- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

ILLINOIS

Farrakhan discloses illness

CHICAGO — Minister Louis Farrakhan wrote to followers this month that he is seriously ill and asked the Nation of Islam’s leaders to carry on in his absence to make sure the movement “will live long after I and we have gone.”

Mr. Farrakhan, 73, said he began suffering pain earlier this year similar to 1998, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery. He said doctors discovered an ulcer in his anal area during a visit to Cuba in March.

Since then, he has lost more than 20 pounds while battling “serious infection and inflammation,” Mr. Farrakhan said in a letter dated Sept. 11 and published in the Nation of Islam’s the Final Call newspaper.

LOUISIANA

Hurricane Rita remembered

LAKE CHARLES — Hundreds gathered yesterday for a church service to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Rita after a year that Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco called “the longest year of our lives.”

“Where there was devastation, there is reconstruction. There is rebirthing,” pastor Jerry Snider of Lake Charles’ Christian World Church said in a prayer.

The nondenominational service was held in this city’s civic center. The facility had served as a staging point for aid workers after Rita hit on Sept. 24, 2005, less than one month after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts.

Category 3 Rita struck along the Texas-Louisiana border, killing at least 11 persons in the two states. More than 100 died in the pre-storm evacuation of Houston.

ARIZONA

Clueless Samaritans aid car-theft bid

MESA — People got behind and pushed and even offered an impromptu driving lesson to help a boy who was struggling to drive a car — all of them failing to realize that the 14-year-old was stealing the vehicle, police said.

The boy stopped mid-getaway Wednesday to ask for help, and at least 15 persons responded, said Phoenix police. Police said the teen then got stuck in reverse, and more neighbors helped push the car. When he still couldn’t figure out how to operate the manual transmission, police said he asked a passer-by for an impromptu driving lesson. Margarita Wood climbed in to help.

Police caught up with the boy after some city workers and other residents spotted the erratic driver and called 911. Police said the car belongs to a friend with whom the teen had been staying. The owner declined to press charges. The boy was given citations and released to his grandmother.

ARKANSAS

Woman finds 1.3-carat diamond

MURFREESBORO — A Tennessee woman whose husband predicted that she wouldn’t have any luck gem hunting at Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park made a sparkling discovery: a 1.3-carat diamond.

At first, she thought the light yellow diamond was “a piece of dirty quartz.” After the diamond, the size of a piece of candy corn, was identified by park staff, Melissa Lacey of Knoxville said she couldn’t wait to show it to her husband.

A freshly dug trench was opened to the public Saturday a week ago. Mrs. Lacey found her diamond Thursday in soil from the trench that was spread out over parts of the diamond field.

DELAWARE

Rare stamp fetches $74,000 at auction

WILMINGTON — A 1920s-era 10-cent stamp containing a rare printing error sold at auction Friday for $74,000.

The owner of the Stamp Center, which handled the auction, would not disclose the identity or location of the buyer of the mint-condition unused stamp, which bears a likeness of President Monroe.

The buyer must also pay a 12 percent commission to the auction house, bringing the total acquisition price to $82,880. The stamp’s seller, Charles Jacobs, a retired electrician from Salisbury Township, Pa., will receive $66,600 after paying a 10 percent commission.

The typical Monroe stamp has 11 perforation holes on all four sides. The stamp sold Friday contains only 10 holes on its top side.

IOWA

Powerball ticket sold worth $200 million

DES MOINES — A Powerball ticket sold at an Iowa convenience store is worth $200 million, Iowa Lottery officials said yesterday.

The winning ticket was sold at a Kum & Go in Fort Dodge, about 70 miles northwest of Des Moines. About 499 tickets were sold at the store for Saturday night’s drawing, Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said.

The winner has not come forward. The prize, if taken in payments over 30 years, would be $140.5 million after taxes, Miss Neubauer said. A lump sum payment would yield a check of $67.1 million after taxes, she said.

KENTUCKY

Heavy storms pass, leaving 11 dead

LOUISVILLE — Stormy weather blamed for 11 deaths in the Midwest and South subsided yesterday, although residents in some states remained shut out of their homes by high waters.

Flood warnings remained in effect for parts of Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri. Many Kentucky roads were still submerged yesterday, but waters in many areas began to recede. The storms that also hit parts of Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee on Friday and Saturday stranded people in cars, forced others from their homes and left thousands without power.

The death toll in Kentucky reached eight, including a father and his 1-year-old daughter in a truck that skidded in floodwaters. One death was reported in Arkansas, and in Illinois, authorities say lightning was the apparent cause of a house fire that killed two elderly women.

NEW MEXICO

Rocket launch ushers in cheap spaceflight

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES — A rocket packed with cargo is set to blast off into space from a desert launch range in New Mexico, ushering in what its backers say is a new era of cheap public access to the stars.

UP Aerospace plans to launch SpaceLoft XL rocket into space early today from Spaceport America, a remote desert launch site a few miles from the town of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico.

The telephone pole-sized rocket will hurl about 50 items of payload including a Ziploc bag of Cheerios, some cremated remains and several high school science projects, into a brief suborbital flight 70 miles above the earth.

Connecticut-based UP Aerospace says the 13-minute flight, scheduled soon after dawn, will inaugurate a new era that puts space within reach of large numbers of paying customers. Chief Executive Eric Knight said clients can buy payload space starting at a few hundred dollars for the small items weighing a few grams, rising to “many tens of thousands of dollars” for larger pieces of cargo.

UTAH

Court to hear Smart case appeal

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal on whether a woman accused in the 2002 abduction of then-14-year-old Elizabeth Smart may be forcibly medicated in the hope she may become mentally fit to stand trial.

Wanda Barzee’s attorneys contend that a decision allowing the Utah State Hospital to forcibly medicate their client was wrong because the situation did not meet the criteria set by the U.S. Supreme Court, including that the medication was substantially likely to restore her competency.

After agreeing last week to hear the case, the court called for an expedited schedule. Although the Supreme Court’s calendar has not been formally set for December, Deputy Attorney General Kris Leonard said the high court plans to hear oral arguments in early December.

Miss Barzee, 60, was initially declared incompetent to stand trial in 2004 and ordered held at the state psychiatric hospital, where she has refused to participate in therapy. In June, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton ruled that she meets all the requirements outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court for a defendant to be forced to take medication.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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