- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2005

Scholar appointed as House historian

After more than a decade without an official historian, the House once again is paying attention to posterity with the hiring of a University of Illinois scholar to document its storied past.

Robert V. Remini already has plans to reach out to all members of the House and make sure partisanship doesn’t poison the chronicling of the institution’s history.

“I’ve found that most people don’t know much about the history of the House itself, including the members,” said Mr. Remini, 83. “We’re there to serve everybody, irrespective of party affiliation or anything else.”

Mr. Remini was appointed April 27 by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. He is the third person to serve as House historian.

Part of Dealey Plaza fence up for auction

NEW YORK — Conspiracy theorists and collectors, take note: A section of fencing from the infamous grassy knoll in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza is going up for auction.

The weather-beaten picket fence, along with its metal posts, goes up for bid today at the Lelands.com online auction house. Bidding on the fence from the scene of President Kennedy’s Nov. 22, 1963, assassination runs through June 16.

“It’s an iconic item, in a macabre sort of way,” said Simeon Lipman, director of Americana at the Long Island-based auction house.

The minimum opening bid for the fence is $5,000.

Zoo deaths prompt animal care probe

CHICAGO — An endangered monkey is in quarantine while experts at the Lincoln Park Zoo try to determine what killed three other Francois langurs, the latest in a series of animal deaths that have prompted activists to call for a criminal investigation.

The Agriculture Department is already looking into possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act at the zoo, and the group that accredits U.S. zoos is reviewing all animal care practices there.

Two elephants, two gorillas and a camel have died at the zoo since October, and another elephant died earlier this month as it was being transferred from Chicago to Utah.

“It’s unheard of for one zoo to have this many animal deaths over such a short period of time,” said Debbie Leahy with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Missing boy found unharmed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Officials said late Friday that Justin Black, who was the subject of a nationwide Amber Alert, had been well cared for before he was turned over to authorities here.

Hours after Justin’s family gathered to pay their last respects to Justin’s mother, Kristi Black, federal authorities announced they had found her missing 16-month-old son in Mexico.

FBI spokesman Bill Elwell declined to release details about Justin’s recovery, saying authorities were still trying to find his stepfather, Ivan Villa, 22.

Mr. Villa is wanted on a felony kidnapping warrant. Police also want to talk with him about Miss Black’s death, but they haven’t called him a suspect.

Mr. Villa and the boy disappeared from the apartment where Miss Black, 19, was found strangled on Mother’s Day.

Bride’s cold feet inspire hot sauce

ATLANTA — Maybe hot sauce is the cure for cold feet.

“Jennifer’s High Tailin’ Hot Sauce,” a nod to the saga of runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks, has sold briskly since its debut Wednesday.

“I’m in the hot sauce business, and this is the hottest thing I’ve got right now,” said “Pappy” David Ryan, who runs Pappy’s Peppers in Lawrenceville, Ga.

He’s not the only one cashing in: Herobuilders.com, a Danbury, Conn.-based manufacturer, has sold all of its first batch of 250 Runaway Bride action figures at $24.95 each.

Judge apologizes for capture party

DALLAS — A judge who threw a courtroom party with balloons and cake to celebrate the recapture of a man who fled during his trial has apologized after a state panel admonished her.

Dallas District Judge Faith Johnson served ice cream and hung streamers for a court proceeding last year in which Billy Wayne Williams discovered he had been sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which issued the public admonition, also discovered that Judge Johnson had planned for a TV crew to capture Williams’ expression when he entered the courtroom.

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