- The Washington Times - Friday, January 1, 2010



Army major defends SEALs’ prosecution

The military’s special-operations commander is defending his decision to prosecute three Navy SEALs accused of mishandling a detainee captured in Iraq.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland told Rep. Dan Burton in a Dec. 15 letter that the congressman’s perception of the case is based on faulty press reports. The Indiana Republican is among 40 congressmen who sent Gen. Cleveland a letter asking him to drop the charges.

Jonathan Keefe of Yorktown, Va.; Matthew McCabe of Perrysburg, Ohio; and Julio Huertas of Blue Island, Ill., are accused of mistreating Ahmed Hashim Abed, the suspected mastermind of the 2004 slayings of four U.S. security contractors in Iraq.

Gen. Cleveland wrote that the purported assault occurred hours after the detainee was captured, and that the more troubling allegations are that the sailors tried to cover up the incident. He also said the charges are not based solely on the detainee’s word.



ROTC instructor charged with abuse

Maryland State Police say a former high school ROTC instructor has been charged with sexually abusing a 15-year-old female student.

A bail review is scheduled on Monday for Jonathan Rossell, 38, of Bridgeville. He surrendered to police on Wednesday and has been charged with sex abuse and other sex offenses.

Mr. Rossell had been an ROTC instructor at Seaford High School. He resigned Nov. 4.

Troopers said the purported sex acts occurred in October at a haunted forest Halloween fundraising display in Rhodesdale in Dorchester County.


Rain, snow cause sewage spill in river

Baltimore County officials said a pumping station dumped 22 million gallons of diluted sewage into the Patapsco River Saturday night.

Officials said heavy rain and melting snow contributed to the spill at the Halethorpe pumping station. The station is undergoing a $16 million renovation ordered by the Maryland Department of the Environment, and the county has set up a series of pumps to circumvent it. But the saturated conditions caused water to enter and overwhelm the station.

The station was the site of an 8.9 million-gallon spill in June 2008.

The spill prompted Anne Arundel County health officials to warn against entering the river until after Jan. 4. Warning signs have been posted in the area of the overflow.


Boy, 9, dead after tree falls in woods

A 9-year-old Pennsylvania boy died Thursday, two days after a tree fell on him at a nature camp in Maryland.

Carroll County spokeswoman Vivian Laxton said Noah Asid, of Hanover, Pa., died Thursday morning at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

Noah was among 60 fourth- and fifth-graders participating in a three-day nature camp at the county-run Hashawha Environmental Center north of Westminster. The campers were preparing for a hike Tuesday morning when the tree fell. A 10-year-old girl was also injured, but not seriously.

Ms. Laxton said the boy’s family is asking for privacy.

The county sheriff’s office is still investigating what caused the tree to fall and brought in an arborist to inspect it Wednesday.


Metro announces ridership contest

Riders have a chance to win a $25 Metro SmarTrip card by guessing the number of passengers Metrorail carries on New Year’s Day, Metro announced Thursday.

The first person to guess the correct number of riders, or come the closest without going over, will win.

Entrants can go to Metro’s Web site to enter their guess. One entry is allowed per e-mail address.

The contest closes at midnight on New Year’s Day. The winner will be notified by Jan. 8.

In 2009, 152,303 people rode Metro trains on Jan. 1.



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