- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

ILLINOIS

Longtime Chicago suburb mayor dies

ROSEMONT — Donald Stephens, who saw this Chicago suburb develop into a commercial haven during his half-century as its only mayor, has died, a city spokesman said. He was 79.

Mr. Stephens had stomach cancer and died at his home on Wednesday, spokesman Gary Mack said.

During his 51-year tenure, Mr. Stephens focused on large-scale projects: an entertainment center, a theater and a convention center that bears his name. His final years in office were colored by a casino bid that collapsed amid accusations of mob ties.

Mr. Stephens won his latest four-year term in 2005. It was not clear how his successor would be chosen, Mr. Mack said.

TEXAS

Civil dispute puts donkey on witness stand

DALLAS — Faced with complaints that his donkey was too loud, lawyer Gregory Shamoun brought his case directly to court: He had the donkey testify.

Buddy the donkey appeared in court Wednesday. He walked to the bench and stared at the jury, the picture of a gentle, well-mannered creature and not the loud, aggressive animal he had been accused of being.

Mr. Shamoun was in a dispute with oilman John Cantrell, who had complained to the city about a storage shed Mr. Shamoun was building in his back yard in Dallas. Mr. Cantrell said Mr. Shamoun retaliated by bringing the donkey from his ranch and putting him in the back yard.

Mr. Cantrell complained of noise and manure piles.

Despite the donkey’s appearance, neither jurors or Buddy had the last say. The neighbors settled their dispute while jurors deliberated.

CALIFORNIA

Virginia Tech massacre sparks a similar threat

YUBA CITY — A 12,000-student school district was locked down yesterday as authorities searched for a homeless man they say threatened to make the Virginia Tech massacre look “mild by comparison.”

Schools in Yuba City and neighboring Marysville in Northern California tightened security while police searched for Jeffery Thomas Carney, 28. Mr. Carney had told a pastor in Yuba City on Wednesday night that “he had some sort of explosive device and he was going to make the incident at Virginia Tech look mild by comparison,” Sutter County Sheriff Jim Denney said.

The threat followed a week of lockdowns and evacuations at schools across the country in the wake of the Blacksburg massacre. Police said they arrested a former Kalamazoo Valley, Mich., community college student who posted Internet messages praising the Virginia Tech shooting. Officials closed the college’s two campuses through the weekend.

The 26-year-old man “said his intent was just to evoke a response from other people,” sheriff’s Lt. Terry VanStreain said. “He got a response from us, I guarantee you that.”

Separately, a Web designer was charged yesterday with posting on his own site a bogus threat to kill 50 San Diego State University students, then alerting a TV station to try to draw publicity, the FBI said. Cristobal Fernando Gonzalez, 32, faces one felony count of making a threatening communication through the Internet. He was being held on $30,000 bail.

COLORADO

Columbine High School to close on anniversary

DENVER — Columbine High School will close its doors today to students on the eighth anniversary of the 1999 massacre that left 12 students and a teacher dead.

The anniversary comes just four days after the Virginia Tech shootings. A spokeswoman at Columbine said the school, in the Denver suburbs, had no special ceremonies planned for today to commemorate the 13 lives taken by teen killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on April 20 eight years ago.

Instead, the school would be closed to students for a day of staff development, the spokeswoman said.

Survivors and the families of victims of Columbine have had painful memories reawakened this week with the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech on Monday by South Korean student Cho Seung-hui that killed 32 persons. In a chilling tribute to the Columbine killers, Cho referred to them as “the martyrs Eric and Dylan” in his hate-filled “multimedia manifesto” sent to NBC News.

FLORIDA

Anti-Castro militant freed from U.S. custody

MIAMI — Militant Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles yesterday was released from a Texas prison and returned to Miami, where his wife lives, to await trial on immigration fraud charges.

Mr. Posada was released on a $350,000 bond until the trial, scheduled for May 11. The 79-year-old Mr. Posada contends he entered the U.S. across the Mexican border in 2005, though Cuba says he was smuggled into the country with the help of Cuban-Americans opposed to the island’s communist dictatorship.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department tried to stop his release, a request an appellate court in New Orleans rejected. Conditions for his release would include 24-hour confinement to his home here and wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, which he will receive today.

Mr. Posada is charged in Venezuela with masterminding the bombing of a Cuban jetliner in 1976, which killed 73 persons. He also is suspected in a string of other attacks on Cuban facilities abroad. He has denied the bombing, but he twice escaped from Venezuelan prisons before being tried.

Cuba’s official newspaper Granma denounced his release yesterday, repeatedly referring to Mr. Posada as a “terrorist.” A Cuban-American attorney in Washington who represents the Venezuelan government, condemned the Bush administration for allowing Mr. Posada’s release.

“It is an affront to the memory of the victims of Posada’s terrorism, but it speaks volumes about the absence of sincerity in President Bush’s so-called war on terror,” Jose Pertierra told the Miami Herald.

GEORGIA

Record production of flu vaccine eyed

ATLANTA — Flu vaccine manufacturers expect to have a record 132 million doses ready for the 2007-2008 flu season, and even more could be available if a fifth company joins their ranks, officials said yesterday.

CSL Biotherapies, an Australian company, applied last month for federal approval to sell its flu vaccine in the United States this fall.

Government health officials have been expanding their flu shot recommendations to cover more age groups, and they now say that more than 200 million Americans should get vaccinated each year. But setbacks in recent years — including vaccine delays and shortages — have left doctors and patients soured and confused.

Influenza kills an estimated 36,000 Americans each year, and hospitalizes another 200,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

KENTUCKY

Judge suspended in alien jailings

LOUISVILLE — A judge was suspended without pay for 15 days for jailing 17 suspected illegal aliens for traffic infractions and then denying them bail.

The state Judicial Conduct Commission yesterday ordered Judge Sue Carol Browning, who oversees cases in two western Kentucky counties, off the bench from April 28 through May 12.

Some suspects were held for as long as three weeks in August and September before another judge freed them. Circuit Judge Tyler Gill ruled in October that the men were “jailed without reason.”

The commission said Judge Browning violated the canons of judicial conduct by instructing police officers to arrest suspected illegal aliens without identification during traffic stops, then denying the men a right to bail.

OHIO

Mystery animals roaming woods

CHESTERLAND — Wildlife specialists haven’t been able to positively identify at least three animals spotted roaming the woods in Chester Township, about 20 miles east of Cleveland, over the past few months.

“We’re not exactly sure what they are,” said Allen Lea of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, which has reviewed photos taken by a resident. “But they’re definitely not a native species. They’re not where they belong.”

Police have received calls from residents offering varying descriptions, with possible identifications including bighorn sheep and wild goat.

Experts at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo reviewed the photos and speculated the animals could be tahrs (a wild goat indigenous to Asia) or mouflons (a wild sheep found in Europe and Asia).

Township police Chief Mark Purchase said there were no plans to trap the animals.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Mother who killed sons gets 10 years

MONCKS CORNER — A mother who smothered her crying 9-month-old twins with a pillow then went back to sleep was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Lakeia White, 20, pleaded guilty but mentally ill on Wednesday to homicide by child abuse. She said she put the pillow over sons Davion and Trevon Wilson on Oct. 11 to settle them down while she was staying with relatives in this town near the coast.

White left the home when the boys were found dead, prosecutor Blair Jennings said.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” she told Judge Roger Young in a soft voice.

Psychiatrists said White knew her actions were wrong but suffered from depression with psychotic effects. By state law, people are guilty but mentally ill if they could tell right from wrong but suffered from mental illness.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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