- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2006


Bathrooms may require coat hooks

BRIDGEPORT — Restaurants, gas stations, stores and other businesses in one Connecticut city soon may face another regulation — coat hooks in all public bathrooms.

The City Council Ordinance Committee has endorsed a proposal from City Council member Keith Rodgerson to create a local law requiring coat hooks. Mr. Rodgerson has said no one should have to leave belongings on a public bathroom floor because there is no coat hook.

The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal today before deciding whether to amend the city’s health code to include the proposal.


Birth defect risk low from West Nile

Pregnant women who get West Nile virus likely will have normal babies, although a small risk of birth defects can’t be completely ruled out, according to the first published report from a multistate registry.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called their report “somewhat reassuring,” but said pregnant women still should be especially careful to follow precautions, including staying indoors when mosquito activity is high and wearing repellent during mosquito season.

Of 72 infants in 16 states whose mothers had West Nile during pregnancy, only three had problems that might have been linked with exposure to the virus before birth, according to 2003-04 data from the registry.

The report is being published today in the March edition of Pediatrics.


Couple pleads guilty in mother’s death

CROWN POINT — A couple has pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent in the 2001 death of the man’s 87-year-old mother, who died after being left unattended for months.

William and Carolyn Gaskin, both 54, were accused of depriving William Gaskin’s mother, Dorothy Gaskin, of basic care and of failing to check on her for five months.

Dorothy Gaskin, who lived in an apartment adjacent to the Gaskins’ Hammond residence, was found dead of malnutrition and dehydration in November 2001.

The Gaskins each face a maximum sentence of eight years in prison. They are scheduled to be sentenced April 25 in Lake Superior Court.

The couple had agreed to be the caretakers of Dorothy Gaskin, who could not be left on her own because she was mentally incompetent, had heart problems, hypertension and dementia.


Homeless man set on fire

BOSTON — A homeless man sleeping in a park was attacked early yesterday by two men who kicked him in the stomach and then set him on fire, police said.

No arrests were made, and police gave no indication of what might have provoked the attack.

The 30-year-old homeless man, whose name was not released, told police that he was awakened by the men kicking him in Langone Park in the city’s North End.

He drifted back to sleep after the assault, but the men returned, drenched him with a flammable liquid and set his legs on fire, police said.

The victim was treated at Massachusetts General Hospital for burns to his legs.


Fees increase near Parks’ tomb

DETROIT — The price to get a spot in Detroit’s Woodlawn cemetery has jumped thousands of dollars since civil rights icon Rosa Parks was entombed there last fall, angering some relatives who say it cheapens her legacy.

The spaces in the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel were priced at $17,000 before the cemetery gave spots, for free, to Mrs. Parks, her husband and her mother. Now, the spaces cost $24,275, and possibly as much as $65,000 for the slots nearest to Mrs. Parks’ crypt.

Some of her relatives worry that the prices might cheapen the legacy of the woman who began the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955. Mrs. Parks died in October.

No crypts have been sold at the new prices.


Geologist wins top research medal

RENO — A geologist who proposed the theory that a comet or asteroid smashed into the Earth and killed off the dinosaurs is the winner of a top research award.

Walter Alvarez, a geologist at the University of California at Berkeley, is the 19th recipient of the nonprofit Desert Research Institute’s silver medallion and its $20,000 prize. He was to accept the award today.


Teens warned about ‘choking game’

WHITEFIELD — Police and school officials are issuing warnings about a potentially fatal game gaining popularity among teenagers after the death of a 14-year-old boy.

Eighth-grader Rodney Webster died last week after choking himself to deprive his brain of oxygen so he could feel a brief rush when the blood flow returned.

His death prompted Whitefield Police Chief Bill Colburn and school officials to create pamphlets outlining the danger of the so-called “choking game.” They will be distributed today when children return from winter break.

The game was responsible for more than 50 deaths last year and eight so far this year, according to the Stop the Choking Game Web site, www.stop-the-choking-game.com.


Baby’s remains found on road

NEW YORK — The body of a newborn baby that had been crushed by a car was discovered lying on a residential street Saturday, officials said.

A man walking his dog found the mangled body at 7:30 a.m. on a street near a golf course and a high school in Hempstead, about 20 miles east of Manhattan.

The naked body had been on the road for some time, probably more than a day, and may have been struck by more than one vehicle, said detective Lt. Dennis Farrell of the Nassau County police.


Father a suspect in children’s deaths

CHARLOTTE — The bodies of a 5-year-old boy and his 8-year-old sister were found fatally shot in their burning home, and police charged their father Saturday with the slayings.

The father was found a couple of miles from the house with critical injuries, police Sgt. Lisa Mangum said. She would not describe his injuries.

Gilberto Miranda’s wife, Olga, picked through the debris of their home in northeastern Charlotte. She declined to speak with reporters.


Chemical leak kills two workers

CORPUS CHRISTI — Two employees of a hazardous-materials disposal facility inhaled fumes from a chemical leak and died, police said.

A valve on a chemical tank at Texas Molecular LLC either sprung a leak or popped open, allowing lethal gas to escape, Corpus Christi police Capt. Dave Cook said.

The victims — Joel Camponovo, 51, and Wendell Brown, 40 — both lived in Corpus Christi.


Man pleads guilty in drug-tunnel case

SEATTLE — The last of three men charged with digging the first sophisticated drug-smuggling tunnel under the U.S.-Canadian border pleaded guilty Friday.

Timothy Woo faces at least five years in prison and a maximum fine of $2 million when he is sentenced for conspiracy to smuggle marijuana, as do Francis Devandra Raj and Jonathan Valenzuela, who previously entered guilty pleas.

The three, all from Surrey, British Columbia, were arrested last July. Authorities said they had just finished the 360-foot tunnel north of Lynden, which ran from the living room of a home on the U.S. side to a boarded-up Quonset hut on the Canadian side.

It was the first drug-smuggling tunnel discovered on the U.S.-Canada border.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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