- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Tourism rocket makes first flight

MOJAVE | Virgin Galactic’s new space tourism rocket has been taken aloft over the California desert by a mothership aircraft on its first so-called captive-carry test flight.

Virgin Galactic said on its Web site that Monday’s flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port was successful.

The spaceship remained attached to the specially-designed jet-powered mothership throughout the flight.

In the future, the spaceship will be launched from the larger aircraft, fire its rocket and carry passengers on a suborbital thrill ride into space before gliding to a landing — for about $200,000 a ticket.


Trooper arrested on drunk-driving charge

CASTLE ROCK | A Colorado state trooper was arrested Monday on suspicion of driving drunk in uniform while he was behind the wheel of a marked patrol car and carrying a gun, authorities said.

David Dolan, 48, was arrested by Douglas County deputies about 7 a.m. on Colorado 470, a beltway around southwest Denver, the Sheriff’s Department said.

He was being booked on charges of driving under the influence and prohibited use of weapons. Colorado law makes it illegal for anyone to have a firearm while intoxicated.


Lawmakers OK nixing words in state code

BOISE | Lawmakers have pushed forward a bill to eliminate words like “retarded” and “idiot” from state code.

The House approved a measure 68-1 to replace expressions considered offensive with more modern language, such as “intellectually disabled.”

Rexburg Republican Rep. Mack Shirley said the state’s current labels for people with disabilities are disrespectful and need revamping.

Lawmakers who scoured state code starting last summer found 73 laws that include words like “handicapped,” “mentally deficient” and even “lunatic,” in one statute.

The sole nay vote Monday came from Twin Falls Republican Rep. Jim Patrick, who said he doesn’t think the word “handicapped” is insulting.

The measure now heads to the desk of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter for final approval.


Asian carp injunction request refused

CHICAGO | The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dashed the hopes of those who believe immediately closing Chicago-area shipping locks could help prevent invasive Asian carp from infesting the Great Lakes, with justices once again refusing to order that emergency step.

It’s the second time the nation’s highest court rejected a request by Michigan to issue a preliminary injunction shutting the locks in the increasingly desperate battle against the voracious carp, which have migrated north up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers toward the lakes.

Asian carp can weigh 100 pounds and consume up to 40 percent of their body weight daily in plankton, the base of the food chain for Great Lakes fish. Michigan fears that if they reach the lakes, the invaders could lay waste to a multibillion-dollar fishing and boating industry.


Woman gets life for killing, freezing girls

ROCKVILLE | A Maryland woman convicted of killing her two adopted daughters and storing their bodies in a home freezer was sentenced Monday to life without parole.

Renee Bowman, 44, was convicted last month of two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree child abuse. A third adopted daughter survived the abuse.

“You sentenced these two young innocent children in the dawn of their lives to a death chamber, and for you that option is not available,” Montgomery County Circuit Judge Michael J. Algeo told Bowman before handing down the maximum sentence — two consecutive life terms, plus 75 years in prison for the abuse. The crimes are not eligible for the death penalty in Maryland.

Bowman showed no emotion during the hearing.

“I am very sorry for the abuse of the girls,” she told the judge in an even voice. “It haunts me. It haunts me every day.”


Ex-player pleads not guilty in case

NEWARK | A second former Seton Hall basketball player has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an armed robbery in northern New Jersey.

Kelly Whitney’s lawyer entered the plea to robbery, kidnapping aggravated assault and weapons charges Monday in a Newark courtroom. Mr. Whitney appeared via video link from the Essex County jail, where he is being held on $650,000 bail.

Mr. Whitney’s attorney, Ronald Ricci, said his client insists he was not around for an alleged March 15 heist in which prosecutors say eight people were robbed at gunpoint in a South Orange home.

Prosecutors say Mr. Whitney acted as an accomplice with former Seton Hall forward Robert Mitchell, who pleaded not guilty Thursday.

Mr. Mitchell, 23, was kicked off the team March 14 by coach Bobby Gonzalez, who has since been fired.


Jail strip-search lawsuit settled

NEW YORK | Two women who claimed they were forced to have gynecological exams and others strip-searched in city jails have settled a class action lawsuit with the city for $33 million.

The suit was filed on behalf of people arrested on misdemeanor drug and weapons charges and strip-searched at Rikers Island and other jails.

Under the agreement, class members can receive between $1,800 and $2,900 each, depending on how many people respond. The plaintiffs who claimed they were forced into gynecological exams are entitled to $20,000 each for their alleged injury and suffering, according to the decision reached last week and finalized Monday.

The case included people arrested, but not convicted, between July 15, 1999 and Oct. 4, 2007. The court has already ruled that the practice violated the prisoners’ constitutional rights.


First Sikh in decades finishes basic training

SAN ANTONIO | A dentist on Monday became the first adherent of the Sikh faith to graduate from U.S. Army basic training in more than two decades.

Capt. Tejdeep Singh Rattan, 31, attended a graduation ceremony Monday at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He had to get special permission from the Army to keep the beard and turban that his faith requires.

He’s the first Sikh in more than 20 years to be allowed to maintain the beard and turban. Army policy generally requires soldiers to be clean-shaven and to keep their hair short.

Capt. Rattan fought to be allowed to go on active duty. He said he wanted an opportunity to serve his country.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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