- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2005


Pet reindeer one of city’s sights

ANCHORAGE — Albert Whitehead likes to take his pet reindeer on a regular stroll through downtown Anchorage. The sight, which produces giggles and stares in Alaska’s largest city, has endured for more than 40 years by a long line of reindeer, all females named Star.

“My, aren’t you charming?” a passer-by gushed as the animal, named Star VI, snuffled the air in search of the homemade bread that Mr. Whitehead carries in his pockets during their jaunts. Star VI also participates in parades, visits schools and pulls youngsters on sleds.

The tradition began in 1962 when Anchorage pioneers Oro and Ivan Stewart got the first Star from a reindeer herder. Mr. Whitehead, a former soldier stationed in Alaska who befriended the Stewarts, took over much of the duties when Ivan Stewart died at 74.


Protesters arrested at timber sale

SELMA — Environmentalists tried to block loggers from starting work yesterday on the first salvage-timber sale inside an old-growth forest reserve burned by a major 2002 fire.

Authorities reported 10 arrests by midday as they reopened a road blocked by the demonstrators in the Siskiyou National Forest.

Protesters made roadblocks of rocks and logs on the road. A red pickup truck with four flat tires and an “Earth First!” banner was parked across the road.

John West, president of Silver Creek Timber Co., told protesters that a temporary injunction had expired and that loggers now were authorized to cut the dead timber.


Land set aside in development deal

BIRMINGHAM — About 4.5 miles along the Cahaba River in suburban Birmingham will be kept in its natural state as part of 325 acres set aside for conservation by the developer of the upscale Liberty Park.

The area will be off-limits to construction or tree clearing and will be maintained in a way that meets federal, state or city conservation policies, project manager Sam Lowery said.


Court OKs asylum for gay man with AIDS

SAN FRANCISCO ” A homosexual man with AIDS has enough reason to fear persecution in Lebanon that he shouldn’t be deported while seeking asylum in the United States, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals in Washington, found that Nassier Mustapha Karouni’s fear of being arrested, tortured or killed in a country where homosexuality is considered a crime was based on fact, not just emotion.

“The record demonstrates that … militants and certain factions of the Lebanese and local governments are a credible threat to homosexuals like Karouni,” Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the three-judge panel.

In determining that sexual orientation makes Mr. Karouni eligible for refugee status, the court rejected the Justice Department’s argument that he could avoid persecution by not having sex upon his return home. The court did not rule on the merits of the asylum petition, but remanded the case to the Board of Immigration Appeals.


Avalanche student dies after slide

ASPEN — A man taking an avalanche awareness class died after being trapped in a slide outside the boundaries of the Aspen Highlands ski area, sheriff’s officials said.

The man died within a half-hour of being pulled from the avalanche Sunday, said Ann Stephenson of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials were investigating the death. The man was in a group of six persons who were part of a class sponsored by the backcountry expedition company Aspen Expeditions.


Schiavo’s parents back in court

CLEARWATER — While Terri Schiavo’s parents pushed for new court rulings that might prevent the death of their brain-damaged daughter, attention increasingly turned to the state capital for a dramatic move from lawmakers to intervene again in the case.

Attorneys for Bob and Mary Schindler will return to court this afternoon to argue that Mrs. Schiavo needs to undergo additional medical tests on whether she truly is in a persistent vegetative state and that the judge needs to reconsider evidence of what her end-of-life wishes might be.

A bill that might affect Mrs. Schiavo’s case is expected to be heard soon after state lawmakers convene their regular session in Tallahassee today. Her husband will have the legal right to remove her food and water tubes March 18.


Program targets agro-terrorism

TIFTON — Georgia launched an agro-terrorism awareness program yesterday to create a statewide network of emergency workers, farmers, veterinarians and others who would help protect the nation’s food supply from sabotage.

Georgia is the first state in the nation to develop an agro-security awareness program aimed at protecting consumers from tainted food as well as maintaining its $42 billion agricultural industry, said Lee Myers, the state veterinarian and chairman of the state’s agro-terrorism committee.

The program is asking those who work with the food supply to be vigilant for anything unusual. For example, veterinarians would be on the lookout for unexpected symptoms in animals, and farmers would report any signs of unusual plant sicknesses.


Pastor voted out for second time

MARION — A pastor who insisted that his first firing was invalid has been voted out again by members of the church. However, his attorney is questioning whether a few people who didn’t vote could have changed the outcome.

Of 99 Grace Missionary Baptist Church members, 50 voted to remove the Rev. Ed McDowell, while 46 chose to retain him. Three members abstained.


Wind-whipped fires destroy four homes

CARSON — Grass fires driven by 45 mph wind swept across an area of southwestern Iowa, destroying four rural homes and blackening more than 4,000 acres.

Firefighters were on guard yesterday because several hot spots remained from the Sunday afternoon fires, the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office said.

The largest of the blazes was started by a house fire east of Carson, said Terry Hummel, the county’s emergency management coordinator.


Parish agrees to leave Episcopal Church

OVERLAND PARK — The largest parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Kansas has agreed in principle to separate from the diocese and the national Episcopal Church USA because of disagreements over several issues, including the ordination of an openly homosexual Episcopal bishop in New Hampshire.

The proposed separation of Christ Episcopal Church of Overland Park was announced Sunday by the church and the Kansas diocese. Parish members will vote April 3 on the separation. The Council of Trustees of the diocese approved the agreement March 1.

The Overland Park church decided to withhold some of its financial commitment to the diocese after the ordination in 2003 of V. Gene Robinson, who lives with his male partner, as a bishop in New Hampshire.


Nonprofit sector grows rapidly

BOSTON — The state’s nonprofit work force grew by 8.6 percent between 2000 and 2003, while overall employment fell by 4.1 percent, a research group said. Its report found that nonprofit organizations employed 420,671 persons, or 13 percent of the state’s work force. That was nearly double the national average of 6.9 percent.

Only North Dakota, Washington, D.C., and Vermont have higher percentages of workers in the nonprofit sector, the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth reported.


Governor asked to protect fish

LINCOLN — An animal rights group has a beef with the state fish. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking Gov. Dave Heineman to declare the channel catfish, Nebraska’s state fish, off-limits to fishing.

PETA launched a campaign last year to ban fishing, arguing that it is cruel. “We ought to protect channel catfish in a manner appropriate to a state symbol ensuring that they don’t suffer needlessly at the hands of anglers,” according to a PETA letter sent Friday.

Mr. Heineman, a Republican, rejected the request. “Fishing is a time-honored tradition in Nebraska, and I have no intention of modifying Nebraska’s fishing guidelines,” he said.


Toxic chemical spill forces evacuation

SALT LAKE CITY — Crews early yesterday finished pumping toxic waste from a leaking rail tanker car that triggered the evacuation of about 6,000 people.

The residents were allowed to return home and highways were reopened yesterday. Tests showed the tank car had been filled with a mixture of acetic, hydrofluoric, phosphoric and sulfuric acids, which easily corroded the car’s lining, said Louie Cononelos, a spokesman for Kennecott Utah Copper, of Magna.

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