- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2006


Space shuttle crew practices countdown

CAPE CANAVERAL — Atlantis’ astronauts strapped into the space shuttle yesterday for a practice launch countdown more than two weeks before they are scheduled to blast off on a mission to resume construction of the International Space Station.

The six crew members, dressed in their orange spacesuits, waved to photographers as they walked out of crew quarters at the Kennedy Space Center and boarded a van that took them to the launchpad. The launch window opens Aug. 27.

The practice went smoothly with the countdown clock stopping at 4 seconds, NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham said.


Shootings suspect wants to plead guilty

SEATTLE — A Muslim man accused of killing a woman and wounding five other persons in a shooting rampage at Seattle’s Jewish Federation offices wants to plead guilty, his attorney told a judge yesterday.

The judge put off the arraignment of Naveed Afzal Haq until Tuesday so Mr. Haq’s attorney, C. Wesley Richards, could determine whether his client is competent to enter the plea.

Mr. Haq, an American-born son of Pakistani immigrants, is accused of forcing his way into the charity’s offices and opening fire July 28 out of anger over the war in Iraq and U.S. support of Israel. Pamela Waechter, director of the Jewish charity’s annual fundraising campaign, was killed.


Methodists settle sex abuse suit

LONG BEACH — California United Methodists have agreed to pay a $6.7 million settlement to three men who said a pastor sexually abused them three decades ago.

Gary Carson-Hull, a youth pastor at Los Altos United Methodist Church, was dismissed after a parent of one of the boys complained in 1979.

Mr. Carson-Hull was arrested in 2002 after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged him with molesting the boys dozens of times. The case was dismissed a year later because it fell outside the statute of limitation for prosecution.

The lawsuit was filed the next year when California lawmakers abolished the statute of limitation on civil child sex abuse claims for just one year.


Schools to impose transportation fee

COEUR D’ALENE — High gas prices have prompted the Coeur d’Alene School District to impose a transportation fee for most students who want to participate in extracurricular activities that require travel.

Financial officer Steve Briggs said the annual fee of $25 will keep the district from being forced to cut some sports programs.


Train crashes into coal cars

CALVERT CITY — A train slammed into several parked coal cars in western Kentucky yesterday, injuring three railroad employees and derailing the train’s engines, a company official said.

The cars were being switched when the Paducah & Louisville Railway Inc. train hit them, P&L; spokesman Tom Garrett said.

The train’s operator was hospitalized after the crash in Calvert City, about 20 miles east of Paducah. Two other P&L; employees were treated for minor injuries, Mr. Garrett said.

Two of the train’s five engines derailed and the others came partway off the tracks, Mr. Garrett said.


ACLU describes horrors in jail

NEW ORLEANS — A report released yesterday describes Orleans Parish inmates trapped in flooded cells, deprived of food and water for days, and calls the scene at the jail “some of the worst horrors of Hurricane Katrina.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) compiled the report through interviews with inmates, Orleans Parish Prison deputies and staff, and through legal and public documents.

“Prisoners went days without food, water and ventilation, and deputies admit that they received no emergency training and were entirely unaware of any evacuation plan,” the ACLU report said. “Even some prison guards were left locked in at their posts to fend for themselves, unable to provide assistance to prisoners in need.”

Other deputies abandoned inmates in locked cells, where some were standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests, the report said.

A spokeswoman for Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman said the department had not seen the report and had no comment.


Wife surrenders in hot-oil killing

BAY ST. LOUIS — A woman accused of killing her husband by pouring hot cooking oil on him surrendered to authorities yesterday after more than a week on the run.

Police think Edna Mae Sanders, 45, who faces a murder charge, heated about 2 quarts of household cooking oil to a simmer, then poured it over Sherman Sanders’ head, face, chest and arms while he slept July 28. Police say she then fled the couple’s home in Diamondhead, Miss., with her two children from a previous marriage.

Mr. Sanders, 53, suffered third-degree burns over more than half his body. The Navy veteran clung to life for a week before dying last Friday in the burn center of an Alabama hospital.

Mrs. Sanders surrendered at the sheriff’s department in Hancock County early yesterday, officials said. They said she was being held in the county jail on $1 million bond, and that her children were in their father’s custody.


Unwed couple sues over housing flap

KANSAS CITY — A Missouri couple who must get married or move in order to comply with a housing ordinance in Black Jack, Mo., sued the town yesterday, claiming rules prohibiting the unmarried couple and their children from living together are unconstitutional.

The petition, filed in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, challenges a Black Jack city ordinance that prohibits more than three persons from living together in the same house if they are unrelated by blood, marriage or adoption.

Plaintiffs Olivia Shelltrack and Fondray Loving and their children moved from Minnesota to Missouri earlier this year, buying a five-bedroom home in the tiny community outside St. Louis.

They have lived together about 13 years and have two children together, along with a 15-year-old daughter of Miss Shelltrack’s from a previous relationship.

The city has threatened to fine the couple as much as $500 a day, said Tony Rothert, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, which is helping represent the family in the lawsuit.


Six accused of taking bribes

TRENTON — Six state treasury workers were indicted yesterday on suspicion of accepting dinners, entertainment, golf outings and spa treatments from a company hired to collect back taxes.

The state taxation director and his deputy were among those charged, the attorney general’s office said. A state report in December found that treasury managers took more than $65,000 in gifts from Missouri-based OSI Collection Service Inc. from 1999 to 2005.

The company had padded its bills by more than $1 million since 2000, but was not sanctioned by the treasury department, state investigators have said.

“New Jersey residents must be able to count on the fact that officials who make decisions on state contracts won’t be subject to influence by vendors who offer generous freebies,” said Attorney General Zulima Farber.

Those indicted include state Taxation Director Robert K. Thompson and his deputy, Harold A. Fox. Four other treasury workers and two former OSI officials also were indicted. They are all charged with official misconduct.

An attorney for Mr. Thompson, Eric Tunis, said that the indictment grossly inflated the supposed financial benefits received and that the charges “attempt to criminalize what, at most, should be considered minor ethical issues.”


City officials OK ban on feeding deer

GRAND FORKS — A ban on feeding deer within city limits won preliminary approval from the City Council. Officials want to ensure the deer population does not get out of control after a Greenway park system is finished along the new Red River dike.

The ban defines deer food as more than a half cubic foot of food located within five feet of the ground.


Guards, dad acquitted in boy’s jail visit

PITTSBURGH — A father and four guards at a juvenile detention center were acquitted yesterday of breaking the law by taking the man’s teenage son on a frightening visit to the lockup in hopes of scaring him straight.

“I don’t think what you did rises to criminal conduct,” Judge David Cashman said in acquitting the five men on charges that included conspiracy, child endangerment and unlawful restraint. “Stupid, maybe. Immature. But not criminal.”

Anthony Donald, 39, of Penn Hills, took his son, Anthony Jr., then 13, to Shuman Juvenile Detention Center last year after the boy got in trouble at school. The father knew several guards at the Pittsburgh center.

In a one-hour visit, the boy was subject to beatings and verbal harassment, then forced to partially strip and clean a sink with a toothbrush, authorities said. After the teenager told his mother what happened, she took him to a hospital for treatment of bruises and authorities were notified. Five guards were fired.

The father’s attorney, John Elash, said the boy, an eighth-grader who stood 6-foot-1 and weighed 260 pounds, had threatened teachers and “had everybody scared to death at school.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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