- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007


Shoplifters ordered to wear sign

ATTALLA — Shoppers entering the Wal-Mart Supercenter here got a reminder not to try anything funny: Two shoplifters stood outside with signs reading, “I am a thief, I stole from Wal-Mart.”

Attalla City Judge Kenneth Robertson Jr. ordered the two persons to wear the signs for four hours each during two successive Saturdays.

“The only comments we’ve heard so far have been positive,” said store manager Neil Hawkins. “Most of them thought it was a good thing.”

One of the shoplifters, Lisa King Fithian, 46, wore the sign from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to avoid a 60-day jail sentence. Another convicted shoplifter was at the store from 3 to 7 p.m.

Miss Fithian maintained her innocence. She said her conviction was based on a misunderstanding. She said she was taking a $7 item to the service desk because it would not scan.


Children found resilient to trauma

CHICAGO — About two-thirds of American children will go through a traumatic event in their childhood, but few are likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder, U.S. researchers said yesterday.

The finding reveals a certain emotional resiliency in children, but it also suggests that the way children process troubling experiences is different from adults, said William Copeland of Duke University Medical Center, whose study appeared in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Mr. Copeland and colleagues conducted annual interviews with 1,420 children at ages 9, 11, and 13 between 1993 and 2000. By age 16, 68 percent of those studied had experienced at least one traumatic event, such as the violent death of a loved one, physical abuse by a relative, sexual abuse, fire, natural disaster or a serious accident.

About 13.4 percent of those who experienced a traumatic event developed some post-traumatic stress symptoms by age 16, but fewer than 0.5 percent met the criteria for the disorder.

Children exposed to trauma had nearly double the rates of other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety and conduct problems.


Crime cases halted for poor defendants

NEW ORLEANS — A state judge suspended the criminal cases against nearly 100 persons yesterday over concerns that they can’t get adequate representation from the city’s struggling indigent defenders office.

Judge Arthur Hunter Jr. halted prosecutions of 98 defendants and ordered the release of 20 who had been held in jail. Last month, he suspended prosecution for 42 other poor defendants.

The charges were not dropped, he told dozens of defendants in his court, but until they receive attorneys, they won’t be prosecuted.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan said he would ask an appeals court to block the release of inmates.


Lawmakers rack up traffic tickets

LANSING — Michigan state lawmakers get more traffic tickets than the general public. About 21 percent of legislators have points on their licenses, compared with about 5 percent of state drivers overall, officials say.

State Rep. Fulton Sheen, a Republican who has received 10 speeding citations since 2000, said he doesn’t give himself enough time to get where he needs to go.


Explosion kills casino worker

LAS VEGAS — A device left in a casino parking garage exploded early yesterday, killing a man who tried to pick it up off the top of his car, authorities said.

The device exploded shortly after 4 a.m. on the second floor of a parking garage behind the Luxor hotel-casino, said Officer Bill Cassell, a police spokesman. He declined to describe the device.

The blast was not a terrorist act but an apparent killing of a man who worked at a business inside the hotel, he said, adding that the case was being investigated as “a homicide with an unusual weapon.”

“We believe the victim of this event was the intended target,” Officer Cassell said. He said another person who was with the man narrowly escaped injury.

Aerial video showed no apparent damage to the parking structure, where entrances were blocked while police, firefighters and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents investigated.


22 students injured when buses crash

MONROE — Two school buses crashed at a bus stop yesterday morning, injuring 22 children, a school official said.

The elementary-age children were being checked at four hospitals, but none of the injuries appeared to be serious, said Superintendent Ralph Ferrie.

More than two dozen children were aboard the buses when the vehicles crashed shortly before 9 a.m. Those who weren’t sent to hospitals were taken to Brookside Elementary School, where nurses and other district personnel were assessing their health and emotions, Mr. Ferrie said.

He declined to comment on the cause of the crash until a police report is completed. Police did not return calls seeking further information.

It appeared that one bus missed the stop and braked quickly, and that the other bus hit it from behind, Bernadette Kulakovich told the Star-Ledger of Newark. She had been waiting at the stop with her twin 10-year-old daughters when the accident happened.


Bill Clinton pens crossword puzzle

NEW YORK — Former President Bill Clinton has a new pastime far from fundraising for worthy causes: designing a crossword puzzle for the New York Times.

Mr. Clinton wrote the clues for an online crossword puzzle published this weekend by the Times, filled with puns, pop culture references and plays on words.

The theme of the puzzle is “Twistin’ the Oldies,” with clues seeking updated versions for baby boomers of musical hits by artists such as Neil Sedaka and Carly Simon.

In an editor’s note, Times’ puzzle editor Will Shortz wrote: “The clues in this puzzle are a little more playful and involve more wordplay than in a typical crossword. You have been warned.”

“His clues make you laugh out loud,” Mr. Shortz said. “He’s got a flair for this.”

Answers will be posted this weekend, the Times said.


Spiders found in boy’s ear

ALBANY — These guys weren’t exactly Snap, Crackle and Pop.

What began as a faint popping in a 9-year-old boy’s ear — “like Rice Krispies” — ended up as an earache, and the doctor’s diagnosis was that a pair of spiders had made a home in the ear.

“They were walking on my eardrums,” Jesse Courtney said.

One of the spiders was still alive after the doctor flushed the fourth-grader’s left ear canal.

His mother, Diane Courtney, said her son insisted he kept hearing a faint popping in his ear — “like Rice Krispies.”

Dr. David Irvine said it looked like the boy had something in his ear when he examined him. When he irrigated the ear, the first spider came out, dead. The other spider took a second dousing before it emerged, still alive. Both were about the size of a pencil eraser.

Jesse was given the spiders — now both dead — as a souvenir. He has taken them to school and his mother has taken them to work.


Synagogue named historic landmark

ELKINS PARK — The only synagogue ever designed by Frank Lloyd Wright has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Beth Sholom, a soaring glass-and-concrete temple just outside Philadelphia, began welcoming worshippers nearly 50 years ago. On Sunday, the National Park Service recognized it as one of the architect’s greatest achievements.

“This is not just a historic site,” William Bolger, regional program manager for the park service, told about 500 people in the sunlit sanctuary of the building conceived as a modern Mount Sinai. “It is a living monument to our nation’s culture.”

The towering, flat-topped spire is constructed out of concrete, steel, aluminum and glass. It’s the only synagogue Wright created during his 70-year, 1,000-project career. Wright died in 1959, six months before Beth Sholom was first used.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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