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June 8, 2006
Photo: Lining up for graduation practice in Lincoln
Journal photo / Kathy Borchers
Senior Erin Macro chats with her classmates as they prepare to line up for graduation practice in the auditorium of Lincoln High School this morning. The Class of 2006 graduates tomorrow. Several area schools are holding graduation ceremonies today and tonight, as the commencement season reaches its peak. Find full coverage of area graduations, send an e-card and upload your graduation photos here: http://projo.com/extra/graduation/
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 4:35 PM
Update: Carcieri loses latest bid to oust Beacon board members
PROVIDENCE -- Governor Carcieri today suffered another setback in his effort to remove two members of Beacon Mutual Insurance Co.’s board before their terms expire in November.
The state Supreme Court this morning issued an order denying the governor’s request to stay a lower court ruling which prohibits him from removing Beacon board members George Nee and Henry Boeninger.
The Supreme Court also denied the governor’s request to provide a speedy, or "expedited’’ hearing on the governor’s appeal of the Superior Court’s May 23 ruling.
The decision means that Carcieri’s appeal will not get a hearing in the Supreme Court until the justices reconvene in late September. And there is no guarantee that the hearing would be completed before Nee and Boeniger’s terms on the Beacon board are due to expire.
"This simply was a decision by the Supreme Court to not give special treatment to this case,’’ Jeff Neal, the governor’s spokesman, said this afternoon. "They in no way ruled on the merits of our appeal.’’
The governor had not yet had a chance to discuss the ruling with his legal staff, said Neal, to decide what the next step is.
-- Journal staff writer Lynn Arditi
Carcieri had asked Nee and Boeniger to resign, for cause, or be terminated, in the wake of disclosures of mismanagement at the state's largest worker's compensation insurer.
The two men refused and filed suit in Superior Court, saying the governor was discriminating against them because of their union affiliations. Nee is the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO; Boeniger is the government relations officer of the National Education Association in Rhode Island, a teachers’ union.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 3:53 PM
Dunkin' Donuts unveils expansion plans
CANTON, Mass. -- Executives at Dunkin’ Donuts today unveiled plans for expanding the chain to 15,000 stores during the next 10 years, nearly tripling the number it has now.
The Canton, Mass., company wants to replicate its New England “fortress markets” throughout the eastern United States by appealing to on-the-go, middle-income Americans and young consumers with a new menu of morning staples and afternoon treats.
More to come tomorrow on projo.com and in The Journal ...
-- Journal business writer Paul Grimaldi
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 3:48 PM
Update: Stabbing victim testifies in Carpio case / Photos
Journal photo / Kris Craig
Superior Court Judge Robert D. Krause and a sheriff watch as jurors leave a bus to head into the Providence police headquarters today to look over the scene of the murder of Det. Sgt. James L. Allen last year.
PROVIDENCE – The elderly woman whose stabbing led to the police questioning Esteban Carpio was the first prosecution witness to take the stand this afternoon on the opening day of Carpio's trial in the slaying of a city detective.
Madeline Gatta, now 85, recounted how a man -- his hat pulled down and jacket covering his mouth -- approached her outside her Providence home.
"As he got closer, I started to yell, 'help me, help me,' "she said. "The next thing I know, I felt like somebody hit me in the back. Then he shoved me down on the ground."
The man did not, however, take a purse she was carrying, a point that Carpio's defense emphasized on cross-examination.
Gatta's appearance followed opening statements by the defense and prosecution in the high-profile trial and a visit by jurors to the city's Public Safety Complex, where Det. Sgt. James L. Allen was shot to death while questioning Carpio about the stabbing.
-- With reports from projo.com staff writer Steve Peoples
Journal photo / Andy Dickerman
Esteban Carpio sits between his lawyers, Kirsten M. Wenge and Robert L. Sheketoff, as his trial started this morning with opening statements from the defense and prosecution.
In a 45-minute presentation this morning, the prosecution laid out the events, step by step, leading to Allen's death in a third-floor office in April 2005.
In contrast, the defense took 10 minutes before the jury, acknowledging that the evidence would be overwhelming against Carpio. But, lawyer Robert L. Sheketoff said, "The issue is – is he a seriously mentally ill person or not? That's the issue."
The courtroom was packed for the opening day of the trial. Carpio was brought in with handcuffs in front of him, wearing a dress shirt. In some previous court sessions, he had been heavily restrained and appeared by videoconference.
Among those in court today were state Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch and Allen's widow, Marguerite Allen.
Carpio, 27, faces four charges, including murder, in the death of the 50-year-old Allen and Gatta's stabbing. He is accused of wresting away the detective's gun during questioning about the stabbing at police headquarters and then shooting him twice.
For more background, read today's Journal story.
-- With reports from projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 3:06 PM
Court rules on confiscated-property case
PROVIDENCE -- A city police officer can be convicted of embezzling a confiscated minibike even though the officer discarded it, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled today.
The decision means that state officials can face criminal charges for improperly discarding seized property even if the officials don't directly profit from it.
Providence Officer John J. Lough filed the appeal after he was convicted in May 2004 of embezzlement and fraudulent conversion for throwing away a $350 minibike seized from a child three years ago.
Lough took the bike, which had a scratched-out serial number, after a rookie officer seized it because he suspected it was stolen, the ruling said. Police officers told the young driver he could get the bike back if he showed proof of ownership at police headquarters.
Instead of driving the minibike back to the police station, Lough left it behind a trash bin after he got into a traffic accident.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Kate Bramson at 2:10 PM
Flood warning continues for Pawtuxet and Blackstone
The National Weather Service continues its flood warnings for the Pawtuxet River at Cranston and the Blackstone River at Woonsocket, which are both above flood stage.
The Pawtuxet River is more than three feet above flood stage and expected to continue rising before it crests and begins falling tonight.
"The river itself is well above flood stage, so we're experiencing moderate flooding in the area," said Neal Strauss, a meteorologist for the weather service.
The river reaches flood stage at 9 feet. It was at 12.3 feet this morning and should rise to 12.6 before it begins falling, according to the weather service.
In Providence early this afternoon, the Woonasquatucket had retreated back within its banks from Olneyville to the Providence Place Mall. The Moshassuck was not near flood stage.
The weather service said the Pawtuxet's rise could force evacuations near the river in Warwick and Cranston, but Armand Randolph, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, said he hadn't heard of any evacuations today.
Minor flooding has already occurred and is expected to continue along the Blackstone River, according to the weather service.
The river's flood stage is 9 feet. At 10 a.m. today, it had reached 9.5 feet, but the river is falling.
But more rain is on the way tomorrow, Strauss said.
Check the weather service's river's report.
For more weather information and updates, check projo.com/weather.
Posted by Jack Perry at 1:40 PM
Reed: Al-Zarqawi's death "good news," but problems persist
WASHINGTON -- The killing of al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is "a huge symbolic setback'' for the insurgency in Iraq, Sen. Jack Reed said this morning, but he warned U.S. leaders against overplaying a victory that won't necessarily boost prospects for the creation of a stable Iraqi democracy.
"It's good news" that U.S. bombers killed al-Zarqawi after months of applying the "most intense pressure" that modern technology could muster against the key leader of the foreign insurgents who have sowed violence in Iraq since soon after the U.S. invasion, Reed said. "Anytime you can take out someone who is a ruthless and homicidal terrorist, that's progress."
But al-Zarqawi's death "represents more of a tactical success than a strategic one," said Reed, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee whose first career was as an Army airborne officer.
-- John Mulligan, Journal Washington Bureau
For one thing, Reed said, al-Zarqawi's effectiveness as a leader has been reduced for some months by the pressure of the manhunt, so his death may not make for a major loss of "operational" capacity by the small terrorist cells that are likely to continue their campaign of car bombings and other violence.
Reed noted, moreover, that the small bands of foreign terrorists embodied by al-Qaida constitute only one part of the multi-faceted insurgency against the struggling Iraqi government. He noted that a major force in the insurgency springs from the Sunni Muslims bloc that ruled Iraq for generations. Some of its members are making war against a central government - and the American support behind it.
In addition, there is the continuing and sometimes violent struggle for ascendancy among the three major population groups that have an interest in the new regime - Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims and ethnic Kurds, Reed said. There remains a serious threat that these competing groups will splinter into full-fledged civil war, Reed said.
Still, al-Zarqawi's death can be of significant help to the cause of a stable Iraq, depending on "how it is handled," Reed said. One strong first step toward that end was that President Bush and other U.S. officials took a back seat to Iraq's prime minister in announcing the successful operation to kill al-Zarqawi, Reed said.
U.S. officials should continue that restraint, Reed said, recalling "how much of the rhetoric going back over several years that I think this administration has come to regret."
Reed pointed, for example, to the official euphoria that greeted the capture of Saddam Hussein; within weeks it gave way to the reality of a depening insurgent crisis, he recalled.
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:02 AM
Most power has been restored
Down from a peak of nearly 8,000, National Grid this morning reports just two homes in Rhode Island and 173 households in Massachusetts remain without power.
National Grid spokeswoman Elise Del Barone said 10 of those Massachusetts homes are in Seekonk. The rest are scattered around its network in the state.
At 9 a.m., the two Rhode Island homes were in Bristol and Central Falls.
The worst of it was at 2 p.m. yesterday when about 6,000 Massachusetts households and 1,900 Rhode Island households were without power, Del Barone said. Throughout yesterday and last night, though, more than those peak numbers actually lost power.
By 9:30 p.m. last night, just 1,400 Massachusetts homes and 66 in Rhode Island still had no power. Technicians worked through the night to pull those numbers down, Del Barone said. Most of the outages were caused by downed tree branches on wires, she said.
In Rhode Island, Bristol was hit the worst, Del Barone said. At one time, 1,896 homes were without power there. In Johnston, 66 households lost power.
National Grid provides electricity to 3.3 million customers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and upstate New York, Del Barone said.
-- projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson
Posted by Kate Bramson at 9:18 AM
Update: Two-alarm fire in Providence early this morning
PROVIDENCE – Firefighters got a two-alarm fire early this morning at 15-17 Harvard Ave. under control in a little over two hours, Lt. William Moise said.
The fire in the three-story structure, which was not occupied, was reported at 3:42 a.m. and was under control by 5:56 a.m., he said.
The department does not know yet how the fire started, Moise said. An investigation continues.
In the thick of the fire, one firefighter got separated from his crew, The firefighter called a May Day alert, Asst. Fire Chief Mark S. Pare Pare said.
The crew battling thefire then conducted a roll call and the firefighter found his way back to the group, Pare said.
The Cranston Fire Department covered the Broad Street station as backup after those Providence firefighters were called out on the first alarm for this morning's fire, Moise said.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 8:30 AM