- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2008


ACLU sues over adoption restrictions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. | More than a dozen families filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a new Arkansas law banning unmarried couples who are living together from becoming foster or adoptive parents.

The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court on behalf of the families, seeking to overturn Act 1, which was approved by voters in last month’s general election.

“Act 1 violates the state’s legal duty to place the best interest of children above all else,” said Marie-Bernarde Miller, a Little Rock attorney in the lawsuit.

The group filed the lawsuit on behalf of 29 adults and children from more than a dozen families, including a grandmother who lives with her same-sex partner of nine years and is the only relative able and willing to adopt her grandchild, who is now in Arkansas state care.

The plaintiffs also include Stephanie Huffman and Wendy Rickman, a lesbian couple raising two sons together who want to adopt a foster child from the state.

“It’s just wrong. It’s an injustice,” said Miss Huffman, who lives in Conway. “I’m being denied an opportunity to provide a home for a special-needs child.”


No search for bodies until spring thaw

SAN LUIS | Officials say the bodies of a Canadian couple killed in a plane crash in the Colorado mountains won’t be recovered until spring because of treacherous weather and avalanche threats.

Costilla County officials say 67-year-old Gerrit Maureau of Calgary and his 65-year-old wife, Sheila Malm, are presumed dead in the Dec. 20 crash at Vermejo Peak.

Sheriff’s Office Sgt. James Chavez says the wreckage is more than 1,000 feet higher than expected.

The peak received more than a foot of new snow last week.


Mexico ends search for cruise passenger

MIAMI | Mexican authorities have suspended their search for a Florida woman who apparently fell from a ship balcony during a Christmas week cruise.

The woman’s family thinks she might have jumped overboard, but the FBI is still investigating whether someone pushed her.

The Mexican Navy said late Monday it had ended its search for Jennifer Ellis Seitz, a Florida journalist, who was reported missing by her husband about eight hours after a surveillance camera captured a person falling overboard on Christmas night. The U.S. Coast Guard also called off its search Monday.


Driver sinks plow clearing boat ramp

CROOKSTON | A Minnesota snowplow operator is in hot water with his boss after driving a $200,000 loader into a frozen river.

Mike Raymond was clearing snow from county parking lots early Monday when he decided to also clear off a boat ramp on the frozen Red Lake River in Crookston.

Mr. Raymond says he wanted to make it easier for people who pull fish houses on trailers onto the river. He so happens to have a fish house on the river himself — but told the Grand Forks Herald that’s not why he wanted to clear the area.

The John Deere 544 loader slid down the cement ramp, through the ice to the river bottom.

Emergency workers quickly helped Mr. Raymond out, but it took hours to retrieve the loader.

Mr. Raymond’s boss says he will be disciplined.


Ex-Army engineer guilty of spying

NEW YORK | An 85-year-old former Army mechanical engineer has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, admitting that he passed classified documents to the Israelis in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Ben-ami Kadish entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan and is to be sentenced in February. A prosecutor says the government will not oppose a sentence that calls for no prison time.

Kadish pleaded guilty to only one of the four conspiracy charges he originally faced.

Kadish was accused of taking home classified documents from 1979 to 1985 when he worked at an Army base in New Jersey. The government said he let an unidentified Israeli agent photograph the documents in his basement. Those documents included information about nuclear weapons.


58 years for gang leader in slaying

PORTAGE, Wis. | A drifter convicted of helping his gang of scam artists kill a woman and torture her young son was sentenced to 58 years in prison Tuesday.

Michael Sisk, 27, of Portage, faced more than 136 years in prison on 10 charges, including second-degree reckless homicide, child abuse, false imprisonment and aggravated battery.

Sisk was convicted in August of helping his gang kill 36-year-old Tammie Garlin and torture her 11-year-old son. Police found the boy locked in a closet and Garlin’s body in a shallow grave behind the gang’s house in Portage.

Investigators believe Sisk and his girlfriend, Candace Clarke, led a roving gang of identity thieves. The group included Sisk, Clarke and Clarke’s 2-year-old daughter, as well as Garlin, her 11-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter, and Michaela Clerc, Garlin’s former lover.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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