- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2005


Dangling painters rescued from building

LOS ANGELES — Two painters were rescued yesterday through a 10th-floor window after their scaffolding collapsed, leaving them dangling for about 40 minutes off a downtown building.

Neither was injured in the incident, which was broadcast nationally.

Both workers were wearing safety harnesses attached to the roof of the 12-story building. One of them was able to stand on part of the scaffolding and the ledge, while the other dangled precariously.

As a precaution, firefighters placed an inflatable cushion on the street. They then broke the window from the inside and pulled the men to safety.

The two were taken to a hospital for observation and were in good condition, city fire department spokesman Jim Wells said.


Dolphins stranded off Keys

MIAMI — Rescuers struggled yesterday to save dozens of stranded dolphins in shallow waters off the Florida Keys, with many volunteers standing in water for hours to support the animals.

About 110 of the rough-toothed dolphins arrived on sand flats near Marathon, south of Miami, on Wednesday night, said Blair Mase, regional coordinator for strandings at the National Marine Fisheries Service.

About 25 swam out again to the ocean, and four died. The others were being supported by rescuers and volunteers in shallow water or had been taken into deeper water in a fenced-off canal area where they could swim freely.


Death not ruled out in Rudolph case

BIRMINGHAM — A federal judge yesterday refused to take the death penalty off the table in the case against Eric Rudolph, charged in a deadly bombing at a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

Mr. Rudolph’s attorneys argued that he should be tried under the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison for abortion clinic attacks resulting in death.

But U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith said prosecutors can try Mr. Rudolph under a federal arson law that allows capital punishment for attacks involving explosives.


Sister recalls fear at Jackson’s ranch

SANTA MARIA — The sister of Michael Jackson’s accuser testified yesterday that the family was “scared” at his Neverland ranch.

The woman, now 18, told the jury that the singer’s aides had scripted their performances in a video aimed at exonerating Mr. Jackson and that she had seen her two young brothers drinking alcohol at the singer’s home. Prosecutors say Mr. Jackson sexually abused one of the boys, a 13-year-old-cancer patient, after plying him with alcohol.

The accuser’s sister said Jackson aides told her family that death threats had been made against them after the broadcast of a documentary showing Mr. Jackson holding hands with the boy.

She said her family fled Neverland in mid-February 2003.

“We were scared. It was very aggressive. Mainly, my mom wanted to get us out of there,” she said.


Trustee faces recall over Pledge refusal

DENVER — A town trustee in Estes Park, Colo., who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance is back on the recall ballot after a judge ruled that voters have the right to decide whether to retain or oust him.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Nottingham lifted a temporary injunction blocking the recall election of trustee David Habecker, saying that although Mr. Habecker enjoys certain rights, “citizens have the right to disagree with him, and they have the right to petition to recall him.”

The town board is expected to decide March 15 when to reschedule the recall. The election originally was slated for Feb. 15.

Mr. Habecker, a 12-year trustee, last year refused to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance before board meetings, saying he considered the phrase “under God” to be unconstitutional.


Arab accused of being Iraq agent

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal grand jury has indicted a man who they think is an Arab illegal alien on charges that he tried to sell names of U.S. intelligence operatives in Iraq to Saddam Hussein’s government.

Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban, 52, was charged with agreeing to act as a foreign agent for Iraq and with immigration violations, federal prosecutors said yesterday after his arrest.

Mr. Shaaban traveled in 2002 from Chicago to Baghdad — at the expense of Saddam’s government — where he agreed to sell the names for $3 million, said U.S. Attorney Susan Brooks.

“The deal was never consummated,” she said, adding that investigators think Mr. Shaaban tried to obtain the names but never did. Authorities think Mr. Shaaban is originally from Jordan and became a U.S. citizen illegally under a false name in 2000.


School boards pray, defy judge’s ruling

ALEXANDRIA — School board members from across Louisiana opened their annual convention with a prayer here yesterday, a common practice that took on an aura of defiance one week after a federal judge banned public prayer at school board meetings in a district north of New Orleans.

“Let it be known, and let the ACLU know, that this meeting started with the Pledge and a prayer,” said Freddie Whitford, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association.

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan of New Orleans ruled in favor of a parent who sued the Tangipahoa Parish School Board to stop prayers at board meetings. The American Civil Liberties Union backed the lawsuit.


Hacker accesses admissions records

BOSTON — A computer hacker gained access to internal admissions records at Harvard, Stanford and other top business schools, then helped applicants log on and learn their fate weeks ahead of schedule, officials said yesterday.

Few of the people who followed the hacker’s directions managed to find out whether their applications have been accepted, school officials said. But many of them could end up getting rejected, because the schools are checking to see who tried to exploit the security breach.

The unidentified hacker tapped into Business Week’s online forum early Wednesday and posted instructions on how applicants could log on to the schools’ Web sites.


Cosby apologizes, denies wrongdoing

PHILADELPHIA — Comedian Bill Cosby, responding to a woman’s charge of sexual molestation, said, “Words and actions can be misinterpreted,” but insists that he wouldn’t give in to any attempt to “exploit” him because he is a celebrity.

“Looking back on it, I realize that words and actions can be misinterpreted by another person, and unless you’re a supreme being, you can’t predict what another individual will do,” Mr. Cosby told the National Enquirer, which hits newsstands today.

“I’m not saying that what I did was wrong, but I apologize to my loving wife … for any pain I have caused her.”

The comedian was cleared of criminal charges. But attorneys for the woman, whom Mr. Cosby acknowledges mentoring, plan a civil lawsuit, with one saying yesterday that the civil action should be filed next week.


Sprinklers urged after fire probe

PROVIDENCE — Fire-safety specialists investigating the 2003 nightclub blaze that killed 100 persons recommended yesterday that sprinklers be required in such venues and inspections be improved to try to prevent similar incidents.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology also said nightclubs should have to follow tighter rules on using flammable materials; improve exits, such as widening doorways; and have additional portable fire extinguishers.

The recommendations came after a two-year probe into the Feb. 20, 2003, fire at the Station, which also injured hundreds.


Panel recommends unseating judge

ST. GEORGE — The Utah Judicial Conduct Commission has recommended that a judge be removed from the bench because he is a polygamist.

Judge Walter Steed, who serves in the border town of Hildale, is legally married to one woman but considers himself spiritually married to two others and has 32 children. He is a member of the reclusive Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which dominates Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz.

The Utah Supreme Court now gets the case.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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