- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Fenty, Norton to testify on voting rights bill

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton are scheduled to testify before a Senate committee today on a bill that would grant the District full voting rights in Congress.

The two Democrats are expected to speak before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about the merits of a bill that would give both the District and Utah a seat in the House of Representatives.

A similar proposal passed the House last month. The Senate version of the bill — introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and the committee chairman, and Sens. Orrin G. Hatch and Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republicans — would redistrict Utah to create its new seat instead of adding an at-large seat for the Republican-leaning state.

The bill also would put the changes into effect starting with next year’s elections.

Mr. Hatch and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican and co-sponsor of the House voting rights bill with Mrs. Norton, will testify as well.

The committee also is slated to hear from legal analysts Viet D. Dinh and Jonathan R. Turley, who took opposite sides on the bill’s constitutionality during testimony before a House committee in March.



Half-brother charged in woman’s slaying

The half-brother of a 19-year-old woman found dead in her home on Sunday has been charged with killing her, police said.

Lt. James Bartlett said Paul A. Zibi-Melingui, 22, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Sophie S. Mani-Mbaga.

He said a family member told police that Miss Mani-Mbaga had been missing since Thursday.

Police investigators went to the home in the 3800 block of Usher Court in the city’s west end just after 5:15 p.m. where they found her remains in a storage area. Police have not released the cause of death.

Lt. Bartlett said Mr. Zibi-Melingui was charged after he and others at the residence were interviewed. Mr. Zibi-Melingui, who police said works at the World Bank, is being held without bail.

This is the city’s fourth homicide this year, up from three this time last year.

High Court rejects wine-sales case

The U.S. Supreme Court refused yesterday to review Virginia laws limiting the sale and consumption of out-of-state alcohol.

The state allows only Virginia wine to be sold in state-run liquor stores and restricts the amount of alcohol consumers can bring into the state for personal consumption to one gallon.

The laws were upheld by the federal appeals court in Richmond after a federal judge declared that they were unconstitutional restrictions on interstate commerce.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that more than 10,000 private retailers are licensed to sell wine in Virginia, providing plenty of choice for consumers who want to buy an out-of-state variety.

The limit is constitutional because it does not restrict how much a person buys from an out-of-state retailer, the appeals court said.


One 12-year-old stabs another in chest

Two 12-year-olds who had been arguing for a week got into a fight on Sunday and one stabbed the other in the chest, Richmond police said.

The stabbing happened at an apartment complex where both boys live. The victim was said to be in stable condition at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. The boys’ names were not released.

Authorities said the weapon was a folding knife with a 2-inch blade.

The boy accused of stabbing the other was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a concealed weapon, police said.



Ramp remains closed after tanker crash

A ramp to Interstate 95 remained closed yesterday as engineers examined it to determine whether it was safe to reopen after the fiery crash of a tanker truck.

The truck’s driver died in Sunday evening’s accident. His vehicle overturned on the Hanover Street ramp leading to southbound I-95 and burst into flames. Seven cars parked below the ramp caught fire after runoff from the tanker spilled on them.

The tanker was carrying 8,000 gallons of ethanol, said Cpl. Jonathan Green of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

Investigators did not identify the driver, but they had a name they were seeking to confirm.

“Because of the subject being burned so severely, we’re going to have to rely on DNA to make an identity,” Cpl. Green said.


‘Idol’ contestant returning to Texas

“American Idol” contestant Lakisha Jones isn’t going back to her job at a Millersville bank.

Voted off the highly popular Fox-TV show last week, Miss Jones will soon be on the road with the “American Idols Live” summer tour. After that, she plans to buy a home in Houston, where she once lived.

The tour begins July 6 in Florida and will stop in the District on Sept. 9 and in Baltimore on Sept. 19.


Drug-sniffing dogs missing from kennel

Two drug-sniffing dogs have disappeared from a kennel in their handler’s back yard in East Baltimore, the Division of Corrections said.

They were last seen Saturday in the kennel at their handler’s home in the Sinclair Lane and Shannon Drive area. The lock on the kennel had been broken off.

The two dogs, both Labradors, are trained in drug interdiction and are used at correctional facilities to deter illegal drugs. Maverick, who is 11, is a chocolate male, and 6-month-old Alexis is a black female. Alexis is part of the first litter of puppies from a pilot breeding and training program.

Anyone who has seen the dogs is asked to call the Central Home Detention Unit at 410/333-8732.


Snakeheads swamp Mount Vernon area

Virginia fisheries biologist John Odenkirk says snakeheads are turning up in growing numbers in the Potomac River and its tributaries, with a large concentration near Mount Vernon, in an area dubbed “Snakehead Alley.”

It was five years ago this week that two men fishing on a pond in Crofton, Md., hauled in the predatory fish from Asia that inspired a press feeding frenzy.

The fish is capable of breathing air, walking on dry land and eating just about anything.

Virginia Tech doctoral candidate Nick Lapointe has been on the Potomac since September, tracking 50 radio-collared fish as part of a study of snakehead habitat and their ability to disperse.

All winter, the fish stayed in what is becoming their traditional waters. But Mr. Lapointe said that one nomadic snakehead crossed the shipping channel and headed for Piscataway Bay, just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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