- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006


Rare chestnut trees found in state park

ALBANY — Rare American chestnut trees that somehow escaped a blight that killed off most of their kind in the early 1900s have been discovered along a hiking trail near former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Little White House at Warm Springs, officials say.

Nathan Klaus of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources spotted about a half-dozen chestnut trees while scouting for areas to replant longleaf pines in FDR State Park.

Scientists plan to study the trees, especially the largest one, which is 40 feet tall. The American Chestnut Foundation may use pollen from the tree in a breeding program to restore the population with blight-resistant trees.


Family fights to keep pet lion

MELVIN — To the Collins family, the 400-plus pound beast with a thick mane and daunting eyes that paces in his 300-square-foot chain-link cage is “Kitty,” their beloved pet lion.

To others in this small Appalachian town, Kitty is a frightening menace, and they want county officials to ban animals deemed “inherently dangerous” by the state. If the county ordinance passes today, Kitty will no longer be allowed to stay. The Collinses said they will appeal a ban if it is approved.

Barry Collins bought Kitty three years ago, when he was a 5-pound cub at a flea market. He said he got a state permit to bring the lion into Kentucky and a license to keep the cat in Floyd County.


Clerk handed own stolen credit card

BENTONVILLE — A Wal-Mart clerk noticed something familiar when a customer went through the checkout line — a credit card from her own wallet, which had been stolen two days earlier, police said.

Ashley Dawn Dover repeatedly tried to pass a credit card through an electronic scanner at the store Tuesday to pay for $120 worth of merchandise, Police Chief James Allen said. The clerk then offered to try the card and noticed it was her own.

“The clerk looks up at her and says, ‘This is my stuff and I want it back,’” Chief Allen said. “The suspect reaches in her purse, hands everything over and then runs out the door.”

The credit card was stolen from the cashier’s car, one of two vehicles reported to have break-ins at Wal-Mart on Sunday. A camera, compact discs and a purse were taken from the cashier’s vehicle.

Miss Dover, 20, was arrested as she drove away from the store, Chief Allen said.


Injuries from bull kill livestock owner

FONTANA — A man died after being trampled by a bull he was trying to put into a pen in his back yard, officials said.

Juan Gonzalez, 41, died at a hospital Wednesday from massive trauma, the San Bernardino County coroner’s office said. He had been injured April 24.

The bull knocked out Mr. Gonzalez, but he regained consciousness and initially complained of shortness of breath, said Tracey Martinez, a San Bernardino County Fire Department spokeswoman. Paramedics took him to a hospital.

Mr. Gonzalez kept two cows and one bull in his back yard, officials said.


Cardinal to lead repentance pilgrimage

BOSTON — Cardinal Sean O’Malley plans to lead a pilgrimage of repentance to nine parishes with especially painful histories of sexual abuse of children by priests.

In a letter to abuse victims, Mr. O’Malley said the novena (nine-day prayer cycle) starting Thursday would include prayers for victims and “an act of reparation,” with priests joining him to express “repentance for priests and bishops whose actions and inactions gravely harmed the lives of children entrusted to their care.”

Cardinal O’Malley said the novena would acknowledge “the sins of clergy sexual abuse that violated the innocence of children and are an offense against God.” He urged victims and their families and friends to consider attending the services but acknowledged that many victims find it difficult to enter church.


Checkpoint violator killed on Guard base

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A man with a history of mental illness was fatally shot after driving through a checkpoint at an Air National Guard Base and leading security on a high-speed chase Wednesday night, officials said.

Timothy James Whisman, 37, of Fraser, was taken to Mount Clemens General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said Michigan State Police Sgt. Craig Nyeholt.

It was the second break-in in two months at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, 30 miles northeast of Detroit. Another man was arrested on the base in April and faces charges.


Bomb conspirator’s son sent to prison

LAS VEGAS — A judge sentenced the son of Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols to four years in prison for assaulting two police officers and driving a stolen car.

Josh Nichols, 23, was convicted in March of assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest, battery and possession of a stolen vehicle. Judge Joseph Bonaventure in Las Vegas ruled Wednesday that Nichols must spend 19 months in prison before being considered for parole.

Nichols was charged after two Las Vegas police officers spotted him at a gasoline station Oct. 2 getting into a stolen car. One officer was dragged 20 feet by the vehicle and the other was partially inside the car as it swerved about 700 feet down a busy street.

Nichols apologized for his actions, his attorney said. Nichols also has signed an agreement to write a book about his life as Terry Nichols’ son, the attorney said.


Raids break up drug trafficking gang

CAMDEN — A major drug-trafficking gang known as the M.O.B. Boys, which protected its operations by threats and violence was dismantled yesterday in a series of early morning raids.

Gerard P. McAleer, the Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge, said four suspected gang leaders and 16 co-conspirators of the notorious crack and powder cocaine distribution organization were charged in criminal complaints with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Mr. McAleer said the drug gang was responsible for the distribution of multiple kilograms of powder and crack cocaine through both bulk distribution to other drug traffickers and to open-air drug markets in the city.

He said the gang used violence, including the March 22 slaying of Anthony Brown, to protect its operations.

The M.O.B. Boys leaders were identified in the criminal complaints as Troy Clark, 37, of Camden, Jermaine Coleman, 33, of Camden, Rashad Smith, 33, of Gloucester Township, and Trevor Smith, 34, of Berlin Township.


Teen stabbed to death in school parking lot

CONWAY — An 18-year-old woman was stabbed to death in a school parking lot as students were arriving for class yesterday, police said.

Students and school employees saw the attack shortly before 8 a.m. in a lot shared by Carolina Forest Middle School and Carolina Forest High School, Horry County police said. Police arrested a 24-year-old man in connection with the attack shortly afterward.

Edwin Lee Cornelius of Aynor was arrested after the stabbing and charges were pending, police said.


Coin toss settles election tie

INGLESIDE — City Council candidates in this cash-strapped city used a quirky but inexpensive state provision to settle an election tie: a coin toss.

Texas election code allows for a “casting of lots” in the case of a tie. It doesn’t specify a method.

Debra K.L. Sanders, 48, and Luis T. Lamas, 43, each received 247 votes in Saturday’s election. Rather than have a runoff election that could cost the city $4,000, the two let a dollar coin settle the score Tuesday.

Mr. Lamas, the owner of Floyd’s Ranch House restaurant, credited his victory to customers’ advice to go heads.

Miss Sanders, who has served on the council before, said she likely would run again.


NRA seeks pledge from authorities

MILWAUKEE — Alarmed by the way authorities confiscated guns in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the National Rifle Association called on all police chiefs and mayors yesterday to sign a pledge that they will never forcibly disarm law-abiding citizens.

“Mayors and police chiefs have already sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States in their oaths of office. So signing this pledge should be just as effortless,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said a day before the group opened its annual convention in Milwaukee.

The nation’s most powerful gun lobbying group also said it would support state and federal legislation making it a crime to forcibly disarm law-abiding citizens.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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