- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2008

GEORGIA

School system plans to separate sexes

GREENSBORO — Nearly four decades after this rural Georgia county stopped segregating its schools by race, it wants to divide students again — this time by sex.

Greene County is set to become the first school district in the nation to go entirely single-sex, with boys and girls in separate classrooms — a move born of desperation over years of poor test scores, soaring dropout rates and high numbers of teen pregnancies.

Superintendent Shawn McCollough pointed to research showing that boys and girls learn differently, and said separating them will allow teachers to tailor their lessons.

“I am outraged,” said Tammi Freeman, who has two children at the high school. “I am disgusted. It’s making our county look like our kids are trouble when they’re not.”

NEW YORK

Mother held in deaths of 3 children

GARDEN CITY — Three children found dead in their apartment appeared to have been drowned or poisoned, and one had her throat cut, police said yesterday.

A girl, 6, and two boys, ages 5 and 1, were found dead in a bed wearing their nightclothes after their mother, Leatrice Brewer, 27, called police early Sunday claiming she had killed them, Lt. Michael Fleming said.

When officers arrived, she repeated the claim and jumped out of a second-floor window of the building in a poor section of New Cassel on Long Island. Miss Brewer, who has an arrest record dating to 2000, was hospitalized for a back injury.

Two men who identified themselves as the children’s fathers, Ricky Ward and Innocent Demesyeux, said they had fought in vain to have them removed from her custody.

ALASKA

Crowd cheers reindeer run

ANCHORAGE — From sausages to stews, reindeer are usually a main dish in Alaska.

But the antlered animals were the main event at Anchorage’s first running of the reindeer.

A cheering crowd of hundreds lined snow-covered Fourth Avenue on Sunday to watch what was touted as Alaska’s version of Spain’s famed running of the bulls.

Seven little reindeer, looking bewildered, were lined up behind the first heat of runners — several hundred women in costume. One had taped a paper bull’s-eye to her back. Others masqueraded as carrots and lichen, both favorite foods of reindeer.

At the signal to go, the reindeer stampeded into the crowd. Passing tourist shops, the downtown federal building and a stand selling reindeer hot dogs, the animals were well out in front by the halfway point.

FLORIDA

Shark bite kills Austrian tourist

WEST PALM BEACH — An Austrian tourist died yesterday after being bitten by a shark while diving near the Bahamas in waters that had been baited with bloody fish parts to attract the predators.

Markus Groh, 49, a Vienna lawyer and diving enthusiast, was on a commercial dive trip Sunday when he was bitten about 50 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, said Karlick Arthur, Austrian counsel general in Miami.

The crew aboard the Shear Water, of Riviera Beach-based Scuba Adventures, immediately called the U.S. Coast Guard, which received a mayday from the vessel, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Nick Ameen.

Mr. Groh was flown to a hospital, where he died. Mr. Groh was bitten on the leg, Petty Officer Ameen said.

The shark escaped before anyone could identify the species.

ILLINOIS

Hair isotopes give crime-fighting clues

CHICAGO — Scientists now can tell where in the United States a person may have been by analyzing a single strand of hair, offering a new tool for crime investigators trying to identify a body or track criminals.

They said variations in hydrogen and oxygen isotopes found in hair could be matched to the regional tap water people drank, providing clues about where a person had been living.

“In people with very long hair, you could get quite a long history,” said University of Utah geologist Thure Cerling, whose findings were published yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The tool would work best on hair samples taken from the head because hair grows continuously there.

Mr. Cerling and University of Utah biology professor James Ehleringer developed an elaborate map that details regional differences in the hydrogen and oxygen isotopes based on tap water samples from 65 cities in the United States.

NEBRASKA

Aid plan outlined for shooting victims

OMAHA — A volunteer committee created to oversee the nearly $1.3 million donated to help victims of the Omaha mall shooting has approved a plan for distributing the money to the families.

“The plight of the victims and families brought us together in this compassionate community effort,” committee Chairman John Ewing said yesterday. “Their lives have been turned upside down, and they have only begun to heal.”

The panel already has given $240,000 to the families of the eight persons slain on Dec. 5 in the Von Maur department store at Westroads Mall and to the four persons who were wounded by Robert Hawkins, 19, who also killed himself.

The spending plan calls for $280,000 for long-term care, nearly $263,000 for college scholarships, $233,000 for counseling, $150,000 for housing, and about $120,000 for medical bills, funerals, child care and other services.

NEW YORK

Airline defends medical treatment

NEW YORK — American Airlines yesterday insisted it tried to help a passenger who died after complaining she couldn’t breathe, and disputed the account of a relative who said that she was denied oxygen and that medical devices failed.

The airline said the oxygen tanks and a defibrillator were working and noted that several medical professionals on the flight, including a doctor, tried to save passenger Carine Desir, 44, who had heart disease.

“American Airlines, after investigation, has determined that oxygen was administered on the aircraft, and it was working, and the defibrillator was applied as well,” airline spokesman Charley Wilson said yesterday.

Miss Desir had complained of not feeling well and being very thirsty on the Friday flight home from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after she ate a meal, said Antonio Oliver, a cousin who was traveling with her and her brother, Joel Desir. A flight attendant gave her water, he said.

Mr. Oliver said he asked for the plane to “land right away so I can get her to a hospital,” and the pilot agreed to divert to Miami, 45 minutes away. But during that time Miss Desir collapsed and died, Mr. Oliver said.

OHIO

Convicted killer begs for his life

CANTON — A former Canton police officer convicted of killing his pregnant lover and their baby is apologizing for his crimes before the jury that will decide whether to recommend a death sentence.

Bobby Cutts Jr., 30, sobbed while reading from his apology from handwritten notes in court yesterday.

The former officer was convicted of killing Jessie Davis and their baby last year.

PENNSYLVANIA

Bar moms plead in fatal fire

PITTSBURGH — Two mothers pleaded no contest yesterday to involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of five of their children in a house fire that began while the women were out at a bar.

Shakita Mangham and Furaha Love, both 26, entered the pleas in return for the dropping of lesser charges. Mangham also pleaded no contest to making false reports to police.

Love and Mangham left the children in the care of two 8-year-olds in June, police said. Authorities said the early morning fire was started by children playing with matches.

Prosecutors said Mangham initially told police that the children were left with a baby sitter. She later acknowledged she gave investigators false information to avoid charges and because she wanted to attend funeral services and remain available for her surviving son, according to a criminal complaint.

WEST VIRGINIA

Los Angeles water judged tastiest

BERKELEY SPRINGS — Drink up, Los Angeles.

The city’s residents have the tastiest tap water, according to the judges of the world’s largest and longest-running water tasting contest.

The 18th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting was held Saturday, with more than 120 waters competing for top honors.

Sparkling, tap and bottled water from 19 states and nine foreign countries, including New Zealand, Romania, Macedonia and the Philippines, were judged by 10 journalists and food critics.

Judges based their rankings on taste, odor, mouth feel and aftertaste, and checked to make sure nothing was floating in the water.

WISCONSIN

Pond searched for backhoe driver

ROCHESTER — Divers searched a partially frozen pond in a quarry yesterday for the body of a backhoe operator whose machine fell through the ice.

The 25- to 30-ton piece of equipment fell into the pond at the Park View Sand and Gravel Pit and settled at a sharp angle with the cab submerged, according to the Racine County Sheriff’s Department.

Firefighters and rescue workers arrived at the quarry a minute after receiving the emergency call at 10:18 a.m., Sgt. Robert Kazmarcik said. Crews worked for at least three hours to right the machine and reach the cab, thinking the man could have survived if the cab was watertight.

When workers managed to tip over the backhoe, the man was not inside it, Sgt. Kazmarcik said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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