- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2006


State’s biggest mine continues to shake

BIRMINGHAM — More underground explosions have rocked Alabama’s largest coal mine since a blast last week forced the evacuation of scores of workers.

No one has been hurt in any of the blasts, and the government said the severity of the explosions was unknown since the mine remains too dangerous for anyone to enter.

Federal regulators said yesterday that it was not clear when production could resume.

The Shoal Creek Mine remained closed for a fifth day yesterday. About 140 workers were evacuated safely after a blast last Friday. Shoal Creek is about 45 miles west of Birmingham.


Baby shuts down House committee

JUNEAU — While Alaska Republican lawmakers Lesil McGuire and Tom Anderson are in Anchorage awaiting the birth of their child, the House Judiciary Committee is on maternity leave — for a while at least.

The married lawmakers serve as chairman and vice chairman of the committee.

Mrs. McGuire said the committee hit the ground running this year in anticipation of her March 7 due date.

Committee members began meeting the first week of session in January, well before many other committees got started. They often met three times a week and tacked on a few Saturday meetings as well.

Mrs. McGuire said she hopes to be back at work within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, she says she is staying busy as she watches televised coverage of the Legislature.


City sets up office in mobile homes

JONESBORO — Mobile homes have been installed in the parking lot of the city’s Justice Complex as temporary offices while officials decide how to proceed with the building’s repair.

The building was evacuated Feb. 17 out of concern the roof could collapse. Workers heard popping sounds as a winter storm developed, and an inspection revealed cracks in support beams in the roof.


14 inmates injured in latest race fight

LOS ANGELES — Black and Hispanic inmates brawled yesterday in a new round of racial violence in Los Angeles County’s jails, authorities said. Fourteen inmates were reported injured.

Guards used tear gas, rubber “sting balls” and pepper balls to quell the fighting among more than 90 inmates at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic, said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.

One inmate was hospitalized with head cuts, Mr. Whitmore said.

The fighting was the latest in a series of fights that began Feb. 4. One inmate was killed and another collapsed and died during the battles.


Need of food aid up by 12 percent

NEWARK — The number of people in Delaware needing food assistance increased by 12 percent since the last study five years ago, the Food Bank of Delaware said.

The agency said it helped nearly 90,000 people last year, and more than 40 percent were in homes with at least one working adult.

Low wages, poor health care coverage, a lack of affordable housing and high child care costs were listed among the contributing factors for the increase, the Food Bank said.


School urges youth to kick TV habit

ESCANABA — Principal Mike Smajda was horrified to learn that one of his first-grade pupils at Lemmer Elementary School had watched “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

Not long afterward, the boy was playing in a leaf pile with a girl when he suddenly began kicking her in the head. Another boy joined in. They both kicked her until her head was bleeding and she had to go to the hospital, Mr. Smajda said.

Mr. Smajda can’t prove the R-rated slasher movie provoked the child. But the 2004 incident reinforced his commitment to an anti-violence program getting under way at his school.

It challenged students to do without TV and all other screen entertainment for 10 days, then limit themselves to just seven hours a week. The district’s other schools joined in over the next year.

Administrators and teachers say short-term results were striking: less aggressive behavior and, in some cases, better standardized test scores.


Teacher can return after sex change

EAGLESWOOD TOWNSHIP — To students at Eagleswood Elementary School, she used to be Mr. McBeth.

Now, after undergoing a sex change, 71-year-old Lily McBeth is ready to return to teaching as Miss McBeth.

Despite criticism from parents, the school board on Monday stood by its decision to allow Miss McBeth to resume working as a substitute teacher.

After two hours of public debate and a private meeting with Miss McBeth and her lawyer, the board took no action on calls by several parents to bar Miss McBeth from returning to the school where she taught for five years before becoming a woman.

Miss McBeth, a retired sales executive who was married for 33 years and had three children, underwent sex-change surgery last year and re-applied for her job under her new name.


Astronaut’s dad killed in car accident

ELMIRA — The father of the first female space shuttle pilot was struck and killed by a car after a visit to hear his daughter give a speech about her experiences.

James Collins, 79, was hit on Monday. No immediate charges were brought against the driver.

“Preliminary findings show it was an accident,” said police Sgt. Sharon Moyer.

Mr. Collins’ daughter, Lt. Col. Eileen Collins, had come to her hometown of Elmira to tell high-school students about her experiences last summer as commander of Discovery, the first shuttle to fly since the Columbia disaster.

“I’m in awe of her — I really am,” her father had told the Star-Gazette newspaper.

The Discovery flight was Col. Collins’ fourth and final mission and her second in the commander’s seat.


Candidate can’t use ‘Madame Justice’

RALEIGH — A candidate for North Carolina’s Supreme Court will have to wait until she’s elected to officially use the nickname “Madame Justice.”

A state elections official rejected a request by lawyer Rachel Lea Hunter to use the moniker alongside her real name on this year’s ballot.

Elections director Gary Bartlett decided yesterday that the nickname would mislead voters because sitting and former judges often use such a title. His decision can be appealed to the full board of elections.

A fellow lawyer, Michael Weisel, filed a complaint with the board last week saying that Miss Hunter’s request to use the nickname didn’t convey respect for the courts and could mislead voters about her qualifications. She has never been a judge.


Terror suspect held without bail

TOLEDO — A man indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq and to organize a “violent jihad” against the United States and its allies was ordered yesterday held without bail.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth S. McHargh agreed with prosecutors who said Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 26, should not be released because of the risk of harm to the community or the chance he would flee to Jordan, where he has family and has visited regularly during the past several years.

Amawi, Marwan Othman el-Hindi and Wassim Mazloum, all of Toledo, were indicted last week on charges of conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people in a foreign country, conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals and harboring or concealing terrorists. Amawi also was accused of making threats against President Bush.

All three have pleaded not guilty. Mazloum and el-Hindi did not request a bail hearing and remain in custody.


Inventions earn millions for school

EUGENE — University of Oregon inventions earned the school $3.4 million last year, a 77 percent increase from 2004 and its 10th consecutive record-breaking year.

University researchers produced 43 new inventions and three new spinoff companies in 2005. Most of the money goes back into research by distributing it to faculty inventors and laboratories.

The spike came despite a meager increase in overall research spending — $86 million last year, up from $85.4 million the year before.

Universities earn money by patenting new inventions and licensing the use of the technology to existing private companies or new ones created to take advantage of the research.


Police say wife used vacuum cleaner to kill

ANDERSON — Police arrested and charged Evelyn Pressley, 54, with murder, saying she used a vacuum cleaner to kill her common-law husband.

Police found Jerome Powers, 53, dead at the home the two shared in Belton.

Investigators say she hit Mr. Powers with the vacuum, knocking him unconscious, then strangled him with the machine’s hose.


Woman sentenced for throwing out baby

ELK POINT — A woman who put her newborn in trash that ended up in a Nebraska landfill was sentenced yesterday to the maximum of 10 years in prison.

Lori Schultz, 21, wept in court and said she could have prevented her son’s death.

“The pain inside of me will be inside of me for the rest of my life,” she said. “I know my baby is supposed to be 2 years old, but he’s not because I made a terrible mistake.”

After her son’s birth Feb. 2, 2004, Schultz, who pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to second-degree manslaughter, said she wrapped him in towels and a garbage bag and put him in a trash can because she was afraid of how her boyfriend, the boy’s father, would react.

A volunteer searcher found the body April 5, 2004, at a Jackson, Neb., landfill.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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