- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ALABAMA

3 to plead guilty in church arsons

BIRMINGHAM — Three men charged with setting nine rural Alabama churches ablaze in February will plead guilty to federal charges in the arson case, a federal court filing yesterday said.

Matthew Cloyd, Russell Lee Debusk and Benjamin Nathan Moseley, all Birmingham college students when arrested, will change their pleas to guilty in a court appearance tomorrow, according to the filing by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Ott.

The plea proceeding before U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor is on federal conspiracy and arson charges in the string of five church fires in Bibb County on Feb. 3 and four in west Alabama on Feb. 7.

CALIFORNIA

Famed animator dies at age 95

LOS ANGELES — Joe Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera animation team that produced such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones, died yesterday. He was 95.

Mr. Barbera died of natural causes at his home with wife Sheila at his side, said Gary Miereanu, a spokesman for Warner Bros.

With his longtime work partner, Bill Hanna, Mr. Barbera first found success creating Tom and Jerry cartoons. The antics of the battling cat and mouse went on to win seven Academy Awards, more than any other series with the same characters.

The partners, who teamed up while working at MGM in the 1930s, went on to a whole new realm of success in the 1960s with a witty series of animated TV comedies, including “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons,” “Yogi Bear,” “Scooby-Doo” and “Huckleberry Hound and Friends.”

The team’s cartoons spanned “the Stone Age to the Space Age and from prime time to Saturday mornings, syndication and cable,” said Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer. “While he will be missed by his family and friends, [Mr. Barbera] will live on through his work.”

In addition to his wife, the animator is survived by three children from a previous marriage, Jayne, Neal and Lynn.

INDIANA

Norovirus suspected in restaurant illnesses

INDIANAPOLIS — A norovirus may have caused hundreds of people to become sick last week after eating at an Olive Garden restaurant, a health official said yesterday.

Stool samples from three restaurant employees and one patron tested positive for a norovirus, which can cause symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, said John Althardt, a spokesman for the Marion County Health Department.

More than 300 people complained of becoming ill after eating at the restaurant, health officials said.

The restaurant, which remained closed for a fourth day yesterday, was cleared to open again after being cleaned over the weekend, Mr. Althardt said.

KENTUCKY

Group challenging Confederate symbols

EASTERN — A civil rights group is challenging an eastern Kentucky high school’s use of the Confederate emblem as its school flag, saying the symbol is hurtful to black students at other schools.

Members of the Louisville-based Justice Resource Center were planning a protest outside the Floyd County Board of Education office yesterday in an attempt to discourage Allen Central High School from displaying the Confederate flag as a symbol of school spirit.

The Rev. Louis Coleman, head of the activist group, in a letter faxed to Floyd County Superintendent Paul Fanning yesterday, said surrounding Allen Central High School’s all-white student body with Confederate symbols will not prepare the teens to enter “a diverse society where these symbols have already been eliminated.”

Allen Central students have staunchly defended their Confederate emblems, saying they symbolize nothing more than strength, independence and pride.

NEW YORK

States sue EPA over soot levels

ALBANY — More than a dozen states sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday to lower soot levels from smokestacks and exhaust pipes, a move the state officials argue would save thousands of lives.

The states argue that the Bush administration is ignoring science and its own experts in refusing to slightly reduce the allowed threshold for soot. The “fine particulate matter” in soot contributes to premature death, chronic respiratory disease and asthma attacks, said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

The pollution also leads to more hospital admissions and other public health costs, he said.

Officials from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia joined New York in the action filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.

TEXAS

Spacewalkers fix jammed panel

HOUSTON — Two spacewalking astronauts finished folding up a stubborn, accordionlike solar array yesterday, resolving the only complication in Space Shuttle Discovery’s otherwise smooth mission to the International Space Station.

Shuttle astronauts Robert Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang managed to get the last section of the 115-foot array folded into a box about five hours into the 6-hour spacewalk. It was the fourth venture outside for Discovery’s astronauts during their visit to the orbiting outpost.

Workers in Mission Control applauded when the final section fell into the box. But astronaut Curbeam radioed back that a wire was still loose. About 30 minutes later, he managed to get it rolled up and the box latched.

WASHINGTON

Death toll raises in Northwest storms

SEATTLE — The death toll from the Northwest’s worst windstorm in more than a decade climbed to 10 yesterday, while nearly a quarter-million homes and businesses remained without power in hard-hit western Washington.

At least 100 persons have developed symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning blamed on the use of portable generators and charcoal grills used for light and heat during the blackout. Two of them were among Washington’s eight deaths.

Two other deaths in Oregon were blamed on the storm that struck Thursday.

Wind gusted to 113 mph during the storm near Mount Rainier and to a record 69 mph at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. More than 1.5 million homes and businesses across the Northwest lost electricity at some point in the storm.

On Sunday, a man and his dog were fatally shocked when they stepped on a fallen power line while out for a walk in Gig Harbor, Pierce County Sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer said.

He said residents had been clearing debris near the power line for days, unaware that it was live.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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