- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005

ARIZONA

Security funding urged for border

MESA — Officials want to focus more of the state’s federal homeland security dollars on border enforcement and disaster preparation.

Until now, a large portion of Arizona’s federal grants have been used by state and local public safety agencies to buy equipment, such as biohazard protection suits and gas masks. Key state officials have reached a tentative agreement that some homeland security grant money should be used to improve control of the Mexican border.

CONNECTICUT

High school aims to teach Chinese

GREENWICH — Mandarin Chinese could be taught at Greenwich High School next fall, adding the wealthy New York suburb to a growing number of school districts nationally that offer one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

If accepted by the Board of Education, the plan would recognize China’s growing world importance, said one parent pushing for the curriculum addition.

ILLINOIS

Train engineer attempts suicide

CHICAGO — The engineer at the controls when a commuter train derailed Sept. 17, killing two passengers and injuring dozens, attempted suicide, a report said yesterday.

Police in Crest Hill, Ill., a Chicago suburb, found Mike Smith in his apartment suffering from self-inflicted wounds, CLTV reported. Officials investigating the accident said the Rock Island District train was traveling at 70 mph in a switching zone where the speed limit was 10 mph. Mr. Smith faces an Oct. 27 disciplinary hearing.

NEBRASKA

Sailors thank bakery for fruitcake

BEATRICE — One bakery here can boast it fills stomachs on land and aboard a nuclear-powered submarine.

The Beatrice Bakery Co. has shipped slices of its Grandma’s Fruit and Nut Cake to the crew of the USS Nebraska every year since 1996, said Sue Bauer, the bakery’s human resources manager.

Miss Bauer is also a member of the Big Red Sub Club, a group that has supported Nebraska’s namesake submarine since it started patrolling the oceans 12 years ago.

Some crew members enjoy the fruitcake so much that they seek it out after they leave the military, Miss Bauer said.

Eight current USS Nebraska crew members visited the bakery Thursday, including Lt. David Burroughs. The sailors gave the bakery a plaque to show the crew’s appreciation.

NEW JERSEY

Construction begins on wind farm

ATLANTIC CITY — Construction has started on New Jersey’s first energy-producing wind farm, even as debate continues on more ambitious plans to build turbines offshore. Wayne, Pa.-based Community Energy Inc. is building five wind turbine towers, each about 300 feet high, on land near the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

The company says the windmills will generate enough electricity to power 3,000 to 4,000 homes, once they are completed and operational in December.

NEW YORK

9/11 families sue over landfill burial

NEW YORK — Families of victims of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center went to court yesterday to demand the removal of human remains from a New York City landfill to a more dignified burial ground.

WTC Families for Proper Burial filed a lawsuit in federal court over a half-million tons of ash containing the remains of nearly 1,200 September 11 victims that could not be identified.

City authorities argue that all identifiable remains were removed from the debris before its interment in the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.

The families’ group wants small bone fragments and tissue particles, whether they can be identified or not, removed and taken to a permanent cemetery. The city countered that such an exercise would cost about $450 million.

The court hearing yesterday was the first in the case.

OHIO

Woman fights fees on $1.16 tax bill

LOVELAND — A woman who hasn’t paid a $1.16 income-tax bill to this Cincinnati suburb faces a stiff penalty: up to 18 months in jail and $4,000 in fines.

City officials say Deborah Combs hasn’t filed city income-tax returns for five years. She says she has been mostly unemployed since 2000 and didn’t realize she had to file the returns until the city notified her in February about the violation.

By that time, she owed $200 in late fees — $50 for each year she didn’t file a return.

Loveland officials say everyone is required to file an annual return, regardless of income level.

Miss Combs agreed to a tax liability for $1.16 for 2003, but she hasn’t been able to pay the late fees, she said. She was charged with four first-degree misdemeanors and has a hearing Thursday in Loveland Mayor’s Court.

TENNESSEE

Court upholds execution method

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the state’s method of execution by lethal injection is constitutional.

Attorneys for condemned killer Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman have challenged the protocol for lethal injection. They argued in June that the steps and drugs used by the state present risk of unnecessary pain and suffering.

The five justices concluded in an unanimous opinion that Abdur’Rahman’s attorneys did not prove that Tennessee’s method of lethal injection amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Abdur’Rhaman attorney Bradley MacLean said yesterday afternoon that he intends to appeal the matter further, but had not decided how he would proceed.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never found a specific form of execution to be unconstitutional.

TEXAS

Driver charged in bus explosion

DALLAS — The driver of a bus that caught fire while carrying nursing-home patients fleeing Hurricane Rita was charged yesterday with criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of 23 passengers.

Juan Robles Gutierrez, a 37-year-old Mexican citizen, was taken into federal custody on an immigration violation five days after the Sept. 23 explosion near Dallas.

Dallas County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Don Peritz would not give specific examples of any negligence by Mr. Robles, saying details will be released if he is indicted.

“The bus is under his care, custody and control, and so is everyone on board,” he said. “Safe transportation from the nursing home to the final destination is his responsibility. Based on the end result, he failed in that responsibility.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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