- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 31, 2009


No wild animal ban in legislature

HARTFORD | The Connecticut General Assembly won’t take up a bill this session banning a long list of wild and potentially dangerous animals as pets.

The legislation stems from the February attack on a Stamford resident, mauled by a 200-pound chimpanzee.

Rep. Richard Roy, co-chairman of the legislature’s Environment Committee, said Friday that the bill is being abandoned because some lawmakers want to protect a family-owned elephant farm in Goshen.

Many state politicians were outraged that potentially dangerous animals were allowed as pets after learning of the chimpanzee attack on Charla Nash, who lost her hands, nose, lips and eyelids in the assault.

But Mr. Roy said Goshen-area lawmakers fought the bill. “It’s dead because there’s a piece that was put into the bill that would have not allowed the Commerford family to bring in any new elephants in the years ahead, thereby, essentially closing the business down,” he said.


New treatment for skin cancer

ORLANDO | For the first time, a novel treatment that trains the immune system to fight cancer has shown modest benefit in late-stage testing against the deadly skin cancer melanoma.

The approach is called a cancer vaccine, even though it treats disease rather than prevents it. In a study of about 180 patients already getting standard therapy, the vaccine doubled the number of patients whose tumors shrank, and extended the time until their cancer worsened by about six weeks.

Trends in the study suggest that the vaccine also may improve survival, but patients need to be followed longer to see if this proves true, said Dr. Douglas Schwartzentruber, cancer chief at Goshen Health System in central Indiana. He led the study and gave results Saturday at an American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.


Squirrel is fond of cemetery flags

PORT HURON | The superintendent of a cemetery in Port Huron, Mich., says a squirrel is responsible for the theft of nearly a dozen small U.S. flags.

Mount Hope Cemetery Superintendent Ron Ceglarek said he witnessed the squirrel take one of the small flags from a grave site and transport it up a nearby tree to help build a nest with its mate.

“He plucks them right off,” Mr. Ceglarek said. “If I didn’t see it, and I didn’t follow the squirrel, I never would have believed it.”

The cemetery has grave sites for nearly 965 veterans and the small flags are traditional remembrances left at the sites on Memorial Day.

Mr. Ceglarek joked about the squirrel’s apparent affinity for the flags, which the animal removes with ease from the small staffs to which they are attached.

“Maybe they are trying to tell us it is going to be a hard winter,” Mr. Ceglarek said. “Why use leaves when you can get flags?”


Obamas dine, go to theater

NEW YORK | President and Mrs. Obama jetted to New York late Saturday afternoon, aides and media in tow.

“I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished,” the president said in a statement an aide read to the press.

Following dinner at Blue Hill in the West Village, the president and first lady headed to the Belasco Theatre to see “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.” The August Wilson play is about black America in the early 1900s, with residents of a boardinghouse recalling their migration from the sharecropping farms of the South to the industrialized North.

The White House declined to say how much the trip was costing taxpayers, and even before the smaller jet left Washington, the there-and-back trip drew criticism from the Republican National Committee. The RNC issued a news release that chastised Mr. Obama for saying he understands American’s troubles, but then hopping up to New York for “a night on the town.”


Freed journalist welcomed home

FARGO | Journalist Roxana Saberi, released from prison in Iran earlier this month, is back in North Dakota.

The 32-year-old Miss Saberi was greeted at the Fargo airport by a crowd of well-wishers and “Welcome home, Roxana” signs.

Saberi, fighting back tears, said she was surprised at the emotions she felt.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever really cried in public,” she said.

Gov. John Hoeven and Rep. Earl Pomeroy were among the officials who met her after she stepped off the plane Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Hoeven called it a “happy day for the people of North Dakota.”

Students and teachers from her alma mater, Concordia College in neighboring Moorhead, Minn., brought maroon and gold balloons.

Miss Saberi, who lived in Iran for six years and has dual citizenship, was arrested Jan. 31 and charged with spying for the United States.


Cadet training for sheriff, 70

PORTLAND | The Oregon agency that certifies police officers says the sheriff of the state’s most populous county - a member of the force for nearly half his 70 years - has to go back to basic training.

Multnomah County Sheriff Bob Skipper will become a police cadet next month - possibly the oldest in state history - unless he and other county officials persuade the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to reconsider.

“My job is not to write citations - I am the CEO,” Sheriff Skipper told the Oregonian newspaper as his office prepares for a $9.4 million budget cut and large-scale layoffs.

“I’m having to back myself out of the middle of all this and say, ‘I can’t deal with this right now. I have to go off and learn to be a patrolman.’ ”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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