Volcano spews more ash
MOUNT ST. HELENS — A plume of ash towered over Mount St. Helens yesterday, the volcano’s most significant emission in months but one that seismologists did not think heralded a major eruption.
Television footage showed the plume billowing thousands of feet into the air, then drifting slowly to the northeast. The volcano has vented ash and steam since last fall, when thousands of small earthquakes marked a seismic reawakening of the 8,364-foot mountain.
The ash explosion happened about 5:25 p.m., about an hour after a 2.0 magnitude quake rumbled on the east side of the mountain.
One killed, 33 injured in pileups
PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP — A snow squall caused a string of highway pileups involving as many as 90 vehicles yesterday, killing one person and injuring 33 others, police said.
Fire Chief Dave Peterson said several people still were trapped in their vehicles hours after the crashes along U.S. 131. Four victims were seriously hurt, police said.
A six-mile section of the highway was closed just north of Grand Rapids. The wreckage stretched for a half-mile and included a tractor-trailer that was torn in two and a van that was crushed between two tractor-trailers.
Footprints lead to burglary arrests
FORT SMITH — Police in Fort Smith said they got to the bottom of a burglary at city offices by peering into the criminal sole.
Footprints left by the burglars apparently came from shoes popular with skateboarders. Officers discovered that only one store in Fort Smith sold the shoes and the shoe with the unique tread was sold to only a few customers.
That led police to Christopher Calvin and Eric Skelton, both 23. The men were arrested last week on suspicion of commercial burglary and theft of property. The duo work together at a mall restaurant near the store that sold the shoes.
City officials said about $3,000 worth of computers and other equipment was taken.
Marines volunteer for donor match
LOMA LINDA — Thousands of Marines volunteered to determine whether they could be potential bone marrow donors for a fellow Marine who developed a life-threatening liver ailment after returning from Iraq.
Lance Cpl. Chris LeBleu of Lake Charles, La., remains in fair condition at Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he has been hospitalized after a liver transplant. Doctors say his body isn’t producing enough red blood cells and he may need a bone marrow transplant.
Crash, alligators don’t stop worker
WESTON — Her car made a spectacular crash into an alligator-infested canal and she couldn’t swim, but Ana Maria Amaya still got to work on time.
Miss Amaya’s car clipped another vehicle Monday on Alligator Alley, the highway connecting Fort Lauderdale and Florida’s Gulf Coast, and went airborne, police said. She landed in the roadside canal and began sinking as other motorists stopped and called 911.
Although she can’t swim, Miss Amaya, 32, climbed out and headed to dry ground — after stopping and returning to the car to retrieve her immigration papers in her purse. One witness reported seeing two alligators near the car.
She was rescued after reaching the other side of the canal.
Instead of taking the day off, Miss Amaya got a ride a few hours later to the restaurant where she works, arriving on time.
Rancher first to kill wolf under new rule
BOISE — A rancher in remote central Idaho shot a wolf he said was harassing his cattle, marking the first time one of the federally protected predators has been killed under guidelines that took effect Feb. 2.
The rancher shot the female gray wolf on private property late Sunday. He watched it and a larger wolf chasing his cattle, the rancher told officials. The other wolf escaped.
Under the new rule that affects Idaho and Montana, ranchers can shoot wolves that pursue their livestock. Before, ranchers had to wait until a wolf had attacked one of their animals.
The new rule marked a first step in returning control of wolf populations to states and private landowners, who say they need it to limit predatory attacks on livestock, domestic animals and wild game herds as wolf numbers steadily rise.
Federal officials have determined that the rancher acted appropriately. Wolf advocacy groups are reserving judgment pending an investigation.
Prosecutor accused of racial bias
NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans prosecutor who put former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards behind bars finds the tables turned this week, as 44 white former employees have hauled him into court on accusations of racial bias.
The employees claim Eddie Jordan fired them for racial reasons immediately after he took office in 2003 as the city’s district attorney. Mr. Jordan kept 96 percent of the blacks and fired 32 percent of the whites.
“While it may be OK for a new district attorney or sheriff to come up and clean house, you can’t clean house with all of one race,” Clement Donelon, attorney for the fired employees, said yesterday.
Mr. Jordan said the firings were about politics, not race.
“This is not discrimination. This is a political effort to create diversity,” his attorney, Philip Schuler, told the jury of eight whites and two blacks.
Woman married 82 years dies
ST. LOUIS — In the days after losing her husband of 82 years last year, centenarian Amelia Limpert mourned terribly, saying she wanted to rejoin the soul mate she met while working in a factory after World War I.
More than 13 months after George Limpert’s passing at age 102, his 101-year-old widow was laid to rest Monday. Kutis Funeral Home said Mrs. Limpert died last week at a retirement center where the Limperts, who eloped on Sept. 9, 1921, closed out their golden years, never shy about holding hands.
The parents of nine children remarked on their more than eight decades together in 2003. “You have to cooperate with one another,” Mr. Limpert said, saying that “everybody has faults.”
Said Mrs. Limpert: “You can’t disagree about everything; it would never work.”
Tomato approved as state vegetable
TRENTON — The humble tomato technically may be a fruit, but lawmakers here consider it a vegetable.
Members of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Monday approved a measure designating the Jersey tomato as the official state vegetable. A similar proposal is pending in a Senate committee.
Sponsors of the measure get around the fact that the tomato is considered a fruit by using a century-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that slapped a vegetable tariff on tomatoes, similar to the tax placed on cucumbers, squashes and beans.
In squeezing tomatoes into the vegetable category, justices on the 1887 high court reasoned that if it is typically served with dinner, and not as a dessert, it must be a vegetable.
The Jersey tomato’s ride through the Legislature began after a group of fourth-graders wrote letters urging lawmakers to adopt a state fruit. The beloved blueberry won and it — not the tomato — took its place last year as the official state fruit.
Majority say sexes equal in math
NEW YORK — The majority of people think American men and women are equally skilled when it comes to math and science, a poll released yesterday indicated.
However, one out of five respondents to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said they thought men were the stronger sex when it came to math and science, while 8 percent said they thought women did better.
Among the 21 percent who said men did better than women in the subjects, there was an equal divide over what caused that dominance. Forty-eight percent said it was because of the way society and the educational system treat boys and girls, while an equal percentage said the aptitude was present at birth.
The results were based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 25-27 with 1,008 U.S. adults.
Police academy drops psychological tests
CHARLESTON — The head of the state Criminal Justice Academy said he is concerned South Carolina has dropped a program that gave aspiring police officers a psychological evaluation. Budget cuts prompted elimination of the tests, which state law doesn’t require.
Academy director William Neill says not every prospective officer has the maturity and mental stability to handle the job.