- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 5, 2009

Racial tension leads to fights

PHILADELPHIA | Tensions between black and Asian students at a public high school erupted in a series of assaults over two days, leading to 10 suspensions and several students seeking medical treatment.

Asian students at South Philadelphia High School said two off-campus fights and a lunchroom attack left them feeling unsafe and helpless, in part because, they say, school security guards often turn a blind eye.

More than a dozen teens skipped school Friday to share their concerns at a news conference with adult advocates.

“We are outraged,” said Xu Lin of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp., who works with immigrant students. “The parents are very, very concerned.”

School officials said this week’s clashes were an aberration from strenuous efforts to improve race relations and cultural awareness.

The school, with some 1,200 students, is 70 percent black and 18 percent Asian. It serves mostly low-income neighborhoods south of downtown and has been labeled “persistently dangerous” by the state, based on the number of safety incidents reported.

Ex-political aide accused of theft

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. | The campaign manager for former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he embezzled about $250,000 in campaign funds.

Michael Sohn of Fairfield was arrested earlier Friday on a 12-count indictment charging him with stealing campaign funds from 2005 to 2008 by writing himself checks and using the campaign’s debit card for unauthorized purchases.

He pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport. A judge released him on $100,000 bail and agreed that he should undergo mental health treatment.

Federal public defender Deirdre Murray, who is representing Mr. Sohn, declined to comment.

Mr. Sohn worked nearly six years as campaign manager for Mr. Shays, a moderate Republican who served 10 terms in Congress. Mr. Shays narrowly lost to Democrat Jim Himes in 2008 in the race for the 4th District in southwestern Connecticut, which he had represented for 21 years.

Not-guilty plea in corruption case

NEWARK, N.J. | One of the New Jersey politicians arrested in a corruption sweep last summer has pleaded not guilty.

Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges he accepted $10,000 from an undercover government witness who posed as a developer looking to gain project approvals. Mr. Elwell’s former associate, Ronald Manzo, also pleaded not guilty to charges he accepted $5,000 for helping set up the deal.

Mr. Elwell and Mr. Manzo were arrested last July in a wide-ranging corruption probe that netted 44 people in New York and New Jersey, including elected officials and religious leaders.

Mr. Elwell resigned as mayor days after his arrest.

Episcopal diocese elects woman bishop

RIVERSIDE, Calif. | The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles on Friday elected the first female bishop in its 114-year history but ended voting for a second position without a victor.

Clergy and lay delegates elected the Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce, of St. Clement’s-By-The-Sea in San Clemente, Calif.

Voting was to resume Saturday, and an openly gay candidate was making a strong showing among the five remaining choices.

If elected, the Rev. Mary D. Glasspool, who lives in Annapolis and works in Baltimore, would be the first openly gay bishop since Bishop V. Gene Robinson was chosen in New Hampshire in 2003. That election led four dioceses to vote to leave the 2.1-million member U.S. denomination.

A second openly gay candidate, the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco, withdrew Friday.

Copy of Poe’s book auctioned

NEW YORK | A rare copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s first book has sold for $662,500, smashing the previous record price for American literature.

The copy of “Tamerlane and Other Poems” had been estimated to sell Friday for between $500,000 and $700,000 at Christie’s auction house in New York City.

The previous record is thought to be $250,000 for a copy of the same book sold nearly two decades ago.

The 40-page collection of poems was published in 1827. Poe wrote the book shortly after moving to Boston to launch his literary career.

Abortion doctor may expand work

OMAHA, Neb. | An abortion doctor said Friday that he likely will perform more late-term procedures at his Nebraska practice to meet the demand left when a Kansas physician was fatally shot earlier this year.

The move could solidify Nebraska’s and Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s place at the center of the fight over abortion because he is trying to offer the late-term procedures his friend Dr. George Tiller offered in Wichita before his death.

Dr. Carhart has considered opening a clinic in Kansas, but said he thinks expanding his practice in the Omaha suburbs may be the best option because it is easier for patients to get flights into Omaha than into Wichita.

He said his lawyers have told him he’s not breaking state law by performing late-term abortions in Nebraska, but he hasn’t made a final decision on the clinic’s future.

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