- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2007

ARKANSAS

Tuskegee Airmen honored for service

LITTLE ROCK — Recognition has been a long time coming for Milton Crenshaw and other members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black unit in the Army Air Corps.

But now, in the span of one week, Mr. Crenshaw has been honored by the state of Arkansas, and he and other survivors of the unit will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their work as fighter pilots during World War II.

Without men like Mr. Crenshaw, the unit would not have been as successful, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Tuesday as he presented Mr. Crenshaw with a plaque for his dedication, service and commitment.

Mr. Crenshaw, 89, was named primary flight instructor in 1942 at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Ala.

Today, he and about 200 other survivors of the Tuskegee Airmen will receive the Congressional Gold Medal in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. The medal is the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress, and also may be awarded to military personnel.

CALIFORNIA

Defense engineer begins spy trial

SANTA ANA — A Chinese-American engineer at a major defense contractor went on trial yesterday on charges that he stole information on U.S. military technology for two decades to send to China.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Staples painted Chi Mak as a longtime agent who had been sending sensitive material to China since 1983, two years before he became a U.S. citizen. Federal agents asked Mr. Mak why he did it, the prosecutor said in his opening argument.

“The answer was very simple. The defendant said, ‘I wanted to help China,’ ” Mr. Staples said.

Mr. Mak, 66, whose attorneys say he is a devoted American who would never harm his country, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to export U.S. defense secrets to China, possession of property in aid of a foreign government and failure to register as a foreign agent. If convicted, he could get more than 50 years in prison.

Prosecutors say he used his position at Anaheim defense contractor Power Paragon to steal advanced naval technology.

NEW YORK

Two extradited in heroin case

NEW YORK — Two Guatemalan nationals, Luis Lemus and Javier Armas-Reyes, have been extradited to the United States on U.S. charges of importing at least 5 kilograms of heroin into this country. It was the first time Guatemala has extradited drug trafficking suspects in more than a decade.

John P. Gilbride, the special agent in charge who heads the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York field office, said the two men are accused of filling car batteries with drugs that later were driven across the border.

According to a November 2004 indictment, Mr. Lemus and Mr. Armas-Reyes participated in a conspiracy to import into the United States at least 5 kilograms of heroin from October 2003 to June 2004. The indictment also says that both were present in New York in the spring of 2004 to assist in the collection of narcotics proceeds and in the distribution of narcotics.

Mr. Gilbride said Mr. Armas-Reyes and Mr. Lemus are charged with one count of conspiracy to import heroin into the United States and one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin. Mr. Lemus also is charged with distributing heroin. If convicted, both face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison on each count.

NORTH DAKOTA

Guinness confirms snow angel record

BISMARCK — Legislators waved their arms in a snow-angel salute yesterday to celebrate the state’s recapturing of a world record for those whimsical works of winter.

Guinness World Records has confirmed that the state holds the world record for the most snow angels made simultaneously in one place, said Marilyn Snyder, the education curator for the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

The 8,962 snow angels were created Feb. 17 by people waving their arms while lying in the snow covering the Capitol grounds. North Dakota’s snow figure turnout easily bested the earlier record of 3,784, set at Michigan Technological University on Feb. 10, 2006. North Dakota set the first record in the category in 2002, with 1,791.

“If anybody wants to challenge [the snow angel record], bring ‘em on.” said state Sen. Dick Dever, a Republican who sponsored a resolution celebrating the achievement that the state Senate approved yesterday. It now goes to the state House.

PENNSYLVANIA

Man freed by DNA sues police

PITTSBURGH — A man freed from prison after 18 years when DNA evidence failed to link him to a 1988 murder sued police yesterday, saying they violated his civil rights.

Drew Whitley, 51, had been convicted of second-degree murder in 1989 and sentenced to life in prison for the fatal shooting of Noreen Malloy, 22, outside a McDonald’s restaurant she managed in Duquesne, about 13 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

A witness had identified Mr. Whitley based on the shape of his face and his walk, and a crime lab technician had said 41 hairs found in a mask at the scene resembled Mr. Whitley’s hair. DNA testing wasn’t available at the time.

New DNA tests ordered in 2005 indicated that the hairs thought to be the killer’s did not match Mr. Whitley. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. dropped the charges in May, and Mr. Whitley was released.

The lawsuit names six Allegheny County detectives, the county and one of Mr. Whitley’s former attorneys. It says Mr. Whitley was subject to malicious prosecution and denied a fair trial because he is black.

TENNESSEE

Chemical facility burns; 700 evacuated

HUMBOLDT — Fire broke out in a chemical storage facility yesterday, forcing as many 700 people to evacuate homes and businesses in the area, officials said.

Homes downwind from the fire were evacuated because of the smoke, and workers at nearby manufacturing plants were told to leave as a precaution, Mayor Allen Barker said. No injuries were reported.

The fire was at the Helena Chemical Co. warehouse and office. Helena Chemical makes a variety of crop-protection products, agricultural chemicals, seed, fertilizer and related products, according to the company’s Web site. Officials with the Collierville-based company issued a press release saying they think the fire was started by lightning about 6 a.m.

The warehouse was still burning at midday. Firefighters could not use water because of the chemicals in the building and were waiting for it to burn down until they could apply foam, Mr. Barker said.

WASHINGTON

Shelter seizes 110 parakeets

SEATTLE — After receiving complaints from neighbors, Seattle Animal Shelter staffers found 110 parakeets Tuesday in a cage in the living room of a one-bedroom apartment.

“You could hear the noise from the street,” animal control officer Neil Deruyter said.

The birds were being kept in unsanitary conditions and were surrendered by their owner, a man in his 50s who had been collecting them for about five years.

The owner told the officers he had tried to give the small birds to another shelter but was told only five would be kept and the rest would be euthanized. The birds will be offered to qualified adopters, the Seattle Animal Shelter said.

No animal cruelty charges were expected to be filed against the owner because of his cooperation, Seattle Animal Shelter Executive Director Don Jordan said.

WYOMING

School bus, trucks crash in snowstorm

CHEYENNE — A major snowstorm blew through the central Rockies yesterday, contributing to a highway pileup involving a school bus and four tractor-trailers in northern Wyoming.

The bus was carrying 36 students from Tongue River High School to a competition in Cheyenne in the state’s southeast, school officials said. No one on the bus was hurt, said state Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Stephen Townsend.

Three or four persons were taken to a hospital. Their conditions were not available.

Winter storm warnings were posted for most of Wyoming, southeastern Montana, central Utah and the Colorado mountains. Blizzard warnings were posted for parts of northern Wyoming and southeastern Montana.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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