- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

ARIZONA

Van crash kills 2, injures 5

PHOENIX — A van carrying a magazine sales crew on a trip to the Grand Canyon overturned on Interstate 17 north of Phoenix on Sunday, killing two persons and critically injuring five others, authorities said.

Police identified the driver as a 20-year-old man from Iowa and said the others in the van ranged in age from 18 to 20.

The driver and all eight passengers were thrown from the van when the driver overcorrected and the van rolled three times, ending up in the median, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Frank Valenzuela said.



CALIFORNIA

Fire hits liquor store days after damage

OAKLAND — A liquor store was heavily damaged by an apparent arson yesterday, just days after it was trashed by well-dressed vandals who told the owners to stop selling to black people, authorities said.

Police had no suspects in the fire, which was reported about 1 a.m. They refused to say whether they believed the blaze at New York Market was connected to vandalism last week at the store and a nearby market.

Deputy Police Chief Howard Jordan said police would seek arrest warrants on charges of terrorist threats, conspiracy, vandalism and robbery against six men.

Workers at both stores said that a group of about a dozen men, all black, dressed in suits and bow ties stormed into the shops, told the owners not to sell alcohol to blacks, and smashed liquor bottles.

“In both incidents, the suspects entered the store and questioned why a Muslim-owned store would sell alcoholic beverages when it is against the Muslim religion,” police said in a statement.

Investigators were looking into the incidents as hate crimes because the stores’ owners are Muslims of Middle Eastern descent, Chief Jordan said. Oakland police said the Nation of Islam, known for wearing suits and bow ties, was not under investigation.

FLORIDA

Prosecutor calls for death penalty

SARASOTA — A former auto mechanic should be executed because he killed Carlie Brucia in order to cover up evidence that he had kidnapped and raped the 11-year-old girl, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Joseph Smith’s desire to avoid arrest for the February 2004 abduction and sexual battery of the girl was one of six “aggravators” that justify a recommendation of death, prosecutor Debra Riva told jurors on the first day of the sentencing phase of Smith’s trial.

Other aggravating circumstances, the prosecutor said, include that the victim was under 12, Smith was on probation for possession of cocaine at the time of the murder, and the slaying was premeditated and “heinous, atrocious and cruel.”

Defense lawyer Carolyn DaSilva asked jurors to recommend sparing Smith’s life. She noted that he had battled back pain, depression and drug addiction for the past dozen years, and said relatives, friends and a drug-addiction specialist would testify how “a man with good qualities could have fallen so far.”

GEORGIA

County to consider limiting development

CLEVELAND — White County will consider a sweeping ordinance designed to protect the region’s mountains from development.

The measure would be the first of its kind in Georgia and has raised concerns among builders, real estate agents and landowners. They fear it’s too restrictive and could hamper the county’s booming second-home market.

MAINE

2005 deer season called safest ever

AUGUSTA — Maine’s 2005 deer season was hailed as one of the safest ever. Game officials recorded no fatalities and only one firearm-related injury.

Biologists predicted at the outset of the four-week hunt that the deer kill would total about 32,400. A preliminary count is expected in about a week.

NEBRASKA

Small plane crashes into broadcast tower

ATLANTA — A small plane crashed into a broadcast tower in rural Nebraska on Sunday, killing two adults and a child, authorities said.

The plane hit the tower on a windy morning as rainstorms were moving through the area, though it wasn’t immediately clear if weather conditions caused the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

The plane crashed into a wheat field about 200 yards from the tower, and the tower, owned by Nebraska Educational Radio and Television, toppled onto a building that houses broadcast equipment, Phelps County Sheriff Tom Nutt said. The building’s roof was damaged but no injuries were reported on the ground.

Witnesses said debris was scattered over two farms, about 170 miles west of Lincoln.

OKLAHOMA

Wind fans grass fires, destroying homes

OKLAHOMA CITY — A second day of windy weather hampered crews yesterday as they tried to control grass fires that had destroyed homes and forced hundreds of people to evacuate in parts of Oklahoma and Texas.

Strong northwesterly wind, with gusts to near 50 mph, was expected to continue through the day, part of a huge storm system that also produced blizzard conditions on the central and northern Plains, the National Weather Service said.

Hundreds of families had been evacuated and five buildings, including homes, were destroyed by three fires in McIntosh County in east-central Oklahoma, state emergency management spokeswoman Michelann Ooten said.

A wildfire in south-central Oklahoma’s Stephens County destroyed more than 10 buildings and forced authorities to evacuate several hundred residents of outlying areas into the center of Velma, while others fled to Duncan, officials said.

The wind also stoked grass fires in at least six northern Texas counties on Sunday.

UTAH

Student leaders push health insurance

SALT LAKE CITY — Some student leaders at the University of Utah want to require that all students at their school are covered by health insurance.

They plan a special meeting today to determine if university officials will endorse the idea as part of an effort to shore up the school-sponsored insurance program. Fewer than 10 percent of students subscribe to the program.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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