- The Washington Times - Monday, July 3, 2006


Post-Katrina shelter is up for sale

BIRMINGHAM — A costly but little-used post-Katrina shelter is for sale. The Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $7.9 million to renovate old Army barracks for refugees last year.

Only a handful showed up, and the complex at defunct Fort McClellan closed weeks later. The nonprofit Joint Powers Authority now controls the shelter.


Three sea lions die at aquarium

LONG BEACH — Three of the five sea lions at an aquarium died within 24 hours in two unrelated incidents, officials said.

Kona, a 4-year-old female, and her 4-week-old pup died of unknown causes Saturday at the Aquarium of the Pacific. They had appeared healthy early in the afternoon, but an hour later were found motionless. Attempts to revive them failed.

The pup was the first to be born at the aquarium since it opened in 1998.

On Friday, a 7-year-old female sea lion named Roxy died from a reaction to anesthesia during emergency surgery after delivering a stillborn pup Thursday night.

“It’s like having three of your pets in your house dying all at the same time,” spokeswoman Cecile Fisher said. “We all love our animals, and for anything to happen to one of them is bad, but for this to happen to three is just terrible.”


Film critic undergoes emergency operation

CHICAGO — Film critic Roger Ebert, who has battled cancer in recent years, was in serious condition yesterday after an emergency operation to repair complications from an earlier cancer surgery.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper — co-host of the “Ebert and Roeper” movie-review show — told the paper that Mr. Ebert’s vital signs appeared to be good after the hours-long operation.

Mr. Ebert had surgery June 16 to remove a cancerous growth on his salivary gland. He told Sun-Times columnist Robert Feder at the time that the condition was not life-threatening and he expected to make a full recovery.

About 8 p.m. Saturday, a blood vessel burst near the site of the operation, the Sun-Times reported yesterday on its Web site. Northwestern Memorial Hospital officials did not return a telephone call yesterday afternoon from the Associated Press.

The 64-year-old has undergone cancer surgery three times before — once in 2002 to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid gland and twice on his salivary gland the next year.


Community cuts back water use

LAS VEGAS — The drought in this community is now so severe that water isn’t provided with restaurant meals unless a diner requests it, and then it’s served in a paper cup. Car washes operate only two days each week.

The hotel pools are empty, and long-term guests must ask if they want linens changed more than once every four days.

As in much of the Southwest, the high desert lands of New Mexico are locked in another drought cycle this summer, with wildfires raging in tinder-dry forests. According to the National Weather Service, statewide precipitation for May was 36 percent of the normal amount — the seventh straight excessively dry month.

Santa Fe has received only 1.2 inches of precipitation during the seven-month period since November, the lowest in 133 years of record keeping. The 0.41 inches in Albuquerque is the lowest in 114 years of data. And in Las Vegas, the 60-month data show precipitation 18.71 inches below normal, according to Charlie Liles, meteorologist in charge of the Weather Service in Albuquerque.

As a result, Las Vegas has imposed some of New Mexico’s most restrictive water rules. Outdoor watering has been banned since last fall, leaving lawns withering in once-lush neighborhoods.


Commuter train collision injures 30

ABINGTON — Two commuter trains collided on a suburban rail line outside Philadelphia on Saturday, injuring 30 persons, officials said.

The injuries were minor, said Jim Whitaker, spokesman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Nine persons were treated for trauma injuries at Abington Memorial Hospital, but none of the injuries was life-threatening, hospital spokeswoman Linda Millevoi said.

The commuter trains, one headed north from Philadelphia toward Warminster and the other headed into the city, collided just before 3 p.m., Mr. Whitaker said.

A car on one of the trains derailed, he said. Shuttle buses carried people between the Glenside and Warminster stations, he said.

Officials do not know how fast the trains were going or how many people were on board, Mr. Whitaker said.


Ex-governor makes first speech after jail

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — In his first major speech since leaving federal prison, former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland lectured teenagers on Saturday on the corrupting nature of power.

“It seems like just yesterday I was at the White House staying in the Lincoln Bedroom, and everything was wonderful,” he told several hundred teenagers at the World Scholar-Athlete Games. “And then almost overnight, I’m standing in line for toilet paper at a prison in Loretto, Pa.”

Once one of the Republican Party’s charismatic stars, Mr. Rowland resigned from office in 2004 amid an influence-peddling investigation and pleaded guilty to corruption charges. He was released from federal prison in February after 10 months behind bars.

Students at the games were picked for their leadership skills, and he warned that leaders naturally seek power. He said victory brings confidence, and confidence can beget arrogance.

Mr. Rowland said that his political days are done, but that his future is still uncertain. He said he’s doing volunteer counseling and trying to find a publisher for a book he wrote titled “Falling Into Grace.”


Missing dog reunited with his family

SALT LAKE CITY — Puppers, a cocker spaniel-retriever mix missing for nearly three years, was reunited with his family. The dog disappeared while the Bankhead family was out running errands. Puppers turned up at an animal shelter this week.

The family said the dog had gained weight and apparently was not living on the street for long. Otherwise, Puppers’ previous whereabouts were a mystery.


Woman, 2 boys dead in murder-suicide

AUBURN — Authorities think a 30-year-old woman fatally shot two boys ages 5 and 8 before killing herself.

State police said yesterday that an initial investigation indicates the woman killed the boys Saturday, but they declined to release additional details.

Authorities arrived at the scene, about 160 miles south of Pittsburgh, and found the bodies of the woman, who also had been shot, and the older boy.

The 5-year-old was still alive when authorities arrived and died shortly after, state police said.

It was not known how the three were related.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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