- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2005

ALASKA

Shelter stops serving bear meat

JUNEAU — A homeless shelter is looking for donations, as long as there is no bear involved.

The Glory Hole shelter has stopped serving donated bear meat after learning that the state prohibits nonprofit groups from accepting wild game meats such as bear, fox and walrus.

“We didn’t know that it is illegal,” said Jetta Whittaker, executive director of the shelter.

ARIZONA

Wildfires burn 40,000 acres

PHOENIX — Wildfires have consumed nearly 40,000 acres of scrub and grassland on the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range, forcing closure of two Arizona highways.

The fire on the military range is the largest of several fires in parched southern Arizona and southern Nevada. Authorities closed state Highway 85 temporarily when the flames jumped the road earlier this week.

More than 400 firefighters had a 1,300-acre blaze in the Coronado National Forest about 40 percent contained, the Arizona Republic reported. Officials think the so-called “Aztec” fire began with abandoned campfire Saturday.

Crews also battled a wildfire near Black Canyon City and lightning caused a fire in Scottsdale. No homes have been destroyed, although power lines have been affected. Bureau of Land Management air tankers yesterday dropped fire retardant on three smaller fires in the mountains around Las Vegas.

“Fire season is definitely here,” said a forestry service spokeswoman. “It’s going to be a long season.”

CALIFORNIA

Solar spacecraft fails mission

PASADENA — The world’s first solar-sail-powered spacecraft failed to reach its planned orbit after the Russian rocket carrying it shut down less than two minutes after launch, Russia’s state space agency said yesterday.

It was not clear whether privately funded Cosmos 1 had crashed to Earth, and the U.S. backers of the project at the Planetary Society in Pasadena said they had detected faint signals from the craft, perhaps from a lower orbit.

Cosmos 1 was launched Tuesday from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea.

Planetary Society Executive Director Louis Friedman, who was monitoring the spacecraft from Moscow, said data pointed to a “misfire” at takeoff.

COLORADO

Teen pleads guilty in bank robbery

DENVER — One of a pair of teens dubbed the “Dumb and Dumber” robbers, whose bumbling trail of clues helped lead to their arrests, pleaded guilty yesterday to holding up a bank at gunpoint for $132,000.

Luke Gabriel Carroll, 19, faces up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

His friend and co-worker, Anthony Harold Prince, 19, pleaded guilty to the same charge last week. Both had reached plea agreements and are to be sentenced Sept. 23.

CONNECTICUT

Capitol security eased after budget cuts

HARTFORD — Security at the state Capitol will be loosened for the first time since the September 11 attacks, after budget problems led to the layoff of security guards who had been supplementing the building’s regular police force.

Since early 2002, the unarmed guards had monitored two unlocked entrances and two other checkpoints in the Legislative Office Building at yearly cost of nearly $400,000. The layoffs, announced Tuesday, will take effect after the state’s fiscal year begins July 1. They were part of the effort to keep the state budget under the spending cap, said House Speaker James A. Amann.

Officials said the building’s security would not be compromised, citing the Capitol’s 24-member police force and an extensive system of video surveillance.

The General Assembly’s Legislative Management Committee, which consists of leaders and senior members of both parties, acts as the manager and landlord of the Capitol complex.

ILLINOIS

FBI raids supplier for Army Apaches

CHICAGO — Federal investigators raided a defense contractor that supplied parts for the Army’s Apache helicopters, but officials won’t say what was being sought.

Agents of the FBI and the Defense Department inspector general’s office raided the offices of MPC Products Corp. in suburban Skokie and Niles on June 4, FBI spokesman Ross Rice said. He would not say what the investigators took from the offices and said the search warrant is sealed.

“We’re looking for possible evidence of violations of federal law,” Mr. Rice said. No one has been arrested and no charges have been filed, he said. Spokesmen for the Defense Department and MPC Products would not comment.

The aerospace parts company, which employs about 750 workers, has been awarded several defense contracts worth tens of millions of dollars since 2000, according to an online database of government contracts. The Army has more than 700 Apache helicopters.

Bob Hunt, a spokesman for the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., could not confirm whether MPC Products had current Apache contracts with the Army. He said the attack helicopter has been a reliable aircraft for more than 20 years. “I am not aware of any safety flight issues involving that helicopter,” Mr. Hunt said.

KANSAS

State reports West Nile case

TOPEKA — This year’s first probable case of West Nile virus was reported in Kansas, where a 51-year-old resident is thought to have had the illness, health officials said.

Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said Tuesday that lab tests have not confirmed the case, but that a doctor who treated the resident in mid-May reported West Nile symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was the first human case reported this year. The disease has appeared in birds, horses and mosquitoes — the insect that carries West Nile — in 14 states so far this year.

MASSACHUSETTS

Police lies found in shooting probe

BOSTON — A Boston Police Department investigation has concluded that two officers lied to investigators looking into the fatal police shooting of a fan at a Red Sox celebration.

Police Superintendent Al Goslin refused to identify the officers or give details about their lies, saying only, “We believe they did,” the Boston Globe reported yesterday.

Victoria Snelgrove, 21, an Emerson College student, was hit in the eye socket with a pepper-spray pellet outside Fenway Park on Oct. 21 after Boston defeated the New York Yankees for the American League pennant. The city paid her family a $5.1 million settlement.

Mr. Goslin also would not discuss disciplinary action against the officers. He said they are not among the five already facing administrative discipline for their actions Oct. 21.

Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O’Toole said no charges have been formally drafted and none of the officers had been notified. “I don’t want to jeopardize the process,” she said.

MICHIGAN

Ex-FBI informant admits to scheme

DETROIT — A former FBI informant pleaded guilty this week in federal court to scheming to deceive the bureau during a 3-year federal grand jury investigation into an international drug smuggling ring in Detroit that proved to be fictitious.

Under a plea agreement, Myron Strong, 34, pleaded guilty to eight counts of the original indictment and to an additional charge of obstruction of justice for crimes he committed from prison while awaiting trial. U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara scheduled sentencing for Sept. 27.

According to plea documents, Strong schemed to defraud law enforcement between September 2000 and February 2004 by inventing a fictitious international drug-trafficking organization he claimed was distributing cocaine, heroin and marijuana across the country through several purported drug dealers in the Detroit area.

MISSOURI

Guatemalan detained after fatal crash

JEFFERSON CITY — Federal immigration officials on Tuesday detained a Guatemalan man thought to be the driver of a van crammed with migrant workers that crashed Sunday in central Missouri.

Five of the van’s 20 occupants were killed in the crash on Interstate 70 near Columbia.

Gelson Mancilla-Santiago, 22, of Guatemala, who was injured in the crash, was thought to have been driving the van and smuggling illegal aliens, said Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Mr. Rusnok said Mr. Mancilla-Santiago has been deported twice from the United States. He said the latest information has been referred to federal prosecutors.

NEW YORK

Pilot takes teens on drunken joyride

HARRISON — An intoxicated 20-year-old stole a small plane and took two friends on a three-hour, pre-dawn joyride early yesterday that ended with a safe landing at a closed airport, authorities said.

A Westchester County Airport security car met the plane at 4:15 a.m., and “a significant number of beer cans” spilled to the ground when the plane doors opened, County Executive Andrew Spano said.

The plane’s pilot, Philippe Patricio, of Bethel, Conn., was arrested with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent — nearly double the legal limit for driving in New York state, said county Police Commissioner Thomas Belfiore. His two 16-year-old passengers were not charged.

PENNSYLVANIA

Judge eliminates egg donor as mother

PITTSBURGH — In the case of the surrogate triplets who were placed in the custody of the surrogate mother, a judge has terminated the parental rights of the egg donor.

Judge Shad Connelly eliminated Jennifer Michelle Rice of Texas, the egg donor, as a mother for the babies. That leaves surrogate mother Danielle Bimber as the 19-month-old triplets’ only mother, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

“I am so excited,” said Mrs. Bimber, of Corry, Pa. “So far, everything has gone my way. But of course they appeal everything.”

She was referring to James O. Flynn and Eileen Donich, the Ohio couple who arranged the surrogate birth. They arrived at the hospital the day the babies were born, Nov. 19, 2003, but then failed to visit for a week, prompting hospital officials to call the child welfare agency to have the babies placed in foster care.

Mrs. Bimber returned to the hospital to take custody rather than see the babies go to a stranger.

She has had primary physical custody since, despite repeated legal challenges from Mr. Flynn and Miss Donich. The couple aren’t married, were not a party to the surrogacy contract and didn’t donate genetic material, so Miss Donich is not considered a legal mother, the judge ruled.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Woman stages sit-in over town’s finances

ST. GEORGE — A woman wants access to St. George’s accounting books, and she plans to sit at Town Hall until she gets it.

“I was a bra-burning, liberal, woman’s lib advocate in the ‘60s,” said Ann Atkins, who is protesting the town’s reluctance to open its records after an audit showed thousands of dollars were missing.

The State Law Enforcement Division has been investigating the missing money for about a year. No one has said exactly how much is missing.

St. George Mayor David Sojourner was not available to comment. He has said the apparent misappropriation of funds will warrant changes in how the town conducts business.

TENNESSEE

Southern Baptists end Disney boycott

NASHVILLE — Southern Baptists ended an eight-year boycott of the Walt Disney Co. for violating “moral righteousness and traditional family values” in a vote on the final day of the denomination’s annual convention yesterday.

“We believe for the boycott to be effective, it had to have a beginning and an ending,” said Gene Mims, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention committee that put the Disney resolution before about 12,000 members at the meeting.

SBC delegates also approved a resolution that encourages parents to investigate their children’s public schools to determine whether they are too accepting of homosexuality.

The Disney resolution, passed at the SBC’s 1997 convention in Dallas, called for Southern Baptists to refrain from patronizing Disney theme parks and Disney products, mainly because of the entertainment company’s decision to give benefits to companions of homosexual employees.

“We felt like it was time to end it. We’re hopeful Disney will do what the resolution calls for,” Mr. Mims said. The resolution states Disney should serve “families of America by providing only those products that affirm traditional family values.”

Southern Baptists also should continue to monitor the “products and policies of the Disney Company,” said the resolution, which also urged members to “practice continued discernment regarding all entertainment products from all sources.”

Disney officials in California had no comment.


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