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Jockstrip: The world as we know it

By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International   |   June 18, 2002 at 4:00 AM   |   Comments

THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND

Thirty-eight-year-old Colorado forestry technician Terry Barton is charged with starting a forest fire, damaging federal property and making false statements to federal officials, said William Leone, a federal prosecutor. She was held without bail.

The charges could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years, officials said.

Barton allegedly started the largest wildfire in the state's history. It burned 103,000 acres with a campfire while on duty June 8 in an area where campfires were permitted.

"This is one of the hardest announcements that I have had to make in my career," said Rick Cables, who heads the Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Region.

Barton had been patrolling the Pike National Forest to ensure no fires were started. She admitted to starting the fire to burn an estranged husband's letter and then trying to put it out but couldn't, investigators said.

Nearly 10,000 houses have been threatened and a mandatory evacuation was still in effect for 5,430 residents.

(Thanks to UPI's Hil Anderson in Los Angeles.)


NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS

Australian scientists say they are the first in the world to grow an entire organ from stem cells, according to the Web site Ananova.com.

They have grown a fully-functioning thymus, which is important to the immune system from cells often called the building blocks of the human body because they can grow into any type of cell. The thymus is found near the heart and becomes dormant after the age of puberty but the organ, along with bone marrow, is the engine room of the immune system.

The research was carried out at Monash Medical School in Melbourne, Australia using mouse cells. Human implantation trials could begin within two years.

"When I realized what we had finally done after 15 years of research, I went weak at the knees," said Professor Richard Boyd, who oversaw the study.

He thinks the discovery will be an important part of a cure for diseases including cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

It's the key to good health because without it, the body has no protection against any viruses, Boyd said.

The study is published in the journal Nature Immunology


TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING

An armed man screaming, "White people are going to burn tonight!" shot three people at a trendy East Village bar and doused patrons with kerosene before he was overpowered by two women, the New York Daily News reports.

Thirty-four-year-old Steven Johnson of Brooklyn, was on a suicide mission when he burst into Bar Veloce with guns blazing and hate spewing from his mouth, said New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

"I wanted to kill as many white people as I could," Johnson told detectives after the 40-minute siege, which left Johnson and three victims with bullet wounds.

Patrons said that after he poured kerosene on them, Johnson yelled, "Everyone's wearing gas shirts now!"

"Do you want it hot?" Johnson asked terrified hostages as he began flicking a barbecue lighter.

Police said Johnson's rampage might have been sparked by his battle with AIDS and the March 4 death of his wife, who also had the disease. Before leaving home, Johnson wrote a suicide note to his 10-year-old son and scrawled on the wall of his Williamsburg apartment: "Tell the boys in blue I won't go easy," police said.

Kelly said Johnson was carrying three guns, a 30-inch samurai sword, 153 rounds of ammunition, a box-cutter, 100 plastic handcuffs, a kerosene-filled bottle and the lighter.

A 5-foot-4 blond woman jumped on Johnson's back and another hostage, Annie Hubbard, of Manhattan helped tackle him.


AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY

When Ron Skeen took a break from his job at the Heil Manufacturing Co., in Athens, Tenn., got a Coca-Cola from a vending machine, and dug his change out of the coin return, he got more than he bargained for.

"It looked like a nickel, but it was different," says Skeen.

The black-tinged coin had an eagle on one side, so he cleaned it up and discovered a 1845 pre-Civil War $5 Golden Eagle coin, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports.

Skeen found a similar coin for sale one the Internet, but one year older. Its price is about $11,300.

The vending machine is a part of a "Market Central" vending center at Heil owned and operated by RE Services-Canteen of Chattanooga, Tenn.

Skeen, a 14-year employee at Heil who works on the fabricating floor, says he will have the coin appraised but hasn't decided whether to sell it or keep it as a souvenir.

Officials of the vending machine company said the coin was one of many that are put in the machines for change, but they had no idea where it came from.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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