- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2007


NASA postpones shuttle launch

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA yesterday postponed next month’s launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis so that repairs can be made to damage from a Monday evening hail storm that left hundreds of small dents on the spacecraft’s external fuel tank and wing.

The launch, which had been set for March 15, was pushed back to at least late April.

NASA technicians planned to move the orbiter back to a giant hangar to examine the damage and decide whether repairs can be made at the Kennedy Space Center.

The damage was concentrated in the upper third of the 153-foot-tall external tank, a section that holds liquid oxygen propellant.

During their 11 days in space, Atlantis’ astronauts were scheduled to deliver a 35,000-pound addition to the international space station, the heaviest ever, along with a new pair of solar arrays.


Threats shut down campus

ROLLA — A distraught graduate student claiming to have a bomb and anthrax sparked a scare early yesterday that shut down the University of Missouri at Rolla for several hours, officials said.

Nearly two dozen people, including a faculty member and eight students, were quarantined and decontaminated after a white, powdery substance was found.

School officials said “possible bomb materials” were also found when the man was taken into custody. Police used a stun gun to subdue him. Officials described him as a graduate student who was apparently depressed and upset about his grades.

The incident started in a civil engineering building on campus.


Dog returns home from monthlong walk

KENAI — Chipper, a 3-year-old Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, found his way home after more than a month on the lam.

Jim Butler, Chipper’s owner, said the dog took off on a walk on Dec. 12. The dog, looking the worse for wear, returned home Jan. 29, almost to the disbelief of his family.

“His hair was falling out in places and when he left he weighed 49 pounds, but was only 27 when he returned. He was a bag of bones,” Mr. Butler said.

The family gave Chipper water and small amounts of puppy food to help start the recovery process. Mr. Butler said they weren’t sure he would make it through that first night, but in the morning Chipper was back to his old routine.

“He loves fetching the paper and he brought it up that first day back,” Mr. Butler said.


Landslide forces out apartment residents

SAN FRANCISCO — Rocks and boulders tumbled onto an apartment building early yesterday, sending 150 residents of San Francisco’s North Beach district into the streets.

No injuries were reported, but at least four buildings were evacuated after the 3 a.m. landslide. Officials shut off water and electricity to the structures.

City engineers were assessing damage as boulders and mud piled several stories high against an apartment building and a club.

Authorities were trying to determine what caused the slide.


Court to hear Smith burial appeal

WEST PALM BEACH — An appeals court was set to hear arguments today about whether Anna Nicole Smith should be buried in the Bahamas or Texas — a dispute that has dragged on for almost three weeks since the former Playboy playmate’s death.

In filings yesterday with the Florida 4th District Court of Appeal, attorneys for Mrs. Smith’s companion and her infant daughter said Mrs. Smith’s estranged mother was trying to “place her in death where she never wanted to be in life” — Texas.

The three judges assigned to the case haven’t said when they will rule. Mrs. Smith, 39, died in a Florida hotel Feb. 8.

Florida Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin last week gave control of Mrs. Smith’s body to the attorney for her 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn.

The girl’s attorney, Richard Milstein, quickly said he would bury Mrs. Smith in the Bahamas, where witnesses said she wanted to be laid to rest.


Imam sentenced for aiding Hamas

ROME — The imam of a north Georgia mosque who pleaded guilty to providing support to the militant group Hamas was sentenced yesterday to more than seven years in prison.

Mohamed Shorbagi, 42, had faced up to 15 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy in Rome sentenced him to seven years and eight months.

Shorbagi pleaded guilty in August to providing material support to Hamas in a case in which the agreement, charges and even the plea hearing were handled in secret.

The charges and plea agreement were filed Aug. 28 in federal court in Rome, but were sealed until Oct. 13.

Prosecutors have said that between 1997 and 2001, Shorbagi provided financial support to Hamas, a group designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization. He also was accused of conspiring to provide material support to Hamas. The donations were through a charity called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, prosecutors said.


Whale’s tail freed of rope

KIHEI — A young humpback whale was freed of several hundred feet of rope wrapped around its tail, the sixth rescue this season.

David Mattila, rescue coordinator with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said the rope was wrapped tightly and had cut into the whale’s flesh. He said that unlike the other whales that have been untangled, this one appeared to still be healthy.


‘Idiot’ finally collects $800,000 jackpot

DES MOINES — Ed O’Neill’s bank account just got a lot bigger, thanks to a co-worker who told him some “idiot” hadn’t claimed an $800,000 Powerball lottery prize.

Mr. O’Neill, 58, who works for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, bought the ticket for a Jan. 6 Powerball drawing. He told Iowa Lottery staffers that he didn’t think to check the results until a couple of days afterward, when a chamber receptionist pointed out an article in the local newspaper.

“She said, ‘Read this article about the idiot that hasn’t claimed his ticket.’ So I read it and noticed where the ticket was bought,” Mr. O’Neill said. “I thought, ‘Gee, I better look at my ticket.’ That’s when I said, ‘I think I won.’ ”

On Monday, Mr. O’Neill and his wife, Diane, 58, cashed in the ticket at the lottery headquarters in Des Moines, but not before meeting with an accountant and planning how to handle the winnings.

After taxes, the couple will get about $560,000. Much of it will go to pay off their mortgage, pay off their children’s mortgages and save for retirement.


Woman cleared in Emmett Till case

JACKSON — A grand jury that looked into the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till — a black teenager who was killed after he whistled at a white woman in the Mississippi Delta — has refused to indict the woman, all but closing the books on a crime that galvanized the civil rights movement.

The district attorney in rural Leflore County had sought a manslaughter charge against Carolyn Bryant Donham, who was suspected of pointing out the teenager to her husband to mete out punishment for what was then a grave offense in the segregated South.

The grand jury on Friday issued a “no bill,” meaning it found insufficient evidence, according to documents made public yesterday.

Federal authorities decided last year not to press charges, saying the statute of limitations for federal charges had expired. Mississippi authorities represented the last, best chance to prosecute.


Judge approves Holocaust settlement

NEW YORK — A federal judge yesterday approved a settlement involving Holocaust victims, their relatives and an Italian insurance company that ends a lawsuit brought a decade ago.

U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels announced his approval after listening to attorneys on all sides, including an attorney for six objectors who insisted the deal with Assicurazioni Generali would deny justice for tens of thousands of victims.

“The settlement is not perfect, but it’s hard to imagine any recovery for Holocaust victims after 60 years could be just compensation,” Judge Daniels said.

Under the deal, Generali would accept new claims until March 31, even though it already has paid $135 million to settle claims. So far, 3,300 persons have made fresh claims, which might entitle them to payouts under an international commission’s formula. Attorneys said an average of $25,000 was expected to be paid out per claim.

If the sealed Nazi archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany, are opened and new insurance records are discovered, the date to file claims may be extended up to Aug. 31, 2008, according to the settlement.


Monstrosity burger goes for record

CLEARFIELD — The newest addition to the menu at Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub is one meaty monstrosity of a burger.

The Beer Barrel Main Event Charity Burger weighs in at 123 pounds. The sizable sandwich features an 80-pound beef patty, along with a pound each of lettuce, ketchup, relish, mustard and mayonnaise, 160 slices of cheese, up to five onions and 12 tomatoes. It’s topped with a couple of pounds of banana peppers and 33 pickles, then sandwiched into a 30-pound bun.

There’s a pretty hefty price, too: $379.

The Clearfield pub added the menu item over the weekend. Restaurant owner Denny Leigey said he plans to submit paperwork on his colossal culinary creation to Guinness World Records. The burger’s cooks maintain that it shatters the world record of 105 pounds shared by two restaurants in New Jersey and Thailand.

Mr. Leigey said he didn’t know how many calories were stuffed into his gigantic entree.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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