- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2006

ALASKA

Historic theater up for sale

ANCHORAGE — An opulent movie theater that has been an Anchorage icon for almost 60 years is facing what could be its final drama.

The 4th Avenue Theatre — elegant yet strong enough to withstand North America’s greatest earthquake unscathed — is on the market and could fall victim to the wrecking ball.

Anchorage voters will decide today whether to authorize issuance of a $2 million bond to help the city pay for the $4 million sought by theater owner Robert Gottstein, 51, who says the 40,000-square-foot theater’s survival may depend on finding a buyer.

If a recent poll proves true, most voters oppose footing even part of the bill.

CONNECTICUT

State mob leader gets 7 years

NEW HAVEN — Anthony “The Genius” Megale, a sanitation worker who prosecutors said became the highest-ranking mobster in Connecticut, was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison yesterday.

Prosecutors said Megale was the underboss of the Gambino crime family, the New York mob syndicate once run by John Gotti. Megale pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in October but did not acknowledge being part of the mafia.

U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton said there was no doubt that Megale made a career running a crime syndicate and sentenced him to 86 months in prison.

Secretly recorded FBI tapes were the foundation of a case that prosecutors said was the most significant assault on the region’s mafia in more than a decade.

FLORIDA

Church members exercising for Lent

BOCA RATON — Instead of giving up the usual chocolate or coffee during the Lenten season, members of one Florida church are adding something — exercise.

Advent Lutheran Church kicked off its six-week program “40 Days of Fitness” on March 1 to encourage members to get moving. The program offers free Saturday morning workouts, and volleyball, yoga and cycling classes during the week.

Church pastor Andy Hagen sees the program as an alternative for Christians to the traditional sacrificing of the Lent.

“We like the idea that we would take on a routine of physical fitness instead of denial,” he said. “The connection between fitness of the body and spiritual development has been a real exciting experience for people that didn’t make the connection of the two, but the Bible makes the connection all the time.”

ILLINOIS

Sex in media linked to teen promiscuity

CHICAGO — Sexually charged music, magazines, TV and movies push youngsters into intercourse at an earlier age, perhaps by acting as a kind of virtual peer that tells them everyone else is doing it, a study said yesterday.

“This is the first time we’ve shown that the more kids are exposed to sex in media the earlier they have sex,” said Jane Brown of the University of North Carolina, chief author of the report. Previous research had been limited to television, according to the study.

In general, it found that the highest exposure levels led to more sexual activity, with white teens in the group 2.2 times more likely to have had intercourse at ages 14 to 16 than similar youngsters who had the least exposure. The effect was not as pronounced for blacks, the study said, perhaps because the black youngsters in the study were more sexually experienced than the whites were when the research began.

The teen pregnancy rate in the United States is three to 10 times higher than that found in other industrialized nations, making that and exposure to sexually transmitted infections a major public health concern, said the study, which was published in the April issue of “Pediatrics.”

LOUISIANA

New Orleans begins processing mail

NEW ORLEANS — For the first time since Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Postal Service began processing mail yesterday in New Orleans, a move officials say should eliminate delivery times of a week or more for crosstown mail.

“Our expectation is that we will get back to 95 percent overnight service,” New Orleans Postmaster Alan Cousins said.

An embargo continues for magazines, newspapers, catalogs and other second-class mail, although it likely will be lifted next month, officials said.

The processing and distribution center is housed in the same building as the main New Orleans post office. It closed after Katrina’s floodwaters destroyed the electrical equipment.

MAINE

Campuses evacuated after bomb threats

PORTLAND — A bomb threat yesterday forced the University of Southern Maine to evacuate its three campuses, interrupting class for thousands of students.

University spokesman Dan Davidson said someone phoned the office of the president and an office of a vice president at about 9:30 a.m. saying there were two bombs on campus.

Because the caller didn’t specify a campus, university officials evacuated all three.

Police were searching the campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston but had found nothing by early afternoon.

MICHIGAN

Couple wed at boat ramp

BRETHREN — A couple brought together by a passion for fishing was married at — where else? — a river’s boat ramp.

William Nickel read a short poem Friday before asking Vickie Wright to join him in the Manistee River during their wedding ceremony. They were dressed in fly fishing gear, with white flowers attached to their vests. Family members observed the ceremony from a dock rather than church pews.

While Mr. Nickel waited for the pastor to arrive, he caught 10 small fish. He threw them back after kissing one of them for good luck at the request of his bride-to-be.

NEW JERSEY

Big Brother cleans up crime in town

EAST ORANGE — Lenox Avenue in suburban East Orange was long a hotbed of drugs and gun mayhem and one of New Jersey’s toughest streets. But Big Brother has cleaned it up.

Police here say that thanks to new technology, there has not been a single violent crime in almost a year on a street where the notorious Bloods gang sold $10 hits of crack cocaine and drive-by shootings were commonplace.

Now high-tech cameras and gunshot sensors are mounted at each end of Lenox Avenue, and on many other East Orange streets. The residential avenue of mainly multifamily homes is blocked from traffic and, with the exception of the 24-hour police presence, it looks as tranquil as most New Jersey suburbs.

NORTH DAKOTA

Students leave class for sandbag duty

FARGO — Hundreds of students answered an urgent call for sandbaggers yesterday to protect homes from the rising Red River, expected to crest about 20 feet above flood stage this week.

The response was so overwhelming that district officials had to limit the number of students for sandbag duty to 300, said Fargo School District spokesman Lowell Wolff.

The Red River, which runs north along the North Dakota-Minnesota line, has been swollen by melting snow and storms. The National Weather Service expects it to crest tomorrow at about 37.5 feet; flood stage is 18 feet.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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