- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Volcano erupts, threatens air quality

ANCHORAGE | The Mount Redoubt volcano erupted five times overnight, sending an ash plume more than 9 miles into the air in the volcano’s first emissions in nearly 20 years.

Residents in the state’s largest city were spared from falling ash, though fine gray dust was falling Monday morning on small communities north of Anchorage. The ash began falling around daybreak and continued into midmorning.

Ash from Alaska’s volcanos is like a rock fragment with jagged edges and has been used as an industrial abrasive. It can injure skin, eyes and breathing passages. The young, the elderly and people with respiratory problems are especially susceptible to ash-related health problems. Ash can also damage engines in planes, cars and other vehicles.

Alaska Airlines on Monday canceled 19 flights in and out of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport because of the ash.


Brown to look into monitoring parolees

SAN FRANCISCO | Parolees like the one who killed three Oakland police officers and left a fourth brain-dead over the weekend must be tracked and restricted more aggressively, state Attorney General Jerry Brown said Monday.

The former Oakland mayor said he will examine how Lovelle Mixon, 26, was monitored following his release from prison in November on a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. Mixon also was a suspect in a murder last year but was never charged, according to state prison officials.

Problems involving parolees from California’s overcrowded prison system have long beset state officials who must monitor them, as well as local officials who try to keep streets safe and federal authorities who enforce firearms and other laws.

Mixon was one of 164 Oakland parolees in mid-March who had outstanding arrest warrants for parole violations, state prison records show.

The city of 400,000 had more than 1,900 total parolees at the time, including nearly 300 who had been returned to custody or whose parole was about to be revoked. Statewide, almost 17,000 of the nearly 125,000 parolees were wanted for violating their parole requirements, state records show.


Astronauts take final spacewalk

CAPE CANAVERAL | Two astronauts who were teaching math and science to middle-school students just five years ago went on a spacewalk together Monday, their path cleared of dangerous orbiting junk that had threatened the space station and shuttle.

On Sunday, the linked shuttle-station complex had to move out of the way of a 4-inch piece of debris that had been projected to come perilously close during the spacewalk.

Astronauts Joseph Acaba and Richard Arnold II had no luck trying to free up a jammed equipment storage shelf at the International Space Station, one of their main tasks.

Using a hammer, they managed to loosen a pin that Mr. Acaba and another astronaut accidentally inserted upside down on the platform during Saturday’s spacewalk. But the shelf mechanism would not extend into the proper position, despite repeated efforts.

“Three, two, one, go,” Mr. Arnold called out as they tugged with all their might. “Negative.”

Mission Control instructed the spacewalkers to tie the platform down using sturdy tethers.

It was the first time two former schoolteachers took a spacewalk together, and was the third and final spacewalk for shuttle Discovery’s mission.


Financier hit with fines, restitution

INDIANAPOLIS | A money manager accused of trying to fake his death in a plane crash took another financial hit when an Indiana judge ordered him to pay nearly $600,000 in restitution and fines.

Under the administrative law judge’s order made last week and announced Monday, Marcus Schrenker must pay $304,000 in restitution to bilked investors and $280,000 in state fines for violating state insurance rules.

It comes two months after Judge Doug Webber heard testimony from investors who said they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars through annuity investments handled by Mr. Schrenker, 38. Judge Webber had revoked Mr. Schrenker’s Indiana insurance license a day after that hearing.

Before Judge Webber’s ruling, Mr. Schrenker already faced millions in judgments and potential penalties. Those range from an insurance company’s lawsuit in Indiana seeking $1.4 million in commissions to an Alabama judge’s order that he pay $12 million in a lawsuit over the sale of a plane.


Lawmaker indicted, accused of assault

NEW YORK | A freshman state senator sworn in to office despite allegations he slashed his girlfriend’s face with broken glass in a jealous rage has been indicted on domestic assault charges, prosecutors said Monday.

A grand jury in Queens indicted Hiram Monserrate, 41, on three counts of second-degree felony assault and three counts of third-degree misdemeanor assault. Arraignment is expected later this week. He faces seven years in prison if convicted on the most serious charges.

Mr. Monserrate, who was in Albany on Monday for a legislative session, issued a statement saying he did not commit a crime.

“I’ve said all along this was an accident. The district attorney’s politically motivated decision to pursue this case doesn’t change the fact that this was an accident,” he said.

The former police officer was arrested after Karla Giraldo’s face was slashed on Dec. 19 at his New York City home. The gash over her eye required 25 stitches. Both said the incident was an accident.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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