must be something in the coffee.

Seattle has been named the fittest city in the United States in the February issue of Men’s Fitness magazine, leaping past the buff competition from Honolulu, Colorado Springs, San Francisco and Denver.

Exercising faithfully and shunning fast food boosted Seattle to the top from No. 6 last year, Men’s Fitness Editor in Chief Neal Boulton said.

The city’s jittery love affair with espresso might fuel some of that activity, he noted: “There’s not only a lot of it, it’s pretty darn strong.”

In its nonscientific seventh annual “Fattest and Fittest Cities” report, the magazine compares 50 cities by weighing 14 factors, including fast-food restaurants per capita, TV watching, air quality and parks. In Seattle, for example, sporting goods stores and gyms outnumber fast-food joints — a key statistic.

Houston was named the fattest city for the fourth time in five years, followed by Philadelphia, Detroit, Memphis, Tenn., and Chicago.


Authorities capture escaped kangaroo

DODGEVILLE — A kangaroo that went on a walkabout in frigid Wisconsin was captured yesterday, but how the marsupial got there remained a mystery.

Sheriff’s deputies cornered the 150-pound kangaroo in a barn after receiving calls for days from shocked residents who had seen it.

Officials from Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, about 45 miles away, planned to pick up and care for the animal.

Sheriff Steve Michek said the kangaroo might have escaped as someone was bringing it through the county.


Husband, wife commit suicide

CHEYENNE — A local columnist and her businessman husband committed suicide on New Year’s Day after sending out their obituary, letters to friends and a newspaper column supporting “death with dignity,” authorities said.

The obituary stated that Ethan and Helen Levine, both suffering from serious illness, died together “through united self-deliverance,” according to the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle of Cheyenne and the Casper Star-Tribune, which received copies.

The bodies were found Tuesday by Laramie County sheriff’s deputies, who went to check on the couple after the obituary and letters were delivered. Laramie County Coroner Bill Ryan said that the Levines appear to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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