- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Taxi drivers hold 12-hour strike

Taxi drivers yesterday held the first of what organizers said would be weekly strikes protesting the mayor’s decision to require meters in cabs beginning in April.

At the Phoenix Park Hotel across from Union Station, front desk agent Will Jacobs said that fewer taxis than usual were running but it was not too difficult to find a ride. “I just saw three cabs drive by,” he said while looking out the window.

It was not clear exactly how many cabdrivers were participating in the 12-hour strike, which began at 7 a.m. William J. Wright, president of the Taxicab Industry Group, estimated that 90 percent of the city’s approximately 7,500 drivers were staying off the streets.

Mr. Wright, whose group also organized a Halloween strike to protest the meters, said the strikes would continue once a week on rotating days until Mayor Adrian M. Fenty changes the new rules.



Judge upholds ruling in anti-gay protest

A federal judge upheld the October jury verdict in the lawsuit brought against a fundamentalist church group for its anti-homosexual protest at the 2006 Maryland funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq.

However, the judge reduced by more than half the total damages awarded to the plaintiff, the Marine’s father.

Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued Westboro Baptist Church members who staged a demonstration at the March 2006 funeral in Westminster, Md., of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett means the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church and three of its members must pay total compensatory and punitive damages of $5 million for emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The original jury award was $10.9 million.

The appeal by Westboro to overturn the verdict is pending.

Westboro members think U.S. deaths in Iraq are punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.


Call leads police to stolen electronics

A report of suspicious activity in a wooded area led deputies to a hiding place for stolen electronic items, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.

A caller late Sunday afternoon reported seeing two males in the woods near the 14400 block of Water Company Road. Deputies found two laptops and two cameras they traced to the Cascade Elementary School, which had been the scene of a burglary.

The investigation revealed two 14-year-old Cascade boys had entered the school through a window and took six laptops, 29 personal data assistants and other electronic items.

The stolen items, worth about $8,000, were found at the boys’ homes.

The boys were charged as juveniles.


Firefighter hurt battling blaze

Baltimore fire officials say one firefighter was injured yesterday fighting a pre-dawn blaze at a Canton bar.

The fire was reported shortly before 5 a.m. at the Knotty Pine at South Conkling Street and Fait Avenue.

The fire spread through the first and second floors and went to two alarms. The fire department said the owners of the bar, who live on the second floor, were not home.

The injured firefighter was treated at Mercy Medical Center.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Trailer dumps cement into creek

State police yesterday closed state Route 75 in both directions after a tractor-trailer overturned and spilled tons of dry cement into Beaver Dam Creek.

Police said the truck carrying more than 26 tons of dry cement was rounding a curve at about 3:30 p.m. when the trailer tore off the front of the vehicle. Dry cement poured onto the road and into the creek.

The driver was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore with injuries that are not thought to be life-threatening.


Bar owner fined for free-drink idea

Frederick County’s liquor board fined the owners of a bar called Fusion $500 and suspended the bar’s liquor license for 10 days because it gave away drinks during a promotion last fall.

Police officers told the liquor board yesterday that they received a tip that the bar was running a “buy one, get one free” drink promotion. Giving away alcohol is a violation of state liquor laws.

Owner George Makrides, a 30-year veteran of the bar-restaurant business, blamed his legal woes on others for not using appropriate wording in promotional materials.



Bill would ban illegals from public colleges

The House of Delegates passed a bill to ban illegal aliens from attending public colleges and universities.

The bill, sponsored by Delegate Christopher K. Peace, Hanover Republican, passed 73-26 yesterday and now heads to the Senate, where efforts to crack down on illegal aliens rarely succeed.

Supporters said illegal aliens should not be allowed to attend an institution of higher education supported by tax dollars. They said the student still could attend a private college.

While not all of Virginia’s 15 public universities and 23 community colleges check students’ legal status, they all charge those known to be here illegally out-of-state tuition.

A proposal to allow in-state tuition for some illegal aliens is expected to be debated in the Senate this week.


Sex workers’ show opens on campus

An art show featuring sex workers opened quietly at the College of William & Mary last evening, despite the objections of some who thought it shouldn’t be held on campus.

There was little fanfare or protest to ring in the sold-out “Sex Workers’ Art Show.” The show features monologues and performances by pornography actors, strippers and other sex workers.

Some had questioned whether the college should allow the show on campus. Virginia’s attorney general requested a ban on recording it.

William & Mary President Gene R. Nichol ultimately decided to allow the show.

Annie Oakley, the show’s founder and director, said the show is meant to demystify sex workers and present them as human beings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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