- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2005

ILLINOIS

Former governor’s aide takes stand

CHICAGO — The political strategist who helped engineer former Gov. George Ryan’s rise to power took the witness stand yesterday and told a jury how Mr. Ryan doled out state contracts, leases and favors to the well-connected.

Scott Fawell waved to spectators and grinned broadly as he took his seat. He nodded to Mr. Ryan, saluted a reporter and openly disdained the prosecutors who put him in federal prison for 61/2 years for racketeering and fraud and are threatening him with further charges.

Asked by prosecutor Patrick M. Collins why he agreed to testify against his former boss, the 48-year-old Fawell said, in part, “you guys got my head in a vise.”

He said he compiled a master list that showed how Mr. Ryan, 71, doled out jobs, special license plates, contracts and other favors in exchange for cash, free vacations and other favors while he was Illinois secretary of state in the 1990s.

NEW YORK

Jewish expression greets commuters

NEW YORK — “Leaving Brooklyn? ‘Oy vey!’” That’s what motorists now see as they cross the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan.

The huge sign, affixed to a cross beam of the bridge high above the bustling traffic, is a sweet victory for Marty Markowitz, president of the borough that is home to a large Jewish population.

“The beauty is, every ethnic group knows it,” Mr. Markowitz said, and motorists seeing it know it means “Dear me, I’m so sad you’re leaving.”

Associated Press

Motorists leaving Brooklyn, N.Y., see this sign on the Williamsburg Bridge which borough president Marty Markowitz says they know means “Dear me, I’m so sad you’re leaving.”

ARKANSAS

Free abortions given to hurricane evacuees

LITTLE ROCK — A doctor has offered to perform free abortions on hurricane evacuees, saying it may be too dangerous for them to wait until they return home.

Despite protests from abortion opponents, Little Rock Family Planning Services clinic director Dr. Jerry Edwards said he already has performed six free abortions. The clinic usually charges between $525 and $600 for a first-trimester abortion.

“If we didn’t provide it now, they would get it later — a late-term abortion that would give greater risk to the mother’s health,” Dr. Edwards told KTHV-TV in Little Rock.

FLORIDA

Elian fond of Castro, Miami relatives

MIAMI — Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle five years ago, calls Cuban President Fidel Castro his friend but also says he hopes someday to see his Miami family again.

“Despite everything they did, it was wrong, they are [still] my family … my uncles,” the boy said in the interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which released excerpts yesterday for the program that airs Sunday night.

Elian, now 11, set off a seven-month custody battle after he was rescued off the Florida coast in 1999 during a failed attempt to reach the United States. His mother died at sea, and his Miami relatives and Cuban exile groups fought to prevent his return to Cuba. The boy was reunited with his father in Cuba after an armed federal raid April 22, 2000, on his relatives’ home.

In the interview, Elian said he always had told his U.S. relatives he wanted to go back to Cuba.

GEORGIA

Folic acid use drops among women

ATLANTA — Fewer American women are taking daily vitamins with folic acid during their childbearing years, raising fears of a jump in spina bifida and other birth defects, a U.S. study suggested yesterday.

The incidence of these devastating birth defects has been shown to fall by up to 70 percent when women take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily as part of a healthy diet before conception and in the first trimester of pregnancy.

But only 33 percent did so in 2005, according to a March of Dimes Gallup telephone survey, which was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That was down from 40 percent in 2004.

The most common reason women gave for not taking the daily supplement this year was that they forgot, researchers said.

MASSACHUSETTS

Catholic college adds Jewish studies minor

NEWTON — Boston College, a Roman Catholic school where Jews make up 1 percent of the student body, has created an academic minor in Jewish studies.

A minor is unusual, though many Catholic universities do offer work in Jewish studies and Jewish-Catholic relations.

Dwayne Carpenter, program co-director, told the Boston Globe, “Jewish studies has now moved from its traditional place in Catholic institutions, which is a minor place in the theology department where courses on the Hebrew Scripture have been taught, to a program that is much more expansive.”

Professors expect many students and teachers in the program will be Christians.

MICHIGAN

Cousins charged with dueling

MOUNT CLEMENS — Two Michigan cousins have been charged under an 1846 law that bans dueling in the state.

“The 1800s are alive and well in Mount Clemens,” joked Dean Alan, who heads the Macomb County prosecutor’s office warrants division. It issued warrants Tuesday.

Police say the cousins, ages 19 and 31, disagreed Monday over a $30 debt.

The older man brandished a knife and challenged the younger man to fight outside their Mount Clemens home, and the younger man accepted, said Sheriff Mark Hackel. The teen was stabbed in the stomach.

MISSOURI

Amtrak train derails after rock slide

BLACKWELL — An Amtrak train carrying 103 persons derailed in eastern Missouri after apparently striking boulders on the tracks from a rock slide, officials said yesterday. About 20 people sustained minor injuries.

The Texas Eagle, which runs between Chicago and San Antonio, derailed at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday while carrying 90 passengers and 13 crew members. One passenger and one crew member remained hospitalized yesterday, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

OREGON

Court overturns ban on live sex shows

SALEM — The Oregon Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional yesterday a state law against live sex shows and a local ordinance that says nude dancers must stay at least 4 feet away from patrons.

Both restrictions violate the Oregon Constitution’s guarantee of free expression, the court said in a pair of 5-1 decisions.

Justice Michael Gillette, writing for the majority, said it “appears to us to be beyond reasonable dispute that the protection extends to the kinds of expression that a majority of citizens in many communities would dislike.”

SOUTH CAROLINA

Governor’s aide ‘grossly intoxicated’

COLUMBIA — Gov. Mark Sanford’s director of administration was arrested early yesterday and charged with public drunkenness.

Michael Cavanaugh, 53, was “grossly intoxicated” when he was arrested at 3:30 a.m. on the sidewalk of a city street, a police report said.

Columbia police took him to jail. He was released at 11:57 a.m. and issued a summons. He did not need to post bail.

On Wednesday, Mr. Sanford’s former spokesman Will Folks pleaded guilty in Columbia municipal court to criminal domestic violence. Mr. Folks received a 30-day suspended sentence.

TENNESSEE

Four guards charged in inmate’s death

NASHVILLE — Four guards at a privately run jail have been indicted on reckless homicide charges accusing them of beating a female inmate to death.

The indictment issued this week also charges the four guards with aggravated assault against Estelle Richardson, 34, who died in 2004. A medical examiner determined that she died of a skull fracture and had broken ribs and a damaged liver.

Corrections Corp. of America, which employs the four guards, said it has cooperated fully with the investigation. It said the four guards have been on administrative leave since Richardson’s death.

UTAH

Taxpayers billed for mayor’s bar tab

SALT LAKE CITY — Taxpayers may have to foot the bill for Mayor Rocky Anderson’s bar tabs. Last month, Mr. Anderson used tax dollars to pay two bar tabs that totaled nearly $634.

Mr. Anderson ran up the bills while entertaining guests during a city-sponsored jazz festival. City policy prohibits officials from using taxpayer money on alcohol. Mr. Anderson, who said he wasn’t aware of the policy, called it “absurd.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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