- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005


Blacks urged to seek voting-act extension

MONTGOMERY — Black politicians must urge Congress to extend the Voting Rights Act, civil rights leaders said Saturday at the finale of the re-enactment of the Selma-to-Montgomery march that helped lead to passage of the law.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 “was the single most significant piece of legislation in the century,” the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a co-founder of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference, told a crowd of nearly 300 marchers at the state Capitol.

The act bars obstacles such as literacy tests that were set up by segregationists to keep blacks from registering to vote. Certain provisions of the act will be up for renewal by Congress in 2007.


Student, 20, wins crossword tourney

STAMFORD — The bookish world of crossword puzzle aficionados has a fresh-faced new champion. College student Tyler Hinman, 20, beat out more than 450 competitors from across the country to win top honors yesterday at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

He is the youngest champion in the 28-year-old history of the tournament. He said he will spend his $4,000 prize money on tuition.

“I can’t even celebrate,” said Mr. Hinman, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap marked with the insignia of his fraternity at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. “I’m not old enough to go to a pub and drink myself stupid.”


Researchers working on treating alcoholism

JUNEAU — Yale University researchers are working with health officials in southeast Alaska on a study of how to treat alcoholism with the drug naltrexone.

Naltrexone blocks the effects of drugs in the class that includes morphine and heroin. Researchers have found naltrexone can also treat the effects of alcoholism. Alaska has consistently ranked in the top five states in alcohol abuse.


State House OKs new districts

ATLANTA — The state House approved a new set of congressional districts, rearranging the 13 districts passed in 2001 when Democrats ran state government.

If approved by the Senate and Gov. Sonny Perdue, the new districts could be in place by 2006 elections. Georgia has seven Republicans and six Democrats in the U.S. House.


Tsunami survivors sue warning center

HONOLULU — Tsunami survivors and relatives of victims have sued the federal agency that operates the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, claiming the center did not do enough to warn people about the disaster.

The lawsuit was filed two weeks ago in New York federal court by a plaintiffs group that includes at least 58 European survivors and family members of victims.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center monitors seismic and ocean conditions in the Pacific Basin and issues warnings to member nations. It is based on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.


Fire destroys historic buildings

FORT SCOTT — A fire raged through Fort Scott’s historic downtown, destroying at least seven buildings and damaging about a half-dozen others, Fire Chief Jeff Davis said Saturday. No one was injured.

Strong wind fanned the blaze, which started just before 2 p.m. Friday in the Other Bar on Main Street, Mayor Gary Billionis said.

The cause of the blaze had not been determined, city officials told merchants Saturday. They estimated property losses in the millions of dollars.


Snowplow driver accused of fraud

HINGHAM — A snowplow driver was charged with fraud Friday for reportedly leaving his tracking device behind while he earned extra money by clearing a private driveway.

Longtime contractor Paul V. Gratta was earning $105 an hour from the state while doing the $135 job for a nursing home during a snowstorm last week, authorities said. Mr. Gratta, 50, pleaded not guilty to charges of larceny and fraud. His attorney, Robert L. Jubinville, called the case “kind of sketchy.”

A trooper said he was acting on a tip when he saw Mr. Gratta leave the device in a paper bag alongside a road near a convenience store popular with plow drivers. Fraud concerns prompted the state to require drivers to carry phones with tracking systems beginning last winter.


Candidate told to stop giving away treats

ECRU — Mayoral candidate Ivonne Whitehead stopped giving away tasty treats after being accused of using pies and cakes to influence voters. She said her baking isn’t about politics, it’s about “my personal life.”

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office told her that she can give away her baked goods only to friends, senior citizens and the sick. She can also bake treats for children’s birthday parties.


Capital buses using ethanol-diesel blend

LINCOLN — The public buses in Nebraska’s capital will be the first in the United States fueled with an ethanol-diesel blend, known as O2Diesel, Mayor Coleen Seng said. About three-fourths of the fleet has already converted to the blend.

Ethanol is big business in Nebraska, with 25 percent of the current corn crop being used to produce the fuel.


Students use EBay to pay off loans

CONCORD — Two seniors at the University of New Hampshire are putting the marketing skills they learned in college to work to try and pay off the $20,000 they each owe in student loans.

Josh Hutchins and Marc Hall, both 22, have requested bids of $40,000 or more on EBay to bicycle from New Hampshire to Florida and back promoting the winning bidder’s name or product. The two expect the ride to take as long as two months.

They also promise to donate some of the proceeds to charity.


Rescued pooch undergoes treatment

NEW YORK — Hang on, Snoopy.

A mixed poodle who was caught running along the Major Deegan Expressway during Thursday night’s rush hour underwent X-rays to make sure he hadn’t suffered any serious injuries from his escapades, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said.

Aside from some abrasions and bruises from being hit by a car, the dog “so far seems to be doing great,” ASPCA spokeswoman Jo Sullivan said Friday. “It appears that he came out miraculously OK.”

A family has come forward to claim the dog. They say his name is Snoopy and that he escaped from the Bronx apartment where they were pet-sitting him. They say that they discovered that Snoopy had fled when they saw traffic helicopter reporters describing the chase on television.

Police managed to corner the dog, grabbing him at about 6 p.m. on the busy six-lane highway near Yankee Stadium.


Residents report streak of light

PORTLAND — Dozens of residents in the Pacific Northwest reported seeing a bright streak of light as it flashed across the sky, startling witnesses from southern Oregon to the Seattle area, according to officials.

Scientists said that the flaming object was probably a meteor and that it likely disintegrated before any fragments fell into the Pacific Ocean.

“It was like a big ball of fire,” said Summer Jensen, who was in her living room Saturday night when she saw the flash of light outside her Portland home.

Michael O’Connor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration’s regional office in Renton, Wash., said he fielded numerous calls from people reporting they had seen a bright streak across the sky shortly before 8 p.m.


Officials approve prairie dog poisonings

RAPID CITY — Prairie dog poisonings will be allowed annually under a management plan approved by the state Legislature. Beginning this summer, the state will poison prairie dogs that move from federal land onto private property each year until the problem eases, game and parks officials said.

Previous policy allowed a one-time poisoning of prairie dogs encroaching on private land.

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