- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2010


Toyota rebuts LaHood’s warning

TORRANCE | Toyota said recalled vehicles that have not experienced problems with their accelerator pedals are safe to drive.

The automaker made the comments after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that Toyota owners should stop driving recalled Toyota cars and trucks. Mr. LaHood later told reporters that he misspoke and said drivers of recalled vehicles should take them to dealerships to have them repaired.

Toyota, which has recalled 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. because of the potential for sticky accelerators, said the problem is rare. The automaker is shipping a fix to dealerships across the country this week.


No charges planned in Amtrak incident

DENVER | Prosecutors said they won’t pursue charges against an ex-convict accused of making a threat against an Amtrak train because further investigation revealed that the man displayed no bizarre behavior or made a threat.

Ojore Nuru Lutalo, 64, of Elizabeth, N.J., was arrested Jan. 26 on suspicion of felony endangering public transportation.

Otero County District Attorney Rod Fouracre said Wednesday that the Amtrak steward who reported the threats to police later said she hadn’t heard any threatening statements herself but reported concerns voiced by other passengers. The passengers on the train later told police that they never heard any specific threats to the train.


Mom hides triplets, dies giving birth

SHELTON | A Connecticut woman hid from her husband and other family members that she was carrying triplets, then bled to death while delivering the full-term but stillborn babies in her home, officials said Wednesday.

Shelton police Detective Ben Trabka said he thinks Victoria Hope, 26, denied being pregnant and instead gave medical reasons “why she had put on weight.”

Mrs. Hope did not disclose her pregnancy to anyone with whom police spoke, including the father of her children, Detective Trabka said. The father suspected that Mrs. Hope was pregnant but she denied it, and police do not know why she hid her condition.


Panda fans bid farewell to Tai Shan

Panda fans flocked to the National Zoo on Wednesday to see the popular panda Tai Shan before he leaves for China.

Wednesday was the 4-year-old animal’s last day on view at the zoo. Tai Shan will be sent to China on Thursday to become part of a breeding program.

Tai Shan was born at the zoo in 2005 and was granted a two-year extension in 2007. Under the Smithsonian’s panda loan agreement, any cub born at the zoo must be returned to China for breeding.

Panda mother Mei Xiang and father Tian Tian are on a 10-year, $10 million loan until December.

Tai Shan will fly to China, along with 3-year-old female panda Mei Lan from Zoo Atlanta. They will have their own FedEx jet for the trip.


Ex-attorney accused of printing fake checks

NEW ORLEANS | A former public defender printed $1 million in bogus payroll checks so he could gamble at casinos from Florida to California, sometimes using Web site logos to make the checks appear legitimate, authorities said.

Lt. Ed Baswell, a spokesman for the Bossier Parish sheriff in Louisiana, said Charles Bradford, 47, was in jail Wednesday on $90,500 bond. Authorities said he printed the checks and recruited others to cash them.

Lt. Baswell said Mr. Bradford is wanted in Arkansas, California, Florida, Kansas and Ohio, and may have run the purported scheme in other states. Mr. Bradford has a lengthy arrest record and was released from prison in 2006, though the charges on which he was convicted was not immediately known.


2 dead, 8 hurt in casino crash

LAS VEGAS | A speeding vehicle crashed through the entrance of a hotel in the southern Nevada resort town of Laughlin on Wednesday, killing two patrons and injuring at least eight others before it became wedged at a bank of slot machines, authorities said.

Investigators think the 75-year-old male driver suffered a medical episode before the 9:30 a.m. crash at the Edgewater Hotel & Casino, police said.

The vehicle “drove right through the glass doors at the front entrance, knocked over a bunch of slots like toys, and came to rest in the gaming area,” said Bullhead City Fire Division Chief Bill Kinsey, incident commander for a mutual aid response from the Arizona city across the Colorado River. He estimated that the vehicle came to a rest about 35 feet inside the casino.


University fundraising falls 12 percent

SEATTLE | Colleges and universities have suffered the steepest drop in charitable contributions in at least 30 years, a report says.

The report by the Council for Aid to Education says giving dropped an average of almost 12 percent nationwide in 2009. Individual giving dropped in both dollars and the number of people giving.

The report says the biggest drops were in gifts for endowments and new buildings.

Stanford University raised the most money in 2009, taking in more than $640 million. But that’s still a drop in income of $175 million for the school.

Harvard came in second, but it suffered a $50 million drop.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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