- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 9, 2008


American Red Cross names new president

NEW YORK — The American Red Cross named a veteran executive who teaches at Harvard Business School as its new president yesterday, filling a post vacated last year because of a sex scandal.

Gail J. McGovern, a professor of marketing, previously held top management positions at AT&T; Corp. and Fidelity Investments.

She will take over June 23, replacing Mark Everson, the former head of the Internal Revenue Service. The charity’s board of governors demanded Mr. Everson’s resignation in November because he had an extramarital affair with an official from a local Red Cross chapter in Mississippi.

Since November, the Red Cross has been led on an interim basis by Mary Elcano, who will return to her duties as general counsel and corporate secretary.


Judge declares mistrial in celebrity pathologist case

PITTSBURGH — A federal judge declared a mistrial yesterday in the fraud case against celebrity pathologist Cyril Wecht, who was accused of using his staff at the county coroner’s office to do work for his lucrative private practice.

Federal prosecutors said they were ready to retry Dr. Wecht, who gained fame by inquiring into the deaths of well-known figures including Elvis Presley, JonBenet Ramsey and Vincent Foster. A new trial date was set for May 27.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab made the announcement after the jurors, for the second time, gave him a note saying they were unable to reach a verdict on any of the charges against Dr. Wecht. Jurors deliberated the 41 counts for more than 50 hours over 11 days.

Dr. Wecht’s lead attorney, Jerry McDevitt, called the prosecutors’ decision to retry Dr. Wecht “a bizarre ending to one of the most unfair trials in history.”


Police to learn how to spot fake papers

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas State Police troopers will be trained on how to examine and detect forged identity documents carried by suspected illegal immigrants, but will not have the power to make immigration arrests, officials said yesterday.

Troopers in the field, radio operators and those at driver’s licensing stations will learn about identification typically carried by immigrants, spokesman Bill Sadler said. If troopers find a suspected forgery, they would call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to continue the investigation and potentially make an arrest.

The agreement, signed Monday by state police director Col. Winford Phillips, also will give troopers access to a federal immigration database that can verify documents and check a suspect’s immigration status.

Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, said yesterday the governor’s office had seen a draft proposal of the agreement and signed off on it.


Green tea inhibits breast cancer in mice

SAN DIEGO — A green tea antioxidant that helps stop cell damage and aging might inhibit breast cancer, U.S. researchers suggest.

University of Mississippi Medical Center researchers find the green tea antioxidant epigallocatechin-3- gallate, known as EGCG, significantly inhibits breast tumor growth in female mice.

Senior researcher Dr. Jian-Wei Gu suggests EGCG reduces breast cancer by targeting both tumor blood-vessel formation through the lowering of vascular endothelial growth factor and tumor cell nutrients that promote growth and proliferation, or angiogenesis.

Dr. Gu is presenting the team’s findings at the 121st annual meeting of the American Physiological Society, part of the Experimental Biology 2008 conference in San Diego.


8 teens charged with beating girl

LAKELAND — Eight teenagers have been arrested on charges they beat another teen in an “animalistic attack” so they could make a videotape to post on YouTube.

Seven of them remained in juvenile detention yesterday, authorities said. A boy who was charged as an adult was released on bail.

Victoria Lindsay was attacked March 30 by six teenage girls when she arrived at a friend’s home, authorities said. One of the girls struck the 16-year-old victim on the head several times and then slammed her head into a wall, knocking her unconscious, according to an arrest report.

“It’s absolutely an animalistic attack,” Sheriff Grady Judd said yesterday on NBC’s “Today.” “They lured her into the home for express purpose of filming the attack and posting it on the Internet.”

All eight suspects were arrested April 2 and charged with battery and false imprisonment. The three teens who took Lindsay to the second location also are charged with felony kidnapping.

Lindsay was treated for a concussion, damage to her left eye and left ear, and bruises, police said.


NAACP wants probe of theft sentences

MARIETTA — The head of the Georgia NAACP called for the state to investigate the sentences given in the so-called “Barbie bandits” bank theft case, saying the two white defendants got less prison time than two black men.

Edward DuBose said Monday he will ask state Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker to consider the case.

Last month, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley sentenced Heather Johnston, 20, to 10 years probation after she pleaded guilty to a charge of theft by taking in the 2007 heist. The judge gave Ashley Miller, 19, two years in jail and eight years probation. Both women are white.

Michael Chastang, 28, was sentenced to 10 years for being the mastermind of the robbery, and bank teller Bennie Allen III, 23, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years. Both men are black.

Johnston and Miller were nicknamed the “Barbie bandits” after they were videotaped wearing sunglasses and laughing as they appeared to rob a Bank of America branch in Acworth of $11,000.


Woman steals, returns snake

LANSING — A clerk at Preuss Animal House in Lansing said a woman stole a boa constrictor by hiding the snake inside her pants but quickly returned the reptile.

The clerk said the woman grabbed the boa while his back was turned and shoved it down her pants before quickly exiting the store, WDIV-TV reported on Monday.

A surveillance camera recorded the woman reaching into the snake tank and walking away.

Rick Preuss, the store’s owner, said employees were concerned about the health of the baby snake before the woman brought it back to the shop.

“She brought it back right away and ran out the door before I could even get hold of any law enforcement,” Mr. Preuss said.

He said the store is not seeking to press any charges.


Dispute cancels dog’s appearance on show

LAS VEGAS — Who put the dog out?

Little Jordan, an 8-month-old lab puppy, disappeared last month from weather reports on KVBC-TV, and now there’s a dispute over who took the popular dog off the air.

His owner and on-air partner, animal-loving KVBC weatherman John Fredericks, issued a statement last week saying it was the NBC affiliate’s decision to send L.J., as the pup is known, to the doghouse over a contract dispute.

The dog “was removed from the broadcast … pending the resolution of contractual terms for L.J.,” the statement said.

Little Jordan had replaced Jordan, a golden retriever who long shared airtime with Mr. Fredericks and died last summer.

The station’s general manager, Lisa Howfield, said last month that L.J.’s disappearance was Mr. Fredericks’ decision.

“It was John’s choice to take the dog off the air,” she said. “I would have liked us to keep the dog on the air.”


Zoo begins breeding endangered frogs

MEMPHIS — Tennessee’s Memphis Zoo said it successfully started the first captive breeding program for endangered Mississippi gopher frogs.

There are currently 94 tadpoles developing in the zoo, a significant number considering there are only about 100 adult Mississippi gopher frogs left in the wild, zoo officials said last month.

“We are very excited about this scientific breakthrough at the Memphis Zoo,” said Andy Kouba, director of research and conservation. “Hopefully what we have learned here can also benefit other endangered amphibians.”

The zoo said the fully grown frogs will be about two inches long and have large hind feet made for digging.


Fire evacuates river cruise ship

MARYHILL — A cruise ship on the Columbia River with 177 people aboard was evacuated early yesterday after a fire broke out in the engine room, Coast Guard officials said. Three crew members were treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire was quickly extinguished on the 230-foot Queen of the West. No one was injured except for the three crew members, who were treated at the scene, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Dave Smith said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.

The ship, carrying 124 passengers and 53 crew members, was towed to Maryhill State Park and nudged into the river bank for the evacuation shortly after 5 a.m.

The passengers and about half of the crew members were taken by bus to a hotel, and the other crew members remained aboard. The ship was to be towed 17 miles downriver to a pier near Klickitat.


Authorities search for beer thieves

MOUNT PLEASANT — Talk about a beer binge: Authorities are searching for three men who stole about $24,000 worth of beer from a trucking company south of Milwaukee.

The suspects pulled up to the Hribar Trucking site at about 2 a.m. Monday in stolen semi tractors, Mount Pleasant police said.

They were trying to hook a trailer full of Miller Brewing Co. beer to the tractors when they were interrupted. The men then fled, taking a different tractor-trailer rig full of Miller beer, and a semi tractor with no load.

Officials from Schneider National, who own the rig, declined to comment on the theft and ongoing investigation.

Police are looking for a white semitrailer with blue lettering reading “Great Taste of a True Pilsner Beer” and a white Freightliner semi tractor.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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