- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2005

‘Virgin Mary’ stain defaced, covered

CHICAGO — A stain under a highway bridge that had drawn hundreds of faithful who insisted it resembled the Virgin Mary was painted over by a road crew yesterday after a vandal defaced the image.

Chicago police said they charged a 37-year-old man with damage to state property after he used black shoe polish to paint “big lie” on the yellow and white stain that had become the site of an impromptu shrine for the past three weeks.

Engineers had said the stain most likely was caused by a water leak from the road above, mixed with salt that had been used on the highway during the winter. Police did not say what the man’s motive might have been in defacing the image.

Bush extends Syria sanctions

President Bush on Thursday renewed economic sanctions on Syria implemented a year ago, saying its government still supports terrorism and is undermining efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Mr. Bush originally banned all U.S. exports to Syria except for food and medicine on May 11, 2004. The measures include a ban on flights to and from the United States; authorization to the Treasury Department to freeze assets of Syrian citizens and entities involved in terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, the occupation of Lebanon or terrorism in Iraq; and restrictions on banking relations between U.S. banks and the Syrian national bank.

In a letter to the House speaker and Senate majority leader, Mr. Bush said Syria poses a “continuing, unusual, and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.” He said the sanctions respond to that threat.

‘Finger’ defendant sent to California

LAS VEGAS — The woman arrested after she said she found a human finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili was transferred yesterday to California to face charges that her claim was a hoax.

Police from San Jose, Calif., took Anna Ayala into custody about 6 a.m. from the Clark County jail, police Sgt. Chris Jones said.

Miss Ayala waived an extradition-rights hearing April 26 and told a Las Vegas judge she was eager to return to California to face charges. She is accused of attempted grand theft in the Wendy’s case and grand theft in an unrelated case.

Call by mom in Iraq earns suspension

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A high school junior was suspended for 10 days for refusing to end a cell phone call with his mother, a soldier serving in Iraq, school officials said.

The confrontation Wednesday at Spencer High School began after 17-year-old Kevin Francois got a call at lunchtime from his mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, who left in January for a one-year tour with the 203rd Forward Support Battalion.

Cell phones are allowed on campus but may not be used during school hours. When a teacher told Kevin to hang up, he refused. He said he told the teacher, “This is my mom in Iraq. I’m not about to hang up on my mom.”

The teen’s suspension was based on his reaction to the teacher’s request, Assistant Principal Alfred Parham said. The teen used profanity when taken to the office, Mr. Parham said

Sex offender pleads not guilty in death

TAMPA, Fla. — A sex offender charged in the slaying of a 13-year-old girl pleaded not guilty yesterday, and prosecutors said they intend to seek the death penalty.

An attorney for David Lee Onstott entered the plea to charges of murder and attempted sexual battery.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Mark Ober filed court papers yesterday saying he will seek the death penalty for Mr. Onstott if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

Vatican ousts Jesuit as magazine editor

A well-known priest who edits the Jesuit magazine America has been forced out by the Vatican, according to a report published yesterday by the National Catholic Reporter.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the magazine for the past seven years, resigned at the request of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog organization that was headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger until he became Pope Benedict XVI last month. However, the Vatican agency informed the Jesuits that it was only following up on complaints about Father Reese by U.S. bishops for theological differences.

The priest was notified of his ouster by his Jesuit superiors after he returned to New York from covering the papal election, the magazine said. An associate, the Rev. Drew Christiansen, is replacing him.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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