- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bison case goes to court

FAIRPLAY, Colo. | Keep your bison off my property or risk having them hunted, software executive Jeff Hawn warned his neighbor outside this old Colorado mining town. He said in a lawsuit that the animals knocked his satellite TV dishes off line and left dung, tracks and hair on “pristine pasture on rolling hills.”

Nine days after the suit was filed, shots rang out. The remains of 32 bison were strewn across Mr. Hawn’s property and nearby land. Deputies learned that 14 hunters received a letter from Mr. Hawn giving them permission to hunt bison on his property.

Now Mr. Hawn - president and CEO of Seattle-based Attachmate who lives in Austin, Texas finds himself in criminal court, charged with theft and 32 counts of aggravated animal cruelty in the wake of the March shootings.

The case has outraged many in Fairplay, a town of about 700 in the central Colorado plains founded by gold prospectors in 1859. It’s also drawn attention to Colorado’s “open range” laws.

Mr. Hawn has waived his right to a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed, asking instead to skip to a hearing to enter a plea, Park County Court Clerk Debbie McLimans said Friday.

Missing ballots not in dump

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. | The mystery has been solved. Palm Beach County, Fla., officials said they found 3,500 missing ballots in a voting center, dispelling rumors the votes ended up in a landfill.

Assistant County Administrator Brad Merriman, the lead investigator in the missing ballot case, said a large number of the missing ballots were found in the county’s vote-tabulating center, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said Friday.

“The ballots were found in this room, not in garbage bags, not in the trunks of cars,” Mr. Merriman said.

The ballots were part of an Aug. 26 election and had been considered lost when officials at the tabulation center failed to recount them.

Theories regarding their disappearance included the ballots being dumped in an area landfill or being forgotten at voting precincts The investigation into the matter will continue to determine why the ballots, which may account for nearly all the missing items, weren’t found or recounted earlier.

Cubs fans get burial site

CHICAGO | Ground was broken Friday for a burial site at a Chicago cemetery modeled after a portion of landmark Wrigley Field to accommodate die-hard Chicago Cubs fans.

Dennis Mascari said he chose to create “Beyond the Vines” at Bohemian National Cemetery for extremely loyal fans of the National League baseball team, whose stadium has an ivy-covered brick center-field wall, the Chicago Tribune said Friday.

“I’m trying to help with the bereavement process, because going through a cemetery - cemeteries are beautiful, but they’re still kind of gloomy,” he said. “I’m trying to change that process.”

The 35-foot-long, 14-foot-high memorial wall will have a piece of stained glass modeled after Wrigley Field’s iconic hand-operated scoreboard, the Tribune said.

Mr. Mascari said nearly 280 urns can be interred inside “eternal skyboxes” at the site through single, double, triple and home run packages costing up to $5,000.

Charity rejects lottery money

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. | A New York charity says it has turned down a share of a $3 million lottery jackpot because accepting the money could send the wrong message to gambling addicts.

The Lighthouse Mission, which helps feed 3,000 hungry Long Island residents a week, had been chosen to share an anonymous donor’s jackpot last month. The donor gave the winning ticket to the True North Community Church, which said it would share the money with other charities.

The mission’s pastor, James Ryan, said he appreciates the offer but had to turn it down because his organization counsels against addictions, including gambling. He did not say what the mission’s share of the prize would have been.

Chubby teens feel pressure

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. | Peer pressure influences just about everything a teen does - including a teen’s weight, U.S. researchers said.

Lead author Justin Trogdon, a health economist at RTI International, found the peer effect on weight was strongest among females and among adolescents who were at risk of becoming overweight.

“Our results may help explain the dramatic rise in obesity among adolescents in the past few decades,” Mr. Trogdon said in a statement. “Peers can influence all of the significant weight-related choices for teens, including eating patterns, diets and physical activity. Peers also affect teens’ perceptions of an acceptable weight.”

The study also showed that teens with obese parents were more likely to be overweight themselves, based on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that surveyed young people in grades 7 through 12.

The study, published in the September issue of Journal of Health Economics, found that friends’ weight is correlated with an adolescent’s own weight even after considering demographics, smoking status, birth weight and household characteristics such as parental obesity.

Group worried about buckeye

COLUMBUS, Ohio | A diverse coalition of environmentalists, public health advocates, outdoor enthusiasts and agricultural interests launched a campaign to save the Ohio buckeye from migrating north to Michigan. Recent scientific studies project that many state plants, like the Ohio buckeye tree, could shift outside their historic ranges because of global warming.

“Global warming could send our beloved Ohio State University mascot and state symbol north to Michigan,” said Tom Bullock of the Pew Environment Group. “Ohioans need to know that it’s not just the buckeye that is threatened by global warming - our health, economy and environment are also at risk.”

“As a diehard Buckeyes fan, the only thing worse than losing to Michigan would be giving them our mascot,” said Ohio State University student Kristen Arnold. “This is one thing Buckeye and Wolverine fans should team up on: work together on global warming so they keep their wolverines and we save our buckeyes.”

As part of the effort to highlight local and state impacts, the coalition unveiled an outdoor billboard in Columbus on Olentangy River Road next to the Buckeye Hall of Fame and Cafe. It reads: “Michigan Buckeye? Global Warming Is Sending Ohio’s Buckeye North. SavetheBuckeye.org.”

Professor still doubts 9/11

OREM, Utah | For most of the American public, the dust has settled over how the World Trade Center fell on Sept. 11, 2001.

But seven years later, former Brigham Young University physics professor Steven E. Jones remains perhaps the most famous proponent of “alternative theories” surrounding the 9/11 attacks. Almost two years since BYU placed him on paid leave because of controversy about his claims that the Twin Towers did not fall due to the collision of passenger jets alone, he’s still studying dust samples gathered near ground zero.

The man can also pack a small lecture hall, as he did Wednesday afternoon during one of the weekly physics colloquiums sponsored by Utah Valley University’s physics department.

“I’ll see if I can prepare you all to be whistleblowers,” Mr. Jones told the hall of some 100 people who came to hear his presentation titled, “9/11/2001: Forbidden Questions, Explosive Answers.”

Mr. Jones argued that basic laws of physics matched with careful observation of the motion and circumstances of the towers’ collapse point to a missing cause behind their fall. After his analysis of dust samples from the attack site, which he said show high concentrations of aluminum, sulfur and silicon, he believes explosive materials were placed at the underground base of both buildings.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.

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