- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

ARIZONA

Authorities capture illegal alien fugitive

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unmanned aircraft detected and assisted U.S. Border Patrol agents this week in the capture of a fugitive along the Arizona border with Mexico.

The fugitive was among six illegal aliens spotted by the unmanned aircraft during surveillance operations along the Arizona border Tuesday night. Border Patrol agents responded to the scene and arrested all six aliens, one of whom is wanted for child rape in King County, Wash., CBP spokesman Michael Friel said.

CBP turned over the unidentified suspect to the sheriff’s office in Santa Cruz County for extradition to Washington and removed the five other aliens apprehended, Mr. Friel said, adding that the operation also resulted in the seizure of 395 pounds of marijuana.

CONNECTICUT

Historical society finds antique safes

MONROE — Monroe Historical Society members delighted in the recent discovery of two antique safes on their property. What they need now is an antique safe cracker.

The 300-pound safes might hold treasures that help shed light on the 184-year-old town’s rich history. Or, they could be empty.

They will remain a mystery until the historical society finds someone who can coax open the old locks because the combinations seem to be lost to the ages.

Officials found the safes about two months ago behind a furnace in an old farmhouse owned by the society.

HAWAII

Navy refuses to disclose sonar use in lawsuit

HONOLULU — The Navy is refusing to detail its sonar use for a federal court in a case involving potential harm to whales, saying the information could jeopardize national security.

Complying with a federal judge’s order to hand over the information would require disclosure of sensitive and classified material, the Navy said Tuesday.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is suing the Navy to ensure sailors use sonar in a way that doesn’t harm whales and other marine mammals.

Critics say active sonar, which sailors use by sending sound through water and listening for objects the sound bounces off of, can strand and even kill marine mammals. A U.S. Congressional Research Service report last year found Navy sonar exercises had been responsible for at least six mass deaths and unusual behavior among whales.

KENTUCKY

Soldier sentenced in Iraqi rape case

FORT CAMPBELL — A Fort Campbell soldier pleaded guilty yesterday to being an accessory to the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the slaying of her family. Pfc. Bryan Howard, 19, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice by lying to his superior officers about the attack last year in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.

Howard could have received 15 years in prison but agreed to a five-year sentence in a plea deal. He will not serve more than 27 months if he follows conditions of the agreement to testify against the other accused soldiers, military judge Col. Stephen Henley said.

In a statement to the court, Howard, who will have his rank reduced to private and be dishonorably discharged, said he regretted not taking action to stop the killings and not telling the truth. “If I could go back, I would not have let it happen in the first place, and I definitely would have told someone,” he said.

NEW YORK

Man gets 240 years for hate crimes

NEW YORK — A judge sentenced a black man to 240 years in prison yesterday for taking hostages in a bar and telling patrons that “white people are going to burn tonight.”

State Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley told Steven Johnson, 39, that he had forfeited his “right to live in society.” He was convicted March 1 of attempted murder, assault and other charges, including some designated as hate crimes.

Johnson invaded Bar Veloce in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood while nine men and six women were inside it June 16, 2002. He was carrying three pistols, a samurai sword and a container of kerosene. He told police he had left the Brooklyn housing project where he lived and taken the subway to go look for “happy” white people to avenge the mistreatment of blacks.

PENNSYLVANIA

Girl, 8, suspended over replica gun

UPPER DARBY — A child who brought a realistic replica of a gun to school told a teacher she needed it “for protection,” police said.

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the third-grader took the authentic-looking replica of a German Luger pistol, which she apparently thought was real, with her Monday because she knew her older brother would not be able to walk her home from the bus stop that day.

“Who knows what goes through the mind of an 8-year-old?” Mr. Chitwood said Tuesday. “The good thing was that at least the other kids came forward and told the teacher about it.”

Mr. Chitwood said the girl will be suspended for 10 days and could be expelled but will not be charged with a crime. “From a criminal perspective, there’s nothing,” he said. “There were not any threats.”

SOUTH CAROLINA

Ultrasounds bill wins House vote

COLUMBIA — A measure requiring women seeking abortions to first review the ultrasound images advanced yesterday in the South Carolina Legislature.

The legislation, supported by Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, passed 91-23 after lawmakers defeated amendments exempting rape or incest. The House must approve the bill again in a routine vote before it goes to the Senate, where its sponsor expects it to pass with those exemptions.

Proponents hope women will change their minds after seeing an ultrasound. State Rep. Alan Clemmons, choking back tears as he talked about his two adopted children, recalled a prayer given by his 11-year-old daughter.

“She thanked her God, her father in heaven for her birth mother for loving her enough to give her life,” said Mr. Clemmons, a Republican. “I thank my God for those young mothers who chose to give them life.”

TEXAS

Astronaut gets new Navy assignment

CORPUS CHRISTI — The former astronaut fired by NASA after she was charged with trying to kidnap a romantic rival will develop flight lesson plans as part of her new military assignment.

Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak will work on developing curriculum and training programs when she joins the staff of the Chief of Naval Air Training Command in Corpus Christi next month, said a Navy spokesman, Lt. Sean Robertson.

Capt. Nowak was arrested Feb. 5 on suspicion of confronting a romantic rival in a parking lot at the airport in Orlando, Fla.

WEST VIRGINIA

Sago Mine’s owner idles coal operation

CHARLESTON — The owner of the Sago Mine, where 12 men died after an explosion last year, said yesterday it has idled the coal operation because of high production costs and weak prices.

International Coal Group Inc. spokesman Ira Gamm described the shutdown as a purely business decision.

The Sago Mine became the focus of national attention for two days in January 2006 after a methane gas explosion trapped a team of miners deep inside its shafts. By the time searchers reached the team 40 hours later, only one man had survived the carbon monoxide gas.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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