- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

CALIFORNIA

Earthquake strikes off Northern coast

EUREKA — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.0 hit about 120 miles off the Northern California coast early yesterday, near the site where a larger temblor prompted a brief tsunami warning last week, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The quake struck at 1:27 a.m. and was centered about 130 miles west of Eureka. A Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher said no damages or injuries were reported.

A 7.0-magnitude quake struck about 80 miles off the coast Tuesday night, prompting an hourlong tsunami warning from the California-Mexico border north to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Californians have experienced a string of significant earthquakes after several years of relative seismic calm, but seismologists say clusters of quakes do not necessarily mean the big one is coming.

GEORGIA

Women’s stories worth millions

ATLANTA — One woman broke the law. The other helped catch a suspected killer. Now, both are selling their stories and could make millions of dollars in the process.

Representatives of Ashley Smith — whose 911 call led police to courthouse-shootings suspect Brian Nichols — and runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks made deals for their stories with publishing houses in the past week.

The women likely received advances of about $500,000 for story rights that could turn into a windfall of millions of dollars should movies on their lives be made, entertainment specialists said. The companies that acquired the rights have declined to release financial details of the deals.

ILLINOIS

Gateway land dedicated as park

EAST ST. LOUIS — A lawyer’s wish to create a park across the Mississippi River from St. Louis’ Gateway Arch soon will become a reality.

Malcolm Woods Martin, who died last year at 91, had bought 34 acres along the river in Illinois and erected a fountain that shoots water skyward nearly as high as the 630-foot monument. Yesterday, officials dedicated the land as a park in this impoverished community, a key part of the revitalization of the East St. Louis riverfront.

Mr. Martin’s foundation transferred ownership of the Gateway Geyser and 34 acres of land around it to the park district on June 7, along with $2.5 million to help transform the relatively barren land into a park.

INDIANA

Algerian sentenced for lies about plot

INDIANAPOLIS — An Algerian man who pretended he had information about a supposed al Qaeda plot to bomb five U.S. cities was sentenced Friday to a year in prison.

Ahmed Allali, 37, was convicted on three counts of making false statements. He had pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Allali was convicted for telling federal investigators he knew members of the al Qaeda terrorist network and had lived overseas with them in the late 1990s. He also told them an al Qaeda cell was planning to detonate bombs in five major U.S. cities in early 2005.

Late last year, Allali acknowledged he knew no member of al Qaeda and had fabricated the story in an attempt to avoid deportation, authorities said. He had been ordered deported after he entered the United States via Los Angeles in 1998 using a fraudulent French passport.

Authorities said investigation of Allali’s claims tied up hundreds of agents nationwide, diverting resources from other terrorist leads.

KENTUCKY

Presbyterians adopt rules against abuse

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has formally adopted constitutional changes aimed at preventing and punishing sexual abuse by clergy.

The ratification of 11 constitutional changes by presbyteries, or regional governing bodies, of the Louisville-based denomination comes three years after a report on the sexual abuse of children of missionaries at boarding schools in Congo, the church announced last week.

The new regulations, which will become part of the church’s Book of Order on July 3, impose stricter requirements for reporting abuse to civil authorities and give accusers more say in the disciplinary process.

MASSACHUSETTS

Ride monitor indicted in carnival death

WORCESTER — A grand jury has indicted a carnival ride supervisor in the death of man who was thrown from the ride last year after a safety bar broke.

Brian R. McCullough, 39, of Hernando, Fla., was charged Friday with a single count of manslaughter.

The accident at a church festival in September killed Andrew R. Fohlin, 38, who was tossed from the whirling “Sizzler” ride when a safety bar holding him and another man in place failed. Safety officials said that caused their weight to shift, snapping two bolts.

Mr. McCullough was responsible for daily inspections of most of the carnival’s rides, including the “Sizzler.” A phone listing for him could not be found Saturday in Florida or Massachusetts. It was not clear whether he had an attorney.

NEVADA

Librarians seek reading world record

HENDERSON — Six Nevada librarians hope to earn a place in Guinness World Records after reading aloud for 100 consecutive hours.

The team attempted to break the 81-hour, read-aloud record set by a group of Australian librarians by reading nonstop from Monday morning until Friday.

The librarians read in shifts and were not allowed to leave the Paseo Verde Library except for hourly restroom breaks. Team members slept in sleeping bags on the floor. It took the group 72 hours to read five “Harry Potter” novels.

Because Guinness requires an audience to be present at all times during the marathon, volunteers filled in as listeners when the library was closed.

NEW JERSEY

Police search for missing plane

SUSSEX — Police were searching yesterday for a small plane missing near the Sussex airport.

The Cessna 182 took off from the single-strip airport headed to Bridgeport, Conn., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said. The plane was four miles south of the airport when the radar showed the pilot starting to turn back.

The plane disappeared from the radar about 7:30 a.m., Mr. Peters said. Only the pilot was thought to be aboard. No further information was available.

Weather at the airport was overcast early yesterday morning, but visibility was good below the clouds, airport manager Paul Styger said.

NEW YORK

Father of hybrid cars dead at 86

NEW YORK — Victor Wouk, an electrical engineer and entrepreneur who developed the first full-size version of the modern hybrid car, has died. He was 86.

Mr. Wouk died of cancer at his New York City home on May 19, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.

Described as the father of modern hybrid-automobile programs, Mr. Wouk held more than 10 patents, most of them related to hybrid and electric vehicles. In the early 1970s, he formed a company, Petro-Electric Motors, to develop a hybrid vehicle for the federal government.

WASHINGTON

Prime minister’s visit draws protests

SEATTLE — Demonstrators gathered on downtown streets yesterday to protest the first visit of a Vietnamese prime minister to the United States since the end of the war 30 years ago, calling for Vietnam to improve its human rights record.

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai came to Seattle for the purchase of Boeing aircraft by the national airline and to meet with Microsoft executives, part of a weeklong tour that will take him to a White House meeting with President Bush.

Demonstrators shouted, “Down with communists,” held signs that read, “Khai is another Saddam Hussein,” and called for an end to political and religious persecution in Vietnam.

More than 1 million Vietnamese live in the United States.


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