- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2006


Man crashes car after snake attacks

NAPLES — A man crashed his car after a pet snake he had wrapped around his neck began attacking him, authorities said.

Witnesses reported seeing Courtland Page Johnson, 30, of East Naples, driving erratically before he crashed his PT Cruiser into several barricades at about 9 p.m. Tuesday. He got out of his car, wrestled with the snake and then drove off, reports said.

When authorities caught up with Mr. Johnson at his home, he told them that he crashed into another car that had stopped short in front of him. After questioning, Mr. Johnson admitted that he panicked when his snake bit him.

He had cuts and freshly dried blood on his body, but did not need medical attention, reports said.

Mr. Johnson was charged with leaving the scene of a crash.


Donations increase for King memorial

ATLANTA — Donations for a planned memorial to Martin Luther King in Washington have jumped since the recent deaths of civil rights icons Rosa Parks and King’s widow, Coretta Scott King.

To date, $58 million has been raised for the $100 million project, with more than $4.5 million collected in one recent week. By comparison, the campaign took in a little more than $5 million in all of 2004.

Harry E. Johnson Sr., president of the nonprofit group behind the project, told the Associated Press that the death of Mrs. Parks in October and Mrs. King in January clearly inspired people to contribute to the memorial.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial would be the first major tribute to the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner outside his hometown of Atlanta, where he was born in 1929. The memorial would be on the National Mall between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.


Boomers rock extinct volcano

HONOLULU — A crowd of mostly baby boomers rocked an otherwise silent volcano, dancing and singing to the first concert inside Diamond Head crater in nearly 30 years.

“The crater is our Woodstock in Hawaii,” screamed Eddie Knoebel, 49, who once joined wild teenagers for popular crater concerts in the ‘60s and ‘70s. “We want this back, baby.”

Thousands of predominantly middle-aged fans, clad in tie-dye and aloha shirts, flocked to this muddy arena Saturday for a daylong festival with the Steve Miller Band, Linda Ronstadt, Yvonne Elliman, WAR and the Honolulu Symphony.

The extinct volcano was shut down as a music venue after wild fans reportedly set fires and vandalized the state monument in 1978. This time, a number of restrictions were in place to keep the party under control.

Fans were not allowed to walk in or climb the volcano’s grassy ridge. To avoid traffic problems, about 100 shuttle vans picked up fans, whose tickets cost between $125 and $175. The arena was limited to 7,500 people, about a quarter of previous crowds. Organizers could not estimate how many people attended, saying that tickets were still being sold as the event unfolded.


State fixes problems with driver’s licenses

CONCORD — The state has fixed its most glaring problems in issuing driver’s licenses to noncitizens, but it can’t justify issuing them temporary permits that expire more quickly than those issued to citizens, a federal judge ruled.

Judge Steven McAuliffe barred enforcement of the 45-day permits that the state issued to permanent U.S. residents and other noncitizens, while giving citizens temporary permits that lasted six months. The judge noted that the state had corrected other policies that noncitizens complained were discriminatory, such as requiring they prove residency and go only to the Concord office to get a license renewed.


Heavy rain creates Red River flooding

FARGO — Volunteers filled and stacked sandbags Saturday to protect homes in North Dakota and Minnesota from the rising Red River and its tributaries, swollen by a combination of melting snow and heavy rain.

Mayor Bruce Furness said Fargo was preparing for a flood crest of 37 to 38 feet, well above the official flood stage of 18 feet. However, he has said that the crest would threaten only about 30 homes — compared with about 130 flooded in 1997.

On the Minnesota side of the Red River valley, the Buffalo River went over its banks and the Rev. Brad Lewis had to use a canoe to get around his five-acre farmstead, about 15 miles south of Fargo near Sabin, Minn.

Heavy rain that fell in the region Thursday worsened the snow-melt flooding and closed at least 35 bridges and more than 25 county roads in Richland County, south of Fargo, said county engineer Tim Schulte. The rain was part of a line of damaging thunderstorms that rolled across the Midwest.


Woman rescues cat in a wall

COLLIERVILLE — Heard of “The Cat in the Hat”? This is a story about a cat in a wall.

The cat was stuck in a wall at a house under construction and caught the attention of a prospective buyer recently by meowing and waving his paw out a small hole. Collierville Animal Services was summoned and supervisor Nina Wingfield said she heard a “very hoarse, frantic meow” after she arrived at the house.

The cat had found a gap between a gas pipe and the wall board where he could stick out his paw. Miss Wingfield freed the cat by cutting away the wall board with a knife.

She thinks the cat, who had been stuck without food long enough for his ribs to be showing, is a lost pet. He’ll be offered for adoption if no one claims him.

In the meantime, the animal shelter is calling him by a new name: Wally.


Colleges investigate hacking incident

LYNDON — Vermont State Colleges officials are investigating the third serious computer security breach in the past year.

The hacker who got into the e-mail account of a Lyndon State College system administrator two weeks ago sent an e-mail around campus complaining about a previous security breach. The earlier breaches involved a stolen laptop and sensitive information being posted mistakenly on the Web site for Vermont Technical College.


500-pound salad marks weight loss

GARY — What better “weigh” to mark the loss of 500 pounds than a 500-pound salad.

The massive salad contained 110 heads of lettuce, 165 pounds of carrots and about 120 cucumbers and was prepared in a swimming pool.

It took about 2 hours to prepare, and a hungry crowd gobbled it up in about four hours Thursday, said Cheryl Mitchem, coordinator of the weight-management program through the Tug River Health Association.

Miss Mitchem said the salad represented the total pounds lost by 27 persons in a five-month period that ended March 1.

“I think it is a phenomenal accomplishment,” she said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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