- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

CALIFORNIA

Lawsuit says sonar kills marine life

SANTA MONICA — Environmentalists sued the Navy yesterday, saying a widely used form of sonar for detecting enemy submarines disturbs and sometimes kills whales and dolphins.

The sonar “is capable of flooding thousands of square miles of ocean with dangerous levels of noise pollution,” according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit blames the Navy for the January stranding and deaths of at least 37 whales on North Carolina’s Outer Banks after a midfrequency sonar exercise. The Navy said the exercise was probably too far away to have harmed the whales.

The Navy settled a similar lawsuit two years ago by agreeing to limit the peacetime use of experimental low-frequency sonar. The new lawsuit, by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other plaintiffs, seeks a court order to curb midfrequency sonar, the most common method of detecting enemy submarines.

FLORIDA

Fugitive in slayings arrested at work

LAKELAND — A fugitive wanted in the fatal shooting of three men in a Wisconsin pub and featured on “America’s Most Wanted” was arrested at a construction site where he worked, authorities said.

Christopher Smith, 37, was arrested Tuesday in Polk County in Lake Alfred, the sheriff’s office said. He had been working on a new housing subdivision there since Oct. 3.

Mr. Smith left Milwaukee after the shooting of Daniel Vela, 32, and Roberto Vela Jr., 31, who were cousins, and their friend Armando Pena, 19, the sheriff’s office said. They were killed Aug. 20 after an argument at Wolfgang’s Pub.

Acting on a tip, deputies arrested Mr. Smith while he was working for CSI Excavating Co. He was known to his employer only as “Kurt.”

Mr. Smith was booked into the county jail to await extradition to Wisconsin.

MASSACHUSETTS

Drug halves cancer relapse rate

BOSTON — In studies described as “stunning,” researchers reported yesterday that a drug already used to treat advanced cancer can prevent half of all breast tumors from reappearing after standard therapy.

But the treatment works only in women whose breast tumors carry excessive amounts of a protein known as HER2 that makes the cancer particularly aggressive and could cause serious side effects.

About one in five women with breast cancer have such tumors, so 42,000 U.S. women could benefit from the treatment.

The drug is trastuzumab, sold under the brand name Herceptin by Genentech Inc. in the United States and by Swiss drug maker Roche in Europe.

Approved in 1998 to treat breast tumors that have spread, routine use of the drug cuts the recurrence rate by nearly 50 percent, at least in the short term, two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show.

MICHIGAN

Web site created for abandoned cars

LANSING — Residents now can search an online database for abandoned vehicles. Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land announced a Web site (www.michigan.gov/sos) that allows people to look for abandoned vehicles by entering a vehicle identification number or license plate number.

The Michigan Auto Lost & Found Web site was established as part of a law aimed at ridding the state of junk cars.

NEVADA

Storms dump record rain

LAS VEGAS — Two days of rain broke Las Vegas’ record for the entire month of October, overwhelming flood channels, swamping roads and knocking out power.

Firefighters rescued several motorists from stalled vehicles Tuesday after they ignored warnings and tried to cross flooded intersections. Police and the Nevada Highway Patrol reported numerous crashes, including a parkway crash that critically injured one person.

The storm dropped 0.94 inches of rain Tuesday at McCarran International Airport, breaking a record of 0.45 inches for the same date set in 1962. The 1.42 inches of rain that fell Monday and Tuesday swamped the previous record of 1.22 inches for the entire month of October, set in 1992.

NEW MEXICO

Author of dog bill attacked by pet

ALBUQUERQUE — The author of a new state law that allows felony charges against owners of dangerous dogs was hospitalized over the weekend — after his own dog attacked him.

Bob Schwartz, who also is Gov. Bill Richardson’s crime adviser, was hospitalized at University of New Mexico Hospital on Sunday night with bites on both his arms, said Pahl Shipley, a spokesman for the governor.

The hospital declined to release Mr. Schwartz’s condition, but Mr. Shipley said Mr. Schwartz is “going to be fine.”

Mr. Schwartz has three dogs registered with the city: a boxer and two English bulldogs, said Denise Wilcox, who oversees Albuquerque’s animal care centers.

NEW YORK

Body ID’d as mom of abandoned girl

NEW YORK — A body discovered in a Pennsylvania landfill was identified as the mother of a 4-year-old girl found wandering the streets barefoot last month, police said.

Police found the body of Monica Lozada-Rivadineira, 26, on Oct. 6. The medical examiner’s office confirmed the identity Tuesday, said Detective Brian Sessa.

The Bolivian woman’s live-in boyfriend, Cesar Ascarrunz, is being held without bail. He is accused of strangling her and dumping her body in a pile of trash before abandoning her daughter in the middle of the night.

The case captured national attention after authorities took the unusual step of putting the preschooler on television in hopes of tracking down her family.

A Family Court judge has granted temporary custody to maternal relatives of the girl.

TEXAS

Woman hospitalized; daughter left to die

DALLAS — A disabled Dallas teenager, whose mother was taken from her job to a mental hospital, was left alone for up to two weeks and died, a report said.

The unidentified 17-year-old was found dead Tuesday in the apartment she shared with her mother, Caroline Kiwanuka, 35.

The mother was taken to a mental hospital Oct. 5 for walking around her job at a Wal-Mart store “in a daze and scaring customers with her hand gestures, believed to be voodoo,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

Police said she never told them she had a daughter.

A call from Child Protective Services, which declined to discuss its involvement, led to discovery of the girl’s body.

VERMONT

Nuclear plant owners agree to conditions

BRATTLEBORO — The owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant agreed to comply with new operating conditions set by federal regulators reviewing its proposed power boost.

The conditions include increased monitoring of key, stress-prone components and installation of new gauges and monitoring devices. They also require that the 20 percent increase in power production be gradual and closely monitored for problems.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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