- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

ARIZONA

Helicopter crashes in residential area

SCOTTSDALE — A helicopter crashed between two homes in north Scottsdale yesterday, killing a man and woman who were aboard, authorities said.

No one on the ground was injured and officials don’t think anyone else was on the helicopter, said Dave Cieslak, a spokesman for the Scottsdale Fire Department.

It wasn’t clear what caused the crash, but the pilot apparently tried to avoid hitting the homes, Fire Battalion Chief Chris Schibi said. He said the only damage on the ground was to landscaping.

CALIFORNIA

Retired priest guilty of child molestation

LOS ANGELES — A retired priest who admitted molesting 13 boys in the 1970s and ‘80s but claimed he never did so again was convicted yesterday of abusing a youngster in the 1990s.

Jurors were unable to reach verdicts on four other counts against Michael Wempe, so a mistrial was declared on those accusations.

The brother of two of Wempe’s earlier victims claim the priest abused him from 1990 to 1995, when Wempe was a hospital chaplain.

Wempe denied molesting the boy known as Jayson B., who is now an adult. Wempe’s attorney claimed the boy’s accusations were an elaborate fabrication designed to punish Wempe for the brothers’ molestations.

Wempe was spared trial on the original charges when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the statute of limitations on the crimes, but he spent a year in jail before the high court ruling.

CONNECTICUT

Catholics oppose ‘morning-after pill’

HARTFORD — The state’s Catholic Conference is preparing to fight a proposal by a legislative committee that would require hospitals to stock the so-called “morning-after pill.”

The bill would require all Connecticut hospitals, including the state’s four Roman Catholic hospitals, to provide the emergency contraception to rape victims. The conference says the proposal threatens religious freedom of Catholic hospitals.

GEORGIA

Panel recommends children’s flu shots

ATLANTA — Children ages 2 to 5 should get flu shots, an advisory panel said yesterday, expanding the age groups targeted for protection from the virus.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously approved the recommendation, which covers 5.3 million healthy U.S. children.

The panel’s recommendations are adopted routinely by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issues vaccination guidelines to doctors and hospitals.

The committee also considered issuing a statement encouraging all Americans to get flu shots, but the group narrowly rejected that proposal, saying more study and planning are needed.

Flu shots already are recommended for children ages 6 months to 23 months, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and people with chronic health conditions.

ILLINOIS

Ryan won’t take witness stand

CHICAGO — Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan will not testify in his own defense at his racketeering and fraud trial, his chief defense counsel said yesterday.

Attorney Dan K. Webb told the federal judge he had recommended that Mr. Ryan decline to testify because he did not think the government had proved its case.

The question of whether Mr. Ryan would take the witness stand has been hanging over the trial for weeks.

By testifying, Mr. Ryan would be able to tell his side of the scandal that has dominated state politics in Illinois for several years. But he also would have opened himself to a detailed cross-examination from tough federal prosecutors who have been working on the corruption investigation since 1998, before he was elected governor.

Mr. Webb also confirmed that Mr. Ryan’s co-defendant, Larry Warner, was not planning to take the witness stand, either, signaling that the marathon, five-month trial was nearing its final stage.

LOUISIANA

Thieves of elderly took $1 million

COVINGTON — A network of thieves burglarized the apartments of elderly residents in a multi-state ring that stole nearly $1 million in a single year, authorities said. One suspected member was arrested in St. Tammany Parish.

The ring also targeted retirement communities and nursing homes in Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida, authorities said.

NEW YORK

Man hospitalized with anthrax

NEW YORK — A New York City drum maker has been hospitalized with a case of inhaled anthrax that officials say he may have contracted from the raw animal hides of goats that he imports from Africa.

Authorities said yesterday that the infection appeared to be accidental — not terrorism — and did not pose a serious public health threat.

Vado Diomande, 44, had traveled recently to the west coast of Africa and became ill in Pennsylvania last week shortly after he returned to this country with some hides, authorities said.

At least four other persons may have been exposed to anthrax spores, including a family member of the infected man who worked with the hides, and three were being treated with antibiotics, city Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Journalism institute named for Jennings

PHILADELPHIA — The National Constitution Center will use part of a $6.4 million grant to establish a journalism institute named after late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings.

The funding for the Peter Jennings Institute for Journalists and the Constitution comes from the Annenberg Foundation and will support six other outreach programs. Mr. Jennings, the longtime anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight,” died last summer of lung cancer.

The grant, to be used over five years, also will fund an annual Constitutional Convention for national leaders and youth delegations, a series of debates, Constitution Day programs and three classroom-related initiatives.

In New York on Tuesday, the block of 66th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park was renamed for Mr. Jennings, who worked in the neighborhood and lived nearby.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Legislature passes ban on abortion

PIERRE — The state Senate voted yesterday for an abortion ban aimed at giving the conservative-tilting U.S. Supreme Court an opening to overturn rulings granting women the right to the procedure.

Only an unlikely veto by Gov. Michael Rounds, a Republican, could prevent the legislation from becoming law.

The timing is right, supporters say, given the recent installations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the high court. The two conservatives could pave the way to a decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that said women have a constitutional right to abortion.

Five states have proposed similar bans, but the South Dakota Legislature was the first to pass such legislation. The bill threatens to punish doctors who perform abortions with a five-year prison term and $5,000 fine.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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