- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2008

ARKANSAS

Obama plot suspects kept on lockdown

LITTLE ROCK | Two white supremacists accused of plotting to assassinate President-elect Barack Obama are on lockdown in their Tennessee jail cell.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Sunday that Daniel Cowart, 20, of Tennessee and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of Arkansas, are under the lockdown for their protection.

Obion County Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder said they were separated from other inmates at the request of federal authorities.

They can leave their cell for only an hour each day to watch television or use the phone.

CALIFORNIA

Marines save guests from motel fire

LAKE FOREST | Off-duty Marines were credited with saving lives after spotting flames and smoke at a California motel and rousing sleeping guests.

Orange County fire chief Kris Concepcion said the fire broke out Sunday morning at an Americas Best Value Inn in Lake Forest.

The chief said six Marines who were staying at the motel while on leave from Camp Pendleton raced door to door to warn guests. They even carried one elderly man to safety.

No one was killed or seriously injured, and the cause of the fire was under investigation.

The Marines said they were just doing what they had been trained to do.

HAWAII

Voter turnout remains low

HONOLULU | Despite island-born Barack Obama on the presidential ballot, Hawaii’s eligible voter turnout in the general election remained among the lowest in the nation, according to preliminary estimates by the Center for the Study of the American Electorate and the U.S. Election Project.

About 24,000 more voters cast ballots Tuesday than in the 2004 election. However, the 66 percent turnout among registered voters was 1 percent lower than in 2004.

The U.S. Election Project said Hawaii’s turnout is even lower when compared with the estimated number of people who are eligible to cast ballots, which is a broader measure of turnout.

That drops Hawaii’s turnout to about 51 percent, which is above only Utah, but about 3 percentage points higher than 2004, said Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax who runs the project.

Curtis Gan, who runs the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University, estimated Hawaii’s eligible voter turnout at 45 percent, which was the worst of the 47 states he surveyed.

Mr. McDonald and Mr. Gan estimated the national eligible voter turnout at about 61 percent.

ILLINOIS

Woman, 90, lived with siblings’ bodies

EVANSTON | A 90-year-old woman apparently has been living in a house with the bodies of her three siblings, one of whom may have been dead since the early 1980s, police in suburban Chicago said.

The bodies were found Friday morning by police who were called by a senior advocate, said Evanston police Cmdr. Tom Guenther.

The woman was taken to a hospital for observation. The Cook County medical examiner’s office said Saturday that the people had died of natural causes, but it would not say how long they had been dead.

The office has identified the dead as Anita Bernstorff, who was born in 1910, Frank Bernstorff, who was born in 1920, and Elaine Bernstorff, who was born in 1916. Anita Bernstorff was last seen alive in May, Frank Bernstorff in 2003 and Elaine Bernstorff in the early 1980s, authorities said.

NEW JERSEY

Report: Jersey City councilman arrested

JERSEY CITY | A Jersey City councilman has reportedly been arrested for urinating on a crowd of concertgoers from the balcony of a Washington, D.C., nightclub.

The New York Daily News reported in Sunday’s editions that two-term Jersey City council member Steve Lipski, 44, has been charged with simple assault.

The newspaper said Mr. Lipski was removed from the 9:30 nightclub on Friday night.

That was after club staffers said they saw him relieve himself from a second-floor balcony during a concert.

Messages left at Mr. Lipski’s council office and at a Jersey City listing under his name were not immediately returned.

TEXAS

Released child killer sues over jailing

AUSTIN | A man who killed an 8-year-old girl is accusing Texas officials of illegally depriving him of the chance to re-enter society.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel will consider the lawsuit this week but isn’t expected to rule immediately.

Raul Meza, 48, qualified for release from prison in 1993. He received a 30-year sentence for killing and sexually assaulting Kendra Page in Austin in 1982.

He is being held at a county jail while on mandatory supervised release.

Among other accusations, he said parole officials take so long to approve potential job prospects that they’re gone when he finally applies.

The Texas attorney general’s office said the conditions imposed on Meza are legitimate, given his history.

WASHINGTON

Asphalt shortage delays road repairs

SEATTLE | An asphalt shortage is delaying road-maintenance projects in communities nationwide.

Asphalt is becoming scarce as U.S. refiners overhaul their equipment to maximize output of highly profitable fuels such as diesel and gasoline, using inexpensive — and hard to process — crude oil.

Refiners are also cutting back on the production of a petrochemical that many states mix into asphalt to make roads more durable.

The dearth of asphalt compounds challenges that the states, counties and cities faced with fixing bridges, highways, local streets and other critical infrastructure at a time when budgets are squeezed. They’re dealing with falling income, sales and real-estate tax revenues, not to mention higher costs for fuel, steel and other raw materials.

In Utah, as many as 50-road maintenance projects were delayed this summer by the shortage of asphalt.

Municipalities in Alaska, New York, Colorado, Oklahoma, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada and Washington state also blamed road work-delays on asphalt shortages.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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