- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Governor pans obesity report cards

LITTLE ROCK — The first state to send home obesity report cards to warn parents of overweight children’s health risks may ditch the plan or weaken it with the help of the new governor.

Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, said the school weigh-ins and report cards had “a lot of negative, unintended consequences” and hurt some children’s self-esteem. He favors letting parents drop out of the program more easily and wants the state to test children less often.

His predecessor, Mike Huckabee, a Republican who championed the program as he dropped 110 pounds after being diagnosed with diabetes, said that reversing the state’s trendsetting, three-year-old effort “would be a huge step backwards.”

Since Arkansas adopted its school-based anti-obesity program, California, Florida and Pennsylvania have initiated similar efforts. Public health officials in Arkansas point to a dip in the state’s childhood-obesity rate since the program began, but some lawmakers say that telling parents their children weigh too much could hurt children’s self-esteem.

The Arkansas House last week approved a bill that would repeal the body-mass index reports altogether, horrifying health specialists who see the program as a wake-up call for families.


Dalai Lama accepts Emory appointment

ATLANTA — The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, has been named a presidential distinguished professor at Emory University, university officials said yesterday.

It is the first university appointment that the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate has accepted, Emory said.

The Dalai Lama’s new role includes providing private teaching sessions with students and faculty during Emory’s study-abroad program in Dharamsala, India, and opportunities for university community members to attend his annual teachings. He also will make periodic visits to Emory to participate in programs, the statement said.

His appointment has no set ending date, said Emory spokeswoman Nancy Seideman. The spiritual leader is receiving no compensation, she said.

The Tibetan leader said he looks forward to offering his services to students and the community.


Newspaper gets mail eight years late

GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls Tribune has some old mail to sort.

More than 400 pieces of mail addressed to the newspaper have been delivered eight years late. They were to have been delivered on Jan. 16, 1999, but reached the newspaper Thursday. Included were checks for Tribune subscriptions.

“This was truly a case of the check was in the mail,” said Tribune Publisher Jim Strauss, who accepted the mail delivered by Postmaster Jeanne Downey and Jacque Stingley, a customer-service representative for the U.S. Postal Service. The subscription checks will be returned to customers, Mr. Strauss said.

“We are truly sorry,” Miss Stingley said. “I’m sure people have been wondering where their mail went.”

When a postal clerk was distributing mail on Jan. 16, 1999, the Tribune’s was placed in the wrong locker, one that is used rarely, the post office said. On Thursday, a customer who was assigned the locker opened it and found the mail.


Woman gives birth on casino floor

ATLANTIC CITY — A woman playing the penny slots Saturday morning left the Resorts Atlantic City casino with her own little jackpot: a newborn boy.

Nyree Thompson, 32 and eight months pregnant, went into labor on the casino floor about 9:30 a.m.

She said she mistook labor pains for gas at first, but after going to the restroom told a security guard that she might be giving birth.

The new mother said the guard thought she was joking. Then her water broke.

“A guard came over and said, ‘Don’t push,’—” she said. “I said, ‘Forget you, this baby is coming right now.’ ”

Minutes later, a boy weighing less than 5 pounds was born with four security guards’ help. His mother named him Qualeem. Despite being premature, Qualeem was doing fine.


Captain, cruise line indicted in accident

QUEENSBURY — A cruise-line owner and the captain of a boat that capsized in 2005 in upstate New York, killing 20 tourists, were indicted yesterday on criminal misdemeanor charges.

A grand jury charged Shoreline Cruises and captain Richard Paris with failing to have enough crew members aboard the Ethan Allen tour boat when it overturned in Lake George. Mr. Paris was the only crew member aboard; state navigation law required at least two for the 47 passengers on board that day.

The grand jury also made several legislative recommendations, Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan said. Details won’t be released until a county court judge accepts the report, she said.

Grand jury members “were greatly moved by this case,” Miss Hogan said.

The charges are punishable by up to 15 days in jail and/or a $250 fine.

Survivors and victims’ families have filed nine lawsuits in federal court.


University auctions one year of tuition

BARTLESVILLE — One student next term at Oklahoma Wesleyan University may have paid a lot less for tuition than his or her classmates.

The university on Saturday kicked off an EBay auction of a year of tuition, room and board at the private college.

Bidders can buy the tuition for themselves or someone else. Among the bidders will be current students at the school, which has an enrollment of about 1,030 students.

A year of tuition, room and board at Oklahoma Wesleyan costs about $23,000. The bidding will be open through Saturday.

Mike Colaw, the university’s special assistant to the vice president, said the school is looking to “create a buzz” surrounding the auction.

The tuition recipient must meet the university’s admission requirements.


Man pleads guilty to possessing poison

NASHVILLE — A Nashville man pleaded guilty yesterday to federal charges of possessing the deadly poison ricin along with firearms silencers and explosives under a plea deal with prosecutors to spare himself from life in prison.

Neither William Matthews nor the authorities explained why the 56-year-old had the poison.

Matthews was charged after a tip from his estranged wife led police and federal agents to search his property May 31. They found the ricin in a sealed baby jar. They also found two functional pipe bombs, five gun silencers, three blasting caps and bomb-making materials.

Matthews was serving a nine-month sentence in the Davidson County Jail for violating orders of protection filed by his wife when he was charged with ricin possession. He has remained in custody since then.

His guilty plea yesterday calls for a prison term of seven years and three months when he is sentenced April 27. The ricin charge alone could have been punished by up to life in prison.


‘Veg-Hed’ wins snow sculpture medal

LAKE GENEVA — When people look at a mound of snow, they don’t often think of vegetables. Then again, they’re not brothers David and Chris Andrews, or Scott Pauli, their cousin.

The three men took the gold medal over the weekend at the United States National Snow Sculpting Championships and the People’s Choice Award, besting 14 other sculptures.

Their 10-foot sculpture, called “Veg-Head,” had cherry tomato eyes, a pea-pod grin, bell pepper ears, a jalapeno nose, and a pumpkinlike top.

“Veg-head” took 30 hours to carve, Chris Andrews said.

Despite the subzero temperatures Saturday, the sculptors said, they enjoyed the camaraderie and enthusiasm of the crowd.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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