- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Castaways hotel-casino imploded in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — After spending two shuttered years living up to its name, the Castaways hotel and casino went out with a bang yesterday morning.

A series of planned explosions reduced the 19-story tower to a 20,000-ton heap of rubble. The Castaways had been closed since changing hands in a bankruptcy proceeding in January 2004.

The 447-room building opened in 1955 as the Showboat. It changed hands several times in the 1990s and struggled for years before being crippled by a tourism slowdown after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The current owner, Las Vegas-based Station Casinos Inc., has not announced plans for the site, about three miles east of the Las Vegas Strip.


Bishop reveals he was abused by priest

COLUMBUS — Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit revealed in written remarks prepared for an appearance yesterday that he was abused by a priest 60 years ago. He is thought to be the first U.S. bishop to disclose that he was a victim of sexual abuse by clergy.

“I speak out of my own experience of being exploited as a teenager through inappropriate touching by a priest,” Bishop Gumbleton, 75, wrote.

The written remarks were prepared for a press conference near the Ohio State House in support of a bill pending in the Ohio House that would open a one-year window for victims to sue the church for abuse that occurred up to 35 years ago.


Unlikely terror target forgoes insurance

GROVE HILL — Two weeks after unanimously voting to spend $7,000 a year for terrorism insurance, commissioners in a rural Alabama county have responded to a more immediate threat: angry voters.

The Clarke County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to reverse its decision to buy a policy insuring county-owned buildings from damages caused by an attack by foreign-based terrorists.

Commissioners said residents questioned whether the policy made sense for the southwestern Alabama county of about 27,000, described in a Montgomery Advertiser editorial as “one of the least likely targets for terrorism on the planet.”


Governor says state needs new image

ANCHORAGE — Alaska needs a publicity campaign to restore its image after battles over wilderness oil drilling and “bridges to nowhere” that have made the state a laughingstock, Gov. Frank H. Murkowski said Tuesday.

“Alaska has been held up to public ridicule by the special-interest extremists,” Mr. Murkowski said in his State of the State address in the capital, Juneau.

The Republican governor is an ardent advocate of development projects, including the proposed federally funded bridges and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The bridges — one to an island of 50 people and the other connecting Anchorage to a little-used port — have been dubbed “bridges to nowhere” by critics of federal “pork-barrel” largess.

Mr. Murkowski proposed a two-year public-relations campaign, which he said was “long overdue.” He did not put a price tag on the proposal.


Fetuses don’t count in carpool lanes

PHOENIX — Fetuses do not count as passengers when it comes to determining who may drive in the carpool lane, a judge ruled.

Candace Dickinson was fined $367 for improper use of a carpool lane, but contended that the baby inside her womb allowed her to use the lane. Motorists who use the lanes normally must carry at least one passenger during weekday rush hours.

Municipal Judge Dennis Freeman rejected her argument Tuesday, applying a “common-sense” definition in which a passenger is someone who occupies a “separate and distinct” space in a vehicle.


Tunnel collapses at U.S.-Mexico border

SAN DIEGO — Border Patrol agents discovered a 35-foot-long tunnel beneath the U.S.-Mexico border after it caved in and the asphalt roadway above it collapsed, officials said.

The tunnel ended in a patch of vacant land near the San Ysidro port of entry, said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She said the 3-by-3-foot tunnel appeared to have been used recently. It wasn’t clear whether the tunnel was used for smuggling drugs or people.

Authorities sealed off the U.S. side with sandbags and metal after discovering it Monday, Miss Mack said. The opening is across the border from an area that is either owned or leased by Mexican customs.


Death sentence for lawyer overruled

DOVER — The Delaware Supreme Court yesterday overturned the death sentence of a once well-connected lawyer convicted in the 1996 murder of the governor’s scheduling secretary.

The sentence was flawed because the jury vote recommending a death sentence for Thomas Capano was not unanimous, the court ruled. The conviction stands, but the high court ordered a new penalty hearing, State Prosecutor Steven Wood said.

Prosecutors say Capano shot Anne Marie Fahey, 30, who was scheduling secretary to Gov. Tom Carper, and dumped her body into the Atlantic Ocean because she was breaking off an affair with him.


Legislator rips juvenile boot camps

TALLAHASSEE — A Florida legislator is calling on the state to close its military-style boot camps for juvenile delinquents after a 14-year-old boy died just hours after entering one of the facilities.

“These programs are not working … this ‘shock and awe mentality’ on a kid,” said state Rep. Gustavo A. Barreiro, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee. “We need to shut these things down.”

Gov. Jeb Bush thinks lawmakers should take a hard look at the juvenile facilities. Asked about the boot camps yesterday, Mr. Bush said, “All of our programs ought to be under review.”

The Department of Juvenile Justice is reviewing all sheriff’s office policies for the camps in light of last week’s death of Martin Lee Anderson, who was sent to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office camp because of an arrest for grand theft, said spokeswoman Cynthia Lorenzo.


Crews search for Navy aircraft

ELLIJAY — Searchers combed the rugged terrain of north-central Georgia yesterday for a missing Navy plane carrying four fliers.

The Navy T-39 Sabreliner left Chattanooga, Tenn., on Tuesday morning, and was scheduled to arrive in Pensacola, Fla., that afternoon but never did, said a spokesman, Lt. j.g. Sean Robertson.

Sabreliners are used for training navigators and other non-pilot air crew officers for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and foreign military services.


Ex-priest killed to ‘save the children’

WORCESTER — An inmate charged with strangling child-molesting former priest John Geoghan said he did it to protect other youngsters, a guard testified yesterday as the prisoner’s murder trial began.

Guard Travis Canty said he heard Joseph Druce’s explanation after he was taken from Geoghan’s cell. Prosecutors said Druce jammed the door of Geoghan’s cell shut with a book, then strangled the defrocked priest with a pillowcase, socks and a sneaker.

“He said that he did it for the children,” Mr. Canty said, “that when Geoghan got out he was going to do it again.”

The defense and prosecution agree that Druce killed Geoghan to “save the children” in 2003, but disagree over whether he was sane when he did it.

Druce’s attorney said he was mentally ill and driven by an “irresistible impulse” to kill Geoghan. Prosecutors contend that he had planned the slaying for weeks.


Panel to study school financing

BISMARCK — A new commission made up of school officials, legislators and Gov. John Hoeven will study North Dakota’s school finance system under an agreement to halt a lawsuit filed by nine school districts.

The deal requires Mr. Hoeven, a Republican, to appoint the study commission and ask the 2007 Legislative Assembly to boost state spending on local schools by $60 million over two years.


Diocese to ignore bankruptcy ruling

PORTLAND — Roman Catholic Archbishop John Vlazny says the church will follow its own internal law on property ownership, defying a federal bankruptcy judge’s ruling on how to satisfy claims by victims of reported priestly sex abuse.

Archbishop Vlazny told the Catholic Sentinel, the archdiocesan newspaper, that he considers church buildings and land the property of individual parishes, not the archdiocese. In a Dec. 30 ruling on the Portland Archdiocese, which filed for bankruptcy in 2004, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris said the archdiocese controlled these properties.

The ruling means parish and school properties, worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” according to the Sentinel, would be included when the court decides how much to pay plaintiffs.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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