- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Amtrak sued over shares

Cincinnati insurer American Financial Group, the largest private shareholder in Amtrak, sued the railroad for failing to become profitable and declaring its stock worthless.

The lawsuit, filed May 19 in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, claims Amtrak broke its promise to become a for-profit venture in the 37 years since Congress formed it to take over U.S. intercity rail service. American Financial seeks the return of its $52 million investment, plus unspecified damages.

Congress ordered Amtrak in 1997 to redeem all outstanding shares by 2002. Shareholders in 2000 rejected a “ridiculously low” offer of 3 cents a share, according to the complaint.

American Financial owns about 5.2 million shares in Amtrak. The suit says the company made bad decisions and its stock is now worthless. American Financial Group says it wants $52 million and interest.

An Amtrak spokesman said the company hadn’t reviewed the lawsuit.

The rail line is heavily subsidized by Congress and loses about a $1 billion a year.



Fatal funeral crash probed

State police are investigating a fatal accident that occurred after county officers stopped traffic on Route 97 for a funeral procession, Anne Arundel County police said.

Traffic was stopped for the funeral of the father of a county officer. About 45 vehicles had stopped safely to allow the procession to pass when the accident occurred Friday morning, county police said.

The department has assisted at least 150 funeral processions over the past year and determinations on whether to provide assistance are made on a case-by-case basis, county police said.

A 31-year-old pregnant woman and her baby died in the five-vehicle crash, according to state police.


Zoo giraffe put to sleep

Gretchen, a 22-year-old giraffe suffering from arthritis, was euthanized yesterday, officials at the Maryland Zoo here said.

The 14-foot tall giraffe had successfully been treated for years for a condition that caused her front hooves to rotate slightly inward. However, Gretchen also suffered from progressive arthritis, which had advanced over the past few weeks, and zoo officials said she had begun to show signs of discomfort.

“We continued exploring treatments to make her more comfortable, and recently even tried several courses of acupuncture, in addition to the many different medications and supplements she had received over the years,” Dr. Ellen Bronson, chief veterinarian for the zoo, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, her arthritis had just become too advanced.”

The zoo is home to four other giraffes, 21-year-old Mary; Mary’s two daughters, 14-year-old Angel and 12-year-old Zoe; as well as a young male named Caesar, who will turn two in August.

In March, one of the Philadelphia Zoo’s oldest giraffes, Puzzles, was euthanized owing to failing health. At 27, Puzzles was also one of the oldest giraffes in the United States.


Police seek rape suspect

Local police are seeking a man they suspect of attacking and raping a woman early yesterday.

The woman was attacked about 2:30 a.m. near 49th Street and several people tried to detain a man, who managed to escape and fled to the beach, police said. Police described the suspect as a Hispanic male in his mid-20s, between five-feet-seven and six-feet tall, of average build with dark short hair, and possibly bruises or scars on both hands.

The man was wearing a light-colored polo-type shirt with horizontal blue stripes, police said.


Man shot at restaurant

A 24-year-old man was shot early yesterday in a restaurant parking lot, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office said.

The shooting occurred about 2:30 a.m. outside the Waffle House Restaurant. Robert Ringgold of Havre de Grace was standing outside the restaurant when a vehicle approached. After a brief conversation, Mr. Ringgold was hit by a shot fired from inside the vehicle, the sheriff’s department said.

Mr. Ringgold was struck in the lower body and taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.



Buffett’s sister aids shelter

A program that provides residential treatment to mentally ill adults is expanding.

The expansion is thanks to a $2 million grant from a foundation founded by philanthropist Doris Buffett.

The crisis-stabilization program created by the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board has served more than 250 patients since it was founded in January last year. Services include around-the-clock care, psychiatrists, art therapy and support groups.

The board saw the need to expand the facility and sought help from Miss Buffett, the sister of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Miss Buffett founded and runs the Sunshine Lady Foundation.

The board plans to use the grant to buy two lots here and build a new home for the crisis-stabilization program. Other homes owned by the board will be renovated.

The stabilization program is designed to treat people with severe mental illnesses or in serious situations.


Scouts to fix forest trails

More than 1,000 Boy Scouts are expected to arrive in the western part of the state next month to help repair and reroute more than 40 miles of national forest trails.

Members of the Boy Scouts of America’s Order of the Arrow — an honor society of seasoned campers — are scheduled to begin arriving on June 20 at the Goshen Scout Camp in Rockbridge County. They’ll spend more than a week in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests on tasks such as fixing and rerouting the Alleghany Highlands Multi-User Trail System, building campsites and adding trails.

The trail system will connect federal and state lands, according to Linda Brett, acting supervisor for the national forests.

Boy Scout officials said the mission is the organization’s largest service project since World War II.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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