- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

CALIFORNIA

Traffic-light woes negate tickets

UNION CITY — Thousands of motorists who were slapped with tickets are suddenly off the hook after city officials decided there was a problem with the city’s traffic signals.

Officials discovered last week that the yellow-light duration on all five of the city’s camera-enforced intersections was too short, in some cases by more than a second.

Since Union City began using the cameras over the summer, about 3,000 photographs have caught motorists driving through red lights. Each ticket carries a $351 fine.

Officials decided to throw out all tickets issued before Sept. 17, although many violators ran red lights by more than one second, said Union City Police Capt. Brian Foley.

CONNECTICUT

Companies develop explosives detector

STAMFORD — Two U.S. companies are developing a machine that would scan for explosives at train or bus stations while collecting a passenger’s fare.

General Electric Co. yesterday announced a joint development agreement with Cubic Corp., a San Diego-based company that makes automatic fare-collection systems for parking lots and mass-transit stations.

The companies are showing the concept at an international public-transit expo this week in Dallas in hopes of improving security of mass-transit systems, which have been shown as vulnerable to terrorists by fatal bomb attacks in London and Madrid.

GE’s machine would use technology that can identify explosive residue from the touch of a finger as a commuter buys a ticket at a vending machine. If explosives are detected, the machine would sound an alarm, send a digital photo of the buyer to authorities and invalidate the ticket, GE officials said.

FLORIDA

Swimmers die in rough surf

PENSACOLA BEACH — Two swimmers died and more than a dozen others had to be rescued from rough surf kicked up by the remnants of Hurricane Rita along the Florida Panhandle, officials said.

On Saturday at Miramar Beach, where the water had been closed to swimmers, Walton County sheriff’s deputies pulled a Kentucky man from the surf. Ronald J. Hallquist, 52, of Walton, Ky., was pronounced dead at the scene.

A New Orleans man died Sunday at Pensacola Beach. Witnesses saw Martin D. Gelfand, 54, walk out of the surf and collapse as he turned back toward the water, said Sgt. Robert Johnson of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

Surfers came to the aid of three lifeguards rescuing several swimmers east of the pier at Casino Beach on Sunday, officials said. The swimmers had been caught by a rip current.

ILLINOIS

Alzheimer’s may follow strange weight loss

CHICAGO — Unexplained weight loss in older people might be an early signal of Alzheimer’s disease, appearing several years before the memory lapses that define the illness, according to an intriguing but unproven new theory.

Researchers at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center base the theory on their study of 820 Roman Catholic priests, nuns and brothers age 75 on average who were followed for up to 10 years.

Otherwise healthy participants whose body mass indexes fell the most were the most likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Study co-author Dr. David Bennett, director of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, said the results suggest that the disease attacks brain regions involved in regulating food intake and metabolism, as well as memory, and that weight loss is an early symptom.

The results appear in today’s edition of the journal Neurology.

KENTUCKY

Town offered money to change its name

MORGANTOWN — An online poker site wasn’t bluffing when it offered $100,000 to have its name stamped on a community.

Officials at PokerShare.com are offering that sum if the western Kentucky hamlet of Sharer — which has no city council, no grocery store and no post office — changes its name to PokerShare.com.

The proposition has Butler County Judge-Executive Hugh Evans scratching his head, but he is not keen on the idea.

“I can’t speak for everybody, but certainly speaking for myself, this isn’t going to happen,” Mr. Evans said. “When you talk about poker and gambling, we’re not for that in our county. It’s very conservative.”

NEBRASKA

Buffett firm sues IRS over stock buy

LINCOLN — Billionaire investor Warren Buffett testified yesterday in his investment firm’s two lawsuits accusing the government of overtaxing it $23 million by disallowing certain deductions in an “erroneous, wrongful and illegal” interpretation of the U.S. tax code.

The trial began in U.S. District Court after years of legal wrangling between Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS first disallowed the tax deductions after deciding that $750 million in borrowed money was used to purchase stocks in several companies, including Coca-Cola Co., Time Warner Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co., court records show.

The agency based the denial on a tax code passed by Congress that reduced deductions if borrowed money was used to purchase the stock. Berkshire Hathaway said the money came from several sources.

UTAH

Girls get to school on horsepower

SALT LAKE CITY — Fed up with rising gas prices, two high school students saddled up.

Melissa Evans and Chapa Stevenson of Rush Valley made their 30-mile round-trip trek to school last week on their horses, Nighthawk and Wink. The trusty steeds spent their days in a stall inside the high school’s animal laboratory.

On Thursday, school officials told the girls that horses on school grounds were against the rules.

“I guess we’ll have to go back to car pooling,” Melissa said.

WISCONSIN

Heavy rain closes highway in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — Heavy rains flooded basements and closed part of Interstate 43 in Milwaukee on Sunday and early yesterday, stranding several vehicles.

The National Weather Service said a record 1.4 inches of rain fell by Sunday night, flooding underpasses. Interstate 43 was closed to northbound and southbound traffic at the Marquette Intersection, but reopened in time for morning rush hour yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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