- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tyson plant restores Labor Day holiday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. | Union workers and officials at a Tyson Foods plant in Tennessee said Friday that they have agreed to reinstate Labor Day as a paid holiday, and the plant will also observe the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr this year.

Tyson had previously agreed to drop Labor Day and substitute the Muslim holiday as part of a new 5-year contract to accommodate Muslim workers at the plant in Shelbyville. The decision sparked widespread criticism from local politicians, and on talk radio and the Internet.

Union members voted Thursday to reinstate Labor Day as one of the plant’s paid holidays and keep Eid al-Fitr as an additional paid holiday for this year only. For the remainder of the contract, workers will have Labor Day and a personal holiday, which can be used to observe Eid al-Fitr or another day.

Eid al-Fitr - which falls on Oct. 1 this year - marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, denounced the reversal as “the result of the backlash from anti-Muslim hate sites and Islamophobes.”

Marine to be tried in Fallujah deaths

SAN DIEGO | A Camp Pendleton Marine sergeant was ordered Friday to stand trial on charges of unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty in the killing of an unarmed detainee in Fallujah, Iraq.

Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland ordered the court-martial of Sgt. Ryan Weemer after finding there was sufficient evidence to send him to trial.

Sgt. Weemer is one of three current and former Marines accused of breaking rules of engagement and killing four men they had captured after a platoon commander radioed to ask whether the Iraqis were “dead yet.”

A message left for Sgt. Weemer’s attorney, Paul Hackett, was not immediately returned. The killings occurred in November 2004 during a battle to retake Fallujah, one of the fiercest anti-insurgent battles of the Iraq war.

Sgt. Weemer, of Hindsboro, Ill., is charged with one count of murder and six counts of dereliction of duty encompassing failure to follow the rules of engagement and rules on handling detainees.

Army to review security at lab

The Army has created a team of medical and other military experts to review security measures at the research laboratory where the scientist linked to the anthrax mailings worked.

Army Secretary Pete Geren has asked at least a dozen military and civilian officials to scrutinize safety procedures, quality controls and other policies and practices at the biodefense lab at Fort Detrick, Md.

To date, the Army has offered no explanation for how its biosecurity system, which is set up to catch mentally troubled workers, failed for years to flag scientist Bruce Ivins.

Mr. Ivins, the microbiologist accused of sending anthrax-laced letters in 2001 that killed five people, committed suicide as the FBI began closing in on him.

Notre Dame ex-head to donate kidney

SOUTH BEND, Ind. | A former University of Notre Dame president plans to donate a kidney to a woman Monday in a four-patient transplant procedure involving his nephew as a recipient.

The Rev. Edward A. Malloy, the school’s president from 1987 to 2005, had volunteered to donate a kidney to 41-year-old nephew Johnny Rorapaugh. Surgery had been set for Aug. 11 at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore before one of the doctors called about three weeks ago.

“He said, ‘Would you be willing to entertain a swap?’ ” said the 67-year-old Father Malloy, who was told that he was a match for a woman closer to his age who also needed a kidney, and that the woman’s son, in his 30s, provided a better match for Mr. Rorapaugh.

“At first I was a bit taken aback, and so was my nephew. I mean, there is something special about giving a kidney to your own relative,” Mr. Malloy said. “In the end we said, ‘Sure.’ I mean, this is the right thing to do.”

Mr. Rorapaugh learned two years ago he has severe kidney dysfunction, and has been on dialysis three times weekly ever since.

Judge delays Al-Arian trial

The trial of a former Florida professor once accused of being a leading Palestinian terrorist has been postponed after a judge raised new doubts about the validity of the prosecution.

Former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian had been scheduled to go on trial next week in Virginia for contempt after refusing to testify to a federal grand jury.

But on Friday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema overruled prosecutors’ objections and postponed the trial indefinitely. In doing so, she questioned whether the government was overeager in filing charges and whether prosecutors had properly filled out the paperwork demanding Mr. Al-Arian’s grand jury testimony.

Prosecutors warned that Judge Brinkema’s ruling could have long-term implications in compelling people to comply with court orders.

Woman wins post with just her vote

SNEEDVILLE, Tenn. | All it takes is one vote to win. Just ask a Tennessee woman who was elected constable by voting for herself.

Angela Tuttle, 32, said her father encouraged her to run as a write-in candidate because no one else was vying for one of the positions in Hancock County. Mrs. Tuttle said her husband initially didn’t even realize she was running.

“I finally told him about a month before the election,” she told the Associated Press on Friday. Her husband didn’t think she would win, but now he “just grins at her,” she said.

Hancock County election officials said 131 voters of the 674 registered in the 3rd District voted Thursday. Mrs. Tuttle’s vote was the only one cast in the constable race.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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