- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006


Panda cub opens eyes

ATLANTA — Zoo Atlanta’s baby panda opened its eyes for the first time yesterday.

Zoo officials made the discovery during a physical examination of the 36-day-old unnamed female cub.

“She’s probably able to see now,” zoo veterinarian Dr. Maria Crane said. “We noticed she’s paying more attention to her environment.”

The cub, whose name will be chosen in two months, has grown a little more than 16 inches in length in the past week and gained almost 1 pound, growing to 3.8 pounds.

“She’s a very solid cub,” Dr. Crane said.


Human remains posted on EBay

PORT HURON — Officials are trying to track down the origins of a mummified human skeleton that a Michigan woman tried to sell on EBay.

The St. Clair County medical examiner’s office confiscated the mummified remains Tuesday from the home of Lynn Sterling.

Miss Sterling, 45, told police that she got the remains from a friend who works in demolition and said he found them in a Detroit school he helped tear down nearly 30 years ago, police said. She said she had contacted an attorney before posting the remains for sale.

She likely won’t face charges, Port Huron police Capt. Don Porrett said, though officials said the remains will be sent to an anthropologist at Michigan State University for further examination.


Blacks predominate on school board

LITTLE ROCK — For the first time since federal troops escorted nine black students into Central High School 49 years ago, the Little Rock school board has a black majority.

Dianne Curry won a runoff election Tuesday, meaning four of the Little Rock School District’s seven board members are black. The 26,000-student district has been predominantly black for years, but until now, it had never had a black-majority school board.

Until 1957, Little Rock had operated separate schools for blacks and whites. Despite a U.S. Supreme Court order, former Gov. Orval Faubus sought to prevent nine black students from entering Central. President Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne to enforce the court’s order.

Federal courts have continued to monitor the desegregation effort since 1965.


Ford hospitalized for medical tests

RANCHO MIRAGE — Gerald Ford, the nation’s oldest living former president, was in a hospital yesterday and undergoing medical tests, his office said.

Mr. Ford, 93, was doing well at Eisenhower Medical Center, spokeswoman Penny Circle said. She did not disclose the nature of the tests.

The former president has been hospitalized repeatedly this year. He underwent heart procedures in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., then returned to his home in Rancho Mirage. He received an implantable cardiac pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat and underwent angioplasty.

In July, Mr. Ford was admitted to Colorado’s Vail Valley Medical Center for a few days because of shortness of breath. In January, he was hospitalized for 12 days in Rancho Mirage to treat pneumonia.


Boy locked in room 3 years, officials say

JACKSONVILLE — A father was arrested and charged with keeping his 9-year-old son locked in a bedroom for much of the past three years and watching his every move with surveillance cameras.

The home of Randall Warren Piercy, 41, was like a prison that had cameras in almost every room, with the father monitoring the boy on TV and computer screens, sheriff’s Lt. Annie Smith said yesterday.

Over the past three years, the boy did not attend school, receive medical attention or have contact with people outside the family, Lt. Smith said. Authorities said he could not read children’s books. Relatives told police that the boy was usually allowed to use the bathroom only once a day because his father was teaching him to control his body.

Mr. Piercy was arrested Wednesday on charges that included aggravated child abuse. He was jailed on $1 million bail. Social workers took the boy from the home.


Court gets harsh on lenient judge

NEW ORLEANS — A judge who earlier drew a reprimand for expunging convicts’ records was suspended after complaints that he set bonds too low for suspects in violent crimes, the state’s high court said yesterday.

The court said it found probable violations of the state’s constitution and judicial conduct code, and it faulted Judge Charles Elloie for continuing to set low bonds even after “heightened scrutiny and intense media attention.”

A study commissioned by a New Orleans judicial watchdog group found last year that Judge Elloie was responsible for 56 percent of all defendants who walked out of Orleans Parish Prison because a judge had changed their original magistrate bond. The office of special counsel to the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana also found that Judge Elloie wrongfully granted 4,350 paroles.

Judge Elloie’s decisions have drawn increasing attention in New Orleans in recent months as the homicide rate has risen. Police attributed much of the rise to drug and turf wars and noted that many of the suspects and victims had previous arrests.


Chief’s son faces impersonation charge

ST. CHARLES COUNTY — A suburban St. Louis police chief’s son was charged with impersonating an officer, more than a week after being arrested for sporting police clothes and pulling over motorists in his father’s unmarked police car.

Ballwin Police Chief James Biederman’s son, Paul Biederman, 23, was charged Tuesday with a misdemeanor count of impersonating a police officer, avoiding a more serious charge of felony tampering because the city of Ballwin, which owns the police car, refused to press charges, St. Charles Country Prosecutor Jack Banas said.

If found guilty, Paul Biederman faces up to a year in jail or up to a $1,000 fine.


Report of knife shuts down schools

ALBUQUERQUE — Three Albuquerque schools were locked down and SWAT teams searched a middle school campus yesterday after a student reported that a man dressed in all black had approached her brandishing a knife, police said.

Two of the schools, both elementary schools within a mile of James Monroe Middle School, reopened after about two hours.

Police were reviewing videotape from outside the middle school, which remained under lockdown for another hour before the order was lifted, said Officer Trish Hoffman of the Albuquerque Police Department.

She said the girl reported that the man was outside the school near a portable classroom or a restroom.


Robber says prison works for him

COLUMBUS — A man who couldn’t find steady work came up with a plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social Security: He robbed a bank, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.

On Wednesday, Timothy J. Bowers told a judge a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.

“At my age, the jobs available to me are minimum-wage jobs. There is age discrimination out there,” Bowers, who turns 63 in a few weeks, told Judge Angela White.

The judge told him: “It’s unfortunate you feel this is the only way to deal with the situation.”

Bowers said he had been able to find only odd jobs after the drug wholesaler for which he made deliveries closed in 2003.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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