Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Boy, 9, told he’s too good to pitch

NEW HAVEN | Nine-year-old Jericho Scott is a good baseball player - too good, it turns out.

Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said.

Officials for the three-year-old league, which has eight teams and about 100 players, said they will disband Jericho’s team, redistributing its players among other squads, and offered to refund $50 sign-up fees to anyone who asks for it. They said Jericho’s coach, Wilfred Vidro, has resigned.

But Mr. Vidro said he didn’t quit and that the team refuses to disband.


Humanitarian workers dead in plane crash

SALT LAKE CITY | A small plane that broke apart in Guatemala as the pilot attempted an emergency landing, killing 11 of the 14 people aboard, was carrying members of a Utah-based humanitarian group who were on their way to help build a school in a remote, impoverished area of the country.

Seven of the dead were Americans, including the wife of Chris Johnson, acting chief executive of CHOICE Humanitarian, a West Jordan, Utah-based group that arranges relief missions around the world, Lew Swain, a board member for the group, said Monday.

The three survivors also are Americans, including a Utah businessman who was pulled from the wreckage by farmers shortly before it exploded Sunday in a field lined with palm trees.

The single-engine Cessna Caravan broke apart and scattered burned wreckage across a barren field where the pilot made an emergency landing about 60 miles east of Guatemala City, Guatemalan civil aviation director Jose Carlos said.


Quilters’ suits against art dealer resolved

MONTGOMERY | A trio of celebrated quilters from rural Alabama on Monday resolved lawsuits against an Atlanta art dealer whom they accused of cheating them out of their rightful earnings.

Attorneys for both parties asked for the lawsuits to be dismissed but would not give any details of how the claims were resolved.

The elaborate multicolored quilts have been made for years by the ladies of the community of Gee’s Bend, often in the small community center where they gather for lunch most days. The quilts have been celebrated as prime examples of Southern folk art, displayed in prestigious museums and were chosen for the U.S. Postal Service’s American Treasures stamp series.

The lawsuits claimed that three of the quilters - Annie Mae Young, Lucinda Pettway Franklin and Loretta Pettway - were cheated financially by Atlanta art dealer William Arnett, his sons, Paul and Matt Arnett, and Tinwood Ventures of Atlanta.

The Arnetts helped establish a collective for the quilters and promoted and marketed their works to a wider audience.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade of Mobile dismissed the suits in an order issued Monday and said the parties would pay their own legal costs.


Ban on unmarried adoptions on ballot

LITTLE ROCK | A proposal aimed at effectively banning gays and lesbians from becoming foster or adoptive parents was cleared Monday to appear on this fall’s ballot in Arkansas.

The measure would prohibit unmarried couples living together from fostering or adopting children, and Arkansas doesn’t allow gays to marry or recognize gay marriages conducted elsewhere.

Secretary of State Charlie Daniels certified the proposed initiated act for the Nov. 4 ballot after verifying that the Arkansas Family Council Action Committee had submitted 85,389 valid signatures of registered voters. Supporters needed to turn in at least 61,974 valid signatures.

The ballot measure would take the place of a state policy that currently bars unmarried couples living together from serving as foster parents.


Train runs dry, strands passengers

SAN DIEGO | It was the little engine that couldn’t - because it was thirsty for fuel.

A quick train trip down the coast turned into a long haul for more than 80 Amtrak passengers when their train from Los Angeles to San Diego ran out of fuel Sunday night.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said the train sat for about two hours on the northern edge of San Diego before another engine came along to push it the last several miles to the San Diego train station.

The train, which had left Los Angeles at 8:30 p.m., didn’t get there until 1:15 a.m. Monday, two hours late.

A train running out of fuel is “an unusual occurrence” and Amtrak officials will look into how it happened, Mr. Cole said.


Pilots blamed for fatal collision

PENSACOLA | Two inexperienced F-15C Eagle pilots made errors that caused a fatal mid-air collision during a combat training mission over the Gulf of Mexico, Air Force investigators concluded in a report released Monday.

Both pilots misjudged how close they were to each other and had less than two seconds to react before Capt. Tucker Hamilton’s wing sliced into 1st Lt. Ali Jivanjee’s cockpit in the Feb. 20 accident, investigators said.

“The cause of this mishap was pilot error. Both men failed to clear their flight paths and did not recognize their impending high-aspect, mid-air collision,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph Reynes, the head of the seven-member Air Force Accident Investigation Board.

Lt. Jivanjee, 26, of San Dimas, Calif., died instantly. Capt. Hamilton, who is now assigned to a non-flying position in Germany, ejected with minor injuries.

The single-seat fighter planes were destroyed - an $83 million loss for the Air Force.

Both men had excellent qualifications and flying records, Gen. Reynes said.


Reward offered for 9/11 memorial piece

NAPERVILLE | An anti-crime group in suburban Chicago is offering a $1,000 reward for the return of a concrete piece of the Pentagon stolen from a Sept. 11 memorial.

Last week’s theft was the second time in three years that rubble from the Pentagon has been stolen from the Naperville memorial. After a 2005 theft, city leaders installed a surveillance camera, which they said wasn’t functioning during Wednesday’s incident.

Police reports said the thief took the concrete piece after breaking a protective, heavy-duty plastic seal. A security guard discovered the damage.

The Naperville memorial honors victims of the terrorist attacks including Naperville native Navy Cmdr. Dan Shanower, who died at the Pentagon.


Governor denounces meatpacking plant

DES MOINES | Iowa Gov. Chet Culver denounced a kosher meatpacking plant accused of child labor violations, echoing Upton Sinclair’s disdain of cruelty toward immigrants.

Mr. Culver wrote a guest column in the Des Moines Sunday Register that criticized Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville for apparently employing dozens of underage workers and taking advantage of a failed federal immigration system.

“In doing so, this company has fallen far short of meeting the high business standards that Iowans expect,” he said.

Mr. Culver closed his commentary with a reference to the 1906 muckraking Sinclair novel, “The Jungle,” about the horrors of the early meatpacking industry.

“There will be no industrial ‘jungles’ in Iowa on my watch,” he wrote.

In May, the largest single-site immigration raid in U.S. history led to the arrest of 389 people at the plant. Hundreds of line workers have been convicted and charges have been filed against two low-level supervisors, but the plant’s owners haven’t faced any charges connected to the raid, Mr. Culver noted.


Siblings found dead in parked car

TOPEKA | A 3-year-old brother and sister died after they spent more than two hours in a sweltering car parked in the driveway of the family home, investigators said Monday.

The temperature was about 75 degrees when the children were found Sunday afternoon, two hours after they were reported missing, authorities said. Shawnee County Sheriff’s Sgt. Akim Reynolds said the temperature inside a car with its windows up could have reached 20 to 30 degrees warmer.

The girl, who was about to turn 4 next month, was pronounced dead at the scene. The boy, who had just turned 3 on Aug. 2, was pronounced dead at a hospital.


ICE raids plant, arrests 350 workers

LAUREL | Federal immigration agents arrested some 350 suspected undocumented workers in a raid on a Mississippi electrical equipment plant Monday, authorities announced, hours after sealing all entrances amid reports their sweep had idled normal operations.

Barbara Gonzalez, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, confirmed the arrests in the raid that she said targeted Howard Industries Inc. of Laurel. Authorities said more people could be arrested.

The company produces dozens of products ranging from electrical transformers to medical supplies, according to the company’s Web site.

“This is a targeted enforcement operation that is part of an ongoing ICE investigation that has revealed that illegal aliens are employed at Howard Industries,” Miss Gonzalez said, adding late Monday that agents were interviewing plant workers.

She declined to say how many federal agents were involved in the raid, but said they acted on a tip provided by a union worker.


Judge won’t delay Simpson trial

LAS VEGAS | A Las Vegas judge has rejected a request by a co-defendant of O.J. Simpson to delay the start of their upcoming trial on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping.

A lawyer for Clarence Stewart had asked Judge Jackie Glass to put off the Sept. 8 trial until the Nevada Supreme Court considers Mr. Stewart’s request for a separate trial.

Mr. Stewart’s lawyers argue that it will be impossible for him to get a fair trial because most of the focus will be on Simpson.

Stewart lawyer Robert Lucherini said he would appeal Monday to the Nevada Supreme Court.


Activists detained at Olympics back in U.S.

NEW YORK | Eight American activists jailed by the Chinese for protesting during the Olympics said Monday after being sent home from Beijing that they were interrogated for hours, deprived of sleep and accused of having ties to the U.S. government.

The activists were sent home late Sunday during the closing ceremony. Some were activists and artists who demonstrated against China’s occupation of Tibet; others were bloggers who photographed the protests.

Speaking outside City Hall in New York, the detainees said they were kept in cells and were allowed to leave only for interrogations, which sometimes lasted for hours. Some said they emerged more dedicated than ever to their cause.

“Our conditions were uncomfortable, but because we’re Westerners, we suffered absolutely nothing compared to what the Tibetan people suffer,” said John Watterberg, a 30-year-old musician who lives in New York.

The U.S. government expressed disappointment Sunday that the Olympics did not bring more “openness and tolerance” in China.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that “the protesters participated in ‘Tibet independence’ activities and that is against China’s law.”


Skinhead sentenced in 1989 killing

PHILADELPHIA | Unswayed by a former skinhead’s claim that he had given up white supremacist beliefs, a judge sentenced him Monday to more than a decade in prison for the 1989 killing of a black man.

Thomas Gibison was sentenced to the maximum term of 12 1/2 to 25 years in prison Monday for conspiracy to commit murder, as well as weapons charges, connected to the 1989 shooting of Aaron Wood.

A friend of Gibison testified they went to North Philadelphia to find a black man to kill so they could earn a white supremacist tattoo.

Before being sentenced, Gibison told Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina he was “ashamed” and “embarrassed” of his skinhead past.

“That entire philosophy, I reject it,” he said.

Gibison was earlier acquitted of murder and a hate crime charge. Relatives of the victim said Monday that they had some sense of closure but no justice.


Man vows to fight for discovery credit

CHARLESTON | An underwater archaeologist who claims he found the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley said Monday he will keep fighting for official credit for the discovery, despite a lawsuit over the matter being dismissed.

Lee Spence claimed he found the Hunley in 1970 when a fishing net snagged on the submarine’s wreckage and says he has the documents to prove it. But the state gave shipwreck hunter Clive Cussler credit, saying he located the sub off Sullivans Island near Charleston in 1995.

Mr. Cussler’s National Underwater and Marine Agency sued Spence, arguing that his claim of finding the submarine damaged the agency’s reputation. Mr. Cussler’s agency still thinks its allegations are correct but “does not desire to pursue litigation against a defendant who, in turn, has professed such litigation has caused him mental trauma resulting in institutionalization and in assorted physical aliments,” according to court documents filed Friday.

Mr. Spence said he will keep fighting for credit, but doesn’t know exactly what his next step will be.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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