- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009


Members of MS-13 gang arrested

LOS ANGELES | Federal and local authorities in the Los Angeles area have arrested the head of a high-profile anti-gang organization as part of an action against the notorious Mara Salvatrucha street gang.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said Alex Sanchez, executive director of the nonprofit Homies Unidos, was arrested at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Bellflower early Wednesday on federal racketeering charges.

Mara Salvatrucha also is known as MS-13.

Homies Unidos works to rescue youths from gangs in Los Angeles and Mr. Sanchez’s native El Salvador.

An indictment named 24 members of Mara Salvatrucha charging crimes including murder and narcotics offenses.


53 birds seized in teen’s bedroom

LONGMONT | Police have confiscated 53 baby birds from a 15-year-old boy who apparently took them from neighborhood nests and stored them in his bedroom.

Police think the boy had the birds for at least 24 hours. Authorities confiscated them June 16 after his mother realized he had them and called animal control.

The birds included barn swallows, sparrows and a bluebird. Forty died, but the other 13 are recuperating at the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in nearby Boulder and are expected to survive.

The boy had no explanation for raiding the nests, police Sgt. Dave Orr said. He was ticketed for cruelty to animals and interference with wild birds.


Panel: Fewer shots needed for rabies

ATLANTA | People exposed to rabies need only four vaccinations, not the five currently recommended, a vaccine advisory committee said Wednesday.

In the past, rabies shots were dreaded almost as much as the disease itself. Until the 1970s, an encounter with a rabid animal led to at least 14 shots in the abdomen. But vaccines have improved, and five shots in the arm or thigh have been the U.S. standard for more than 20 years.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously that four shots, all given within the first 14 days after exposure to rabies, are sufficient.


Sears Tower faces $350 million redo

CHICAGO | The Sears Tower will undergo a $350 million green remodeling effort at the 110-story skyscraper, including wind turbines, green roofs and solar panels.

Owners and architects said Wednesday that the plan will reduce electricity use in the building by 80 percent and save 24 million gallons of water a year.

Plans include construction of a 50-story, 500-room luxury hotel next door.

Building officials say the project should take five years to complete and create 3,600 jobs.


South Pole rescue doctor dies at 57

BOSTON | Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, whose struggle against breast cancer during a winter at the South Pole captivated the world, has died. She was 57.

Her husband, Thomas FitzGerald, said she died Tuesday at their home in Southwick, Mass. The cause was cancer.

She was the only doctor at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in winter 1999 when she discovered a lump in her breast.

Weather conditions didn’t permit a rescue, so she performed a biopsy on herself with the help of staff.

An airdrop provided chemotherapy drugs, and she treated herself until conditions allowed a rescue by the Air National Guard. Her cancer went into remission until 2005.


Hackers invade college computers

PORTLAND | Hackers got into the computers of the Oregon University System and posted a message telling President Obama to mind his own business and not to comment on the disputed Iranian election.

The message was up for 90 minutes before state technicians took it down Wednesday morning.

Diane Saunders, spokeswoman for the system that controls Oregon’s seven public universities, said the hackers apparently got into the system through third-party software that had not been properly updated.

The message, sent to the Associated Press by the university system, addressed the president as “Hey Stupid Fly Catcher Obama!” It asserts that the opposition was not cheated in the June 12 Iranian vote.


Suicide suspect pleads not guilty

McALLEN | A man suspected of aiding in a woman’s suicide in a Mexican hotel last month has pleaded not guilty to U.S. drug smuggling charges.

Jeff Ostfeld was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border May 18. Authorities said he was carrying vials of pentobarbital, a powerful animal tranquilizer.

That same day, authorities found a 29-year-old Oregon woman dead in a Mexican hotel room that Mr. Ostfeld was seen leaving.

During a brief hearing Wednesday, Mr. Ostfeld, 33, pleaded not guilty to importing a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Trial was set for August.

He has not been charged in the woman’s death. But officials have said he had photos that appeared to show the woman after she was dead, and video in which she said, “I’m scared.”


Boy, 7, buried in dirt and dies

NAPLES | A 7-year-old boy died Wednesday after he was accidentally buried under nearly 2 feet of dirt, authorities said.

Uintah County Sheriff’s Cpl. Brian Fletcher said the boy was playing with other children on a family member’s property Tuesday night.

One of the boy’s relatives, who was using a bulldozer, accidentally moved a load of dirt over the child, burying him under 18 to 24 inches of dirt. The boy was buried for 10 to 15 minutes before a sheriff’s deputy found him.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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