- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2005

FLORIDA

Shuttle rolls back to hangar

CAPE CANAVERAL — Space Shuttle Discovery began a slow trek back to the hangar yesterday to have a new, safer fuel tank installed, along with a heater to prevent a dangerous buildup of ice on its surface.

The spacecraft is being readied for liftoff in mid-July on the first shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster more than two years ago.

Discovery was on the launchpad when NASA concluded that ice that forms on the external tank when it is filled with super-cold fuel could break off during liftoff and prove as lethal as the chunk of foam insulation that doomed Columbia.

VERMONT

Children drown in river

BARRE — Two young brothers and a friend were found dead in a frigid river yesterday after they apparently lost their footing while playing in the fast-moving stream, authorities said.

Justin Nutbrown, 13, Joshua Nutbrown, 11, and Allison Hansen, 11, were last seen on their way to play near the river Wednesday. A search began later that night, and the bodies were found yesterday morning, authorities said.

Police think the children were attempting to cross the stream when they slipped and fell.

ALASKA

City’s first synagogue set for June opening

JUNEAU — Juneau’s first synagogue is set to open in late June.

“We won’t have all the flooring done and it will not be our final, finished, desirable home by the end of June, but we are thrilled to get in,” said Sheryl Weinberg, who led the Juneau Jewish Community’s synagogue building committee.

She said the goal is to open the synagogue on June 25 for a bar mitzvah, a rite of passage for male 13-year-olds.

For decades, the Juneau Jewish Community, which has about 100 active members, has been meeting at Northern Light United Church and Mountain View Senior Center for religious services and social gatherings.

CALIFORNIA

Investigators close Altamont killing case

OAKLAND — Nearly 36 years after a slaying at a Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway marked the end of the peace-and-love ‘60s, investigators have closed the case, dismissing a theory that a second Hells Angel took part in the stabbing.

Meredith Hunter, 18, was killed during the free concert on Dec. 6, 1969, that was billed as a West Coast Woodstock. The concert, which drew an estimated 300,000 people, later was immortalized in the film documentary “Gimme Shelter.”

As the Stones played on stage, a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, hired by the band to provide security, fatally stabbed the young man.

Alan Passaro was acquitted after a jury concluded that he acted in self-defense because Mr. Hunter was carrying a gun. But there had been rumors over the years that a second unidentified assailant had inflicted the fatal wounds, and the case remained open.

But Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Dudek said Wednesday that after a renewed investigation in the past two years, authorities concluded that Mr. Passaro, who died in 1985, was the only person to stab Mr. Hunter and did so only after Mr. Hunter pointed a gun at the stage.

CONNECTICUT

Wrong Nile mosquito likely targeted

NEW HAVEN — Scientists at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station say state and local officials may have targeted the wrong breed of mosquito in the fight against the West Nile virus.

Scientists said culex pipiens, which lives in catch basins and storm drains, isn’t the main culprit. They think culex salinarius, which lives in swamps and salt marshes, causes most human infections.

GEORGIA

Smoking declines among women

ATLANTA — Smoking among women in the United States has dropped to less than one in five for the first time in nearly 30 years, the government said yesterday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 21.6 percent of U.S. adults smoked in 2003, down from 22.5 percent the year before. Smoking in the United States generally has declined year after year in the past two decades.

Slightly more than 24 percent of men and 19.2 percent of women smoked in 2003, the CDC said.

The CDC also found that 2003 had the lowest proportion of smokers ages 18 to 24 (23.9 percent) since 1991. Also, in 2003, the number of people who quit smoking (46 million) was greater than the number of those who still smoked (45 million).

MASSACHUSETTS

Reputed mobster released from prison

BOSTON — Mobster Vincent “The Animal” Ferrara was freed from federal custody yesterday after a judge cut short his prison sentence, ruling that prosecutors may have coerced him into confessing to a murder he didn’t commit.

As he left the U.S. marshals office, Ferrara hugged friends and relatives and held his daughter Bianca’s hand. He spoke to reporters briefly, saying he felt “vindicated” and that the first thing he would do is visit his 90-year-old mother.

The 56-year-old former capo in the New England mafia served about 16 years of a 22-year sentence after pleading guilty to racketeering and other charges. Among the crimes he admitted to was ordering the 1985 murder of Vincent Limoli, a mob foot soldier who reportedly stole drugs from another mobster.

IOWA

‘Butter cow lady’ sets sight on Tiger Woods

DES MOINES — A woman known as the “butter cow lady” for her life-size butter sculptures of dairy cows says she wants to do a likeness of golfer Tiger Woods at the Iowa State Fair.

“He’s going to be sitting down with a club next to him and he’s going to be scratching a live tiger, so to speak, on the head,” Norma Lyon said Wednesday.

Miss Lyon, 75, lives on a dairy farm near Toledo. She carves a full-size dairy cow out of butter at the fair each year. Her cows have been a highlight for nearly five decades.

In recent years, she started adding other sculptures, including of Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks and John Wayne, and in 1999, she celebrated her 40th year at the fair with a life-size butter version of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

MICHIGAN

Inmates accuse county of holding them naked

DETROIT — Linda Rose says she spent three hours crouched in the corner of a concrete cell at the Saginaw County Jail, shivering and sobbing, after deputies stripped her of her clothes and left her naked in front of a surveillance camera.

“They don’t need to strip you of your clothes and your dignity,” said Miss Rose, who was arrested in 2001 for drunken driving.

The accusation by the 36-year-old bartender is one of dozens of accounts of humiliating treatment that have emerged as part of a lawsuit against the county.

The federal judge presiding over the case has ruled that the practice of holding inmates naked is unconstitutional. The question before the court now is how much the plaintiffs are entitled to in damages, and how extensive the practice was.

WEST VIRGINIA

Church seeks ouster of gay-friendly pastor

ELKINS — The congregation of Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church has voted to fire its minister after he wrote a newspaper article supporting homosexuals.

“Gay and lesbian Christians are no different than the rest of us,” the Rev. Jeff Falter wrote in a Feb. 26 article in the Inter-Mountain of Elkins. “They deserve full equality in the church and in society, for they are my brothers and sisters, people for whom Christ died.”

That passage led members to vote 100-72 on Sunday to request that the Presbytery of West Virginia — the regional governing body — dissolve the church’s pastoral relationship with Mr. Falter effective next Wednesday.

WISCONSIN

Small speed-limit sign gets ticket reversed

MADISON — A state appeals court reversed Paul Mertz’s speeding ticket after ruling that the speed limit sign on the highway where he was stopped was too small.

To prove someone is speeding in Wisconsin, the speed limit must be posted on official signs. The 2nd District Court of Appeals found that the sign close to where Mr. Mertz was stopped violated state traffic guidelines. Mr. Mertz was clocked doing 59 mph in a 35-mph zone.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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