National News

Burlington

Rooney misses appeal trial

Brian Rooney, convicted murderer of Michelle Gardner-Quinn, refused to attend his appeals hearing last Wednesday. Because security personnel would not allow him to change out of his prison jumpsuit and into civilian clothing, Rooney decided to stay in jail rather than commute to the Vermont District Court. Since Rooney is already convicted, it is not necessary to allow him to wear street clothes to avoid creating public prejudice, Judge Michael Kupersmith said.

The hearing on Wednesday was the first in a series of appeals against the judge; the defendant is asking for a new trial because Kupersmith would not allow a challenge to the weight of the DNA forensic evidence that proved Rooney’s contact with Gardner-Quinn.

Colchester

Native American artifacts found in Colchester

Members of the Vermont Archeological Society – including Charles Knight – an anthropology professor at UVM, are exploring a Colchester site that is said to contain Native American artifacts. The site, called Severance Corners, was originally planned to hold new housing developments. Stone fragments of hunting tools thought to be used up to 6,000 years ago have already been discovered at the site.

Before the site can be developed, Vermont’s land-use law states that an archeological review must be conducted so that cultural artifacts are not destroyed. The items found at Severance Corners are to be cleaned and stored in South Burlington at the state’s repository.

Louisiana

Hurricaine strikes New Orleans

As of last Tuesday, almost 80,000 households were without power as a result of Hurricane Gustav’s havoc in Louisiana. Gov. Bobby Jindal said that residents of Covington, a city north of New Orleans, would be allowed to return home in stages beginning on Thursday, but his main focus was to restore power in hospitals and fire departments first, and to repair the sewage system.

On Wednesday, Mayor C. Ray Nagin allowed residents to return to their homes, although thousands were without power. The storm was, overall, a successful test of the city’s hurricane protection system; only 10 deaths have been reported as a result of Gustav.

California

Damaged power lines blamed for wildfire

A recent report has found that damaged power lines are to blame for the wildfires that occurred in southern California last year. San Diego Gas & Electric and Cox Communications are the two companies that could potentially face financial penalties as a result. The California Public Utilities Commission, along with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, agree that a Cox line came in contact with a San Diego Gas & Electric conductor, causing at least one of the fires. Both companies feel that this conclusion is faulty and suggest that fierce winds, instead of poor maintenance, were the real cause.