- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006


Residents await end to heat misery

SACRAMENTO — The California heat wave blamed for deaths and blackouts simmered into an 11th day yesterday as residents waited for a promised temperature drop to end their misery.

State and local authorities reported at least 56 suspected heat-related deaths, and utility officials kept up their calls for energy conservation as air conditioners sucked in record levels of electricity. Hundreds of dairy cows have died.

An hour before sunrise yesterday, the temperature already had hit 84 degrees in the Central Valley city of Bakersfield, where the mercury peaked Tuesday at 111, the National Weather Service said.

A slow cooling trend was expected to continue through the week.


Ford released from hospital

VAIL — Former President Gerald Ford was released from a hospital yesterday, two days after being admitted for shortness of breath.

Mr. Ford, 93, was admitted Monday afternoon and released at noon yesterday, Vail Valley Medical Center said.

Mr. Ford’s chief of staff, Penny Circle, said the former president planned to return to his home in nearby Beaver Creek.

It was at least the second time Mr. Ford has been hospitalized this year. He was admitted to a Rancho Mirage, Calif., hospital for treatment of pneumonia on Jan. 14 and released after 12 days.


Students get peek at test questions

MIDDLETOWN — More than half the sophomores at Middletown High School saw some of the questions on the state’s standardized math test in advance, officials said.

Teacher and head football coach Mark DelPercio was given a four-week unpaid suspension. A second math teacher resigned.

Because of the incident, Middletown received a zero in math when the state published scores last week.


FBI paid $56,000 to plot informants

MIAMI — Two informants were paid nearly $56,000 by the FBI for their roles in the investigation that led to the arrests of seven men accused of plotting attacks against Chicago’s Sears Tower and government buildings, prosecutors disclosed yesterday.

The payments were disclosed as U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard set a March 5 trial date for the seven defendants.

Defense attorneys said they would need several months to prepare and go through evidence, which includes 56 days of video surveillance footage and many hours of transcripts from telephone wiretap and body wire recordings.

The seven are accused in a four-count indictment of conspiracy and material support charges stemming from a purported plot to blow up the Sears Tower and destroy FBI offices and other buildings in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington. All have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail.


Artillery blast hurts war relic collector

DALTON — A collector of Civil War relics has been hospitalized after being injured while trying to defuse an old artillery shell at his home.

Lawrence Christopher was trying to remove gunpowder from a Civil War-era Parrott shell at an outbuilding at his home Monday when it exploded, authorities said.

Mr. Christopher was brought to a hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn., with serious injuries to his head, chest and eyes. His grandson, Josh Lock, also was injured but was treated and released from another hospital.

After the explosion, an ordnance team from Fort Benning destroyed dozens of other shells found at Mr. Christopher’s home after determining they were unsafe.


Memo reveals Big Dig warning

BOSTON — Seven years before falling concrete fatally crushed a motorist inside one of Boston’s Big Dig tunnels, a safety officer warned that the bolts could not hold the heavy ceiling panels, said a bluntly worded memo that came to light yesterday.

John Keaveney wrote the memo in 1999 to one of his superiors at contractor Modern Continental Construction Co., saying he could not “comprehend how this structure can withhold the test of time.”

“Should any innocent state worker or member of the public be seriously injured or even worse killed as a result, I feel that this would be something that would reflect mentally and emotionally upon me, and all who are trying to construct a quality project,” he wrote, according to the Boston Globe, whose reporter was mailed a copy of the memo.


Judge criticizes execution protocol

KANSAS CITY — The state’s revised plan for conducting lethal injections still falls short of ensuring they are conducted humanely, said the judge who halted Missouri’s executions.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. cited “numerous problems” when he stopped executions June 26. Among them, he said, the state needed a board-certified anesthesiologist to ensure the lethal injection procedure used posed no risk of unnecessary pain and suffering.

The state was unable to find an anesthesiologist willing to participate and wanted to use another physician, a nurse or a pharmacist to prepare the drugs used to put inmates to death.

That proposal “is an improvement over the current procedure,” Judge Gaitan wrote Tuesday. “However, there continue to be inadequacies with the personnel required to monitor and oversee” the death penalty.


Church to tithe for gas purchases

YORK — A church plans to offer drivers some relief from the high price of gas.

For an hour Saturday, the congregation of New Heights Assembly of God will tithe 10 cents a gallon to people who buy gas at a local convenience store. Free hot dogs and bottled water will be provided.

The congregation thinks the event is a practical way of demonstrating God’s love, pastor Tom James said.


Plane lands safely after engine fails

NEW YORK — A jetliner carrying more than 250 people lost power in one of its two engines yesterday but landed safely, officials said.

The Boeing 777 plane landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport less than a half-hour after the engine failed, American Airlines spokesman Billy Sanez said. Officials were investigating what caused the problem on Flight 134.

The plane was en route to London from Los Angeles. Mr. Sanez said all the passengers would be put onto another plane.


Nursing home agrees to pay fine

TOLEDO — A nursing home agreed to pay a fine of about $60,000 and correct problems found by the state after the death of a patient.

Norbert Konwin, 77, died at the Foundation Park Care Center in March after he was beaten with a towel bar. His roommate was found incompetent to stand trial.

The center was cited for deficiencies ranging from abuse to housekeeping problems.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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