- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2008


Suspect husband charged with weapons violation

BOLINGBROOK — Months after naming a former suburban Illinois police sergeant as a suspect in his wife’s disappearance, authorities issued a warrant yesterday for his arrest on an unrelated weapons charge, officials said.

Drew Peterson surrendered shortly after the warrant was issued.

The gun, a semiautomatic assault rifle, was one of 11 seized during a search of Mr. Peterson’s home Nov. 1, shortly after Stacy Peterson disappeared in late October, said his attorney, Joel Brodsky. He said police claimed the rifle barrel was too short under Illinois law.

Mr. Brodsky said Mr. Peterson was still a police officer when the weapon was seized and that officers are exempt from the length provision of the law.


Customer wrestles deer to protect son

QUAKERTOWN — A disoriented deer smashed its way into a suburban hair salon, and a customer wrestled with the animal to keep it from ramming into his 11-year-old son or other youngsters.

“I’m a father. I wasn’t going to let anything happen to those kids,” Randy Goepfert said after Tuesday’s confrontation.

The deer “was charging right at my son, so I decked him,” Mr. Goepfert said. He grabbed the buck by the neck and slammed it to the floor, then climbed on top and began choking the animal, hoping to keep it at bay until authorities arrived.

The deer broke loose, and Mr. Goepfert chased it into a backroom and barricaded the door with chairs.

The deer had a broken jaw and cuts on its neck and had to be euthanized, officials said.


Regulators back global warming fees

SAN FRANCISCO — Air pollution regulators in the San Francisco Bay area have voted overwhelmingly to approve new rules that impose fees on businesses for emitting greenhouse gasses.

A spokeswoman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said the agency’s board of directors voted 15-1 yesterday to charge companies 4.4 cents per ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

Experts said the fees, which cover nine counties in the Bay area, are the first of their kind in the country.

But many Bay area businesses oppose the rules, saying they could interfere with the state’s campaign to fight global warming under a law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.


No arrests yet in thefts of bras

VERO BEACH — Bra bandits have struck a Victoria’s Secret store in recent back-to-back robberies at a local mall.

So far, no one has been arrested, police said, and the investigation is continuing.

The first heist came on May 14, when someone made off in the early afternoon with 105 bras from the lingerie store at the Indian River Mall. The thief was partial to colored bras in a variety of styles. The stolen undergarments were reportedly valued at $4,500.

Then, on May 17, thieves struck the store again. According to store employees, a man and several women entered about 7:40 p.m. Saturday and engaged in what Indian River County Sheriff’s deputies described as a “distraction scheme.”

This time, 18 bras — in assorted colors and with a total value of $900 — were swiped. All were size 36-C.


Families sue school over English policy

WICHITA — Four Hispanic families are suing St. Anne’s Catholic School over its requirement that students speak English at all times at school.

Their lawsuit calls for an end to the policy, which they said is discriminatory, and asks for an order barring similar policies at other schools.


Science, religion debates resume

BATON ROUGE — Arguments over science and religion have resumed at the state Capitol with a House panel approving a bill to let public school teachers offer alternatives to evolutionary theory and a Senate committee voting to ban government funding for what is often called “therapeutic cloning.”

Proponents say the bill approved yesterday by the House Education Committee would promote “critical analysis” of scientific issues including cloning, evolution and global warming. Opponents say it is an attempt to inject religion into science classes.

The other bill, approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, would outlaw government funding for therapeutic cloning — the asexual creation of an early stage human embryo for the harvesting of stem cells that scientists hope could be used to cure disease.

Opponents say the process destroys human life.


Money woes linked to bridge collapse

ST. PAUL — Money worries may have led to bad maintenance decisions for the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed and killed 13 people in August, a report released yesterday concluded.

The report, conducted for the state Legislature by a private law firm, highlighted a number of bureaucratic tangles at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which was responsible for upkeep of the 40-year-old bridge.

But the key finding was on the money issue.

“Financial considerations, we believe, did play a part in the decision making” on bridge maintenance, Robert Stein, one of the attorneys, told lawmakers during a briefing. “Sometimes it’s easier just to take the least-expensive alternative or just commission another study.”


Genetic ‘editing’ may cause lupus

WINSTON-SALEM — U.S. scientists said they have found evidence that the abnormal “editing” of gene messages in a type of white blood cell might be the cause of lupus.

Researchers at Wake Forest University said they hope the finding will lead to earlier diagnosis, a way to monitor patients’ response to therapy and possibly a new way to treat the disease.

Assistant Professor Dama Laxminarayana explained it is protein molecules that carry out the instructions of genes and determine how an organism looks, how well its body metabolizes food or fights infection, and how it behaves.

He said that in systemic lupus erythematosus, the normal editing process goes awry, causing a shift in the balance of proteins that results in impaired functions in T cells — a type of white blood cell involved in the regulation of immune functions.

Impaired T cell function is a hallmark of lupus — a complex chronic autoimmune disorder that can range from a benign skin disorder to severe, life-threatening multisystem disease. It primarily affects women in their child-bearing years and is more common in blacks.

The study’s findings are reported online in the journal Immunology.


Exit polling OK near voting places

PIERRE — A federal judge has approved a legal settlement that allows exit polling within 100 feet of voting places in South Dakota.

State officials reached an agreement with six news organizations that had sued to strike down a South Dakota law that barred exit polling near voting places.

In a document filed yesterday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol of Sioux Falls approved the agreement, which stops state officials from enforcing the distance restrictions in the June 3 primary and subsequent elections.

The lawsuit was filed by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and the Associated Press. The news organizations sponsor the exit polls that question people after they vote to find out their views and determine why they voted as they did.


Penalty overturned for ticket-writing cop

DALLAS — A Dallas city government official has overturned the suspension of a police sergeant who instructed officers to invent occupations for citation recipients.

Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan said in a letter to Sgt. Walter Clifton that she had overturned his five-day suspension, which was imposed by Police Chief David Kunkle, in favor of “documented counseling” sessions, the Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday.

Miss Jordan said in the May 13 letter that she was ordering the city to give Sgt. Clifton back pay.

“My decision in this matter is non-appealable,” she wrote.

Sgt. Clifton was suspended after telling investigators that he instructed officers years ago to make up occupations on citations issued for homeless people. He said he wanted to conceal the fact that they were homeless because he thought the courts would not issue arrest warrants for unpaid citations issued to the homeless.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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