- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Wildfire surges into wilderness

LOS OLIVOS — Crews battling a six-week-old wildfire lost ground overnight as it surged across about 13 square miles of arid brush, officials said yesterday.

The fire’s push into a densely forested wilderness area brought the total area blackened to about 148 square miles. It was expected to continue growing with triple-digit temperatures and low humidity predicted throughout the week, fire spokesman Joe Pasinato said.

The blaze was just 44 percent contained, down from 68 percent the previous day, Mr. Pasinato said.

Elsewhere, the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park was closed yesterday because of a Wyoming lightning-caused wildfire that had charred an estimated 12,000 acres, or about 18 square miles. Crews in Montana worked to douse flames near a residential area before a change in the weather.


Storm to stay strong as it reaches islands

HONOLULU — Hurricane Flossie roared toward Hawaii yesterday with its sustained wind increased to 140 mph, and was expected to retain much of its strength by the time it passes the islands.

Forecasters earlier had said cooler weather would weaken the storm to a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained wind of at least 74 mph, by the time it passes about 70 miles south of the Big Island of Hawaii late today or early tomorrow.

But yesterday forecasters said they now expected a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained wind of at least 111 mph, to pass the islands.

The National Weather Service placed the Big Island under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions were possible within 36 hours. A flash-flood watch was also issued for the island through tomorrow, with possible flash flooding in areas. Other islands are expected to experience much less of the storm’s wind and rain.


Laser scans reveal Lincoln defect

CHICAGO — Artists, sculptors and photographers knew Abraham Lincoln’s face had a good side. Now it’s confirmed by science.

Laser scans of two life masks, made from plaster casts of Lincoln’s face, reveal the 16th president’s unusual degree of facial asymmetry, according to a new study.

The left side of Lincoln’s face was much smaller than the right, an aberration called cranial facial microsomia. The defect joins a long list of ailments — including smallpox, heart illness and depression — that modern doctors have diagnosed in Lincoln.

Lincoln’s contemporaries noted his left eye at times drifted upward independently of his right eye, a condition now called strabismus. Lincoln’s smaller left eye socket may have displaced a muscle controlling vertical movement, said Dr. Ronald Fishman, who led the study published in the August issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Severe strabismus leads to double vision and can be treated today by surgery.


Blanco a witness in Katrina trial

ST. FRANCISVILLE — The owners of a suburban nursing home where 35 patients died during Hurricane Katrina’s flooding can call Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco as a witness at their trial on negligent homicide charges, a judge ruled yesterday.

State District Judge Jerome Winsberg’s ruling came as attorneys prepared for jury selection in the trial of Salvador and Mabel Mangano, the husband and wife owners of St. Rita’s nursing home in St. Bernard Parish, an area that was inundated by Katrina’s flood waters almost two years ago.

The Manganos’ attorneys said the governor and other public officials failed to organize an effective evacuation and help transport “at risk” people to high ground.

They said testimony from the governor about the state’s hurricane preparations is important to their case.

Prosecutors and a lawyer for the governor, Uma M. Subramanian, argued that the governor should not be compelled to testify. She said other officials in state government could better address the issues and that the governor should able to avoid testimony by invoking executive privilege.


City philanthropist dies at 105

NEW YORK — Brooke Astor, the civic leader, philanthropist and high-society fixture who gave away nearly $200 million to support New York City’s great cultural institutions and a host of humbler projects, died yesterday. She was 105.

Mrs. Astor, who recently was the center of a highly publicized legal dispute over her care, died of pneumonia at Holly Hill, her Westchester County estate in Briarcliff Manor, family lawyer Kenneth Warner said.

“Brooke was truly a remarkable woman,” longtime family friend David Rockefeller said. “She was the leading lady of New York in every sense of the word.”

Although a legendary figure in New York City and feted with a famous gala on her 100th birthday in March 2002, Mrs. Astor was mostly interested in putting the fortune that husband Vincent Astor left to use by helping others. Her efforts won her a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1998.

“Money is like manure, it should be spread around,” was her oft-quoted motto.


Counseling tied to youth cholesterol

DALLAS — If children are told how to eat right, they actually listen — even if it means avoiding their favorite fatty foods, Finnish researchers said yesterday.

Regular counseling of families and children about the benefits of avoiding saturated fats in their diet led to diets lower in fat and saturated fat, and reduced blood cholesterol levels in children up to the age of 14, they said.

There were no differences in stature between counseled children and those who were not, suggesting a low-fat diet can pay dividends from the start without affecting growth.

“We feel that lifetime habits form early in life and healthier lifestyles should be started earlier in life,” said Dr. Harri Niinikoski, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Turku in Finland.

Among the findings, published in online editions yesterday of the American Heart Association journal Circulation, counseling seemed to have a bigger impact on the cholesterol level of boys than girls. The researchers were not sure why.


Teens takes pleas in bomb plot

GREEN BAY — Three teens accused of helping to plan a Columbine-like attack on a high school pleaded no contest yesterday in separate plea agreements.

William Cornell, 18, pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit homicide, possession of explosives for unlawful purposes and possession of a short-barreled shotgun.

Shawn Sturtz, 18, pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit homicide, while Bradley Netwal, 19, pleaded no contest to conspiracy to damage property with explosives.

The three were accused of making bombs and collecting guns to carry out the attack at the northeastern Wisconsin school. They were arrested last fall after a fourth teen, who was not charged, told an associate principal at East High School about the purported plot.

Prosecutors say the three teens wanted revenge for bullying and other problems they had experienced at school. Mr. Cornell and Mr. Sturtz had long been fascinated by the April 1999 Columbine massacre in Littleton, Colo., in which two students armed with guns, knives and bombs killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves, police said.


Climbing reopens at monument

DEVILS TOWER NATIONAL MONUMENT — The National Park Service has opened all climbing routes on the monument. Officials had closed routes on the southwest face of the of the tower in March to allow a pair of nesting prairie falcons to be left alone.

They reopened the routes last week after the falcons successfully fledged their young.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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