- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 17, 2006


Shuttle astronauts ready for spacewalk

CAPE CANAVERAL — Instead of enjoying a relaxing day at the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle Discovery’s seven astronauts prepared yesterday for an unplanned, fourth spacewalk to get a stubborn, half-retracted solar array to fold up.

Discovery’s crew prepared spacesuits, relocated the station’s robotic arm and mobile platform so they can be used during the spacewalk, and moved cargo from the station to the shuttle for the trip home.

The spacewalk by U.S. astronaut Robert Curbeam and Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang of the European Space Agency was to start at 1:47 p.m.

Discovery’s return to Earth was pushed back a day to Friday because of the extra spacewalk. Because of supply limits, the astronauts need to be on the ground no later than Saturday.

It will be the third spacewalk for Mr. Fuglesang since Discovery’s arrival at the International Space Station almost a week ago, and the fourth for Mr. Curbeam, who will set a record for most spacewalks during a single shuttle mission.


Phone ringer ban proposed for buses

HONOLULU — Bus riders in Honolulu will have to turn off their cell phone ringers if Mayor Mufi Hannemann signs a bill passed by the City Council this week.

City bus drivers pushed for the ban. They said rings distract them and sometimes sound like emergency sirens.

The ringer ban still allows cell-phone conversations on the buses.


Woman charged in abuse of daughter

FLINT — A 22-year-old developmentally disabled woman weighing only 43 pounds was found in a bedroom at her mother’s home, and the mother was charged with abusing her, authorities said.

The woman was wearing only a T-shirt and four soiled diapers on a mattress stained with urine and feces, the Flint Journal reported Saturday. She was taken to Hurley Medical Center on Wednesday, where she was stable.

“It’s just appalling,” prosecutor David Leyton said.

The woman’s mother, Theresa E. Terrell, 43, was charged with second-degree abuse of a vulnerable adult. A judge set cash bond at $25,000, and she was being held at the Genesee County Jail Saturday evening.


Charges reduced in caged-child case

NORWALK — A judge on Friday reduced the number of felony child endangerment charges against a couple accused of forcing some of their 11 special-needs adoptive children to sleep in cages.

After the defense rested in the trial of Sharen and Michael Gravelle, Judge Earl R. McGimpsey reduced eight of 16 felony counts to misdemeanor child endangerment, saying evidence didn’t support the more serious charges.

The defense was happy with the judge’s decision, attorney Ken Myers said. Prosecutor Russell Leffler said he still expected justice to result from the counts headed to the jury.

The Gravelles now face eight felonies and 16 misdemeanors. They originally were charged with 16 counts of felony child endangering and eight misdemeanor child endangering counts. If convicted, they face one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for each felony count.


Pilot charged with manslaughter

JAY — A pilot who survived the crash of a small plane that killed three passengers was arrested yesterday and charged with manslaughter, authorities said.

Brent Caldwell, 30, did not have a valid pilot’s license and was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the Saturday-evening crash, said Trooper Kera Philippi, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman. The level of alcohol in his blood was not available.

The fixed-wing, single-engine Bellanca registered to Mr. Caldwell crashed into Grand Lake, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Witnesses said they saw the plane flying low but heard no engine noise before it struck the water.

The pilot told police the plane lost power before it hit the water. The plane was found in 10 to 12 feet of water, Trooper Philippi said.

Mr. Caldwell, hospitalized with head and internal injuries, was being held yesterday in jail. Authorities said no bail was set for him and that he is scheduled to appear before a judge today. Jail records did not indicate whether he had an attorney.


Illegal parker gets public sign sentence

UNION — A man who parked illegally in a space reserved for handicapped drivers was sentenced to stand outside the store with a sign telling everyone about his crime.

Ragheem Smith, 29, stood in front of a Bi-Lo grocery store Thursday with a handmade sign that read, “I am not handicapped. I just parked there, sorry.”

Magistrate Jeff Bailey imposed the sentence. “I figured he needed to apologize in a public way,” Magistrate Bailey said.

Mr. Smith told Magistrate Bailey that he didn’t have the money and couldn’t afford the time away from work that a jail sentence would require. He could have been sentenced to 30 days in jail or fined $325.

“That was better than having to pay a lot of money,” Mr. Smith said of his punishment. “I know I won’t do it no more.”


Bill printed in 1890 sells for $2.3 million

DALLAS — An art collector has paid about $2.3 million for a $1,000 bill printed in 1890, according to the auction house that brokered the transaction between two anonymous private collectors.

“This $1,000 bill is one of only two known of its type; the other surviving example is in the museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco,” Greg Rohan, president of Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries, said Friday.

Mr. Rohan said that type of bank note is known to collectors as a “Grand Watermelon” because the green-striped zeros in the denomination “1,000” printed on the back of the bill look like the fruit.

“Only two Grand Watermelon examples are known with red-color Treasury Department seals printed on the front; the half-dozen other surviving Grand Watermelon notes have brown seals,” he said in a press release.

The $2,255,000 price is more than double the previous record for an 1890 Grand Watermelon note. The previous record for any bank note was $2.1 million, according to the Heritage Auction Galleries.


Escaped pig named ‘Freeway’

VANCOUVER — A 500-pound pig that jumped out of a moving truck onto Interstate 205 is living the good life, for now.

The pig, previously identified by livestock auction No. 339, gained a name — Freeway — as well as a new home at Pigs R Us, a Brush Prairie farm owned by Randy and Betty Goggin. The farm has 100 other pigs, 75 goats, seven cows, three horses, two dogs and about seven cats, Mrs. Goggin said.

She said Freeway will have at least a year to live, and if she shows herself to be a good breeder she will gain a new lease on life.

Freeway launched herself over the 4-foot side of a livestock trailer on Dec. 4, possibly by climbing over other pigs. Her tough hide and thick layer of fat likely helped her escape serious injury, Mrs. Goggin said.

When state troopers could not find any animal control officers to transport the pig, they called the Goggins. The Goggins later traced and contacted the Clark County farmer who had purchased the pig at auction that day and arranged to keep her.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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