- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2006


Wildfire ignited by welder’s sparks contained

RIALTO — Firefighters contained a wind-blown blaze yesterday that had threatened hundreds of homes after being ignited by a welder’s sparks and melted metal.

Wind gusts up to 50 mph turned Monday’s small brush fire into a 640-acre blaze on the edge of Rialto, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The wind died down overnight, though, allowing firefighters to gain the upper hand, San Bernardino County fire spokesman Steve Hansen said.

The fire destroyed a lumberyard at an industrial park, but surrounding homes were spared and there were no injuries reported. Damage was estimated at $1 million.


Judge allows disputed Picasso sale

NEW YORK — A judge ruled yesterday that a Picasso painting can be sold at auction, despite a claim that its former owner was forced by the Nazis to sell it in the 1930s because his family descended from Jews.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff issued the order four days after Julius H. Schoeps, an heir to Berlin banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan to stop the sale.

The judge dismissed the lawsuit yesterday, saying it was “abundantly clear” that the case lacked federal jurisdiction.

He had temporarily blocked the auction of “Portrait de Angel Fernandez de Soto.” The painting, expected to fetch up to $60 million, was scheduled to be sold at Christie’s today.


Airliner clips another on runway

CHICAGO — A United Airlines plane’s wing clipped the tail of another jetliner yesterday morning as they taxied toward takeoff at O’Hare International Airport, aviation officials said. No injuries were reported.

One of the planes was turning left when the tip of its wing hit the tail of the second plane, another United flight, immediately behind it, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Wendy Abrams.

Both flights were canceled, United said on its Web site.

Miss Abrams said the airline was inspecting the aircraft and the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were being notified.

Flight 672, a Boeing 737 going to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, had 110 passengers, and Flight 732, an Airbus 320 en route to Washington Dulles International Airport, carried 96 passengers.


Killer ordered retried or released

BOISE — A man sentenced to death for the slayings of a young Texas couple camped in the Idaho wilderness must be released or retried because of his attorney’s actions, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

Mark Henry Lankford has been on Idaho’s death row for more than two decades for the 1983 bludgeoning slayings of Marine Capt. Robert Bravence and his wife, Cheryl.

However, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Lankford received ineffective assistance from his attorney, and said the state must retry him “within a reasonable time or release him.”

The decision likely means a costly and protracted retrial in Idaho County, one of the state’s most rural.


Officer shoots self while driving

LAFAYETTE — Guns and driving don’t mix — just ask a local police officer.

Officer Sullivan McCurdy, 41, a 10-year veteran officer with the Radcliff Police Department, accidentally shot himself in the leg while driving on a highway, police said.

Officer McCurdy was driving south on Interstate 65 near Lafayette on Sunday trying to unload his gun when it discharged, Indiana State Police said.

Beside him in the car was his wife, Robin.

Officer McCurdy was listed Monday in satisfactory condition at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Lafayette, said hospital spokesman Matthew Oates.


Pastor, son find prehistoric skull

LEWISTOWN — A retired pastor and his son unearthed the skull and lower jaw of a sea reptile thought to be about 70 million years old, Montana State University said.

The find northeast of here by Ken Olson and his son Garrett represents the first complete skull of a long-necked plesiosaur discovered in Montana, and one of the best specimens of its kind in North America, university researchers said.


Officers sue after pot found on burgers

ALBUQUERQUE — Two police officers have sued Burger King Corp., claiming they were served hamburgers that had been sprinkled with marijuana.

The lawsuit says Mark Landavazo and Henry Gabaldon, officers for the Isleta Pueblo tribal police, were in uniform and riding in a marked patrol car when they bought meals at the drive-through lane Oct. 8 of a Burger King restaurant in Los Lunas, N.M.

The officers ate about half of their burgers before discovering marijuana on the meat, the lawsuit said. They used a field test kit to confirm the substance was pot, then went to a hospital for medical evaluations.

“It gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘Whopper,’ ” the officers’ attorney, Sam Bregman, said Monday. “The idea that these hoodlums would put marijuana into a hamburger and therefore attempt to impair law-enforcement officers trying to do their jobs is outrageous.”

Three Burger King employees were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and aggravated battery on an officer, a felony. They later were indicted.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Bernalillo County, claims personal injury, negligence, battery and violation of fair practices. It seeks unspecified damages along with legal costs.


House fire kills 4 children

CLEVELAND — Fire swept through a house early yesterday, killing four children and injuring three other persons, a fire official said.

The victims were thought to be ages 3, 5, 8 and 15, said Assistant Fire Chief Brent Collins.

A woman jumped from the window and hurt her leg and ankle, and two boys suffered burns on about 30 percent of their bodies, Chief Collins said. It wasn’t clear how the seven were related.

Firefighters found a 15-year-old girl in a second-floor bedroom and the other three victims on the first floor, Chief Collins said.

Authorities were trying to determine the cause of the fire, which gutted the two-story home and scorched its white aluminum siding. The house is in a neighborhood of mostly small bungalows.


T-shirt protester arrested at fair

CHARLESTON — A Summerville woman who didn’t like a Confederate T-shirt being sold at a fair was charged with trespassing after she bought the shirt and stood outside the gates, asking people what they thought about it.

Deanna Bernstein, 38, said the T-shirt sold by a vendor at the Coastal Carolina Fair said, “Confederately Correct Civil Rights for Southern Whites,” which she thought was offensive and inappropriate for children.

“These children are going by and they see the T-shirt and they think hatred is OK. How could anything change?” she told the Post and Courier.

She said she was fined $440 and spent about eight hours in jail.

Coastal Carolina Fair President Chip Boling said she was well-mannered, but was asked several times to leave the property.


Students accused of school plot

ROUND ROCK — Two high school students were charged with conspiracy to commit capital murder after authorities uncovered what they described as a plot for a school attack.

The boys, whose names were not released, were arrested Thursday, Williamson County Sheriff’s Department Detective John Foster said.

Detective Foster would not discuss specifics of the McNeil High School students’ purported plan after announcing the arrests Monday. He would not say how police and school officials learned of the plot but added that “we were very fortunate to discover this before it did happen.”

Round Rock Independent School District spokeswoman JoyLynn Occhiuzzi would not give the students’ ages or grades but said both were juveniles, which in Texas means younger than 17.


Teen driver charged in school crash

CHEYENNE — Preliminary charges have been filed against an 18-year-old student who witnesses said sped through Cheyenne’s East High School parking lot, hit two students and then slammed into the outside wall of the school’s new locker room, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported.

Police Chief Bob Fecht said a blood sample was taken from driver Paul Adamson at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center last Wednesday, the day of the incident. The sample is at the state’s crime lab for toxicology testing.

Chief Fecht said the assistant district attorney has brought initial charges against Mr. Adamson. They include reckless endangerment and driving while under the influence of an inhalant.

Additional charges may be filed against Mr. Adamson related to property damage at the high school, officials said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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