- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2008


State holds quake drill

LOS ANGELES | California will star Thursday in a mock earthquake disaster drill - considered the largest in U.S. history - with some 5 million people pledging to do everything from ducking for cover to rescuing faux victims.

The exercise centers on a hypothetical magnitude-7.8 earthquake that unzips the southern San Andreas Fault, an event that scientists call the feared “Big One.” Such a quake would cause 1,800 deaths and $200 billion in damage, researchers estimate.

The state’s previous simulated quake catastrophes were smaller in scale with the leading actors mainly first responders and cities testing their emergency preparedness. Thursday’s drill is more of an ensemble cast with governments, schools, hospitals, churches, businesses and residents promising to do their part.

California is the most seismically active state in the contiguous 48. Earlier this year, the U.S. Geological Survey calculated the state faces a 46 percent chance of being hit by a 7.5 or larger quake in the next 30 years with the epicenter likely in Southern California.


Haggard says he was abused

COLORADO SPRINGS | Disgraced evangelical pastor Ted Haggard says he was sexually abused as a child and that the experience “started to rage in my mind and in my heart” when he was caught up in a sex scandal involving a male prostitute.

Mr. Haggard made the remarks in two recent sermons in Morrison, Ill., ABC’s “Good Morning America” reported Wednesday.

Mr. Haggard said one of his father’s employees “had a sexual experience with me” when he was 7, according to audio recordings of the sermons posted on the ABC News Web site.

Mr. Haggard said he later became “a conservative Republican, loving the word of God, an evangelical, born-again, spirit-filled, charismatic, all those things.

“But some of the things that were buried in the depths of the sea from when I was in the second grade started to rage in my mind and in my heart,” he said.

In 2006, Mr. Haggard was fired as pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs when a former male prostitute alleged they had a cash-for-sex relationship. The man also said he saw Mr. Haggard use methamphetamine. Mr. Haggard also stepped down as president of the National Association of Evangelicals.


Gay couples start marrying

NEW HAVEN | Gay couples began marrying in Connecticut on Wednesday after a judge cleared the way, a victory for advocates stung by California’s ban on same-sex unions last week.

With a final order entered, couples marched to New Haven City Hall to get marriage licenses, and less than two hours after the final court hearing, Peg Oliveira and Jennifer Vickery were married in a brief ceremony.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Oct. 10 that same-sex couples have the right to wed rather than accept a civil union law designed to give them the same rights as married couples.

“Today, Connecticut sends a message of hope and inspiration to lesbian and gay people throughout this country who simply want to be treated as equal citizens by their government,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Bennett Klein.

Gay marriage is legal in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The unions were legal in California until a statewide referendum to ban gay marriage narrowly passed last week.

The first license issued in New Haven went to plaintiffs Robin Levine-Ritterman and Barbara Levine-Ritterman, who have been together since 1989.


Girl fatally shot at high school

FORT LAUDERDALE | A 15-year-old girl was fatally shot at a Fort Lauderdale high school Wednesday during an argument with another female student who police were questioning as a suspect.

The body of sophomore Amanda Collette was found on a hallway floor at Dillard High School around 11 a.m. She was shot in the torso during the argument with the other girl while students were changing classes, police said.

“This is a situation where we are more than heartbroken,” said Jim Notter, the superintendent of schools for Broward County.

The 15-year-old suspect left campus and walked across the street to a restaurant called Captain Crab’s Take-Away, where she called authorities and alerted them that “she had shot her friend,” said Sgt. Frank Sousa, a spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale Police.

The suspect, whose name has not been released, was apprehended at the restaurant. A gun was recovered.


Rezko’s bid for new trial nixed

CHICAGO | A federal judge on Wednesday turned down a request for a new trial from convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, the pivotal figure in a major Illinois political corruption scandal.

Rezko, 53, who made millions of dollars as a Chicago real estate developer and fast-food entrepreneur, was a major fundraiser for Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, President-elect Barack Obama and a number of other officials.

Rezko was convicted in June of using clout with the governor’s office to launch a $7 million scheme to squeeze payoffs out of a construction contractor and seven money management firms seeking state business.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve, who presided over the three-month trial, said federal prosecutors proved their case and she refused to throw out any of the guilty verdicts.

Rezko was convicted of 12 counts of mail fraud or wire fraud, two counts of aiding and abetting bribery and two counts of money laundering. He was acquitted of eight other counts.


FBI probes funeral contract company

JEFFERSON CITY | The FBI is looking into alleged misconduct by a funeral contract company that had guaranteed hundreds of millions of dollars of services to families before becoming insolvent.

The FBI has sent letters to numerous funeral directors informing them of the probe into National Prearranged Services Inc. and its affiliated insurance companies, Lincoln Memorial Life Insurance Co. and Memorial Services Life Insurance Co.

The Oct. 29 letter, obtained by the Associated Press from a Missouri funeral home, states that investigators are “looking into allegations of corporate misconduct” involving the companies.

It asks funeral directors to fill out a questionnaire about their contracts with National Prearranged Services and any promises that the company made, and to return it to the FBI’s office in St. Louis.

It says the written questionnaire is beingmailed to funeral homes because it’s impossible for agents to personally interview representatives from the “voluminous number of funeral homes” in the 19 states where the company had done business.


City proposes bike parking rules

NEW YORK | Officials are proposing new rules that would greatly expand bicycle parking in apartment and office buildings across the city, the latest step in a plan to make New York one of the most bike-friendly places in the nation.

They think making bicycle parking more available in buildings will motivate more New Yorkers to cycle to work or do errands via bike.

The rules would require one secure bike parking space for every two units in new apartment buildings and one space for every 7,500 square feet in new office buildings.


Ex-border agent resentenced

EL PASO | A former Border Patrol agent convicted of shooting a fleeing drug smuggler was resentenced Wednesday to his original 12-year prison term.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said a judge resentenced Jose Alonso Compean to 10 years for his conviction of using a weapon in the commission of a felony, plus two years for assault and other charges.

Compean and former agent Ignacio Ramos were convicted in 2006 of shooting admitted drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Davila and trying to cover it up.

They argued during their trials that they thought the smuggler was armed and shot him in self-defense. The smuggler denied having a weapon.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out some convictions against Ramos and Compean earlier this year, prompting Wednesday’s resentencing, but the court upheld the majority of the case. Ramos is due to be resentenced Thursday.

Aldrete pleaded guilty in separate smuggling attempts and got nearly 10 years in prison.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide