- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Acupuncture beats standard care for low back pain

CHICAGO — Fake acupuncture works nearly as well as the real thing for low-back pain, and either kind performs much better than usual care, German researchers found.

Almost half the patients treated with acupuncture needles felt relief that lasted months. In contrast, only about a quarter of the patients receiving medications and other Western medical treatments felt better.

Even fake acupuncture worked better than conventional care, leading researchers to wonder whether pain relief came from the body’s reactions to any thin needle pricks or, possibly, the placebo effect.

Although the study was not designed to determine how acupuncture works, study co-author Dr. Heinz Endres of Ruhr University Bochum in Bochum, Germany, said its findings are in line with a theory that pain messages to the brain can be blocked by competing stimuli.


Guard fatally run over as inmates escape

HUNTSVILLE — Two inmates working in a prison field overpowered a female guard yesterday and killed her when they ran her over in a stolen pickup truck as they fled, prison officials said.

One of the prisoners, John Ray Falk, was recaptured within the hour. The second, Jerry Martin, was found several hours later in a tree by lawmen on horseback searching the woods with bloodhounds.

Martin and Falk were working outside the Wynne Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice just north of Huntsville when they overpowered the officer at about 10:30 a.m. along Interstate 45, took her weapons and stole a Huntsville city truck that was nearby, corrections department spokesman Jason Clark said.

Martin, 37, had been imprisoned since 1997 and was serving a 50-year sentence for attempted murder. Falk, 40, had been serving a life sentence since 1986 for murder.


Bedding inmates on floor deplored

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge has ruled that forcing county jail inmates to sleep on the floor to relieve overcrowding is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson said in a ruling released Friday that jail officials violated inmates’ right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment and were guilty of “deliberate indifference” for failing to provide them with bunks.

“This is quite an extraordinary ruling,” said Stephen Yagman, a lawyer who represented prisoners involved in a class-action lawsuit. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the practice of having inmates sleep on the floor “is over, and has been for a while now.”

The lawsuit covers inmates who were forced to sleep on the floor from December 2000 to May 2005. Mr. Yagman said that he had two other class-action cases involving inmates who reportedly were forced to sleep on floors from May 2005 to as recently as this year.


Jury selection begins in boot camp case

PANAMA CITY — Chanting demonstrators carried photographs of a dead 14-year-old as jury selection began yesterday in the manslaughter trial of seven juvenile boot camp guards and a nurse who are charged in his death.

Martin Lee Anderson died in January 2006 after being taken to a hospital from the now-closed Bay County Juvenile Boot Camp.

He had been sent to the camp for a probation violation and became lethargic during a physical fitness test shortly after arriving. An exercise yard videotape showed seven guards repeatedly hitting the boy with their fists and knees. The camp nurse is accused of watching but doing nothing during most of the 30-minute encounter.

By early afternoon yesterday, 80 potential jurors had answered initial courtroom questions and 45 had been approved for additional screening; nearly all said they had seen at least part of the video on television. They were not automatically dismissed if they had seen the video; some were dismissed for knowing the guards or Martin’s family.

Defense attorney Waylon Graham said he expected to have a jury pool by tonight.


Mother gets life for killing 4 children

GOSHEN — A woman who admitted strangling her four young children in an Indiana basement was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without parole for each child’s death.

Angelica Alvarez, 27, told Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker that she had repented for what she had done and accepted responsibility for the Nov. 14 slayings of Jennifer Lopez, 8, Gonzalo Lopez, 6, Daniel Valdez, 4, and Jessica Valdez, 2.

She pleaded guilty to four counts of murder on Sept. 4 in return for prosecutor Curtis Hill Jr.’s agreement to not seek the death penalty.

Alvarez told the court she left a note saying the children would be better off in heaven.


Alcohol control chief faces DUI charge

LOUISVILLE — The executive director of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control faces a drunken-driving charge after he was arrested during a traffic stop.

Chris Lilly was pulled over Saturday on U.S. 27 outside Nicholasville because his Ford Explorer was missing a headlight and because the vehicle was weaving and moving slowly, police said.

Police said Mr. Lilly smelled of alcohol, lost his balance during a sobriety test and recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.181 percent. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.

Mr. Lilly posted $1,000 bail early Sunday and was scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 18, Jessamine County Jailer Cecil Moss said.

“He has apologized to the agency and has indicated he intends to resign effective yesterday,” said Mark York, spokesman for the Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, which includes Alcoholic Beverage Control.


Hotel guest accused of beheading duck

ST. PAUL — A man was in custody Sunday after police said he ripped the head off a tame duck that lived in a hotel lobby’s ornamental pond.

Scott D. Clark, a guest at the Embassy Suites Hotel in St. Paul, cornered the duck early Saturday morning, grabbed the bird and ripped its head from its body while a hotel security guard and others watched, police said.

Mr. Clark then turned to onlookers and said: “I’m hungry. I’m gonna eat it,” St. Paul police Sgt. John Wuorinen said.

“He was allegedly drunk,” Sgt. Wuorinen said.

Mr. Clark, 26, of Denver, remained jailed Sunday on suspicion of felony animal cruelty and was scheduled to appear in court yesterday to be charged.


CBP officer dies in aircraft crash

ALBUQUERQUE — A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) air interdiction officer died while undergoing flight training as a result of an airplane crash that occurred yesterday at Moriarty Airport, near Albuquerque — the third CBP pilot to be killed since April.

The agent, a pilot trainee, was flying a training mission in a Cessna 210 with an instructor pilot at the time of the crash. The instructor suffered injuries and was taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque for treatment.

CBP Office of Air and Marine and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the incident. The names of the agents are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

In May, a CBP air interdiction agent lost his life as a result of an aircraft accident near San Elizario, Texas. The AS-350B3 helicopter, based out of the CBP Air Branch in El Paso, Texas, was flying patrol to support U.S. Border Patrol agents on the ground at the time of the accident. That pilot was identified as Robert F. Smith, 46.

In April, air interdiction agent Clinton Brady Thrasher of the McAllen Air Unit in Rio Grande Valley Sector, McAllen, Texas, lost his life when his Cessna 182 crashed while providing air support to Border Patrol agents conducting ground operations.


Burns’ WWII film wins huge audience

NEW YORK — The Public Broadcasting Service estimates 18.7 million people saw Sunday’s airings of “The War,” the first chapter of Ken Burns‘ seven-part documentary about World War II.

An audience of 15.5 million tuned to the 8 to 10:30 p.m. premiere, with a repeat airing at 10:30 p.m. drawing the additional viewers.

Mr. Burns’ “The Civil War” miniseries drew a cumulative audience of 38.9 million viewers and his “Baseball” was seen by a total of 43.1 million viewers. They hold the records for the largest total audiences for any program in PBS history, the network said. Those cumulative numbers for “The War” will be available in November from Nielsen Media Research, PBS said.

“The War” continues airing through tomorrow, then next Sunday through next Tuesday.


Boy Scouts found after night in woods

WAYNESVILLE — Eight Boy Scouts who got lost while camping in the North Carolina mountains turned up yesterday as searchers scoured the heavily wooded area, officials said.

“They’re fine,” said Donna Johnston of the Boy Scouts’ Occoneechee Council in Raleigh. “They’re out of the woods.”

She said the boys and their three leaders had left a trail and set up camp for another night. They waited until daylight rather than trying to walk out in the dark.

Rodney Jones, an assistant scoutmaster whose son was in the group, said they followed their training.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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