- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2008


State probes Bear Haven

ANCHORAGE | The state is taking steps to shut down Bear Haven.

Bear Haven is about 40 miles north of Anchorage near the Yentna River. This time of year, Bear Haven is quiet. The two dozen bears that visited Charlie Vandergaw’s homestead this summer are in their dens.

Mr. Vandergaw is a retired Anchorage schoolteacher who likes bears. For decades, he has chosen to spend his summers cohabitating with the bears.

But state authorities are not happy with the arrangement and are taking steps to shut it down.

The investigation is focused on an English filmmaker who was bitten on the leg at Bear Haven this summer.


Suspect in slayings called family man

MOUNTAIN VIEW | Those who know Jing Hua Wu said the engineer was a smart, unassuming family man whose three young boys played among neighborhood children on a quiet street in this Silicon Valley city.

After Mr. Wu, 47, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of fatally shooting three of his co-workers after being laid off from a high-tech company in Santa Clara, neighbors said they were struggling to make sense of the tragedy.

Those who know Mr. Wu referred to him fondly as “Jerry” and his wife as “Jane,” and described him as a happily married father of 6-year-old twin boys and another boy under 3.

“It’s shocking and emotionally jarring,” said Jim Pollart, 47, a neighbor who met Mr. Wu and his wife when the couple moved into the area about 11 years ago. “Who knows what happened to cause him to do such a horrible thing? It’s unbelievable.”

Mr. Wu will be booked on three counts of murder, police said.


Hospice leader dies at 91

HARTFORD | Florence Wald, a former Yale nursing dean whose interest in compassionate care led her to launch the first U.S. hospice program, died Nov. 8 of natural causes. She was 91.

Her daughter, Shari Vogler, said Saturday that Mrs. Wald died at her Branford home. A hospice volunteer was by her side to the end, Mrs. Vogler said.

Mrs. Wald was dean of the Yale University School of Nursing in the 1960s when she updated its curriculum to include a stronger focus on comfort for dying patients and their families.

Mrs. Wald’s passion for hospice was sparked when she heard a lecture by the founder of St. Christopher’s Hospice in London. She later left Yale to study at that center.

She returned to organize Connecticut Hospice in 1974 in Branford, widely accepted to be the first U.S. hospice program. Her husband and children also became deeply involved in the hospice movement, Mrs. Vogler said.


Neighbor saves girl from cougar attack

MIAMI | Authorities are crediting a neighbor with saving a teenager who was mauled by a 150-pound pet cougar.

Police said Anthony Zitnick, 21, brought the 16-year-old girl to the home of a wildlife collector who has permits to keep two cougars and several snakes, tortoises and alligators. The collector was out of town, and police said Mr. Zitnick didn’t have permission to be there.

Police said the cougar named Chaos pounced on the girl Saturday and clenched its jaws around her head. Neighbor Richard Miralles heard screams and wrestled the animal away.

A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman said the girl had some significant wounds and was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

A spokesman said Chaos can remain in the house for now.


Weeks’ church evicted from site

ATLANTA | The ex-husband of televangelist Juanita Bynum - Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III - had to relocate services after his Duluth church was evicted.

Attorney Stephanie Friese of Grimes-Square Executive Inc. said Bishop Weeks, the leader of Global Destiny International Ministries, hasn’t made any payments at all since July despite negotiations with the landlord. She said Bishop Weeks owes more than $400,000 in rent and fees.

Eviction proceedings began against Bishop Weeks in early October. Court records show that Bishop Weeks tried unsuccessfully to delay the eviction.

A sheriff’s deputy came to the church campus Friday to carry out the eviction. The campus includes business offices and a church.

Bishop Weeks’ divorce attorney, Randy Kessler, said he was not aware of the eviction, but predicted that Bishop Weeks will “land on his feet if that is indeed the case.”


Collector buys rare Obama doodle

CHICAGO | An Illinois memorabilia collector said he jumped at the chance to pay $2,075 for a doodle drawn by President-elect Barack Obama.

Wayne Berzon of Northbrook said that despite the hefty price attached to the doodle created by the senator for a National Doodle Day held by Neurofibromatosis Inc. in May 2007, his online auction win was well worth the cost, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday.

“I’m not sure I would sell it for any price,” the financial consultant said. “I mean, how many times can you put up a piece of original artwork by a president of the United States who also happens to have made history? It’s a wonderful conversation piece.”

The soon-to-be 44th president of the United States created the drawing for the charity, which raises money for tumor research.

The Tribune said the top Democrat’s drawing features the rudimentary likenesses of Democratic Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada; Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts; Charles E. Schumer of New York; and Dianne Feinstein of California.


Smoking returns after month hiatus

ATLANTIC CITY | After a month of fresh air, smoking is once again allowed inside Atlantic City’s 11 casinos.

The City Council had passed a total smoking ban in April, but then the financial meltdown rocked the economy and led to even steeper declines at the casinos.

The council changed its mind at the last moment and agreed to repeal the smoking ban for at least a year, but couldn’t legally stop the no-smoking rules from taking effect on Oct. 15.

The ban expired a minute after midnight Sunday, and gamblers can now light up again.

Some casino workers feel betrayed by the council’s reversal, but many gamblers and casino operators are pleased. Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Mark Juliano said that at least now there’s an even playing field with out-of-state slot parlors.


Grand jury probes use of database

PHILADELPHIA | A grand jury is investigating whether Pennsylvania House Republican leaders illegally used a taxpayer-funded database as a campaign tool to better focus their messages to voters.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday that the state attorney general’s office is investigating the use of the database. It’s part of the office’s probe into whether legislative employees were improperly paid from state coffers for campaign work.

Former Republican leader John Perzel said no one in his office used the database.

Twelve House Democratic legislators and staffers were charged in July with conspiring to award taxpayer-funded bonuses to legislative staffers who did campaign work.

The grand jury probe has since widened to include the House Republican caucus. No Republican has been charged.


Illegal immigrants freed from jail

HOUSTON | Federal immigration officials let thousands of inmates in the nation’s third-most-populous county walk out of jail even though the suspects admitted they were in the U.S. illegally, a newspaper investigation found.

More than 3,500 inmates told Harris County jailers they were in the country illegally over an eight-month period starting in June 2007, but records show Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed paperwork to detain only about a quarter of them.

In a story published Sunday, the Houston Chronicle found that most illegal immigrants released from jail were accused of minor crimes. But others included convicted child molesters, rapists and those ordered to be deported decades ago.

ICE officials said they are doing the best they can with their resources.

The Houston ICE office set a record by removing 8,226 illegal immigrants with criminal records from southeast Texas last year, an increase of about 7.5 percent from fiscal 2007.

ICE officials said between 300,000 and 450,000 inmates incarcerated in the U.S. are eligible for deportation each year. The agency estimates it screens inmates in only about 10 percent of the nation’s jails.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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