- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2009


Zoo giraffe dies; continent’s oldest

BIRMINGHAM | The Birmingham Zoo said one of the oldest giraffes in the world has died at age 24.

Zoo officials said the giraffe, Morefu, was euthanized after veterinarians determined he was no longer responding to medications for arthritis and other health conditions related to age.

Giraffes typically have a life span of about 13 years, but can live up to 25 years in captivity.

Morefu arrived at the zoo in 1985. He was 18 feet tall and weighed about 2,140 pounds.

The Birmingham News reported that the International Species Information System, a data-collection organization serving zoos and aquariums, listed Morefu as the oldest male giraffe in North America.


Passengers safe beyond the edge

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK | Authorities said a van slid over the edge of a Grand Canyon National Park embankment, but the vehicle’s six passengers got out before emergency workers arrived and no life-threatening injuries were reported.

The National Park Service said emergency crews responding to accident reports Tuesday found the van about 25 feet below the rim at the park’s Navajo Point. An initial investigation showed the van rolled down the embankment.

The park service said two people were taken to Flagstaff Medical Center and that four others would stay the night in Tusayan in the park.

The park service said the rollover and numerous other accidents, involving about 40 vehicles, were reported at about 5 p.m. Authorities reported light snow and wet roads Tuesday evening, with temperatures below freezing. No serious injuries were reported.


Sheens will try ‘to work it out’

DENVER | Attorneys for Charlie Sheen, 44, and his wife, Brook, 32, say the couple wants to reconcile even though she told police her husband put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her.

Her lawyer, Yale Galanter, said Wednesday the couple are “very much in love” and “they want to try to work it out.”

His lawyer, Richard Cummins, confirmed the actor wants to reconcile.

Mr. Sheen was arrested Christmas Day in Aspen. Mrs. Sheen told police he threatened her during an argument that started when she said she wanted a divorce. Mr. Sheen denied threatening her with a knife, but he faces charges including felony menacing and domestic violence.


Police contacted about runaway

ORLANDO | Pastor Blake Lorenz, who took in an Ohio runaway after she converted from Islam to Christianity, said he was never told he was breaking the law.

Mr. Lorenz said in an affidavit filed in Ohio juvenile court that he contacted authorities about Rifqa Bary, 17, at least four times and that police didn’t pick her up until more than a week after his first call.

Mr. Lorenz’s affidavit contradicted statements by a former colleague who said the pastor ignored advice to contact authorities.

Miss Bary is in foster care in Ohio while the juvenile court decides whether she should be returned to her parents. She said she feared her father would harm or kill her for leaving Islam, a claim he denies.

Mr. Lorenz doesn’t face charges for housing Miss Bary. Authorities said the teen met him through a Facebook prayer group.


Menu takes bite out of crime

MOUNT CLEMEMS | Taking a bite out of crime has never been so bland at the Macomb County Jail.

Failing freezers have forced inmates to forgo warm meals in favor of an endless stream of bologna and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Sheriff’s officials said Wednesday that mold was spotted last month in the jail’s 50-year-old freezers, and with no money for replacements, the sandwich diets may continue through early next year.

The Detroit Free Press reports that county officials warned commissioners as early as 2005 that the freezers needed to be replaced. Officials plan to ask commissioners next month for emergency funds to buy new refrigerators.


Web designer struck by decor

NEW YORK | Raina Kumura, a Web designer, said she was struck by the decor at a New York City restaurant - when it fell on her head.

Miss Kumra, 32, said in a negligence lawsuit filed last week that a 150-pound stuffed moose head with 3-foot-wide antlers plummeted off a wall at the Scandinavian-themed White Slab Palace on Oct. 4 and hit her. She said she suffered a concussion and other injuries.

The owner of the Manhattan restaurant hasn’t returned a telephone message left by the Associated Press.

Miss Kumra filed her lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, seeking unspecified damages. She is representing herself in the case.


Longtime senator not a candidate

RALEIGH | State Sen. R.C. Soles, Columbus County Democrat, said in a statement Wednesday he won’t seek a 22nd consecutive term. He is North Carolina’s longest-serving state senator and faces possible criminal charges over a shooting at his home in August.

State prosecutors announced this month they plan to seek an assault charge against Mr. Soles, 75, after a grand jury found probable cause he acted criminally when he shot a former law client, Kyle Blackburn. Authorities said he shot Mr. Blackburn when he and another man tried to kick in the door of Mr. Soles’ home. Mr. Blackburn was not badly hurt.

Mr. Soles made no reference to the case in his statement. He was first elected to the General Assembly in 1968.


New development in job appeal

MOUNT VERNON | An Ohio school district says a teacher accused of burning the image of a cross on students’ arms also surveyed them about religion.

John Freshwater is appealing to keep his job at Mount Vernon Middle School northeast of Columbus. At a hearing Tuesday, the district introduced survey forms as evidence that officials were right to fire the teacher.

Questions on the forms included whether religion was important to the students.

Mr. Freshwater at first denied he ever surveyed students beginning his eighth-grade science class, but when shown completed questionnaires, he said it appeared the school had gone through his room.

An internal investigation concluded that Mr. Freshwater burned students’ with a high-frequency generator and preached his Christian beliefs in class.


Facing charges, 4 police resign

SHENANDOAH | Four northeastern Pennsylvania police officers who were arrested earlier this month on federal charges - relating to the cover-up of an immigrant’s beating death - have resigned from their jobs.

The Shenandoah Borough Police Department has three officers after the resignations of Chief Matthew Nestor, Capt. Jamie Gennarini, Officer Jason Hayes and Lt. William Moyer were accepted Tuesday night. State police are helping patrol the town. The four were arrested Dec. 15.

Chief Nestor, Lt. Moyer and Officer Hayes are accused of orchestrating a cover-up in a Mexican immigrant’s beating death by altering evidence or lying to the FBI in a case against two white high school football players. Chief Nestor and Capt. Gennarini are charged with extortion and civil rights violations in a separate case.


Firefighter killed by bin explosion

ST. ANNA | Authorities said a trash bin outside a foundry exploded Tuesday evening, killing a 33-year-old firefighter and injuring at least nine others.

Calumet County Sheriff Gerald Pagel said it’s not clear what caused the blast. Joyce Casper, a dispatcher with the sheriff’s department, said nine firefighters were injured in the explosion.

Sheriff Pagel said a patrol officer saw a fire on the Bremer Manufacturing grounds about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday and called the fire department.

Neighbors told the Post-Crescent of Appleton they heard an explosion that shook homes, cracked walls and sent a plume of white smoke into the sky.

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