- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Court officials lobby for budget increases

The leading judges from D.C. Superior Court and the Court of Appeals headed to Congress yesterday to lobby for their budgets.

Superior Court Chief Judge Rufus King and Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric Washington testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District.

Their budget request includes $93 million for renovations at Judiciary Square.

D.C. officials also were expected to ask for more funding for security in a year when President Bush has urged cuts to court budgets.

An $85 million renovation of the old Court of Appeals building was to be discussed.

Maryland student top science scholar

Yuan “Chelsea” Zhang, 17, of Montgomery Blair High School in Rockville won the $50,000 third-place scholarship prize yesterday in the 2006 Intel Science Talent Search, a prestigious national science competition.

First prize went to Shannon Babb of Highland, Utah, who earned a $100,000 college scholarship. Miss Babb, who attends American Fork High School, spent six months studying the Spanish Fork River drainage system to assess the effects of human and animal behavior.

The 18-year-old concluded that pollution runoff can be reduced by fortifying and replanting the banks along the river, reducing animal grazing in those areas, directing runoff into settling ponds, and educating people about how to discard household chemicals.

Over the competition’s 65-year history, winners have gone on to earn more than 100 of the world’s most coveted honors, including six Nobel Prizes. Intel has sponsored the event since 1998.

Yi Sun, 17, of the Harker School in San Jose, Calif., took second place and a $75,000 scholarship.

Another three dozen students won scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. Almost 1,600 students entered the competition.



County teachers to ‘work to the rule’

Parents and students in Fairfax County’s public schools may notice something a little different today.

The teachers union says it will stage a “work to the rule” action.

Exasperated by what it says is inadequate pay, the Fairfax Education Association is asking members to do only what they’re supposed to.

The union says teachers normally work many hours beyond the regular school day for students.

So along with better pay, they want new rules giving teachers more flexibility to handle school and personal obligations.

The union says it understands property taxes are high and only getting higher, based on ever-rising assessments.

But it’s calling on the Board of Supervisors to make some “politically difficult decisions” for the good of the school system.


Dog attacks four in city park

A Richmond man faces several charges after his pit bull attacked him and three other persons in a park.

A Virginia Commonwealth University spokeswoman says VCU police issued summonses to Rodney Douglas, 37, for not having his dog licensed, vaccinated or restrained in the park.

The dog bit Mr. Douglas and at least three others on Sunday afternoon. One of the victims was a woman who suffered severe bites when she was attacked while sleeping.

A bystander grabbed the dog and pinned it to the ground while waiting for police.

Spokeswoman Pam DiSalvo Lepley said four victims were treated and released from VCU Medical Center.

The pit bull is quarantined at an animal shelter, where it will stay for eight more days while officials determine whether it has rabies.

A deputy commonwealth’s attorney said the city will ask a Richmond judge to have the dog declared a vicious animal, then have it euthanized.


Cabbie accused of trying to hit cop

Police have arrested a District cabdriver who is accused of trying to run down an airport police officer.

Charges are pending against the man, who reputedly drove away from a traffic stop at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport yesterday afternoon, then tried to run over an officer who tried to stop him on the George Washington Parkway.

The officer fired his weapon at the taxi, but the driver got away.

The cabdriver was arrested last night in Northwest Washington. Charges were pending and his name was not immediately released.



No bond reduction in abandonment case

A judge in Hagerstown has refused to reduce the $500,000 bond for a 25-year-old city woman accused of abandoning her newborn baby.

Kelly Ruck has been in jail since her arrest in September. Her trial for attempted murder and reckless endangerment is scheduled for April 24.

Miss Ruck is accused of giving birth, then leaving the baby boy under some pieces of wood beneath a parked trailer on Sept. 17. The baby was found hours later by a neighbor.

The baby is in the custody of the Department of Social Services.


Witness tells of Abu Ghraib abuse

An Army dog handler charged with abusing inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq told a soldier he was competing with another dog handler to frighten detainees into soiling themselves, according to testimony Tuesday at his court-martial.

The testimony on the second day of the trial was the most damaging evidence the government has yet presented against Sgt. Michael J. Smith.

The witness, Sgt. John H. Ketzer, was an interrogator at the prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. He testified that one night he followed the sounds of screaming to a cell where Sgt. Smith’s black Belgian shepherd was straining against its leash and barking at two cowering, teenage boys in an area reserved for juvenile and female prisoners.

Sgt. Ketzer said Sgt. Smith laughingly told him afterward, “My buddy and I are having a contest to see if we can get them to [defecate on] themselves because we’ve already had some [urinate on] themselves.”

Under cross-examination, Sgt. Ketzer said he had thought Sgt. Smith was only joking about the contest.

Sgt. Smith, 24, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is accused of using his dog to harass, threaten and assault detainees from mid-November 2003 to mid-January 2004 — the same period in which guards at Abu Ghraib subjected inmates to sexual humiliation and other abuses documented in widely seen photographs. He faces up to 24 years in prison if convicted on all 13 counts.


Trial date set in baby death case

A June 5 trial date has been set for Ralph Brown, a Frederick resident charged with leaving his infant son unattended in a car in September.

The baby, named Isaiah, died later of heat stroke. The trial date was set yesterday.

The charge is a misdemeanor.

A Frederick County grand jury declined last year to indict Mr. Brown on more serious charges.


School athlete sues to use wheelchair

A high school athlete who uses a wheelchair is suing to be allowed to wheel at track meets alongside her able-bodied teammates.

Tatyana McFadden, who won two medals at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, doesn’t expect to compete against others on the field, but does want to be on the track at the same time. Tatyana, who has spina bifida, earned a silver and bronze medal in the 100 and 200 meters in Athens.

The Howard County school system allows her to practice with the team, but has ruled she must compete in separate wheelchair events. Lauren Young of the Maryland Disability Law Center, which filed a federal suit on Tatyana’s behalf, says that means Tatyana mostly competes by herself.

An attorney for the school system says the school system has worked with Tatyana to incorporate wheelchair events into track competitions, but is against merging the two types of events.


Judge eyes fines for no-show jurors

Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Ross says citizens who failed to report Monday for jury duty could face fines or jail time.

In all, 65 persons were summoned for the pool of jurors chosen to hear the murder trial of defendant John Dougherty.

Judge Ross said the seven who did not show up will get a chance to explain why they were absent, but Judge Ross said past no-shows have never had a good excuse.

A jury of 10 women and two men was chosen to hear the case.

Mr. Dougherty is accused of allowing the mother of his children to starve to death last year at their Elkton home.


Lead paint drives residents from homes

Maryland housing officials say at least 23 families in Cambridge must leave their homes after poisonous levels of lead were found inside them.

Many of the residents are elderly or have low incomes.

They were renting homes built before 1950 that now do not meet the state requirement for lead paint removal.

State officials say the landlord of the properties in the Park Lane area did not make the February deadline for compliance.

Lead paint can cause serious health problems.

A housing group in Salisbury met with Cambridge city officials Monday night.

They want to bring in federal cash to help clean up the houses instead of kicking the residents out.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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