- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2007

ARKANSAS

Resolution backed on apostrophe ‘s’

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ grammar got a tweak on Tuesday — or rather, Arkansas’s grammar did.

Legislators will send Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, a resolution declaring “Arkansas’s” the proper possessive form of the state’s name, but the governor is way ahead of them. His office began using the additional “s” in press releases Monday, spokesman Matt DeCample said.

The Arkansas Senate supported the resolution Tuesday, and the House passed it a week earlier. The Senate voted after a few groans and an introduction on the history of “the much-debated apostrophe ‘s’ ” by state Sen. Jim Hill, Nashville Democrat.

CALIFORNIA

Prosecution allowed for medical pot use

A California woman whose doctor says marijuana is the only medicine keeping her alive can face federal prosecution on drug charges, a U.S. appeals court ruled yesterday.

The case was brought by Angel Raich, an Oakland mother of two who suffers from a brain tumor, chronic nausea, scoliosis and other ailments. On her doctor’s advice, she eats or smokes marijuana every couple of hours to ease her pain and bolster her appetite. Conventional drugs did not work for her.

The Supreme Court ruled against Mrs. Raich two years ago, saying that medical marijuana users and their suppliers could be prosecuted for breaching federal drug laws even if they lived in a state such as California where medical pot is legal.

Because of that ruling, the issue before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was narrowed to the so-called right-to-life theory: that marijuana should be allowed if it is the only viable option to keep a patient alive.

Mrs. Raich, 41, sobbed when she was told of the decision and said she would continue using the drug.

“I’m sure not going to let them kill me,” she said.

COLORADO

Avalanche kills 2 cross-country skiers

ASPEN — An avalanche swept away three cross-country skiers Tuesday, killing two, authorities said.

The skier who survived was not buried and called for help on a mobile phone, Pitkin County sheriff’s patrol director Jeff Lumsden said.

That skier, Jason Luck, 33, of Arvada, freed one victim, who was not breathing, sheriff’s officials said. The other victim was buried under about 8 feet of snow.

The victims were from New York City and Buenos Aires, Mr. Lumsden said.

The slide happened at about 11,500 feet on Mount Shimer, a few miles southeast of Aspen in the White River National Forest.

MASSACHUSETTS

Heart attack deaths rise on weekends

BOSTON — People who have heart attacks on weekends are more likely to die and receive poorer care than those stricken on weekdays, U.S. researchers reported yesterday.

Their study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, echoes a study published last week that made similar findings for stroke victims in Canada.

Both suggested that the aggressive, specialized care that saves lives is simply less available on a weekend.

“One in 100 people with their first heart attack are going to die because hospital policies are not the same on the weekend as the weekday,” said William Kostis of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J., who led the study.

For their study, Dr. Kostis and colleagues tracked more than 200,000 first-time heart attacks in their state. On the day after admission, the mortality rate was 3.3 percent for those admitted on a Saturday or Sunday, compared with 2.7 percent for people brought in on a weekday. That difference in the death rate persisted for a year.

MONTANA

Defendant saw no unicorn

BILLINGS — It turns out there are no such things as unicorns — and even if there were, they wouldn’t drive trucks.

On Tuesday, a Billings prosecutor told a district judge that Phillip C. Holliday Jr., 42, claimed a unicorn was driving when his truck crashed into a light pole earlier this month.

But yesterday, the chief prosecutor, County Attorney Dennis Paxinos, said it was all a misunderstanding. Mr. Holliday apparently told police that an unnamed woman — not a unicorn — was driving when his truck hit the pole.

The mix-up occurred when a deputy prosecutor misunderstood an e-mail from a colleague who used the phrase “unicorn defense,” thinking it was an actual statement from Mr. Holliday, Mr. Paxinos said. “Unicorn defense” is a slang term used by prosecutors when a defendant blames some mythical person for a crime, he said.

Mr. Holliday has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of criminal endangerment and drunken driving.

OKLAHOMA

Boy, 6, found with dead father

OKLAHOMA CITY — A 6-year-old boy stayed in an apartment with the body of his father for two days after the man died on their sofa, obeying instructions to never leave without permission, firefighters said.

The boy, whose name was not released, didn’t want to leave even after firefighters arrived, fearing punishment if he left, fire department Maj. Noble Lee said.

The boy’s father, Kevin Dale Judd, 52, appears to have died of natural causes, authorities said. The body was found late Monday after neighbors and a maintenance man reported a foul odor, Maj. Lee said.

According to a police report, the boy told police that his father had been feeling ill. The boy left the room to watch television, and when he returned his father was slumped over.

Department of Human Services spokesman George Earl Johnson Jr. said the boy will remain in the agency’s custody until relatives are found to care for him.

WASHINGTON

Captive breeding aids pygmy rabbit return

EPHRATA — The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is back in its old stomping grounds, munching olive-drab sagebrush and hopefully doing what rabbits do best.

Twenty of the creatures — each not much bigger than a man’s hand — were set free Tuesday in a remote wildlife reserve, an attempt to jump-start their population in central Washington state.

The rabbits were born and raised at Washington State University and at the Portland Zoo in Oregon in a captive breeding program similar to the effort that brought back the California condor, said Ren Lohoefener, Pacific regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They are descendants of the last known wild rabbits, caught in 2002.

The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is the country’s smallest native rabbit and the only one in the United States to dig its own burrows. The rabbit was listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2003.

The reasons the Columbia Basin rabbits declined are not known, although scientists suspect that inbreeding among such a small population was a major factor. Range fires, farming, disease and predators also are thought to have taken their toll.

WEST VIRGINIA

Teachers walk out to demand more pay

CHARLESTON — Teachers demanding better pay refused to show up for work yesterday and forced the cancellation of classes in at least 14 counties.

Some teachers joined the walkout at the last minute when they discovered peers from neighboring counties outside their schools protesting.

Lawmakers last week approved a 3.5 percent pay raise for the state’s nearly 20,000 teachers, but the teachers union said it was not enough to keep West Virginia competitive with the rest of the country.

West Virginia teachers’ salaries now rank 47th in the nation, according to the West Virginia Education Association. State officials said the average teacher earned $41,388 last year and has about 18 years of experience.

Lara Ramsburg, a spokeswoman for Gov. Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, said the walkout would not prompt immediate changes.

WYOMING

Police investigate gift-wrapped packages

JACKSON — Nine gift-wrapped packages left in the open across the city on Sunday and Monday prompted calls to police by citizens concerned that they might be bombs.

The boxes turned out to be filled with toy soldiers, Easter eggs, confetti and other knickknacks. Police say they are not sure why the packages were left, but they would like whoever did it to contact them.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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