- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Fiery vehicle pileup kills 5, injures 16

LOS ANGELES - A 4-year-old child was in critical condition yesterday after a fiery six-vehicle crash that killed two adults and three children and injured 16 people.

A van going through an intersection slammed into a second van that had sped through a red light Monday and “made it go airborne,” setting off a chain reaction that set three vehicles ablaze, melted a traffic signal and scattered debris across the intersection, said police Officer Karen Smith.

Three of the dead were children traveling in the first van. A 12-year-old boy was ejected from that vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, Officer Ana Aguirre said. A 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy from that van died later, Officer Aguirre said.

Also in the van were three other children and a man and woman who were injured, but police could not say yesterday whether they were one family.

Two people in the van that ran the red light in the Hyde Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles were burned beyond recognition in the vehicle.


Eight injured in shootings

NEW YORK - A string of shootings in a New York City neighborhood sent eight people, including half a dozen teenagers, to hospitals with gunshot wounds, police said yesterday.

All of the victims were expected to recover.

The six teens were found near Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, where a crowd had gathered. It was not clear whether they were wounded at the park or as they fled when gunfire erupted about 10:15 p.m. Monday, police said.

The victims - between the ages of 13 and 18 - were found on several blocks along Lenox Avenue, from 125th to 128th streets.

They had been shot in the chest, thigh, torso, abdomen or foot, police said. A 15-year-old girl had been grazed on the forehead.

No arrests had been made.


NASA pioneer dies at 94

HUNTSVILLE - Ernst Stuhlinger, one of the last surviving German rocket scientists who came to America after World War II and formed the engineering foundation of the nation’s space program, has died. He was 94.

Mr. Stuhlinger, who died Sunday, had been in failing health for several months, according to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Mr. Stuhlinger served as chief scientist for the famous Wernher von Braun and was among the group of German scientists who moved with him to Huntsville in 1950 when the Army established the Ordnance Missile Laboratories. The von Braun team developed the propulsion system that helped NASA put man on the moon in 1969.

Mr. Stuhlinger retired in 1975 as the associate director of science at the Marshall Space Flight Center, where the Saturn V moon rocket was designed. He later co-authored a book about Mr. von Braun.


Man apologizes for rail deaths

LOS ANGELES - A man who admits causing a Southern California commuter train derailment that killed 11 people has apologized from the witness stand at his murder trial.

Juan Alvarez said yesterday he was trying to kill himself and never meant to harm anyone else. Has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder.

Mr. Alvarez asked for forgiveness from families of those killed in the January 2005 disaster involving two Metrolink trains.

He said he poured gasoline over himself and his sport utility vehicle, took out a lighter and then decided he did not want to burn himself to death because it would be too painful.

He said he then drove onto railroad tracks, hoping a train would smash into his vehicle and kill him quickly.


Veteran ordered to take down flag

CLERMONT - A veteran of the U.S. Navy said he has been threatened with legal action if he doesn’t take down the U.S. flag flying on a pole in his yard.

Jimmie Watkins said he and his wife, Ria, were told by the Sussex homeowners’ association in a letter that they will face legal action unless the flag is taken down, WKMG-TV in Orlando reported yesterday.

“I don’t understand why it would bring down the values of our homes by flying the American flag from a pole in my front yard,” said Mr. Watkins, a Clermont resident.

WKMG said the homeowners’ association refused to comment.

Florida law states that any resident can display a flag in a “respectful manner” provided it is removable.


Train-truck crash injures four

JACKSON - At least four people have been injured in a collision of an Amtrak passenger train with a garbage truck on a rural stretch of track south of Jackson.

The accident occurred yesterday about 1:30 p.m.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Katherine Crowell said two of the four injured people were taken to the hospital while two others were treated at the scene.

Miss Crowell said it was not immediately clear whether the injured were on the train or in the truck.


Not-guilty plea in secrets case

KNOXVILLE - A retired University of Tennessee professor has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to provide military secrets to a Chinese graduate student.

J. Reece Roth, a professor emeritus who headed the school’s Plasma Sciences Lab, was arraigned yesterday in Knoxville on charges related to violating the Arms Export Control Act and trying to defraud the U.S. Air Force.

The charges involve work performed from 2004 to 2006 by Mr. Roth, the student and a university spinoff company called Atmospheric Glow Technologies. The work was for an Air Force contract to develop flight controls for unmanned aircraft, or “drones.”


College eliminates SAT requirement

RALEIGH - Wake Forest University will no longer require applicants to submit SAT or ACT test scores for admission, school officials said.

Wake Forest will become the only top-30 university in the U.S. News & World Report ranking to make the entrance exams optional. The policy change takes effect with the freshman class starting in 2009.

University officials said they changed the policy after reviewing research that shows the tests favor wealthier students and aren’t the best predictors of college success.

Students can still choose to submit their test scores.

Admissions decisions will be based on high school curriculum and grades, combined with written essays, extracurricular activities and evidence of character and talent.


Sect families seen as flight risks

AUSTIN - Families of children seized from their polygamist sect’s ranch could flee Texas if they regain custody, child welfare authorities said yesterday as they urged the state Supreme Court to block a ruling that found the massive removals to be improper.

Updating an earlier appeal, Texas Child Protective Services lawyers argued that if the custody orders are rescinded, parents could take the children out of the state and “no Texas court would have any authority to enter any orders to protect these children.”

The Third District Court of Appeals ruled last week that the state failed to show that the youngsters were in any immediate danger, the only grounds under Texas law for taking children from their parents without court action.

The state filed its initial appeal Friday, arguing that Texas law gave a lower-court judge discretion on whether to remove the children.


Officers charged in beating

PHILADELPHIA - Two Philadelphia police officers accused of beating a man they saw painting graffiti were charged yesterday with assault and falsifying records.

Charges in the August attack come about three weeks after a videotaped beating of three suspects by a swarm of city police put a spotlight on the use of force in the department.

Authorities said Officers Sheldon Fitzgerald and Howard Hill III broke the man’s jaw on one side and dislocated it on the other before throwing him head first into the back of a patrol car. The man was not charged with a crime.


City officials want servers to cover up

BONNEY LAKE - Bonney Lake has become the latest city in the region to explore action against coffee houses that feature scantily clad female servers, officials said.

The Bonney Lake City Council has asked its legal staff to explore regulatory measures that can be taken against Cowgirls Espresso, which features bikini and lingerie-clad servers, and Hot Chick-a-Latte, where female servers often use pasties or scarves to cover up, the Tacoma, Wash. News Tribune reported yesterday.

Officials in the nearby cities of Lakewood and Auburn have explored legal avenues of forcing baristas at Cowgirls Espresso locations to cover up. Auburn officials tried to use labor laws to alter the clothing worn by the servers and Lakewood officials looked into whether the bikinis violated indecent exposure laws. Both cities were unsuccessful in their challenges.

David Gifford, manager of the Washington Department of Health’s food safety program, said state rules only require the clothing worn by servers to be clean.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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