- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ALASKA

Agency agrees on walrus deadline

ANCHORAGE | The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to make an initial determination within four months on whether the Pacific walrus merits additional protections under the Endangered Species Act.

A federal judge Monday approved a settlement between the agency and the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued in December to force a decision.

The group filed a petition in February 2008 to list walrus because of the loss of their sea ice habitat citing global warming and used the same justification to successfully petition for protection of polar bears.



Listing would require federal agencies to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that any action they authorize will not jeopardize walruses or adversely modify their critical habitat.

CALIFORNIA

Man arrested in slayings

VERNON | Two men have been fatally shot at a Southern California lumber company and a third man was under arrest, authorities said.

Vernon police Capt. Daniel Calleros said a report of shots being fired sent officers to the Bohnhoff Lumber Co. about 9:30 a.m. Monday. The officers found the victims and saw a car speeding away.

After a short chase, the vehicle crashed in neighboring Huntington Park, and the driver was arrested. Capt. Calleros said a handgun was recovered.

The identities of the victims and the suspect have not been released.

A Los Angeles County coroner’s official said all three people were employees of the lumberyard.

FLORIDA

Work completed on telescope

CAPE CANAVERAL | Spacewalking astronauts completed repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope on Monday, leaving it more powerful than ever and able to peer even deeper into the cosmos - almost to the brink of creation.

The last humans to lay hands on Hubble outfitted the observatory with another set of fresh batteries, a new sensor for precise pointing and protective covers. That equipment, along with other improvements made over the past five days, should allow the telescope to provide dazzling views of the universe for five to 10 years.

It was the fifth and final spacewalk for the shuttle Atlantis crew and the final visit by astronauts ever to Hubble.

ILLINOIS

Peterson pleads not guilty

CHICAGO | Former police officer Drew Peterson pleaded not guilty Monday to killing his third wife, whose death was reclassified as a homicide after the suburban officer’s fourth wife disappeared.

Mr. Peterson, who has been jailed since May 7, was formally arraigned on first-degree murder charges in the 2004 slaying of Kathleen Savio.

A prosecution bid to change the judge in the proceeding stalled a defense plan to seek reduced bail for Mr. Peterson.

Mr. Peterson is accused of drowning Mrs. Savio, who was found dead in a dry bathtub with a gash on the back of her head. Her death initially was ruled an accident. But after Mr. Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in 2007, Mrs. Savio’s body was exhumed and authorities reclassified her death as a homicide after an autopsy.

Mr. Peterson, 55, has denied any involvement in Mrs. Savio’s death or Stacy Peterson’s disappearance.

LOUISIANA

Officials: Teen shot self, missed teacher

LAROSE | Authorities say a student shot himself in the head at a Louisiana middle school after he fired at a teacher and missed.

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre says the 15-year-old student fired one shot Monday inside a classroom at Larose-Cut Off Middle School. He then went into a bathroom and shot himself.

Sgt. Lesley Peters, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, says the student is in critical condition at a hospital in nearby Galliano. His name has not been released.

Sheriff Webre says the school about 45 miles southwest of New Orleans has been locked down. He says the students were being taken to a nearby VFW hall.

The shooting is still under investigation.

MAINE

Man with rifle arrested at church

PORTLAND | Police have arrested a man they say was loading a hunting rifle outside a church and planning to harm someone inside.

Portland Police Capt. Vern Malloch said Monday that a police officer assigned to Portland High School “probably avoided a tragedy” by making the arrest after spotting the armed man in an alley alongside the high school and First Parish Church.

Capt. Malloch says Herbert Jones, 46, made references to pedophiles being in the church. An Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was under way at the time.

Mr. Jones faces charges including terrorizing and possession of a firearm by a felon, as well as stalking a woman at the AA meeting. Capt. Malloch says a passenger in Mr. Jones’ BMW convertible was charged, as well. Jail records list no attorney for the men.

MINNESOTA

Airlines post rare improvement in poll

MINNEAPOLIS | A new study shows airlines are doing a better job of taking care of the passengers whom they still have.

Passenger satisfaction with airline service rose more than 3 percent earlier this year, according to a new University of Michigan study. That’s the first time in six years that airlines have seen their score rise.

The increase comes as the number of passengers drops and airlines have reduced flying.

Southwest Airlines has the highest score. The biggest improvers were Continental Airlines and US Airways, which both rose more than 9 percent. United Airlines was unchanged in last place.

Professor Claes Fornell, who led the study, says businesses that are losing money have a tough time providing good service.

MONTANA

CrossHarbor wins exclusive club

BUTTE | Rival parties vying for control of a bankrupt luxury Montana resort have reached a court-approved deal that gives CrossHarbor Capital Partners ownership over the resort.

Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kirscher approved the parties’ deal Monday involving the exclusive Yellowstone Club.

Boston-based CrossHarbor will pay $115 million for the club. Of that, $35 million will be in cash and the other $80 million takes the form of a promissory note to Credit Suisse.

Under the agreement, claims that Credit Suisse drove the club into bankruptcy with a fraudulent $375 million loan will also be dismissed. Credit Suisse also has the option to buy a stake in the new CrossHarbor investment.

The resort’s auction stalled repeatedly over legal squabbles last week.

NEW JERSEY

Judge weighs suit over Trump’s millions

CAMDEN | There’s no disputing that Donald Trump is a wealthy man.

But just how wealthy is the issue at the heart of a lawsuit.

Mr. Trump is suing an author for claiming in a 2006 book that the real estate mogul’s net worth was between $150 million and $250 million.

Mr. Trump says he’s worth several billion dollars - and that writer Timothy O’Brien knew as much.

In one court filing, Mr. Trump acknowledges that he sometimes exaggerates. But he says determining his net worth is complicated because it’s constantly in flux - and depends partly on his feelings.

Lawyers for both sides are in court Monday. Mr. O’Brien’s lawyers are arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed.

NEW YORK

NYC names health chief

NEW YORK | New York City named Louisiana pediatrician and epidemiologist Thomas Farley to head the city’s health department Monday amid a swine flu outbreak that killed a New York educator Sunday.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg chose Dr. Farley to replace Thomas Frieden, who was picked last week by President Obama to head the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Farley, who will assume his new job in June, has served as a senior adviser to Dr. Frieden since 2007 and helped implement the city’s mandate that chain restaurants post calorie information on menu boards.

Calling his new post “the best job in the field of public health,” Dr. Farley said H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, would be his top priority.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Craigslist CEO wants apology

COLUMBIA | Craigslist’s chief executive demanded an apology from South Carolina’s attorney general Monday, saying the prosecutor’s threat to file prostitution charges against the company was unreasonable and unfair.

Attorney General Henry McMaster threatened last week to prosecute Craigslist executives for aiding and abetting prostitution if an ad on the Web site leads to a prostitution case in South Carolina. The prosecutor has said his office is investigating the ads, but so far no charges have been brought.

The San Francisco-based Craigslist has come under closer scrutiny for its “erotic services” category after a Boston-area man was accused of killing a masseuse he met through the Web site. The company has promised eliminate the category and replace it with a new “adult services” section, where ads will be screened before they are posted.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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