- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2007


University acquires Biosphere 2 as lab

TUCSON — The University of Arizona has unveiled Biosphere 2 as its newest laboratory, with ambitious plans for climate-change research and promises to bring a new era of scientific legitimacy to the unique but often-criticized terrarium.

The university will start two new scientific endeavors to take advantage of the 3.1-acre mini-world and embark on an expanded public-education and outreach campaign.

“UA will develop Biosphere 2 into a center for research, outreach, teaching and lifelong learning about Earth, its living systems and its place in the universe,” said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Science.

Originally built for $200 million as an experimental self-sustaining environment, Biosphere 2 was sold for $50 million on June 4 to CDO Ranching & Development, part of a 1,658-acre parcel already approved for the development of 1,500 homes and a resort hotel. The university will lease the Biosphere 2 campus, near Oracle, about 35 miles from campus, for $100 a year for three years, Mr. Ruiz said, with hopes of acquiring the facility afterward.

The $30 million in operating expenses and research funding will come from the Philecology Foundation, led by Texas billionaire and Biosphere 2 creator Edward P. Bass.


Kerouac fans mark ’On the Road’ 50th

BOULDER — Admirers of author Jack Kerouac celebrated the 50th anniversary of “On the Road” with a marathon reading of the novel.

Fans and some close friends of the late author took turns reading his most famous novel aloud Saturday at Naropa University in Boulder. About 150 persons listened to the cover-to-cover reading, which took 12 hours and kicked off the university’s inaugural Kerouac Festival.

One of the most popular books ever written by an American, “On the Road” tells the story of Mr. Kerouac and a friend he calls Dean Moriarity as they travel the country, including a visit to Denver that the city celebrates with a tour tracing his steps.

The stream-of-consciousness novel helped generate the Beat Generation.


Court bars woman wearing head scarf

VALDOSTA — A Muslim woman seeking to contest a simple speeding ticket in this southern Georgia city says she was denied access to a municipal courtroom last week for wearing a traditional Islamic head scarf.

Aniisa Karim, 20, said she was stopped after entering Valdosta’s municipal court building Tuesday and told that she would not be permitted to enter the courtroom wearing her scarf.

“I said, ‘No, I’m Muslim … I wear this for religious reasons, and if you don’t allow me in the courtroom with my scarf on, basically you are violating my civil rights and my right to a free religion,’ ” Miss Karim told the Valdosta Daily Times.

Miss Karim said an officer told her that the denial was because “homeland security reasons” and that allowing her to enter would show disrespect to Judge Vernita Lee Bender.

In a letter to Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, the Council on American-Islamic Relations asks Mr. Baker to “take appropriate action to ensure that the legal, religious and civil rights of Georgians of all faiths be maintained.”

Miss Karim said she later decided to not challenge the speeding ticket and paid a $168 fine because doing so didn’t require her to enter the courtroom.


Missing soldier’s wife gets green card

BOSTON — A woman whose soldier husband is missing in Iraq has gotten her green card after authorities threatened to deport her for entering the U.S. illegally.

Yaderlin Hiraldo Jimenez walked out of a Citizenship and Immigration Services office Friday in Buffalo, N.Y., with her permanent residency papers, her lawyer said.

“She was moved to tears,” attorney Matthew Kolken, who accompanied his client, told the Boston Globe for yesterday’s editions. “Her immigration problems have been solved in their entirety and now her focus is completely dedicated to her hope and desire that she’s going to see her husband again.”

Army Spc. Alex Jimenez, of Lawrence, Mass., has been missing since his unit was attacked in Iraq on May 12. His wife illegally entered the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in June 2001, paying $500 to a smuggler and walking three days from Mexico to California. The couple was married in 2004.


Missing boy, his dog found unharmed

OXFORD — A toddler who had been missing for more than 24 hours was found sitting on a stump with his dog by his side, police said yesterday.

A volunteer searcher on horseback found Connor Cummings, 23 months old, at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, said detective Jason Tingen. The toddler had wandered from his home outside Oxford at about 6:30 p.m. Friday.

“He was scratched up, dirty and had some ticks on him,” Mr. Tingen said in a telephone interview. “He was in pretty good spirits.”

The boy and his Labrador retriever, Sandy, spent the night outside in moderate temperatures, authorities said. The detective said Connor’s family took the boy home to get something to eat before going to a hospital for a checkup.

More than 200 volunteers and police officers searched for the boy in woods that were thick with briars and vegetation. The Civil Air Patrol launched aircraft to search from above.


Former congressman Sweeney dies at 82

CLEVELAND — Robert E. Sweeney, a one-term congressman and lawyer who specialized in asbestos claims, has died. He was 82.

Mr. Sweeney died Saturday at his home in Gates Mills after battling numerous illnesses that began with a heart attack in 1999, said his wife, Kathryn Sweeney.

Mr. Sweeney was a Democratic nominee for Ohio attorney general in 1962 and 1966, losing both times to Republican William Saxbe, who went on to become U.S. attorney general under Presidents Nixon and Ford, said his son, Robert P. Sweeney.

He held an at-large seat in Congress from 1965 to 1967. The seat was eliminated by redistricting.

After serving four years as a county commissioner, Mr. Sweeney left public office in 1980 and focused on his law practice. He helped found the Asbestos Litigation Group, a group of lawyers specializing in health-related asbestos claims.


Feds take over fight against deadly fire

NEOLA — A federal firefighting team took over direction of efforts yesterday to halt a fast-moving wildfire that killed three persons and charred about 42 square miles in northeastern Utah.

The fire started Friday morning north of Neola, about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, and by yesterday morning, crews had it about 5 percent contained. The cause had not been determined.

A U.S. Forest Service command team that travels the country fighting the largest fires joined local crews yesterday and took over direction of the firefighting efforts. At nearby Vernal, there was little wind yesterday, the temperature was expected to hit 95 degrees and midday humidity was only 10 percent, according to the National Weather Service.

“We are seeing extreme fire behavior and the potential for growth is still there. We haven’t had a change in weather or change in fuel type or dryness. Everything is in place for growth today,” said Louis Haynes, a spokesman for Ashley National Forest.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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