- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008


Boys bounce in bid for record

FLAT ROCK | Bounce, bounce, bounce … for 24 hours.

That was what eight boys in Michigan did last week in an effort to set a world record.

The boys began the attempt Friday morning at the Bounce-a-Lot entertainment center southwest of Detroit in Flat Rock. They bounced two at a time in shifts in an inflatable castle.

Ten-year-old Mason Brott said the bouncing wasn’t as tough as he thought it would be.

Guinness World Records must still authenticate the record, a process that could take months.

The boys, ages 8 to 11, decided to try to beat the bouncing record of 19 hours and 24 minutes, set nearly two years ago.


Girl survives 180-foot fall down chimney

NEW YORK | A 12-year-old girl just wanted to show her cousin the view from her family’s Manhattan rooftop.

Instead, she fell into a chimney and plummeted down the flue for 14 stories, emerging nearly unscathed to tell her story after landing in a pile of furnace soot.

Grace Bergere, a young rock drummer, was recovering at a hospital on Saturday with an injured hip. A 2-foot-deep pile of ash and dust probably saved her life by cushioning her fall when she crashed into a basement furnace, fire officials said.

“I broke my leg! I broke my leg!” she yelled out after rescuers spotted her soot-caked hand reaching out for help.

Fire Chief Austin Horan said the girl emerged “relatively unscathed” from the accident Thursday night at the Westbeth Artists Housing complex in the West Village neighborhood. The complex houses artists, including Grace’s father, Steve Berger, a jazz guitarist.

“It’s a miracle; it’s an absolute miracle,” he said.

Firefighters responding to a 911 call never expected to find the girl alive.


Boy, 12, charged in mother’s slaying

DOUGLAS | A 12-year-old Arizona boy fatally shot his mother after an argument, police said.

Cochise County sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas said deputies were called to a home Friday near Douglas on the Mexican border. They found Sara Madrid, 34, shot multiple times, and she died at a hospital.

The boy was booked into the county juvenile detention center on a charge of first-degree murder.

Miss Capas said the boy was at home with his mother, stepfather and a sibling when an argument broke out. The parents left, and when they returned, the boy opened fire with a handgun on his mother. No one else was hurt.

Miss Capas said she does not know what the argument was about.


FBI probes attacks on scientists

SANTA CRUZ | The FBI is investigating two bombings that targeted university scientists, the latest in a rash of attacks against biomedical researchers who experiment on animals, authorities say.

Both scientists work at the University of California at Santa Cruz. One of them and his family were forced to escape from a second-story window early Saturday when a firebomb was lit on the home’s porch, Santa Cruz police said. An adult was treated at a hospital and released.

Police Capt. Steve Clark called the bombing “an attempted homicide.”

Also that morning, a firebomb destroyed a car belonging to another researcher. Capt. Clark said authorities were treating the attacks as “domestic terrorism.”

The attacks came four days after police obtained animal rights pamphlets left at a Santa Cruz coffeehouse that contained the names and home addresses of university scientists.

Police said they have no suspects in Saturday’s attacks, the first since February, when animal rights activists showed up at the house of a UC Santa Cruz breast-cancer researcher during her young daughter’s birthday party.


Three bodies found after house fire

LITTLETON | Three bodies have been recovered from a house in suburban Denver after a fire erupted during a party.#

The fire destroyed the house and damaged two others early Sunday. Fire district spokeswoman Cindy Matthews said one person was severely injured with burns to 70 percent of his body.

Firefighters had to wait hours for the rubble to cool before they could begin their search.

Neighbors reported booms and loud popping sounds and said the house had exploded. But Miss Matthews said firefighters have been unable to determine what happened.


Tropical-storm warning for Gulf

MIAMI | A tropical-storm warning was issued Sunday for parts of the Louisiana coast as a tropical depression formed in the Gulf of Mexico.

The warning is in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River westward to Intracoastal City. It means that tropical storm conditions are expected by Monday evening. New Orleans is not in the warning area.

At 5 p.m., the depression’s center was about 85 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 415 miles east of Galveston, Texas.

The system was moving west near 6 mph and the center was expected to move parallel to the Louisiana coast Sunday night into Monday and approach the upper Texas coast on Tuesday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph and the system could strengthen into a tropical storm by Monday. Rainfall of 1 to 3 inches is expected in coastal Louisiana, with 2 to 6 inches forecast in southeast Texas.


Man accused of aiding China

HAIKU | Cheryl Gowadia couldn’t figure out why FBI agents in riot gear, guns drawn, were storming her home on Maui’s tranquil North Shore.

At first, she thought they might be after the man building a pond in her backyard. Instead, she was stunned to learn they wanted to question her husband, a former B-2 stealth bomber engineer.

“This came out of nowhere,” Mrs. Gowadia said.

A week later, on Oct. 13, 2005, agents arrested Noshir Gowadia, a native of India who received a doctoral degree at 15, on suspicion that he sold military secrets to China.

Maui, a mostly rural island of 140,000 known more for big-wave surfing and five-star resorts, is an unlikely place for a spy saga.

But prosecutors said Mr. Gowadia used Maui as a base to design a stealth cruise missile for China. He was indicted on 21 counts of conspiracy, money laundering and falsifying tax returns.

Despite the seriousness of the charges, the case has received scant public attention.

The defendant has been out of sight since a judge determined that he was a flight risk and denied him bail.

Adding to his obscurity, Mr. Gowadia’s trial date has been repeatedly postponed as both prosecution and defense lawyers have sought more time to review thousands of pages of classified evidence.

The trial is now due to begin on Jan. 21. Mr. Gowadia has pleaded not guilty.


Baseball card nets $1.62 million

CHICAGO | An Arkansas man has bought a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card for $1.62 million at a memorabilia auction in Chicago, a sports auction company said Saturday.

The record price for a baseball card is $2.8 million [-] paid in 2007 for a near-mint condition Wagner card released in 1909 by the American Tobacco Company.

Bidders at the Friday night auction also spent $42,000 on Ken Griffey Jr.’s 600th home run ball and $240,000 for a 1938 Lou Gehrig Yankees road jersey, said Doug Allen, Mastro Auctions chief operating officer.

Mr. Allen identified the new owner of the T206 Wagner card as John Rogers of Little Rock, Ark. Mr. Rogers did not respond to a message seeking comment left on his voice mail. The T206 cards are from a series issued between 1909 and 1911. Mr. Allen said the card was in excellent condition and said the next highest bid, $1.3 million, was placed on behalf of a client who wished to remain anonymous.

Wagner’s card was among the first of hundreds of cards of major league players produced by the American Tobacco Co. and included in packages of cigarettes.


NTSB ‘looking at everything’

OWATONNA | National Transportation Safety Board investigators haven’t focused on any single issue yet as they seek the cause of the corporate jet crash that killed eight people, a board member said Saturday.

“We are looking at everything,” said board member Steven Chealander. “There is no single focus at this point. It is a multiple focus accident investigation.”

The plane was carrying six casino and construction executives and two pilots when it went down Thursday, killing everyone on board. The executives were coming to Owatonna to meet with representatives of a local glass company called Viracon to discuss a $2 billion hotel-casino complex being built in Atlantic City, N.J., by Revel Entertainment.

The chartered aircraft went down in a cornfield northwest of Degner Regional Airport. Seven people were found dead at the site; the eighth died at a hospital.

Investigators plan to interview crash witnesses as well as people in Pennsylvania where the flight originated and in Atlantic City where it stopped, Mr. Chealander said.

They also are looking at runway conditions, mechanical issues and a thunderstorm that moved through the area before the crash, he said.


Two boys drown at construction site

SUMMERVILLE | Two young boys drowned in a water-filled hole at the construction site of a new home, authorities said.

The nearly 6-foot-deep hole was about 100 feet behind the house, said Dorchester County sheriff’s 1st Sgt. Mike Miller. The boys, between 3 and 5 years old, drowned Saturday evening. Sgt. Miller said he didn’t know whether they were swimming in the hole or fell in.

Chris Nisbet, the county coroner, said Sunday that he was working to identify the children’s names and ages, a process complicated by a language barrier because their mother is from Mexico. He said he thought the mother was at the house while her boyfriend worked on it Saturday.

Sgt. Miller said a construction crew member noticed that the children were missing about 7 p.m., and the sheriff’s office was called about 25 minutes later.

When deputies arrived, they saw a man standing in the hole, using a long, narrow board to search the bottom. When he struck something, an officer jumped in and pulled one child out. Deputies and construction workers soon found the second child.

The boys were pronounced dead at a hospital.

The hole was dug to lay utility lines in a new subdivision in Summerville, which is about 20 miles northwest of Charleston.


Ex-students beat scandal-hit college

HOUSTON | Three former Texas Southern University students credited with helping expose a spending scandal that led to indictments of top administrators won a retaliation lawsuit against school officials.

A federal jury decided Friday that William Hudson, Justin Jordan and Oliver Brown were kicked out of the university and arrested as payback for criticizing Priscilla Slade, university president at the time, and other school leaders.

The students played a role in bringing to light a scandal that tarnished TSU and led to charges against Slade. In a plea bargain, Slade agreed to repay nearly $130,000 of the half-million she misspent in school funds on clothes, home furnishings and landscaping.

Jurors awarded actual damages totaling nearly $200,000 to all three students, and the jury is set to return next week to decide punitive damages.

Peter Plotts, a lawyer with the Texas attorney general’s office who represented TSU, declined to comment.

Mr. Hudson, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Brown were student government leaders in 2004 when they discovered TSU payroll documents that they thought confirmed suspicions of corruption within the administration. The students went public with the information, distributing fliers and speaking candidly with Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature about their accusations.

The students sued TSU officials in 2005, accusing them of thwarting their First Amendment rights by disciplining them for speaking out against corruption. The lawsuit purports they were retaliated against for exposing the corruption.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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