- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Resolution declares state’s possessive

LITTLE ROCK — The state House approved a resolution declaring “Arkansas’s” the possessive form of the state’s name — a bill so weird it prompted the sponsor to offer an apology.

“I know a lot of the attention that has been given to this resolution has reflected poorly on us as a legislature, and for that I apologize,” Rep. Steve Harrelson told House members before they unanimously passed his proposal Monday by voice vote. The measure now goes to the Senate.

Mr. Harrelson, a Democrat, said he was afraid stories about the resolution gave the public the impression that the legislature has nothing better to do than focus on punctuation.

After Arkansas became a state, confusion remained on its spelling and its pronunciation, as many maps from the time spelled it without its final “s.” A resolution by the legislature in 1881 formalized its current spelling and pronunciation, making its final “s” silent.

Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, said he plans to sign the measure if it comes to his desk.


Dad reportedly told tot to stab his mom

BRIDGEPORT — Police say a man repeatedly stabbed his teenage wife, then gave the knife to his toddler son and told him: “Now you stab Mommy.”

Fermin Rodriguez, 21, attacked his 17-year-old wife Sunday night, after accusing her of cheating on him, police said. He slashed and stabbed her multiple times, then handed the knife to his 2-year-old son and told him to stab her, police said.

The boy didn’t stab her, police and prosecutors said yesterday.

His wife, Keyschla Rodriguez, was slashed at least 20 times, but most of the wounds were superficial, Capt. Lynn Kirwin said. Mr. Rodriguez also cut off her hair, Capt. Kirwin said.

The woman’s father became worried because he had not heard from his daughter and arrived at the house while she was being held against her will, police said.

The woman was treated for her injuries and released. The boy was safe with relatives, Capt. Kirwin said.


Recovery plan called muddled

NEW ORLEANS — A $14 billion blueprint for rebuilding the city after Hurricane Katrina is a muddled wish list of projects, and city officials should use the best parts to create a more cohesive, realistic plan, a watchdog group says.

The New Orleans-based Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR), an independent nonprofit group, submitted its recommendation near the end of a monthslong planning process.

“If we’re going to have a plan, it’s very important to get it right,” BGR President Janet Howard said yesterday. “What we’re dealing with now is basically a wish list, devised without realistic consideration of financial parameters.”

The Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency overseeing distribution of certain federal aid, is waiting for a citywide plan to help guide how it doles out nearly $120 million to New Orleans for storm-related projects. City officials have cast the plan as a lobbying tool to take to Congress for more money.


Business raided in illegals hiring

BOSTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents yesterday raided New Bedford business Michael Bianco Inc. (MBI) and arrested the owner and four others on charges of hiring of illegal aliens.

Criminal complaints in the case accused MBI owner Francesco Insolia, payroll manager Ana Figueroa, plant manager Dilia Costa and office manager Gloria Melo with conspiring to encourage or induce illegal aliens to reside in the United States, and conspiring to hire illegal aliens. Luis Torres, who works in a nearby record shop, is accused of transferring fraudulent identification documents.

ICE officials said hundreds of MBI employees will be interviewed to determine their immigration status. Aliens who are in the United States unlawfully will be charged administratively and placed in removal proceedings.


Plea deal eyed in boys’ abductions

UNION — Federal and local prosecutors are considering a plea deal that would mean life in prison for a man accused of kidnapping two boys and sexually abusing one of them, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Franklin County prosecutor Robert Parks said he may join with prosecutors from the federal government and Washington and St. Louis counties in offering a plea deal to Michael Devlin, 41.

It would include “several, several consecutive life sentences,” Mr. Parks said. He wasn’t certain when the deal would be offered.

Mr. Devlin, a former pizzeria manager, pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of kidnapping and armed criminal action in the Jan. 8 abduction of Ben Ownby, 13.

He also is accused in Washington County of the 2002 abduction of Shawn Hornbeck, then 11. Both boys were found Jan. 12 at Mr. Devlin’s apartment in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood.


Black Cherokees to challenge ouster

OKLAHOMA CITY — Black Cherokee Indians said yesterday that they will challenge a weekend vote to kick them out of the tribe that once owned their ancestors as slaves.

They threatened legal action to overturn the vote Saturday in which 77 percent of those who cast ballots said they should no longer be Cherokees.

“We are working with our attorneys,” Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, told Reuters news agency. “Rest assured, we will be challenging this.”

The vote would remove from tribal rolls 2,800 people who were mostly “freedmen,” or descendants of slaves owned by the tribe before the Civil War brought their freedom.

They were adopted into the tribe under a 1866 treaty, but Cherokees have long debated whether they belonged.

Exclusion from the tribe means the black Cherokees cannot vote in tribal elections or receive entitlements such as health care benefits or a share of casino revenues on tribal lands.


Car carrying drugs crashes into cruiser

ORANGEBURG — It might have been one of the easiest drug arrests in the history of the South Carolina Highway Patrol: A car with 43 pounds of marijuana crashed into a trooper’s cruiser, authorities said.

Patrol cars were parked in each lane of northbound Interstate 95 near Santee early Sunday after a series of wrecks tied up traffic, Highway Patrol Capt. Chris Williamson said.

A Chevrolet Malibu going about 70 mph hit one of the cruisers, causing minor injuries to the trooper behind the wheel, Capt. Williamson said.

Officers found two large duffel bags in the trunk with 43 pounds of marijuana in plastic bags, worth more than $150,000, Orangeburg County Deputy Warren Pendry said. They also found a few marijuana cigarettes and cocaine, he said.

The 54-year-old driver from Daytona Beach Shores, Fla., was charged with driving under the influence, possession of cocaine and trafficking marijuana, authorities said.


ACLU sues on behalf of detained children

DALLAS — Civil liberties and immigration advocates sued federal officials yesterday on behalf of children confined to a former Texas prison that had been turned into a center for families awaiting deportation.

The federal lawsuits, announced by the American Civil Liberties Union in Austin, focus on children held at the T. Don Hutto facility, a former prison in Taylor.

Critics say the center inhumanely houses adults and children in jaillike conditions. Families held there have complained of weight loss, subpar schooling and long waits for medical care. The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services have demanded its immediate closure.

About half of the approximately 400 persons held at Hutto are children, officials said. None of the children or adults there has a criminal record. Many were sent there after seeking asylum in the United States and will face waits of more than 200 days.

A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment on the lawsuit but described the facility as a way “to humanely accommodate families with children who are detained as a result of ICE enforcing the immigration laws of the United States.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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