- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Prison population rises to 19,000

HARTFORD — State prison officials say the number of people behind bars is back up to where it was three years ago — more than 19,000 — when overcrowding forced the state to ship some prisoners to Virginia.

The increase is mostly a result of roundups of gang members and other violent criminals in Hartford and New Haven, Department of Correction spokesman Brian Garnett said.


Judge refuses abortionist charges

WICHITA — A judge yesterday refused to reinstate criminal charges brought by Kansas’ outgoing attorney general against a Wichita abortion doctor who has long been the target of pro-life politicians, protesters and extremists.

Last week, Attorney General Phill Kline, a vocal opponent of abortion who was defeated for re-election in November, filed 30 charges against Dr. George Tiller, accusing him of performing 15 illegal late-term abortions in 2003 on patients ages 10 to 22 and not properly reporting details to the state.

Sedgwick County Judge Paul W. Clark threw out the charges on jurisdictional grounds less than day later. Mr. Kline then asked Judge Clark to reinstate the charges, but the judge rejected that request during a hearing yesterday.

The judge threw out the case after the Sedgwick County district attorney argued that Mr. Kline did not have authority to file the charges.


Insurers urged to Katrina talks

JACKSON — Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said yesterday that he is trying to settle out of court with the insurance companies he sued last year for refusing to cover billions of dollars in damage from Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge.

Mr. Hood said he has negotiated with several companies to resolve his lawsuit “without the expense and time of litigation,” but no settlement has been reached. Mr. Hood didn’t specify which companies have participated in the negotiations, but urged other companies to join the talks.

“Although I have continuously tried to resolve the issue peacefully by settlement, if the insurance companies want to fight, then we are ready to meet them” in court, Mr. Hood said.

Mr. Hood made his remarks a day after a federal judge agreed to transfer his lawsuit against insurers from federal to state court.


Pianist plans $1 million gift

ST. LOUIS — A piano prodigy and classical concert pianist has designated $1 million from her estate for music education at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Isobel “Robin” Degnan, 81, said she plans to pay back not just her alma mater, but several institutions that helped her throughout her life. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in music performance from the school in 1948.


Unions favored over ‘marriage’

CONCORD — New Hampshire residents oppose homosexual “marriage” but look more favorably on civil unions, a poll has found. Fifty-five percent opposed allowing homosexuals to “marry,” while 44 percent favored allowing civil unions.

Research 2000 conducted the telephone poll of 600 persons for the Concord Monitor from Dec. 18 to 20. The sampling margin of error was four percentage points.


Solar power planned for parking facility

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State University plans to build a solar-powered parking structure early next year, with some of the energy produced also going to provide electricity for the school’s Student Health Center.

The university said the structure will be the first non-research, energy production photovoltaic array on campus and the second largest such system in New Mexico.


Max the mongrel is city’s top dog

NEW YORK — If you’re a dog in New York, the chances are you’re a mongrel named Max.

According to figures released by the city’s health department yesterday, there were more than 1,200 dogs named Max, making the name the most popular among the city’s more than 100,000 registered canines.

Max was followed by Lucky, Princess, Rocky and Buddy.

Mutts, meanwhile, outnumbered their pedigree counterparts, with Labradors, pit bulls, Shih Tzus and German shepherds the most popular purebreds.

Under New York law, all dogs must be licensed and have a license tag on their collar while in public, but officials estimate that only about 20 percent of owners adhere to the rules.


‘Angel’ record try on hold for snow

BISMARCK — The organizer of an attempt to reclaim this city’s “snow angel” record says the people were ready but the white stuff wasn’t.

“One thing snow angels need is snow,” said Marilyn Snyder, curator of education for the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

The event was scheduled for scheduled for Tuesday on the North Dakota Capitol grounds as part of a larger festival, called “Showcase North Dakota.”

There was no snow at the Capitol mall on Monday, prompting Miss Snyder to scrub the event.

Bismarck created the Guinness World Records category when 1,791 persons waved their arms and legs in the snow at the state Capitol more than four years ago. Students at Michigan Technological University in Houghton broke the record in February, with 3,784 snow angels.

Miss Snyder said the Bismarck event will be rescheduled soon.


Lost airline luggage found in trash bin

HOUSTON — Authorities were trying to figure out Tuesday how dozens of pieces of luggage belonging to travelers ended up in a trash bin behind a Houston pet store.

FBI special agent Rolando Munoz said 68 pieces of luggage from various international flights were discovered. He said the luggage was turned over to Continental Airlines to sort out.

The bags belonged to travelers who passed through George Bush Intercontinental Airport, said Sgt. Dana Wolfe, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which first responded to the luggage report. She said tags on the bags showed some of the travelers were going to or from London and Dubai.

The Houston Police Department is handling the case, Mr. Munoz and Sgt. Wolfe said.

The owners of the pet store found the luggage.


Merry Christmas: ‘Marry me’

KENOSHA — Melissa Gemig said she always knew her boyfriend’s marriage proposal would be unique.

But she never expected Brian Steinseifer to design a large, lighted Christmas display that read, “MELISSA WILL YOU MARRY ME.”

The pair took a stroll Sunday night on so-called Christmas Lane, a stretch of street known for its colorful holiday displays.

Mr. Steinseifer, 23, a designer for a Milwaukee advertising agency, said he got the idea a little more than week ago, although he wasn’t sure he could pull it off. He took a large piece of poster board and black construction paper and drilled dozens of holes through it, then arranged white Christmas lights to construct the proposal.

The last piece of the puzzle was securing a spot on Christmas Lane. Mr. Steinseifer’s mother asked her old high school friend, Sandy Poltrock, if her son could use their front yard for the proposal. She obliged.

Miss Gemig, 21, said yes.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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