- The Washington Times - Monday, September 14, 2009


Wolf, bear hunts increasing moose

ANCHORAGE | An Alaska wildlife-management program in which wolves are shot from low-flying airplanes and black bears are baited and snared is helping to increase the numbers of moose and caribou, state wildlife officials say.

The program has long been the target of wildlife conservation groups who view it as state-sponsored slaughter. Last fall, one of those groups launched an ad criticizing then-Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 presidential election, for expanding the program.

State officials contend the program is aimed at helping rural Alaskans, who rely on hunting to survive and had complained there wasn’t enough game to hunt and eat.

The program began in 2003 under Mrs. Palin’s predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski. Private citizens are permitted to shoot wolves from the air or conduct land-and-shoot hunting of wolves in six rural areas of the state. More than 1,000 wolves and hundreds of black bears have been killed in an effort to drive down the number of predators.

“I think there are some real success stories here,” said Bruce Bartley, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.


Fire containment date pushed back

IRWINDALE | Officials say the wildfire burning in Southern California’s Angeles National Forest won’t be fully contained until Sept. 19.

The previous containment date was Sept. 15.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Tom DeBellis says crews Sunday are watching for flare-ups along the 120-mile perimeter of the massive fire north of Los Angeles, which has burned more than 250 square miles. The arson-caused blaze is 84 percent contained.

Mr. DeBellis says more firefighters are being sent home every day. There were 1,519 men and women working against the blaze Sunday.


Church abuse lawsuits settled

PUEBLO | Two men who filed lawsuits claiming they were sexually abused by a former priest have reached settlements with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pueblo, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Monsignor Mark Plewka of the diocese confirmed the settlements with a man and his nephew, The Pueblo Chieftain said.

The man said the Rev. Andrew Burke abused him from 1970 to 1978. The lawsuits accuse Father Burke of establishing a similar relationship with the man’s nephew.

Father Burke left the priesthood in 1973. He committed suicide in September 2005 at age 62, after reporters asked questions about the allegations.

The man had sought $1.8 million from the diocese and the release of Father Burke’s personnel file.

Terms of the settlements weren’t disclosed, but Father Burke’s file was not released.

Another man who claims Father Burke abused him previously won the right to look at Father Burke’s personnel file, which may show how early the diocese was aware of allegations of abuse.

The Colorado Supreme Court recently affirmed a decision by a Pueblo District judge compelling the diocese to release Father Burke’s file to the John Doe accuser.


Search for student turns to incinerator

HARTFORD | Investigators sifted through garbage at an incinerator Sunday, looking for clues into the disappearance of a Yale University graduate student who was supposed to be celebrating her wedding day.

FBI agent Bill Reiner said Sunday that investigators are “following the trash” that left the university laboratory in New Haven. He declined to comment further on the search at the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority’s trash-to-energy plant in Hartford.

Annie Le, 24, was last seen Tuesday morning at the lab. More than 100 state, local and federal law enforcement agencies are looking for her but have not yet determined whether Miss Le’s disappearance is a missing person’s case or an act of foul play.

Authorities say Miss Le, a pharmacology doctoral student originally from Placerville, Calif., swiped her identification card to enter the lab. But despite some 75 surveillance cameras around the complex, there is no record of her leaving the complex. Her ID, money, credit cards and purse were found in her office.

Investigators on Saturday said they recovered evidence from the Amistad Street building that houses Miss Le’s laboratory, but would not confirm reports by media outlets that the items included bloody clothing.


Fundraiser’s death possible suicide

CHICAGO | A former chief fundraiser for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich told a police officer before he died that he overdosed on a prescription drug, the mayor of the south Chicago suburb of Country Club Hills said Sunday.

Mayor Dwight Welch did not say what drug Christopher Kelly told police he ingested, but he said authorities found a variety of drugs in Mr. Kelly’s vehicle. Mr. Kelly, 51, died Saturday at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital in Chicago, and Mr. Welch said police are investigating the death as suicide.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office performed an autopsy but did not immediately disclose the results.

Mr. Welch also said police want to interview Clarissa Flores-Buhelos, 30, who identified herself as Mr. Kelly’s girlfriend and told police she drove him to Oak Forest Hospital on Friday night after finding him slumped over the steering wheel of his Cadillac Escalade at a Country Club Hills lumberyard.


Serial bank robbery suspect nabbed

KINGDOM CITY | A man suspected of robbing banks in five states has been captured in Missouri after someone recognized him from the television show “America’s Most Wanted.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said in a news release Sunday that Chad E. Schaffner was arrested Saturday at a motel in the small town of Kingdom City, about 25 miles east of Columbia.

The 37-year-old Indianapolis man was wanted on felony warrants for bank robbery, burglary, armed robbery and receiving stolen property. Authorities think he robbed banks in Illinois, Kentucky, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.

Mr. Schaffner was named a suspect in the robberies after bank surveillance photos from holdups dating to May were flashed on electronic billboards across the South.


Report: FBI probing ‘stolen’ Kennedy note

DALLAS| A Dallas newspaper reports that the FBI is investigating a “stolen” handwritten condolence note by Jacqueline Kennedy to Ethel Kennedy that was penned shortly after Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 assassination.

The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that investigators and Kennedy family members suspect the note was taken from Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s McLean, Va., home.

The note has changed hands several times and has sold for as much as $25,000.

The two-page note made its way to a Dallas auction house in 2006. One of Robert Kennedy’s sons told the FBI that his family had never given away nor sold the note. The FBI used a search warrant to seize it Aug. 27 from Heritage Auction Galleries.

An FBI spokesman says the note is considered “a stolen good” and part of a criminal investigation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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