Historic march’s anniversary marked
SELMA — Aging civil rights-era figures and a bipartisan congressional delegation yesterday observed the 40th anniversary of the historic Selma voting rights march.
Among those on hand to commemorate the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge were singer Harry Belafonte, who had taken part in the demonstration 40 years ago; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; and Lynda Johnson Robb, whose father, President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed the Voting Rights Act into law in 1965.
Participants in the March 7, 1965, march were attacked on the bridge by Alabama state troopers and local sheriff’s deputies.
Group rescues neglected tigers
PAHRUMP — The house doesn’t stand out from the others. But in the back, in addition to roosters and cats, are six tigers and two leopards. And the big cats are hungry and dirty.
Carol Asvestas has seen it before: big cats taken in as pets, then neglected by owners overwhelmed by the responsibility. Many end up with Ms. Asvestas at her Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio.
Animal-protection groups insist there is a better way to deal with the 10,000 to 20,000 large cats they think are kept as pets in the United States. They want private ownership outlawed.CALIFORNIA
Family of accuser lived in luxury
SANTA MARIA — They rode in chauffeured limousines, were whisked across the country in private jets and were treated to spas at luxury resorts. Along the way, the poor family with the cancer-stricken son circulated within a constellation of celebrities — Chris Tucker, George Lopez and Kobe Bryant among them.
But of all the stars, Michael Jackson was the brightest, and seemingly the most generous. During the first week of a trial that is expected to last months, the prosecution described Mr. Jackson as a sexual predator who molested the boy when he was 13 and held his family against their will.
“Michael Jackson continually attracts people who want to profit,” defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. said in his opening statement.
What emerged from the trial’s early stages was a portrait of a family from the wrong side of the tracks who managed to infiltrate the rarified air of Hollywood celebrity.
Toddler killed by ice-cream truck
WEST PALM BEACH — A 2-year-old boy was fatally injured when he ran into the path of an ice-cream truck in the parking lot of his apartment complex, and the driver reportedly left the scene, authorities said yesterday.
Angela Rodriguez, 27, later surrendered and was charged with leaving the scene of a fatality, which can carry a 15-year prison sentence. She was jailed yesterday in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Witnesses said the driver got out of her truck after Saturday’s accident and moved the boy, Moses Joseph, before driving away.
When Mrs. Rodriguez got home, her husband saw blood on her hands and thought she was injured, Palm Beach County sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said yesterday. Mrs. Rodriguez then “told her husband that she thinks she may have hit a small child and the husband said, ‘You need to do the right thing,’” Miss Barbera said.
Lawmakers keep ferry plans afloat
HONOLULU — Lawmakers have cleared the way for plans to link the main Hawaiian Islands by ferry, transportation cheaper than flying but feared by some residents for its risks to the environment.
After hearing three hours of testimony on both sides of the issue Wednesday, the Senate Transportation Committee voted to hold a bill that would have required a detailed environmental review for the proposal.
Hawaii Superferry Inc. and some state officials had said requiring an environmental review could have scuttled the first serious attempt in years to set up an inter-island ferry system.
Environmentalists are worried about traffic, transportation of foreign pest species and endangering humpback whales.
Motorist drives with cat on roof
INKOM — Torri Hutchison was driving along Interstate 15 one day recently when a motorist kept trying to get her attention and pointing to the roof of her car. She pulled over to the side, but kept her doors locked and the motor running.
The man pulled up behind her. Miss Hutchinson rolled down her window to hear the man frantically shouting, “Your cat, your cat.” He reached for the roof of her car and handed the shocked Miss Hutchinson her orange tabby.
She had driven about 10 miles with the cat on top of the car, and didn’t even notice the feline when she stopped for gas.
Miss Hutchinson said Cuddle Bug, or C.B. for short, had climbed into the back of her car as she was getting ready to leave. She put him out, but he must have jumped onto the roof while she wasn’t looking, she said.
Study emphasizes exercise for bones
CHICAGO — Children who drink more milk do not necessarily develop healthier bones, researchers said today in a report that stresses exercise and modest consumption of calcium-rich foods such as tofu.
The government has gradually increased recommendations for daily calcium intake, largely from dairy products, to between 800 milligrams and 1,300 milligrams to promote healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis.
But the report, published in the journal Pediatrics, said boosting consumption of milk or other dairy products was not necessarily the best way to provide the minimal calcium intake of at least 400 milligrams per day.
Christians make ‘resurgence’ in state
OVERLAND PARK — Thousands of Christians throughout Kansas are flexing their political muscle by pushing a conservative political agenda that rapidly is gaining momentum.
“There is an evangelical resurgence in this country and what is happening here in Kansas is symbolic of much of the nation,” said Jerry Johnston, senior pastor of First Family Church.
Indeed, a host of conservative Christian causes are moving forward: On April 5, Kansas voters will decide the fate of an amendment to enact one of the nation’s strictest prohibitions against same-sex “marriage”; the state school board is embroiled in arguments between evolution and Biblical beliefs about creation; and fresh battles have begun over abortion rights.
In the past year, an unprecedented conservative movement has swept the state, sparked primarily by out-of-state court rulings favoring same-sex “marriage.”
“There are pastors and other Christian leaders in every state who are beginning to understand they can’t sit back anymore,” said the Rev. Jim Conard of First Baptist Church in Shawnee. “Any clear-cut moral issue that God has spoken on is worth defending.”
State drops kindergarten plan
CONCORD — The state Board of Education dropped a plan to require all school districts to offer kindergarten by 2007.
Lawmakers said the rule would usurp their authority and force a state program on local districts. New Hampshire is the last state without universal kindergarten; about 15 communities don’t offer it.
Candlelight vigil held for beaten man
SANTA FE — About 300 people attended a candlelight vigil Saturday night to show support for a homosexual man who was beaten unconscious Feb. 27 outside a Santa Fe hotel.
James Maestas, 21, remained hospitalized but spoke from his bed Saturday for the first time since the beating. Police said a group of at least three men confronted him outside a restaurant where he had eaten with a group of friends.
The attackers later followed Mr. Maestas to a hotel, knocked him to the ground and repeatedly struck him in the face and head, investigators said.
“What happened to James Maestas should never happen anywhere, on any planet,” said Gov. Bill Richardson, who attended the vigil. “We as a society have got to find ways to end hatred.”
Police suspended for fire messages
AUSTIN — Five police officers and four dispatchers were suspended for sending computer messages after a nightclub caught fire joking about the blaze and quoting a line from the song “Disco Inferno” — “burn baby burn.”
Witnesses at the Midtown Live club saw the “burn baby burn” message on the computer screen inside an officer’s patrol car during the Feb. 18 fire. Police Chief Stan Knee said a commander and corporal who responded to the scene worked to calm angry witnesses.
The club has a mostly black clientele, and there were suggestions after the fire that the messages revealed racial bias in the department.