- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2008


Chemical exposure at plant sickens 8

EAST ST. LOUIS | One of two Missouri hospital emergency rooms reopened Sunday, a day after being shut down under quarantine when eight people sickened by a dangerous chemical’s release sought treatment.

Price McCarty, an FBI spokesman in Springfield, said the chemical release at the Ro-Corp. plant caused no deaths, countering a statement earlier Sunday by an East St. Louis city official that two people had died.

The chemical, which authorities said was likely the highly toxic material nitroaniline, was released when a barrel was dropped at the Ro-Corp. plant.

The eight people sickened - identified by the FBI as mostly Ro-Corp. workers - remained hospitalized Sunday.


Dust storm puts damper on Burning Man festival

RENO | A dust storm chased away some participants from the counterculture Burning Man festival before its traditional climax Saturday night on the northern Nevada desert, authorities said.

Roger Farschon, incident commander for the federal Bureau of Land Management, said the dust storm on the Black Rock Desert about 110 miles north of Reno began early Saturday afternoon and continued into the evening.

“We are in [a] total whiteout,” he wrote by e-mail. “A similar cold front caused a major dust event on Monday. The rest of the event has been relatively dust-free.”

The annual celebration of radical self-expression was scheduled to climax Saturday night with the torching of its 40-foot signature effigy.

The crowd Saturday morning reached a record 49,599, up from 47,097 last year, authorities said.


Agency mulls jail call fee

ANCHORAGE | A state regulatory agency will decide whether a proposed $2 fee for collect calls from inmates is justified.

An Alaska phone company, General Communications Inc., planned to start charging the fee Monday for each collect call made from a state prison, jail or halfway house.

It would be billed to the person accepting the call.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska will allow GCI to start billing for the calls starting mid-September, but the company may have to refund the money if it rules that the fee is unfair.

The agency said it received three consumer complaints.

An Anchorage bail bonding firm estimates the fee would cost the industry about $84,000 a year.


State examines new water source

PHOENIX | Arizona officials are studying the possibility of importing filtered ocean water from a popular coastal Mexican resort 60 miles south of the border.

The move would help sustain urban supplies in Arizona by bringing potentially billions of gallons of water to the state a year and could someday bring relief to rural residents, who have long sought a water source to replace rapidly depleting aquifers.

A Scottsdale company is looking at possible designs for a desalination plant in Puerto Penasco in the Mexican state of Sonora. Overworked groundwater wells there are on the verge of running dry.

Arizona water managers see an opening for the state to team up with the seaside resort on a larger plant to serve both countries.

The project would raise political, economic, and environmental issues, and it’s not clear who would pay construction costs that could top $250 billion. But if those hurdles are cleared, Arizona and neighboring states could tap a plentiful supply of water largely immune to the effects of drought and climate change.

Only recently has the ocean emerged as a viable resource in the U.S. At least two dozen plants are now on drawing boards in California, a state beset with water woes.


Man tries to cut off arm

MODESTO | A man tried to cut off his own arm at a restaurant in Modesto, police said, because he thought he had injected air into a vein while shooting cocaine and feared he would die unless he took drastic action.

Authorities said Michael Lasiter, 33, rushed into the Denny’s restaurant late Friday and started stabbing himself in one arm with a butter knife he grabbed from a table.

They said that when that knife didn’t work Mr. Lasiter took a butcher knife from the kitchen and dug it into his arm.

Police Sgt. Brian Findlen said Mr. Lasiter told officers he thought he needed to amputate his arm to keep himself from dying from the cocaine injection.

Mr. Lasiter was taken to a hospital for treatment of severe cuts.


City considers backyard chickens

FORT COLLINS | The Fort Collins city council is considering changing the law to allow more people to keep chickens in their backyards.

Up to six chickens are allowed per household in three of the city’s zoning districts.

The proposal up for a vote Tuesday would allow them in all districts with some restrictions.

The chickens would have to be kept in a shelter safe from predators overnight. The chickens would have to be kept at least 15 feet from neighboring properties.

Only hens would be allowed. Roosters are banned in Fort Collins because they are noisy. That’s the case in other cities along the Front Range that allow people to have chickens.


Biplane lands amid tree tops

EAST WINDSOR | A 1930s biplane glided to a crash landing in the tops of a stand of trees Sunday, stranding the pilot and his passenger amid the branches for several hours.

No one was injured, said Michael Koczera, manager of the Skylark Airpark.

The single-engine de Havilland Tiger Moth apparently lost power about 200 feet from the runway after taking off from the airport, said Jim Peters of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Mr. Koczera said the plane came to rest in the trees above 50 feet above the ground.

“When he ran out of airspace, he landed on top of a tree,” he said. “We’re not talking about a big airplane. It’s a fabric [covered] plane, probably weighs about 1,000 pounds.”

A tree surgeon joined the crew of a Coast Guard helicopter and members of the local fire department in rescuing the stranded aviators, Mr. Koczera said.

The plane was expected to remain in the trees until a crane can be brought in on Tuesday, he said.

The names of the pilot and passenger were not released.

Mr. Koczera said both are members of a club, Tiger Moth Drivers LLC, that flies the biplane out of Springfield, Mass.


Two drown while swimming at beach

FORT LAUDERDALE | A couple has apparently drowned while swimming in South Florida.

Witnesses said they saw the woman floating on her back in the water Sunday afternoon.

When they got closer, they realized she was dead. The man was floating farther out at sea.

Firefighters had to help pull the man out. He also was pronounced dead.

The couple has not been identified.


Giant-panda cub born at zoo

ATLANTA | Zoo Atlanta’s giant-panda family just got larger.

A cub born Saturday night is the second offspring for Lun Lun and Yang Yang.

Zoo spokeswoman Simone Griffin said the cub is the only one born at a U.S. zoo this year.

It comes just a week before the second birthday of their cub Mei Lan.

Zookeepers are watching to see whether Lun Lun will have twins. That happens about half the time.

Keepers won’t know the sex of the cub for a few weeks. They can’t examine it until Lun Lun lets them touch her baby.

Mother and cub won’t appear in public for several months but can be viewed on the zoo’s webcam.


University settles gay housing lawsuit

HONOLULU | The University of Hawaii has settled a discrimination lawsuit by a gay couple that claimed the school wouldn’t allow them to return to the housing area they had previously lived in because it was reserved for married couples.

The university revised its policy on family housing to include same-sex couples as a result of the settlement. The policy took effect for the 2008-09 school year.

A $5,000 settlement was also reached for Joseph O’Leary and Phi Ngo, who have since moved to Virginia.

“What the university is doing is fair, and both the university and clients are happy with the outcome,” said attorney Brian Chase of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., a national civil rights organization for homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders and those with HIV.

Mr. Chase said he thinks the suit is the first against a public university involving housing for same-sex couples.


Purdue reprimands research scientist

WEST LAFAYETTE | Purdue University reprimanded a scientist who has been accused of falsifying claims he produced nuclear fusion in tabletop experiments.

A university committee denied an appeal by Rusi Taleyarkhan, who also was stripped of his named professorship for research misconduct.

He will remain as a member of the faculty.

His attorney said Mr. Taleyarkhan would explore his legal options.


Stores raise money for destroyed camp

COUNCIL BLUFFS | Two Council Bluffs Hy-Vee grocery stores sponsored a hog roast this past weekend with all proceeds going to rebuild the Little Sioux Boys Scout camp destroyed by a tornado earlier this summer.

The three-day hog roast fundraiser began Friday and ended at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Along with the fundraiser, store patrons dropped money in a bucket. The mother of a boy scout estimated that two out of every three store patrons donated money.

The event raised about $2,000 between the two stores Friday.


Bulldozer ablaze, spills fuel in suburb

PEARL RIVER | A bulldozer caught fire at a home construction project in a small community north of New York City.

Firefighters said the bulldozer’s engine compartment erupted in flames Sunday morning at a home in Pearl River, a hamlet in Rockland County.

They said the flames from the burning diesel fuel took about 15 minutes to put out.

Five to 10 gallons of the fuel leaked.

Firefighters used absorbent pads to contain the fuel and called in the county’s hazardous-materials team to help with the cleanup.

The cause of the fire was not determined.


No wolf hunting season expected

CARSON CITY | Wildlife officials in Nevada said despite the recent classification of gray wolves as “game” animals, there shouldn’t be a hunting season for them.

Department of Wildlife specialist Kevin Lansford said while there have been reports of a growing wolf population in the state, a potential wolf hunting season likely won’t come about as the federal Endangered Species Act currently protects all gray wolves, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Sunday.

Mr. Lansford said having wolves listed as game animals by the state Legislature’s Subcommittee on Regulations was the department’s attempt at creating a plan to control the wolf population.

“We needed to have some plan in place,” Mr. Lansford told the Review-Journal. “Having it classified as a game animal gives us flexibility. All of this is a plan for the future.”

By having the animal classified as a game animal such as deer yet not establishing an official hunting season for the predators, Mr. Lansford said wildlife officials hope to be able to protect them while still being legally able to manage their population should the need arise.


State smoking ban soon to take effect

HARRISBURG | The clock is ticking down on Pennsylvania smokers who want to light up in many public spaces.

A statewide smoking ban goes into effect in less than two weeks - 90 days after it was signed by Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat.

The measure bans cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking in restaurants, office buildings, schools, sports arenas, theaters and bus and train stations.

However, it allows smoking in some bars and taverns, portions of casino floors, private clubs and elsewhere.


Governor’s wife struck by car

CHARLESTON | The first lady of West Virginia is recovering from bruises after she was struck by a car while riding a bicycle with her husband, Gov. Joe Manchin III.

A spokeswoman for the governor said that Gayle Manchin was taken to a hospital Sunday after the accident, but was OK and went home.

Spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg said the accident occurred during a bike ride near the state Capitol, when a vehicle pulling onto a road hit the first lady.

The governor was not hit. He turned back to help his wife, who was also aided by their security detail.

Miss Ramsburg said she doesn’t know whether the driver was cited.

Police did not return a telephone message for comment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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