- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007


Young mothers find sisterhood in sorority

ST. LOUIS — Magic Markers, bubble wands and jungle animal stickers aren’t often found in the average college student’s backpack.

For the women of Mu Tau Rho, a new sorority for student-mothers at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, those toys are every bit as vital as laptop computers and e-mail accounts.

“I wanted to be in a sorority so bad,” said Danielle Cooney, a 22-year-old sophomore math major. “Then I had my son. I didn’t have a baby sitter to do all that.”

In its first year on campus, Mu Tau Rho has attracted a dozen women, including three who don’t have children but joined for the camaraderie or to gain child-rearing tips. All but one of the members with children are single parents.


Mosque leaders sentenced in terror sting

ALBANY — Two leaders of an Albany mosque who were snared in an FBI sting involving a fictional terror strike were sentenced yesterday to 15 years in federal prison.

The former imam, Yassin Aref, and pizzeria owner Mohammed Hossain, a founder of the Masjid As-Salam mosque, were convicted in October for their roles in a money-laundering scheme involving an FBI informant who posed as an illegal arms dealer.

The informant asked Hossain, 52, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bangladesh, to launder $50,000 from the sale of a shoulder-fired missile from China that would be used to kill a Pakistani diplomat in New York City, authorities said. Authorities said Hossain agreed to issue checks from his businesses. Aref, a Kurdish refugee and spiritual leader of Hossain’s mosque, acted as a witness to the transactions.


Baby sitter guilty in deaths of infants

PHOENIX — A baby sitter was found guilty Wednesday of murdering three infants in her care 17 years ago.

All three babies — 2, 4 and 8 months old — died before reaching a hospital, and a medical examiner listed their causes of death as sudden infant death syndrome.

But years later, detectives reopened two of the cases. In April 1997, seven forensic pathologists agreed the babies were likely killed.

Amy Lynn Scott, 39, had pleaded not guilty to the 1989 deaths. She will be sentenced May 4.


Zoos may buy elephant sanctuary

QUITMAN — A group of zoos is considering buying a couple’s elephant sanctuary and turning it into a national center for pachyderm research, breeding and training.

Under a draft plan, the 10 zoos would buy the 330-acre Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary for $3.6 million, though both sides said the deal is still being discussed.

The facility, which has 13 elephants, has been run for 16 years by Scott and Heidi Riddle.

“Our interest is in keeping elephants in existence, and that takes a lot of time, hard work and funding,” said Mr. Riddle, explaining why the couple sought a buyer.

Asian and African elephants are declining dramatically in number. In the past 25 years, the wild African elephant population has dropped from 1.6 million to fewer than 500,000, according to Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Only 30,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild.


Rock slide delays Amtrak, freight trains

CROCKETT — A rock slide dumped debris on a major rail corridor yesterday, delaying several passenger and freight trains between the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento but causing no injuries.

The slide happened just before dawn about 25 miles northeast of Oakland and covered both tracks. Those tracks carry 57 trains a day through the region, said Mark Davis, a spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad.


Man convicted in student’s killing

WILMINGTON — A man accused of raping and killing a University of Delaware student whose body was discovered in her burning apartment was found guilty yesterday and could face the death penalty.

Defense attorneys had urged the jury to find James E. Cooke Jr. mentally ill.

Cooke, 36, broke into Lindsey M. Bonistall’s apartment in May 2005, then raped and strangled the 20-year-old college sophomore before placing her body in a bathtub and setting the fire, prosecutors said.

Cooke, however, denied killing Miss Bonistall and said they had had consensual sex. He also said he isn’t mentally ill.

Prosecutors used DNA evidence to link Cooke to the killing.


Kidnapping suspect arrested, returned

TAMPA — A Mexican man accused of abducting a 13-year-old boy from a school bus stop and abandoning him in the woods was brought back to Florida yesterday to face charges.

Vicente Ignacio Beltran-Moreno, 22, fled to Mexico after the Feb. 23 abduction of Clay Moore, who managed to free himself, authorities said. Mr. Beltran-Moreno turned himself in Wednesday at the border near McAllen, Texas, after an FBI agent negotiated his surrender by phone.

The former farmworker, who authorities said had lived in the U.S. illegally, waived extradition and was flown to Florida, where he was booked into jail, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said.

Mr. Beltran-Moreno, charged with kidnapping and aggravated assault, will go before a judge at the jail today, sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow said. He did not yet have a lawyer.


Black lawmakers eye state slavery apology

ATLANTA — Black legislative leaders said yesterday they will propose that Georgia apologize for the state’s role in slavery and segregation-era laws.

“It is time for Georgia, as one of the major stakeholders in slavery, as one of the major players in lynchings, to say it’s sorry,” said state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a Democrat. “Sorry for the fact that it was involved in slave trade; sorry for the fact that it was involved in Jim Crow laws.”

The measure comes on the heels of a Virginia resolution, passed unanimously last month, expressing regret over slavery.


Duke alumnus builds beer-tossing fridge

RALEIGH — When John Cornwell graduated from Duke University last year, he landed a job as software engineer in Atlanta but soon found himself longing for his college lifestyle.

So the engineering graduate built himself a contraption to help remind him of campus life: a refrigerator that can toss a can of beer to his couch with the click of a remote control.

It took the 22-year-old Mr. Cornwell about 150 hours and $400 in parts to modify a mini-fridge common to many college dorm rooms into the beer-tossing machine, which can launch 10 cans of beer from its magazine before needing a reload.

With a click of the remote, fashioned from a car’s keyless entry device, a small elevator inside the refrigerator lifts a beer can through a hole and loads it into the fridge’s catapult arm. A second click fires the device, tossing the beer up to 20 feet.

Is there a foam explosion when the can is opened? Not if the recipient uses “soft hands” to cradle the can when caught, Mr. Cornwell said.


Boy killed himself with lawmaker’s gun

GREENSBURG — A teenager who was found dead with a state senator’s gun by his side committed suicide, and no charges should be filed in the case, the county coroner said yesterday.

Westmoreland County Coroner Kenneth Bacha’s decision came after an inquest last month into the death of Louis Farrell, 14, whose body was found in the summer in woods behind his home and the home of his neighbor, state Sen. Robert Regola.

Mr. Regola has said neither he nor his son, Bobby, 16, had anything to do with the shooting. The senator was in Harrisburg at the time, and Louis, a neighbor and friend of Bobby’s, had a key to the house because he was watching the family dogs while Mr. Regola was away.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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