- - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ALASKA

Crane collapses into Fairbanks river

FAIRBANKS | A huge crane being used on a bridge replacement project in downtown Fairbanks has fallen down and crashed into the Chena River.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, but the crane operator appeared shaken up.

Witnesses tell the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner they heard a loud crashing noise just before 11 a.m. as the crane fell on its side. The base of the crane was originally on the north side of the river.

The News-Miner reports after it fell, the crane extended across the river with its tip on the south shore.

CALIFORNIA

Bad-writing contest announces ‘winner’

SAN JOSE | An unseemly sentence that compares a kiss to the union of a thirsty gerbil and a giant water bottle has won the top prize in an annual bad-writing contest.

San Jose State University said Tuesday that Molly Ringle of Seattle was the grand prize winner of the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which the university has sponsored since 1982.

In her winning entry, Ms. Ringle wrote: “For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss - a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.”

The literary competition honors the memory of 19th-century English writer Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who famously opened his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford,” with the much-quoted, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Entrants are asked to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels, with winners chosen in several categories.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Three acquitted in stabbing death

Three romantically linked gay men who lived in a posh D.C. neighborhood were acquitted Tuesday on charges of misleading police in the investigation of a mysterious stabbing death at the men’s town house in 2006.

D.C. Superior Judge Lynn Leibovitz said despite “suspicious and even damning circumstances,” prosecutors did not prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt after a five-week trial.

Joseph Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky had been charged with obstructing justice and conspiracy after 32-year-old lawyer Robert Wone of Oakton, Va., was fatally stabbed in a guest room at their home.

The three defendants lived together as a self-described family in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. They insisted the stabbing was committed by an intruder, but there were no signs of struggle or forced entry. Prosecutors introduced the three men’s romantic relationship as evidence that they loved one another enough to lie to police.

Judge Leibovitz read her 35-page order to a packed courtroom as the defendants looked on with little expression. She said it was very probable the government’s theory that all or some of the men withheld helpful information was correct, but she couldn’t find the men guilty.

Mr. Wone was by all accounts happily married to a woman. Prosecutors believe he was incapacitated and sexually assaulted before he was killed.

GEORGIA

Kindle classes told to aid blind

ATLANTA | Federal officials are requiring colleges that use Kindles and other electronic book readers in the classroom to make sure the gadgets have accommodations for blind and vision-impaired students.

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education sent a joint letter to college and university presidents Tuesday instructing them to find alternatives for blind students if the devices are required in the classroom.

Forcing a blind student to use an e-book reader that isn’t set up for vision impairment is a violation of federal law.

The letter comes after four universities testing Amazon’s Kindle in the classroom struck a deal with the Justice Department and agreed to shelve the electronic book readers until they are fully functional for blind students.

NEW YORK

Suspect admits JFK airport plot

NEW YORK | One of four Muslim men accused of plotting to kill thousands and cause an economic catastrophe by blowing up John F. Kennedy International Airport pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Tuesday, the day before his federal trial was to begin.

In heavily accented English and sometimes through tears, Abdel Nur of Guyana admitted that he provided material support of terrorists, a charge that was not in the original indictment against him. The lesser charge spares him a possible life sentence. Instead, he now faces up to 15 years in prison.

Nur admitted he told co-defendants Kareem Ibrahim, Abdul Kadir and Russell Defreitas that he would provide them with protection and guidance on a trip to Trinidad and Tobago in May 2007 to buy supplies.

The four had been charged with conspiracy. A trial for Mr. Kadir and Mr. Defreitas is scheduled to begin Wednesday. Mr. Ibrahim’s case was severed after he went on a hunger strike in prison and became ill. It was unclear when he would be tried.

OKLAHOMA

Inmates to wear hot pink jumpsuits

MANGUM | A southwestern Oklahoma sheriff is dressing county inmates in hot pink jumpsuits as a deterrent to crime and to make them easier to spot.

Greer County Sheriff Devin Huckabay says the new suits replace the faded and tattered orange jumpsuits worn until now.

Sheriff Huckabay says male inmates “don’t like wearing them” and that the snazzy jumpsuits therefore are an incentive to not break the law and wind up in jail.

He says the prisoners wearing pink are also “hard to miss” and so can be easily managed when working on community projects or being transferred.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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