- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thieves leave Ito’s courtroom nameless

LOS ANGELES | Judge Lance Ito’s fame has ironically made his courtroom the most difficult to find in downtown Los Angeles.

Since presiding over O.J. Simpson’s murder trial more than a decade ago, Judge Ito has repeatedly had his name placard stolen from the door of his courtroom.

For now, he has given up replacing the placard, and people looking for his courtroom must seek help in the lobby.

Judge Ito was not available for comment but confirmed the thefts in an e-mail to a Superior Court spokesman that was cited Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times. No records are kept at the courthouse on placard replacements, so an exact number was unavailable.


Shuttle leaves space station, heads home

CAPE CANAVERAL | Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station early Wednesday and headed home with one astronaut eager to hold his newborn daughter for the first time and another who has been away from her young son since summer.

Before signing off from Mission Control, flight director Mike Sarafin wished the seven crew members a happy Thanksgiving and a good landing on Friday.

“We’ll do our best to stay sharp until the round things stop rolling,” replied commander Charles Hobaugh.

The shuttle departed as the spacecraft soared nearly 220 miles above the Pacific, just northeast of New Guinea. Over the past week, the astronauts stocked the outpost and performed maintenance that should keep it running for another five to 10 years.


Eight plead guilty to funneling money

ST. LOUIS | Eight members of the criminal Hamed Organization have pleaded guilty to federal charges for selling stolen goods at five St. Louis area convenience stores and funneling part of their profits to the Palestinian territories.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Reap said the men bought stolen goods at low prices and then sold them for a large profit. He would not say how much money they made or how much was sent to Palestinian groups.

Mr. Reap’s spokeswoman said Wednesday there was no evidence the money supported terrorist activities.

Bassam Hamed, his brother Ayoub Hamed, and Suhail Jarabaa pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to structure the exportation of monetary instruments to avoid reporting requirements. Five others pleaded guilty to racketeering. Sentencing is March 2.


Lawsuit delays horse roundup

CARSON CITY | The Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday postponed a planned roundup of thousands of wild horses in Nevada because of a lawsuit and to allow time for appeals of its decision.

BLM spokeswoman JoLynn Worley in Reno confirmed that the roundup planned to begin Dec. 7 has been delayed until Dec. 28.

In Defense of Animals, a California-based animal protection group, filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeking to halt the roundup. The suit said wild horses are an integral part of the ecosystem and should remain on rangeland throughout much of the West rather than be herded into long-term holding pens.

The suit also argued that the use of helicopters in massive roundups is illegal because they “traumatize, injure and kill” some of the animals.


Toxins found in endangered fish

GRANTS PASS | Toxins from a blue-green algae plaguing lakes and rivers across the West have been found in endangered fish in the Klamath Basin, adding another obstacle to restoring species that have forced irrigation shutoffs for farmers.

U.S. Geological Survey fish biologist Scott VanderKooi said Wednesday that researchers found the toxin in the damaged livers of young Lost River and shortnosed suckers in Upper Klamath Lake.

The lake is the main irrigation reservoir for more than 1,000 farms in the upper Klamath Basin. A drought in 2001 forced irrigation cutbacks to keep enough water in the lake for the endangered fish.

Health warnings prompted by blooms of the algae microsystin have been increasing across the West, including 21 this year in Oregon.


Truck carrying illegals falls off cliff

McALLEN | A truck carrying illegal immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico plummeted at least 40 feet off a cliff in southwest Texas, authorities said. All 18 aboard were injured.

The pickup truck went off the road near Alice on Tuesday afternoon and fell into a gravel pit.

Eleven people remain hospitalized Wednesday. The others injured were treated and released to Border Patrol custody.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said the driver was charged with immigrant smuggling involving death or serious injury. She did not know whether the driver, Patricio Rebollar, was among those still hospitalized.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the accident.


Man trapped upside down in cave

SALT LAKE CITY | Rescuers chipped away with air-powered tools in a narrow tunnel Wednesday to free a man trapped upside down about 150 feet below ground in a popular Utah cave.

Utah County sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said John Jones, 26, of Stansbury Park, became stuck about 700 feet into the narrow cave, known as Nutty Putty, about 9 p.m. Tuesday while spelunking with a group of 11 people.

“There’s some pushing and pulling, but if there’s any movement at all, it’s just millimeters at a time,” Sgt. Cannon said.

Mr. Jones was stuck with his head below his feet in an L-shaped area of the cave known as “Bob’s Push” that is only about 18 inches wide and 10 inches high, Sgt. Cannon said.

Sgt. Cannon said Mr. Jones is about 6 feet tall and weighs between 180 and 200 pounds.

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