- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 11, 2005

FBI terror probe ongoing for years

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Federal authorities aren’t saying much about their terrorism investigation in nearby Lodi but are making two things clear: Their work in the farming town has been going on for years — and it’s not over yet.

“This specific investigation has been going on for several years,” FBI spokesman John Cauthen said Thursday.

The FBI accuses several people committed to al Qaeda of operating in and around the tranquil wine-growing region just south of Sacramento.

Investigators say Hamid Hayat, 22, trained with al Qaeda in Pakistan and planned to attack hospitals and supermarkets in the United States.

A Sacramento federal judge denied bail to Mr. Hayat yesterday, saying he had “a motive to flee and certainly the means to flee.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter A. Nowinski had also denied bail on Tuesday to Hayat’s father, Umer, 47.

Back-to-back holes-in-one

CHENANGO FORKS, N.Y. — Cousins Joanie Villecco and Ruthie MacDonald are quite a pair — a pair of aces, to be exact. The women got back-to-back holes-in-one on the third hole at the Valley State Park Golf Course near Binghamton.

Mrs. Villecco carded the first ace. But she says her 15 minutes of fame was more like “five seconds of glory.” Mrs. MacDonald teed-up next and sunk a hole-in-one, too.

“We just couldn’t believe it,” Mrs. MacDonald said. “We started screaming. They could hear us all over the course. To have it happen twice like that is just a miracle.”

Just about. According to Golf Digest, the odds are 17 million-to-1 for two players in the same foursome to hit a hole-in-one on the same hole.

U.S. checking possible mad cow disease case

The government is checking a possible case of mad cow disease in the United States in an animal previously cleared of being infected, the Agriculture Department said yesterday.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said more tests were needed to confirm the disease, but he emphasized that the animal did not enter the food supply.

Only one case of mad cow disease has been confirmed in the United States, in a dairy cow in Washington state in December 2003. Since then, preliminary tests have indicated the existence of the disease in three cows, but further testing ruled out any infection.

The department decided this week to perform additional tests, and one of those three — a beef cow — turned up positive.

A sample from the animal was being sent to an internationally recognized laboratory in Weybridge, England. The Agriculture Department also will conduct further tests.

Marine sentenced in comrade’s death

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — A Marine whose weapon went off while he was cleaning it, killing a comrade in Afghanistan, was sentenced in absentia yesterday to 12 years in prison.

Lance Cpl. Frederico Pimienta, 23, was convicted Thursday of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Lance Cpl. Russell White, who was shot in the head last year. Pimienta was tried in absentia because he left the base without permission before the trial. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

His lawyers argued there was insufficient evidence that carelessness led to the shooting. But prosecutors pointed out that Pimienta had a bullet in the weapon’s chamber — a violation of Marine policy — while he cleaned the weapon.

Arlene hits Florida, heads for Deep South

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. — A strengthening Tropical Storm Arlene dumped rain on much of Florida yesterday as its center moved toward the northern Gulf Coast, stirring memories of last year’s devastating hurricane season.

Forecasters said Arlene, the Atlantic hurricane season’s first named tropical storm, could become a weak hurricane before making landfall in the Deep South late today.

Arlene then was expected to move northward along the Mississippi-Alabama line, possibly reaching Tennessee by tomorrow afternoon.

In the Florida Panhandle, the Coast Guard said one of its helicopters rescued five crew members of a fishing trawler that was taking on water in 12-foot seas off Cape San Blas. A Russian exchange student died after being pulled from the waves off Miami Beach, officials said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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