- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

ALABAMA

Hostage-taker denied parole

MONTGOMERY — A man who held 110 children and adults hostage at a private Tuscaloosa school in a 1988 standoff that lasted nearly 12 hours was denied parole.

Some of the hostages told the state parole board how the takeover by James Harvey affected their lives. No one spoke at the hearing on behalf of Harvey, now 60. He has said he took the hostages to demand help for the homeless.

ARIZONA

Couple accused of exploiting runaway

PHOENIX — A couple held a runaway teen captive in a hollow bed frame for weeks and forced her to have sex for money with people they met on the Internet, police said.

The 15-year-old girl managed to call family members for help while Matthew Gray, 18, and Janelle Butler, 19, were sleeping Monday night, authorities said. The two were arrested Tuesday.

The girl ran away from her El Mirage home in September and met the couple through a friend about three hours after she disappeared, police Sgt. Andy Hill said. They took her to a park, bound her and had her gang raped for hours, police said.

The girl underwent a medical exam and was released to her parents.

IDAHO

Workers evacuated at nuke waste plant

BOISE — About 650 employees of a radioactive waste treatment plant on the federal Idaho National Laboratory site were evacuated Tuesday after a propane heating system sprang a leak.

No injuries were reported, and repair crews were able to stop the leak of flammable gas after several hours. Officials said there was never a chance the incident could lead to a radiation release at the site in eastern Idaho.

The leak occurred in a pipe or valve connecting two 1,000-gallon propane tanks that fuel the space heating system.

MINNESOTA

Stillwater bridge reopens amid repairs

STILLWATER — Drivers who use the Stillwater Lift Bridge to travel between Minnesota and Wisconsin can resume their commute. The 74-year-old bridge, which closed Aug. 1 for more than $5 million in repairs, has reopened.

Motorists can expect some temporary lane closures through next spring as work continues.

NEW JERSEY

Man admits pointing laser at aircraft

NEWARK — A man who shined a laser pointer at an airplane last year pleaded guilty yesterday to violating the USA Patriot Act.

David W. Banach, 39, of Parsippany, could get anywhere from probation to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced for interfering with a passenger aircraft, a provision in the post-September 11 counterterrorism law.

His attorney, Gina Mendola-Longarzo, said he was using the device to point out stars to his daughter in December.

The crew aboard the charter flight from Boca Raton, Fla., said the beam temporarily blinded the two pilots, and they could not see their flight instruments.

NEW YORK

Graduate assistants on strike at NYU

NEW YORK — About 1,000 graduate assistants started striking yesterday over New York University’s refusal to bargain with or recognize their union.

It was not clear how many students were affected, but NYU spokesman John Beckman said 165 of the 2,700 classes yesterday were taught by graduate assistants.

The Graduate Students Organizing Committee said its members would stay on strike until the university bargains with them “in good faith.” The assistants will not teach, grade, advise students or conduct research while on strike, they said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Archaeologist finds ancient alphabet

PITTSBURGH — Two lines of an alphabet have been found inscribed in a stone in Israel, offering what some scholars say is the most solid evidence that the ancient Israelites were literate as early as the 10th century B.C.

“This is very rare. This stone will be written about for many years to come,” archaeologist Ron E. Tappy, a professor at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary who made the discovery, said yesterday.

Christopher Rollston, a professor of Semitic studies at Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City, Tenn., who was not involved in the find, said the writing is probably Phoenician or a transitional language between Phoenician and Hebrew.

The stone was found during an archaeological dig in June.

TENNESSEE

House fire kills two children

LOUDON — A house fire early yesterday killed four persons, including two children, just four days after an even deadlier blaze about 20 miles away.

A 10-year-old girl suffered serious burns yesterday in the eastern Tennessee house fire, and four other persons escaped without injury, said Bob Pollard of the state fire marshal’s office.

WASHINGTON

Cat rescued after leap into river

WENATCHEE — A cat leapt from a pickup truck, scampered through traffic, fell 70 feet off a bridge into the chilly Columbia River and swam another 600 feet to shore, officials said.

The longhair gray cat, which had no collar or identification, “ate ravenously” at an animal shelter after the ordeal, Wenatchee Valley Humane Society officer Jody White said.

Joi Singleton said she and her husband, Ron, were driving over the Odabashian Bridge on Sunday morning when they saw something come off a pickup ahead of them. They returned on foot, spotted the cat cowering on a concrete barrier and called the Humane Society.

Two officers put the cat in a portable kennel, but it jumped out “like a jack-in-the-box before we could secure the door” and leapt over the railing, Miss White said.

“Once it spun around in a current and we thought that was it,” Mrs. Singleton said. “Then this guy in a kayak came out of nowhere and started pushing it toward us. The officers got a noose around its neck and pulled it in.”

WISCONSIN

Lawmakers pass fetal-pain bill

MADISON — Doctors would have to tell women seeking abortions in their 20th week of pregnancy or later that their fetuses might feel pain — an assertion debated in the medical community — under a bill passed by Wisconsin lawmakers.

Gov. James E. Doyle, a Democrat, promised to veto the legislation, which the Assembly passed by a 61-34 vote Tuesday and the Senate passed earlier.

Women seeking abortions in Wisconsin must receive information on alternatives to ending their pregnancies and must wait 24 hours after a counseling session to undergo the procedure. The bill would add the fetal pain requirement for women who are at least 20 weeks pregnant.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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