- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

ALABAMA

Council to dissolve Talladega water board

TALLADEGA — The City Council will dissolve and take over the Talladega water board next month.

The board’s operations were marred by ethics and perjury charges in 1998, the theft of $90,000 by a board employee to buy lottery tickets in 2002 and the disclosure last year of a contaminated well used for potable water.

ARIZONA

O’Connor urges unbiased judiciary

TEMPE — In a climate of death threats against judges and political attempts to restrict court jurisdiction, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor warned that judicial independence must be preserved.

“It’s easier than most people imagine to destroy,” Justice O’Connor said Monday at a panel discussion with state Chief Justices Ruth V. McGregor of Arizona and Shirley Abrahamson of Wisconsin.

The three said the judiciary must retain its independence in order to protect individual rights and provide impartial resolutions of disputes.

FLORIDA

Obese seniors opt for surgery

TAMPA — With 360 pounds hanging on his 5-foot-7-inch frame, Robert Stratiff was in sad shape.

He had heart problems, poor circulation, wasted knees and sleep apnea that kept him awake most nights. Miserable at age 69, he knew he wasn’t long for the world unless he did something drastic, and soon.

So in February 2002, the Colonial Heights, Va., resident had gastric-bypass surgery to lose weight, with Medicare picking up the cost. Because he couldn’t eat so much, the weight dropped off faster than he could believe. Now the retired Army colonel is down to a svelte 170 pounds and swims in the pool. He since has had heart bypass surgery and a knee rebuilt. All the other medical problems disappeared with the pounds.

People who are morbidly obese — at least 100 pounds overweight — are increasingly opting for some form of gastric bypass surgery as a last resort.

Research suggests that seniors can benefit from weight-loss surgery as much as younger people and maybe more. One study, from Columbia University’s Center for Obesity Surgery in New York, found that patients older than 60 got the same benefits from the surgery and had a comparable rate of postoperative complications as younger people.

INDIANA

Gunman sought in deaths of three

REMINGTON — A gunman killed two women working at a northern Indiana convenience store Monday, and police were seeking a man who also was suspected of killing a teenage girl in Ohio.

Melvin M. Keeling, 43, was identified from images captured by a camera inside the store after the shooting was reported shortly after 10 a.m., authorities said.

Mr. Keeling, of Deerfield Township, Ohio, also was wanted for questioning in the fatal shooting about 3 hours earlier of Katelind Caudill, 13, at her grandmother’s house about 25 miles northeast of Cincinnati, authorities said.

Mr. Keeling was wanted on charges of rape and gross sexual imposition involving a child in an unrelated case, the Warren County sheriff’s office said. Katelind was involved in that investigation but was not the victim, the sheriff’s office said.

MICHIGAN

Humble student gets perfect scores

ADA — A Michigan student who received perfect scores on the two major college admissions tests is so humble that school officials had to pressure him to talk to the press.

Deborah Braseth, a guidance counselor at Forest Hills Northern High School near Grand Rapids, told the Grand Rapids Press she has “never had a student like Chase Schuler.”

“He’s humble, brilliant and compassionate,” she said.

Mr. Schuler’s perfect 36 on the ACT and 2400 on the SAT were no accident. He bought a test-preparation book and spent several weeks before he took the tests going through 10 to 20 questions a night.

But he said that instead of trying to memorize facts he concentrated on the structure of the tests and the way questions were framed.

Mr. Schuler plans to study medicine or science.

NEVADA

Motorists set record for buckling up

LAS VEGAS — Safety-belt usage in Nevada has set a record. The number of people buckling up reached 94.8 percent in 2005, according to a survey commissioned by the Nevada Public Safety Department.

That is up from 86.6 percent of Nevadans who used restraints in 2004.

NEW MEXICO

Wildfire threatens evacuation resisters

EL RITO — A wildfire in a 3,000-acre area near El Rito is threatening about 30 people in the village who have refused to evacuate.

“We don’t have a legal right to remove them or make them leave,” said Don Scott, head of emergency management for the county. “They need to understand fire and law enforcement can’t guarantee getting to them if things go wrong.”

Eighty other residents have complied with the evacuation orders.

Firefighters were trying yesterday to carve a line around the fire, which was 10 percent contained.

The fire started Saturday while El Rito fiestas were under way.

NEW JERSEY

Heroin rate doubles national average

TRENTON — Five percent of 18- to 25-year-old New Jerseyans say they regularly use heroin, more than twice the national average.

A report by the state’s Division on Addiction Services said the state’s many ports of entry, dense population and small geographic size make it an easy place for drug distribution. New Jerseyans are also less likely to get treatment.

TEXAS

Coffee-cup quote offends university

WACO — A dining contractor has removed coffee cups with a homosexual author’s quote from a Starbucks at Baylor University, saying it was inappropriate for the Baptist school.

Aramark, which oversees the coffee outlet, pulled the cups earlier this month from the campus store after consulting with Starbucks’ district office and Baylor’s dining service, school officials said Monday.

The quote from novelist Armistead Maupin reads:

“My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don’t make that mistake yourself. Life’s too damn short.”

WASHINGTON

Zoo hopes for elephant baby

SEATTLE — Woodland Park Zoo officials hope that this time, the stork comes for the elephant.

An ultrasound taken Sunday morning revealed that Woodland Park Zoo’s 26-year-old Asian elephant, Chai, was ovulating, prompting scientists to try once again to inseminate her artificially.

Fresh bull elephant semen was rushed to Seattle from the Oregon Zoo in Portland and the Tulsa Zoo in Oklahoma on Sunday, and the tricky business was performed that evening. A second attempt was scheduled yesterday if more semen arrived and Chai was still ovulating.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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