- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2009

ALASKA

Sunken supply boat found near oil rig

ANCHORAGE | Searchers found the 166-foot supply vessel Monarch that sank near an oil platform in Cook Inlet, the Coast Guard said.

Searchers on the Champion, which is equipped with side-scan sonar, located the supply boat Saturday morning with the help of a tugboat, the Vigilant. It was spotted near the southwest leg of the Granite Point oil platform.

The Monarch sank Thursday. Seven crew members were evacuated onto the platform and flown to shore by helicopter.

The Coast Guard said the sunken vessel is in about 86-feet of water. The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the sinking.

MAINE

Gay marriage bill timing questioned

AUGUSTA | The early debate over a gay marriage proposal in Maine is focusing less on the issue and more on the timing as state lawmakers face serious budget problems.

Critics say it’s the wrong time for lawmakers to debate the bill because of the budget problems. Gov. John Baldacci’s $6.1 billion two-year budget would cut 219 positions. The highway budget also would eliminate 137 positions.

“I think people don’t want to discuss the issue,” said Bob Emrich of the Maine Marriage Alliance, a group that wants a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. “It’s an uncomfortable and unpopular issue that’s likely to bring a lot of resentment.”

But Mary Bonauto, a lawyer with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, said her organization is catching flak for failing to act sooner.

“We all take a lot of grief from people for not having done this a long time ago,” she said. “It’s irrepressible at this point.”

Last week, gay advocates announced their plans to move forward with a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in Maine.

HAWAII

Thousands rally for land rights

HONOLULU | An estimated 5,000 demonstrators on Saturday protested the state of Hawaii’s appeal of a ruling that bars the state from selling or transferring ceded lands until Native Hawaiian claims to those lands are resolved.

The peaceful rally drew the attention of hundreds of tourists as the demonstrators marched through the Waikiki district.

Gov. Linda Lingle’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court claims that Native Hawaiians do not have an ownership claim to land that belonged to the Hawaiian monarchy prior to the 1893 overthrow.

Dozens of Hawaiian sovereignty groups joined the demonstration, which also featured chants, hula and a large rally at Kapiolani Park.

The event coincided with the 116th anniversary of the overthrow.

MONTANA

Suspect in slaying found dead

GLASGOW | The suspect in the fatal shooting of a woman outside a hospital and the wounding of two others was himself found with fatal gunshot wounds by authorities who followed a trail of blood to a house on the outskirts of town, officials said Sunday.

No other suspects were being sought, Valley County Sheriff Glenn Meier said.

Sheriff Meier and Glasgow Police Chief Lynn Erickson said it was the first homicide in the area in at least 11 years.

Valley County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Samar Fay said she did not know when the man was shot, or who may have been responsible.

The assailant was not thought to have ever worked at the hospital, authorities said.

The man was suspected of having shot a woman - a part-time emergency medical technician - outside Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital late Saturday afternoon. A hospital nurse and her husband who came to assist the woman also were shot. Those victims were in stable condition, a hospital spokesman said.

MINNESOTA

Soldier reunites with Iraqi dog

SPRING LAKE PARK | Army Spc. Gwen Beberg has been reunited with Ratchet, the puppy she bonded with after saving him from a burning trash pile in Iraq.

Spc. Beberg returned to her Minneapolis home on Saturday after being stationed in Kentucky since she returned from Iraq. She and another soldier rescued the then-4-week-old puppy in May and an animal rescue group arranged his trip to Minnesota in October.

The dog stayed with Spc. Beberg’s parents until her return. The soldier calls Ratchet her “fuzzy little love” that always lifts her spirits.

The U.S. military initially blocked the dog from leaving because it said American troops could not be responsible for its transportation. The dog was put onto a charter flight instead.

WASHINGTON

Debris kills boy at truck show

TACOMA | Debris flew into the grandstands at a monster-truck show in Washington state, killing a 6-year-old boy and injuring another spectator, witnesses and city officials said Saturday.

A red truck came apart while doing doughnuts during the freestyle competition of Friday night’s Monster Jam show, the witnesses said. Debris from the truck flew 30 to 50 feet over a safety barrier into the stands.

“Parts were falling off and a piece flew up and hit a little boy,” Christine Moe told King Television of Seattle.

“At this point, there’s nothing to indicate that there’s anything criminal,” Police Officer Mark Fulghum told the Associated Press on Saturday night. “Right now, it looks like a tragic accident.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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