- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2007


Astronaut sets U.S. spacewalk mark

CAPE CANAVERAL — Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria broke the U.S. record of most time walking in space yesterday as he and another astronaut performed maintenance work outside the International Space Station during their third spacewalk in nine days.

Mr. Lopez-Alegria surpassed the previous U.S. record of 58 hours and 32 minutes midway through his chores with fellow American Sunita Williams. He did not come close to the all-time record, though; Russian Anatoly Solovyov has logged more than 82 hours.

Mr. Lopez-Alegria and Mrs. Williams finished a primary mission of their spacewalk: tossing quilt-sized thermal sheets from the space station.

The two large thermal covers were folded up with smaller shrouds that had been covering an electronics box and were used to prevent parts of the space station from getting too hot or cold. Scientists think they will burn up upon entering Earth’s atmosphere.


Lutherans remove gay minister

ATLANTA — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) said yesterday that it is removing from the clergy a homosexual minister who announced he has a partner.

The Rev. Bradley Schmeling, who has led St. John’s Lutheran Church since 2000, will be removed from the roster effective Aug. 15, according to a report from the ELCA’s disciplinary committee.

Mr. Schmeling, who was open about his sexuality when he took the job, announced last year that he had found a lifelong companion. Bishop Ronald Warren asked the 44-year-old pastor to resign, but Mr. Schmeling refused. Bishop Warren began disciplinary proceedings last year against Mr. Schmeling for violating church rules barring sex outside of marriage.


Spiritual support from doctors urged

CHICAGO — Doctors may have to take a more active role in addressing the spiritual needs of patients with terminal illnesses, a study suggested yesterday.

Spiritual support appears to help improve the quality of life among people facing death, the research from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School found.

But among the patients with advanced stages of cancer who were studied, many said they were not getting that support from religious communities or the medical system.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said barriers often hinder doctors from helping to provide spiritual support. The worlds of medical science and religion are separated in many hospitals, the authors said, and there is concern that doctors might try to impose their own beliefs on patients.

Doctors need not become spiritual advisers, but “they can participate appropriately in spiritual care … by recognizing spiritual needs and advocating for attention to them,” the study said.


Mother accused of aiding teen killing

NEW ORLEANS — A woman accused of giving her teenage son a handgun and telling him to take revenge after he lost a fight was arrested yesterday after another boy was killed, police said.

Police were searching for her son, Clarence Johnson, 17, who faces a charge of second-degree murder in the death of the other 17-year-old, New Orleans police Sgt. Joe Narcisse said.

He said both teens had walked away after the initial fight Wednesday evening.

Mr. Johnson found the other youth shortly afterward and fired several rounds, hitting him once in the abdomen, Sgt. Narcisse said. The other teen died at the city’s trauma center.

Vanessa Johnson, 44, was booked with being a principal to second-degree murder.


Student’s killer sentenced to death

FARGO — A rapist who killed college student Dru Sjodin six months after being released from prison was formally sentenced to death yesterday in a case that led to tougher sex-offender laws.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson also rejected a motion for a new trial for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., 53, who was convicted last fall of kidnapping resulting in death.

Miss Sjodin, 22, a University of North Dakota student from Pequot Lakes, Minn., disappeared from a Grand Forks shopping mall parking lot in 2003. Her body was found nearly five months later in a Minnesota ravine. Authorities said she had been beaten, raped and stabbed.

Before Miss Sjodin’s slaying, Rodriguez had served more than 20 years for offenses that included rape and attempted kidnapping.


Father charged in toddler’s death

PITTSBURGH — A man angry that his daughter wouldn’t go to bed knocked the toddler unconscious and left her to die outside in single-digit temperatures, police said.

The frozen body of Nyia Miangel Page, who was about to turn 2, was found Sunday at an abandoned playground about a 10-minute walk from the family’s home. Tiny footprints in the snow suggest she had gotten up and wandered the area before she died, police said.

Her father, William Lorenzo Page, 23, of Braddock, was arrested Wednesday on charges of criminal homicide, kidnapping, false reports and simple assault. He has been in custody since Sunday, when he was charged with sexually abusing another child shortly before Nyia died.


Marriage proposed in local TV ad

SEATTLE — Rand Fishkin wanted to propose to his girlfriend with a Super Bowl ad. That didn’t work out, but there was still local television, and he got the answer he wanted.

Mr. Fishkin, 27, got into the advertising gambit after a Tennessee man who started a Web site to try to raise $2.6 million to buy a Super Bowl ad learned last fall that his dream girl would reject him. Mr. Fishkin took over the Web site — mysuperproposal.com — which had dropped the fundraising plan in favor of luring a corporate sponsor. A major company, which Mr. Fishkin declined to name, offered to feature the proposal in one of its ads, but then withdrew, he says.

So Mr. Fishkin turned to another funding source — his mother — and bought a $3,000 local ad on Tuesday during his girlfriend’s favorite show, “Veronica Mars.” In his ad, Mr. Fishkin, held up a picture of himself and Geraldine DeRuiter, 26.

“The whole world?” he says. “This is Geraldine. She is amazing in every way. For the last five years, we’ve spent the best parts of our lives together and made it through the tough times, too. I couldn’t ask for anything more in my life than her love.

“And that’s why I’m here today. Geraldine, will you marry me?”

Right after the ad aired, Miss DeRuiter said yes.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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