- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2008


911 caller accused of pushing friend into coal mine

ALLENTOWN — A man who called 911 after his friend survived a 500-foot fall at a strip mine was charged yesterday with pushing him over the edge.

While Nathan Bowman recovered from broken bones and other injuries in a hospital, Richard D. George was sent to Schuylkill County Prison in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Authorities said in court documents that Mr. George, after telling a story that didn’t add up, admitted under questioning that he pushed Mr. Bowman into the canyon-shaped mine about 1 a.m. Friday after they got into an argument.

Mr. George was charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and other offenses. It wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney.

Police said the 23-year-olds were trespassing on coal company property when Mr. George pushed Mr. Bowman off the cliff.


University dean resigns in degree scandal

MORGANTOWN — The dean of West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics is resigning in the wake of the scandal over a master’s degree in business administration awarded to the governor’s daughter, the school announced yesterday.

R. Stephen Sears is the second high-ranking academic officer to leave in the case. Provost Gerald Lang announced his resignation Sunday.

An investigating panel concluded last week that the two men were among several administrators who acted inappropriately and applied “severely flawed” judgment in awarding Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch, daughter of Gov. Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, a degree that the panel said she did not earn.

Mr. Sears, dean since 2005, did not issue a personal statement about his decision.


Man with knives killed in courtroom

MERCED — Three sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a man who stormed through security at a county courthouse yesterday brandishing two large butcher knives, authorities said.

Guards tried to stop the man after he ran through metal detectors at the Merced County courthouse, but couldn’t catch up to him as he moved down a crowded hall, Chief Deputy District Attorney Harold Nutt said.

The man burst through the doors of Courtroom 2, and into an area where lawyers were standing as court was proceeding, Mr. Nutt said.

As the judge tried to hurry his court clerks out of the courtroom through his chambers, the man held the knives in a stabbing position, Mr. Nutt said.

When the man refused to drop the weapons, three officers fired at him, and the man died on the courtroom floor, sheriff’s spokesman Tom MacKenzie said. No other injuries were reported.

Mr. Nutt said a public defender told him he recognized the man as a previous client with a history of mental illness.


Display to honor famous gator

WAYCROSS — The most famous resident of Okefenokee Swamp Park — an alligator that attracted the stares of tourists for decades — will soon be immortalized nearly a year after his death.

The skeleton of Oscar is being assembled and will be put on display similar to a museum dinosaur. The 14-foot, 1,000-pound alligator roamed the swamp from the time the park opened in 1946.

As his bones show, Oscar was a tough customer, surviving a shotgun blast to the face, at least three bullet wounds, broken bones and arthritis. Gators have been known to live for decades, and by some estimates Oscar was a particularly ancient 95 to 100 years old when he died last summer.

The display also will include what park officials found in Oscar’s belly, including a plastic dog collar, a dog’s tag, a penny and the top section of a flagpole.


Exercise no help if weight woes persist

CHICAGO — Exercise will not cut the risk of heart disease in those who are overweight unless they also slim down, according to a study of thousands of women published yesterday.

“Even high quantities of physical activity are unlikely to fully reverse the risk of coronary heart disease in overweight and obese women without concurrent weight loss,” Dr. Amy Weinstein and colleagues at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reported.

The study, appearing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, was based on information from a study of nearly 39,000 women that began in 1992. The researchers said 34 percent of the women in the study were physically active based on government guidelines, 31 percent were overweight and 18 percent were obese.

In the end, 948 women were diagnosed with heart disease. Active women with normal weight had the lowest risk of developing heart problems. The risk was slightly higher for those with normal weight who were not active. The risk was next highest for active women who were either overweight or obese, and highest for similar women who were inactive.


Two killed in plant explosion

WEST TERRE HAUTE — Two people were killed yesterday when a leak led to an explosion at a plant that turns coal into gas, authorities said.

SG Solutions plant manager Richard Payonk said a metal fitting broke and released pressurized gas, which then ignited.

Mr. Payonk said operations at the plant near a Duke Energy power station were halted because of the explosion.


Injunction urged in wolf’s delisting

BILLINGS — Environmental and animal rights groups are suing the federal government in hopes of restoring endangered species protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the region’s 1,500 wolves from the endangered list in March and turned over management responsibilities to state officials in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

The lawsuit claims those states lack adequate laws to ensure wolves are not again eradicated from the region.

An attorney for Defenders of Wildlife said the groups will seek an immediate injunction to suspend state management until the case is resolved. Defenders of Wildlife is one of 12 groups that filed the lawsuit yesterday in U.S. District Court in Missoula.


Quakes continue to shake region

RENO — A magnitude 4.2 tremor shook the Reno area early yesterday and was followed by at least a dozen aftershocks, said the Seismology Laboratory at the University of Nevada at Reno.

No injuries or damages were reported.

A series of moderate earthquakes has been rattling the area since February.


Cardinal criticizes Giuliani Communion

NEW YORK — New York Cardinal Edward Egan said former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani should not have received Holy Communion during the pope’s visit because he supports abortion rights.

Cardinal Egan said he had “an understanding” with the former presidential candidate that he is not to receive the Eucharist. The Catholic Church teaches “that abortion is a grave offense against the will of God,” Cardinal Egan said.

Mr. Giuliani broke that understanding earlier this month when he received the Eucharist during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit, the cardinal said.

Cardinal Egan said he will seek a meeting with Mr. Giuliani “to insist that he abide by our understanding.”

Mr. Giuliani’s spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, said yesterday that he is willing to meet with the cardinal but added that his faith “is a deeply personal matter and should remain confidential.”


Parent arrested in school stabbing

HOUSTON — A student was stabbed three times in a suburban Houston school by a man who thought the boy witnessed a sexual assault against his daughter, authorities said.

School police arrested the father.

The man and his wife had gone to Wunsche High School in the Spring Independent School District to tell administrators about the assault, which they said took place off campus over the weekend. Their daughter is a student at the school.

The stabbing victim was taken to a hospital and was listed in good condition.


Faithful parents face charges in death

WESTON — A couple who prayed as their 11-year-old daughter died of untreated diabetes will be charged with second-degree reckless homicide, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Madeline Neumann, daughter of Dale and Leilani Neumann, died March 23 at the family’s rural Weston home. An autopsy determined that she died from undiagnosed diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her body with too little insulin.

Marathon County District Attorney Jill Falstad said the Neumanns were cooperating with investigators and were not under arrest. They agreed to make an initial court appearance tomorrow, she said.

Leilani Neumann, 40, had told the Associated Press that she never expected her daughter to die. The couple believe that healing comes from God but have nothing against doctors, she said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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