Little change in student obesity
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas schoolchildren appear to be holding steady in the battle against bulge.
Body mass indexes released yesterday in the nation’s first state to track the numbers showed that 20.6 percent of schoolchildren tested last school year were overweight and that 17.2 percent were at risk for being overweight. That’s about the same as the year before.
Arkansas tested 366,801 students out of 472,000 last year. Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson said absenteeism was the biggest reason why only 77 percent were weighed, although some families formally opted out of the program.
The state began measuring students’ body mass indexes annually starting in 2003. The effort was championed by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a Republican presidential candidate who lost more than 100 pounds after being diagnosed with diabetes. Many states have adopted similar programs.
Man gets 24 years for terror training
SACRAMENTO — A California man was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison yesterday for attending an al Qaeda terrorist training camp in Pakistan and returning to the U.S. “willing to wage violent jihad.”
Hamid Hayat, a U.S. citizen who turned 25 yesterday, was convicted in April 2006 of providing material support to terrorists and lying about it to FBI agents. Prosecutors said Hayat intended to attack hospitals, banks, grocery stores and government buildings in California.
He could have received up to 39 years in prison. But federal Judge Garland Burrell Jr. imposed the lesser sentence, citing Hayat’s lack of a previous criminal record and other factors.
Spinach, eggs tied to eye health
CHICAGO — Two nutrients found in eggs, spinach and other leafy green vegetables offer some protection against the most common cause of blindness among the elderly, researchers said yesterday.
Age-related macular degeneration affects 1.2 million Americans, mostly after age 65, and the irreversible condition gets gradually worse, robbing victims of the center of their vision. Many people might be susceptible because of genetic factors, and smoking is known to heighten the risk.
The two nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, are both carotenoids — compounds that give many fruits and vegetables a yellow color.
They help ward off the condition, apparently by allowing the eyes to filter harmful short-wavelength light and by curtailing other damaging effects to the macula, or the center of the eye’s retina, said the researchers, led by John Paul SanGiovanni of the National Eye Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.
Mayor seeks age limit for guns
CLEVELAND — Cleveland’s mayor called on the state yesterday to create a new law that would prohibit anyone younger than 21 from possessing a firearm.
Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s proposal followed the fatal shooting last week of a 12-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet as she walked to a corner store. He noted that police statistics from 2004 to 2006 show that 70 percent of those arrested for crimes involving firearms were younger than 28.
Under Ohio law, no one younger than 18 is permitted to purchase a firearm. A person must be at least 21 to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Trade center beam begins 9/11 tour
COLUMBIA — A traveling exhibit featuring a 4-ton steel beam that will be part of September 11 memorial at ground zero kicked off a national tour yesterday in the state where it was made.
City and state officials signed the 37-foot beam and victims’ family members wrote messages of remembrance on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
“People say that after six years, it’s time to move on. It’s time to get back to normal. Well, there is no normal anymore,” said Jason Viglione, 28, of New Jersey, who joined the Air Force after his uncle, a veteran New York City firefighter, died at the World Trade Center.
Workers who responded to the disaster and other loved ones of victims also were on hand to view the exhibit, which includes photos and a minute-by-minute timeline of the disaster to accompany the beam, made by Owen Steel Co. in Columbia.
Other stops for the exhibition include Cincinnati; Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wis.; Pittsburgh; and Fort Wayne, Ind.
Executed man’s hair to be saved
HOUSTON — A Texas judge ordered that a hair that could exonerate a man executed for a 1989 murder be preserved for possible DNA testing, a legal reform group said yesterday.
Judge Elizabeth E. Coker in San Jacinto County north of Houston issued a restraining order against destruction of the hair and set an Oct. 3 hearing to decide whether DNA tests should be performed, the Innocence Project said.
At issue is whether the hair belonged to Claude Jones, who was executed Dec. 7, 2000, for a November 1989 liquor store robbery and murder.
The hair was found on the liquor-store counter and used by the prosecution to prove his guilt. An expert witness for the state said it was consistent with Jones’ hair, but it was not DNA tested.
The Innocence Project, which works to get wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing, the Texas Observer newspaper and other groups on Friday filed a motion requesting the preservation of the hair and that DNA testing be ordered.
State extends anti-algae target
BURLINGTON — The state of Vermont pushed back until 2017 its target date for ending noxious algae blooms in northern Lake Champlain.
The original date had been 2009.
A new cleanup plan focuses on three watersheds: St. Albans Bay, the Rock River in northern Franklin County and a tributary of the Missisquoi River, Hungerford Brook.
Fish project benefits salmon, trout
SPANAWAY — A $400,000 fish passage project opened the headwaters of Spanaway Creek to migrating fish.
The new channel is expected to benefit coho salmon, cutthroat trout and perhaps steelhead, which have nearly disappeared from Puget Sound.
The creek is part of a stream system that empties into Chambers Bay and the Sound near Steilacoom.
Ex-factory worker kills woman, self
SHEBOYGAN — A gunman in camouflage killed a former co-worker inside a Wisconsin factory early yesterday, then committed suicide as officers searched the sprawling building, police said.
Police identified the shooter as Shadow Yang, 40, and the victim as Christina Wollenzien, 29. Both lived in Sheboygan.
Miss Wollenzien was an assembly-line worker in Rockline Industries’ coffee filter division and had worked in the same area as Yang until about a year ago when he quit, a company official said.
She was on the job yesterday when she was fatally shot about 4:30 a.m., police Lt. Michael Williams said. As many as 130 other employees were in the factory near downtown Sheboygan at the time and quickly evacuated as officers cordoned off the area. About 20 tactical team officers searched the block-long building before finding Yang’s body.
Police would not comment early yesterday afternoon on whether Yang appeared to have targeted Miss Wollenzien.
From wire dispatches and staff reports