- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

CALIFORNIA

Judge reinstates ban on roads in forests

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge yesterday reinstated the “roadless rule,” a Clinton-era ban on road construction in nearly a third of national forests.

U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Laporte ruled that the Bush administration failed to conduct necessary environmental studies before making changes that allowed states to decide how to manage individual national forests.

The 2001 rule prohibits logging, mining and other development on 58.5 million acres in 38 states and Puerto Rico, but the Bush administration replaced it in May 2005 with a process that required governors to petition the federal government to protect national forests in their states.

Judge Laporte sided with 20 environmental groups and four states — California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington — that sued the U.S. Forest Service over the changes.

FLORIDA

Man jumps 50 feet to retrieve $20 bill

PALMETTO — Mark Giorgio figured a 50-foot plunge was worth $20.

Mr. Giorgio, 47, was counting his money and walking across the U.S. 41 bridge over the Manatee River Monday when a $20 bill blew out of his hand and flew over the rail.

He followed and plummeted 50 feet into the river. Then he swam about 100 yards to fish the bill from the water.

“I got my money back,” Mr. Giorgio told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “Twenty bucks is a lot of money when you’re broke.”

KANSAS

Teacher suspended over blood experiment

SALINA — A high school science teacher was suspended for allowing students to use the same instrument to draw blood from their fingers as part of a class project, district officials said Tuesday.

About 50 juniors and seniors in two science classes at Salina High School South used the same lancet, or small pin, to prick their fingers on Monday, said Carol Pitts, spokeswoman for the Salina school district.

The science teacher, who was not identified, was suspended with pay during an investigation, Miss Pitts said.

Miss Pitts said it was not clear what experiment the classes were conducting, but they may have been checking blood glucose levels.

She said the district was taking steps to ensure that the students were tested for HIV — the virus that causes AIDS — and hepatitis, both of which can be spread by using a shared instrument to draw blood.

KENTUCKY

Murder suspect caught at home

PIKEVILLE — A man accused of fatally shooting two neighbors and wounding a third was captured without incident at home yesterday morning, authorities said.

Billy Sartin, 47, was unarmed when the Martin County sheriff and deputies alerted by noises in the home arrested him.

Sartin, a felon released from prison three years ago, had been the subject of a manhunt in the rural Inez area since the fatal shootings late Monday of Jeffrey Mattox, 41, and Billy Proctor, 53, and the wounding of Mr. Mattox’s girlfriend, Sue Collins, in the town near the West Virginia line.

The shootings prompted the closing Tuesday of nearby schools while authorities searched for Sartin, also known as William Ray Starr.

Sartin remained in jail yesterday on murder, kidnapping and assault charges, said Kentucky State Police Sgt. Steve Spurlock.

LOUISIANA

Helicopter pilots go on strike

LAFAYETTE — A union representing pilots at PHI Inc., which provides helicopter flights for the offshore petroleum industry and medical emergencies, went on strike yesterday.

Negotiations for 2 years failed to produce a new labor agreement. The National Mediation Board in July had released the union and the company from trying to settle.

It was not clear how many pilots would observe the strike. Stephen Ragin, local president of the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association, said 330 of PHI’s 570 pilots belong to the union.

PHI’s Gulf of Mexico operations are centered in Louisiana, while its medical flight services are spread among 15 states, Mr. Ragin said.

Mr. Ragin said the main sticking point was the union’s demand for retroactive pay. The previous contract with PHI expired in 2004, and pilots have continued working.

MISSISSIPPI

Museum honoring Emmett Till opens

GLENDORA — Photographs that captured a mother’s grief and Emmett Till’s mutilated body were on display as this tiny Mississippi Delta town opened a museum honoring the slain black teenager whose death was pivotal in the civil rights movement.

Among the items on display are family snapshots and a picture of Emmett’s mutilated body that stunned the nation after the 14-year-old Chicago boy was brutally killed in 1955, reportedly in retaliation for whistling at a white woman.

“I want the country to see this moment as a historic event of how far we have come in the civil rights movement and to open people’s eyes to the many other injustices that have happened in other places besides the Delta,” said Emmett’s cousin Priscilla Sterling.

The town converted a cotton gin into the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center, which includes oral histories, an audiovisual archive and a cotton gin fan like the one used to weigh down Emmett’s body.

Two white men were acquitted in Emmett’s case by an all-white jury. The two men later confessed in an interview with Look magazine. The FBI reopened the case in 2004 but decided not to press charges.

TEXAS

6 inmates escape from detention center

LA VILLA — A former police officer jailed on drug charges and five illegal aliens escaped from a federal detention center near the Mexican border, sparking a manhunt and forcing schools to close, officials said yesterday.

The six inmates, including a former McAllen police officer, Francisco Meza-Rojas, overpowered a guard late Tuesday and cut through at least four fences to escape the privately run facility, officials said.

More than 60 local and federal law-enforcement officers using helicopters and bloodhounds were searching near the East Hidalgo Detention Center about 20 miles north of Mexico near Texas’ southern tip.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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