- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2005

GEORGIA

Zoos hope pandas mate

ATLANTA — For Lun Lun the giant panda, spring is in the air. She has been chirping and bleating like a goat — her version of sweet nothings — to her male panda pal, Yang Yang. She also is leaving her scent around her habitat at Zoo Atlanta.

It’s the annual mating season for giant pandas and, after an unsuccessful attempt last year, zoo officials are hoping the pair will be able to produce a cub.

Elsewhere, at the National Zoo in the District, the San Diego Zoo, and the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee — the only U.S. zoos with pandas on 10-year loans from China — specialists have been closely monitoring their animals’ behavior and hormone levels in hopes of successfully breeding panda cubs this year.

LOUISIANA

11 family members die in fire

MARRERO — Eleven family members died in their apartment yesterday after a mattress caught fire and got stuck in the front door as they tried to drag it out, authorities said.

The fire was started by candles that the family had been using because they had just moved in and had not had electricity connected, Sheriff Harry Lee said.

Four other members of the family escaped. The dead ranged in age from 6 months to 42 years. Their names were not immediately released.

The four survivors apparently were not seriously injured. It was not clear how they got out, sheriff’s spokesman Bob Garner said.

ALABAMA

Legislature OKs ban on gay ‘marriages’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s Legislature approved a proposed constitutional amendment yesterday that would ban same-sex “marriages” and refuse to recognize those from other states.

The Senate voted 30-0 to give final approval to the proposed amendment, which the House passed 85-7 Tuesday. The measure must be approved by Alabama voters at the next election, the party primaries scheduled for June 2006.

ALASKA

Passenger charged with flight rampage

ANCHORAGE — A man who was denied alcohol during a United Airlines flight went on a rampage, breaking tray tables and other equipment, the FBI said Wednesday.

Brian A. Casias, 35, has been charged with interfering with the flight crew on Flight 711 from Denver to Anchorage.

Mr. Casias, of Commerce City, Colo., was heard swearing as he boarded the flight Tuesday, and the plane’s captain advised him that he would not be served alcoholic beverages.

ARKANSAS

Legislators urged to OK Alzheimer’s bill

LITTLE ROCK — University of Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles persuaded legislators to back a bill that would expand training for certified nurses aides in caring for Alzheimer’s patients. The Senate committee endorsed the measure, which has passed in the House.

Mr. Broyles told the panel of his grief during the years he cared for his wife, Barbara, who died in the fall after battling Alzheimer’s.

CALIFORNIA

Man pleads guilty in deadly wildfire

SAN DIEGO — A hunter accused of starting the biggest wildfire in California history — a blaze near San Diego that killed 15 persons in 2003 — pleaded guilty yesterday in a deal with prosecutors that could put him behind bars for up to five years.

Sergio Martinez, 34, said he got lost in the forest and set a signal fire, but it burned out of control.

Driven by hot, dry desert winds, the flames raced toward the outskirts of San Diego, destroying more than 2,000 homes. Prosecutors put the damage at more than $400 million.

DELAWARE

Judge rejects Capano’s plea for life

WILMINGTON — A judge has rejected Thomas Capano’s effort to get himself off death row for killing the scheduling secretary of then-Gov. Tom Carper.

Delaware Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves denied Capano’s motions for post-conviction relief. The judge ruled that Capano had effective legal counsel at his trial, and he refused to set aside the death sentence despite arguments from Capano regarding a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

INDIANA

State executes killer of family

MICHIGAN CITY — A man who spent nearly a quarter-century on death row for killing a couple and their two children was executed early yesterday.

Donald Ray Wallace, 47, died by injection at 12:23 a.m. at the Indiana State Prison. He was convicted in 1982 of killing the Gilligan family — Patrick, Theresa, Lisa, 5, and Gregory, 4 — two years earlier during a robbery at their Evansville home.

“I hope everyone can find peace with this,” Wallace said in a final statement, according to Java Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Correction.

MASSACHUSETTS

Harvard in lather over maid service

CAMBRIDGE — A Harvard University student’s fledgling dorm-cleaning business faced the threat of a campus boycott yesterday after the school’s daily newspaper slammed it for dividing students along economic lines.

The Harvard Crimson newspaper urged students to shun Dormaid, a business started by Harvard sophomore Michael Kopko that cleans up for messy students.

“By creating yet another differential between the haves and have-nots on campus, Dormaid threatens our student unity,” the Crimson said in an editorial.

“We urge the student body to boycott Dormaid.”

But Mr. Kopko, 20, said he could not understand the Crimson’s reaction to his business, which he said was all about creating jobs and wealth at the Ivy League school.

NEBRASKA

Casino buys pretzel said shaped like Mary

LINCOLN — An Internet casino that previously bought a partially eaten grilled-cheese sandwich now has a pretzel that some believe is shaped like the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus.

Antigua-based Golden Palace Casino swooped in about 30 seconds before bidding closed Wednesday evening on the Internet auction site EBay. The winning bid: $10,600.

“What it says to me is that this pretzel is so much more than an edible item. We only paid $3.29 for the whole bag,” said Machelle Naylor, who sold the snack from her home in St. Paul.

The likeness of the Virgin Mary also was seen in the grilled-cheese sandwich for which the Golden Palace paid $28,000 in November.

OKLAHOMA

Residents seek recall of council members

McALESTER — Petitions seeking the recall of City Council members Michael Dawkins and Louis Smitherman have been turned in to the city clerk.

They served on the council when contracts and budgets with leave-buyback provisions for former City Manager Randy Green were approved. Mr. Green received $579,500 for unused leave over a five-year period. The FBI is investigating the case.

TENNESSEE

Confederate group’s chief reinstated

COLUMBIA — A judge reinstated Denne Sweeney as commander in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, ruling he was improperly ousted by the organization’s governing board last month.

In making his ruling Wednesday, Chancellor Robert Jones said Mr. Sweeney exceeded his authority when he suspended five members from the board, called the General Executive Council.

TEXAS

Lawmakers OK cupcakes in schools

AUSTIN — Amid tense debate over education funding, Texas House members paused to take up a matter dear to school children everywhere: cupcakes.

Legislators in an unanimous vote Wednesday cleared the way for public school students to once again nibble on the sweet treats — complete with candy sprinkles — to celebrate their birthdays.

“We have an opportunity to really make the children happy here,” said Rep. Jim Dunnam, asking fellow House members to approve the measure requested by his school-age daughter, Lauren.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, whose agency oversees the state’s school lunch program, imposed new healthy food rules beginning this academic year aimed at limiting or eliminating junk food and food that competes with cafeteria fare.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide