- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006


Wedding gowns stolen from charity

SCOTTSDALE — A trailer containing thousands of wedding gowns worth an estimated $3 million was stolen from a charity that grants the dying wishes of women with breast cancer.

The 40-foot trailer and a pickup truck owned by Making Memories were taken Sunday morning, authorities said.

“They’ve stolen the last wish and dream and hope of someone who is terminally ill,” said Fran Hansen, co-founder of the group, which resells donated wedding gowns to raise money.

Nick DiLello, who runs the Phoenix Bridal Show, donated three dresses to the group after the trailer was stolen, and is planning a charity wedding gown sale to make up for the theft.

Making Memories paid for four relatives from Italy to visit Mr. DiLello’s mother in 2004, when she was too sick to travel there. She died three weeks ago.


Third Marine pleads guilty in Iraq killing

CAMP PENDLETON — A Marine pleaded guilty yesterday to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice before testifying that his squad executed a known insurgent who turned out to be a civilian.

Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson, 23, entered the pleas through his attorney, Thomas Watt, at a military court hearing.

He was the third serviceman to plead guilty to reduced charges in return for his testimony in the case, in which seven Camp Pendleton-based Marines and a Navy corpsman were charged with killing Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52.

Jackson, who has been in military prison since May, faces a maximum of 15 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 16. The term likely will be reduced by the plea deal.


Judge urged to keep murder indictment

ATLANTA — Prosecutors asked a judge yesterday not to dismiss the murder indictment against the man accused of killing four persons after escaping from custody at the courthouse where he was being retried on rape charges. They also asked that a request to delay the defendant’s murder trial be denied.

In papers filed in Fulton County Superior Court, prosecutors said defense attorneys have failed to show that the method used to select the grand jury that indicted Brian Nichols on the murder charges was improper.

The attorneys have asked that the 54-count indictment against Nichols in the March 11, 2005, shootings be dismissed. They also asked that all proceedings in the case be suspended until the grand jury process is corrected.

A continuation of a hearing on the issue is scheduled for tomorrow. No ruling has been made.

Separately, prosecutors objected to a defense request made privately to the court on Thursday to delay Nichols’ murder trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 11. There was no immediate ruling on that issue.


Social Security letter arrives 9 years late

MIDDLESBORO — Pearlie Sutton didn’t know what to what to make of a letter from the Social Security Administration informing her that benefits would be cut back — nine years ago.

Miss Sutton, 81, received the unopened letter last week, even though it was dated 1997.

“It has been so many years since I received Social Security,” she said. “I was surprised and shocked that it had been so many years in getting the letter.”

The letter informed her there had been a mistake in the amount of Social Security she should be receiving and that some would be deducted for a year until the overage was repaid.

She said she is not sure how or when the SSA will respond to her inquiries about the letter, given that it set a 60-day limit to object to the withholdings.


Doctors left out of diet decisions

BOSTON — Besides extra pounds, dieters also seem to carry a hefty independent streak. A survey finds that 70 percent of Americans who are trying to lose weight are following their own diet plans and have no interest in seeking a doctor’s help.

One-third have tried dietary supplements of unproven benefit — pills and powders that promise to burn fat, boost metabolism or melt pounds without the sweaty hard work of exercise or the discipline and deprivation of diets, the survey found.

Doctors say there is no safe way to lose more than a pound or two a week and no proof that unregulated, over-the-counter products help at all.

Saul Shiffman, a University of Pittsburgh health psychologist who helped develop the survey, and others involved in the survey were paid by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, which has an obvious interest in steering people away from dietary supplements. The company makes diet-pill orlistat, sold in prescription form as Xenical and soon to be available over the counter.

But despite the survey’s commercial ties, it still offers a realistic glimpse at some unrealistic dieting practices and highlights missed opportunities for doctors to help, said weight-loss specialists who attended a recent obesity conference in Boston, where the survey was presented.


Party game answer leads to arrest

JACKSON — The party game asked people to name the stupidest thing they had ever done. Police said Jerry Rose answered, “Shot a guy in the head.”

Now, Mr. Rose is charged with open murder and armed robbery in the March 22 slaying of Edgar Hawke, 60.

Mr. Hawke’s wife and 14-year-old granddaughter found his body at the bottom of the basement stairs in his Parma Township home. A large amount of cash and a .22-caliber rifle were missing, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported Saturday.

Police were making little headway in their investigation until officers in neighboring Calhoun County questioned Mr. Rose’s girlfriend about a series of break-ins. She told them about Mr. Rose’s confession during a summer party, and they gave the information to Jackson County sheriff’s detectives.

Mr. Rose, 29, was arrested Wednesday at his mother’s home. He was arraigned Friday and was being held without bail pending a preliminary hearing Nov. 15.


YouTube named ‘Invention of the Year’

NEW YORK — YouTube, the video-sharing Web site recently acquired by Google Inc. for $1.65 billion, beat out a vaccine that prevents a cancer-causing sexually transmitted disease and a shirt that simulates a hug to grab top honors as Time magazine’s “Invention of the Year for 2006.”

Time magazine, owned by media conglomerate Time Warner Inc., wrote in an article that YouTube’s scale and sudden popularity have changed the rules about how information — along with fame and embarrassment — gets distributed over the Web.

YouTube, which had 27.6 million unique visitors in September, according to Nielsen Net-Ratings, came along at just the right time, according to Time: social-networking Web sites were hot, camcorders were cheap and do-it-yourself media were expanding beyond text-based blogs.

YouTube inherits the tiara from Snuppy, a cloned puppy and winner of the magazine’s 2005 award.


Condemned inmates offered sedatives

COLUMBUS — Condemned killer David Brewer, who went calmly to his death after admitting his guilt, had a little help with his nerves: an anti-anxiety drug.

At least 19 of the country’s 38 death penalty states offer sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs to condemned inmates before execution.

Though the practice does not violate national ethics standards for doctors and nurses who prescribe or administer the sedatives, it makes some death penalty opponents uneasy.

Condemned inmates in 11 states have received sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs before executions going back at least 12 years, according to a review by the Associated Press.

Prison officials gave Brewer the anti-anxiety drug Ativan three times the day before his execution, and four hours and 17 minutes before he was declared dead on April 29, 2003.


Alien crackdown halted for trial

SCRANTON — A federal judge’s order temporarily blocking the city of Hazleton from enforcing a crackdown on illegal aliens was extended yesterday to give both sides time to prepare for a trial.

U.S. District Judge James Munley, whose temporary restraining order was due to expire next Tuesday, extended it for up to 120 days. He said he would prefer that the trial begin within 90 days.

A pair of measures approved by City Council last month would fine landlords who rent to illegal aliens, deny business permits to companies that hire them, and require tenants to register with City Hall and pay for a rental permit.

Hispanic groups and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit to overturn the crackdown, contending it tramples on the federal government’s exclusive power to regulate immigration.

The city defends the law as necessary to protect legal residents from crime.


Injured governor off campaign trail

COLUMBIA — Gov. Mark Sanford burned his eyes under the bright stage lights at a groundbreaking ceremony and was sidelined on the last day of the campaign, his wife said yesterday.

Jenny Sanford and the couple’s four sons flew across the state to make last-minute campaign stops in place of the Republican governor, who was injured a day earlier.

The first lady said Mr. Sanford went to a doctor yesterday morning and that he was using eye drops and wearing temporary contact lenses to help with discomfort.

“I’m assuming that if he rests them … he’ll have a full recovery,” she said.

There were some scary moments for another Republican candidate campaigning yesterday when her small plane carrying three other persons was forced to land with the door open. Karen Floyd, vying for state education superintendent, was slightly injured as she braced herself for the bumpy touchdown at a the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. She said she feared she might fall out, so she tucked her feet under the seat in front of her.

She wasn’t slowed by her bruised feet, though. She switched planes and continued flying across the state.


Transplants called safe for diabetics

DALLAS — Diabetics who don’t have other health problems survive heart transplants about as well as nondiabetics, according to a study that suggests diabetes shouldn’t disqualify patients from a transplant waiting list.

Although national rules do not prevent diabetics from receiving heart transplants, each transplant center has its own rules.

Dr. John Buse, president-elect of the American Diabetes Association, said he thinks that rules automatically denying heart transplants to diabetics might have been more common in the past.

For the study, published online yesterday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, researchers analyzed United Network for Organ Sharing records for survival rates of more than 20,000 people who had heart transplants between 1995 and 2005. That included 3,687 persons who were diabetic.

The researchers found that nondiabetics had a median survival rate of 10.1 years, while diabetics had a survival rate of 9.3 years, a difference the study authors said was not statistically significant.


Man gets 6 months for burning puppy

SALT LAKE CITY — A man who pleaded guilty to putting his wife’s puppy in a 200- degree oven, crippling it, was sentenced yesterday to six months in jail.

Third District Judge William Barrett ordered Marc Christopher Vincent, 36, to serve six months in jail without the chance of early release. He also must pay a $500 fine and $986 in veterinary bills for the dog.

Vincent, 36, pleaded guilty Sept. 18 to one count of misdemeanor aggravated animal cruelty for putting the dog in an oven for five minutes on May 25 during a fight with his wife, Rhonda, who has since filed for divorce. The black Chihuahua mix named Henry suffered permanent damage to his front paws and now limps.

As part of the plea agreement, a second charge of animal cruelty was dropped. Prosecutors had accused Vincent of turning a leaf blower on the dog in a separate incident, damaging the dog’s eye so badly it had to be removed.

Vincent was ordered to serve two years’ probation after his jail sentence, seek anger-management therapy, have no contact with his wife or any animals, and get a mental-health evaluation.


Flooding threat forces out hunters

SEATTLE — A windy Pacific storm dumped heavy rain yesterday on western Washington, raising the threat of record-breaking flooding and prompting the evacuation of hundreds of hunters from the woods.

A 20-year-old elk hunter from Seattle was missing after his pickup truck was swept into the Cowlitz River south of Mount Rainier, authorities said.

A half-dozen homes were being evacuated along the rising Stillaguamish River about 36 miles north of Seattle.

The warm-weather rainstorms, propelled by air currents from Hawaii in a pattern called the Pineapple Express, could cause flooding of record proportions along 11 rivers, the National Weather Service said.

As of midmorning yesterday, more than 4 inches of rain had fallen in Seattle since Thursday. The forecast called for 6 to 10 inches in the Cascades and about 3 inches in the Seattle area in the 24 hours ending last night.

The Army Corps of Engineers began sandbagging several rivers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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