- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Spy’s prison term reduced to 30 years

MIAMI | A convicted Cuban spy’s prison term has been reduced from life to 30 years after an appeals court ruled the original sentence was too severe.

A federal judge in Miami imposed the lesser sentence Tuesday on Ramon Labanino, 46, after his attorney and prosecutors worked out an agreement.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the life sentence as unduly harsh.

Labanino is one of the so-called “Cuban Five” convicted of seeking in the 1990s to infiltrate U.S. military bases and law enforcement agencies and monitor Cuban exile groups and politicians in Miami. The men are lionized in Cuba as heroes.


Mayoral recount set for Wednesday

ATLANTA | Ballots cast in a tight Atlanta runoff race for mayor will be recounted at the request of the runner-up, who lost by just over 700 votes.

Election officials for Fulton County said they will tally the votes again on Wednesday from the nonpartisan runoff last week to replace outgoing two-term Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Former state Sen. Kasim Reed edged out City Council member Mary Norwood, who had hoped to become Atlanta’s first white mayor in a generation. The gap of 715 votes was less than 1 percent of the total, meaning under Georgia law the runner-up could petition for a recount.


Waves big enough for surf competition

HALEIWA | A surfing contest that is only held in extreme conditions is on for the first time in five years, thanks to the massive waves pounding Oahu’s famed North Shore.

Contest director George Downing made the announcement Tuesday morning as wave heights at Waimea Bay reached 35 feet. The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave surfing contest is only held when there are very large waves. Surfers entered in the contest include Andy Irons, Kelly Slater and Sunny Garcia.


Boy’s tongue gets stuck to pole

BOISE | It’s become an annual winter tale: A young boy gets his tongue stuck to a metal pole, perhaps as the result of a dare.

This year, the scene straight out of the movie “A Christmas Story” unfolded Tuesday morning in Boise with a boy, age about 10.

Boise firefighters used a glass of warm water to free the boy from the metal fence pole.

Fire Capt. Bill Tinsley said the boy’s tongue was bleeding a little, but he was OK and allowed to continue walking to school.


$7 million awarded to victim’s family

LEXINGTON | A jury has awarded more than $7 million to the family of a passenger killed in the 2006 crash of a Comair regional jet in Kentucky.

The suit filed by survivors of Bryan Keith Woodward is the only passenger lawsuit that has reached trial.

Flight 5191 crashed after trying to take off from a runway at Lexington’s airport that was too short for commercial jets. Forty-nine people were killed. The National Transportation Safety Board found the pilots failed to notice clues they were on the wrong runway.


Trial set for man accused as Iraq spy

DETROIT | A judge has set an Aug. 2 trial for a Detroit-area man charged with conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Iraq and illegally obtaining 2 million barrels of oil.

Muthanna Al-Hanooti was indicted nearly two years ago. The Justice Department accuses him of illegally working with the former regime of Saddam Hussein from 1999 through 2003.

Mr. al-Hanooti is well-known in the Detroit area’s Arab-American community. He was public relations director for a charity called Life for Relief and Development and helped organize a trip to Iraq for three congressmen in 2002.


Men sentenced in dogfighting case

ST. LOUIS | Four men have received prison sentences for federal crimes involving dogfighting.

The convictions resulted from the largest coordinated multistate raids on dogfighting in U.S. history.

Teddy Kiriakidis, 50, of Leasburg, and Ronald Creach, 34, of Leslie, were sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison. Michael Morgan, 38, of Hannibal, and Robert Hackman, 56, of Foley, were sentenced to one year in prison.

Each man pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Hackman and Morgan also pleaded guilty to selling animals for fighting.

In July, federal agents arrested 26 people and seized more than 500 dogs in a multistate raid.


Cancer cluster residents tested

ALLENTOWN | Federal health researchers have tested nearly 2,200 people in northeastern Pennsylvania for a genetic mutation associated with a rare blood cancer.

The testing found the mutation in 19 people, or 1.6 percent of those who participated in the study.

The testing was performed after government epidemiologists confirmed a cluster of polycythemia vera, or PV, a cancer that results in the overproduction of red blood cells and can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Three Superfund sites, a power plant fired by waste coal, and several abandoned strip mines filled with coal-combustion waste are among the culprits suspected of making people sick in a 20-mile stretch between Hazleton and Tamaqua.


Purple Heart given after 42 years

SALT LAKE CITY | A Vietnam veteran has received a Purple Heart, more than four decades late.

Allen Malo was wounded in November 1967 after his fuel truck hit a land mine. The resident of Farmington, Utah, didn’t think much about not getting a Purple Heart. But his son, Jeff Malo, a longtime member of the Utah National Guard, wanted the oversight rectified.

On Monday, Allen Malo received the medal at the Utah state Capitol Rotunda. He said he’s proud of the honor - and of his son and family for pursuing it on his behalf.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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