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April 7, 2008
Tonight: One-man comedy a twist on a classic
Catch a one-man comedy, Moliere Than Thou, that uses parts of the 17th-century playwright's classics tonight at 8.
The performance will be at Roger Williams University's Performing Arts Center, One Old Ferry Road, Bristol.
Timothy Mooney wrote the show and performs in it. The performance is free and open to the public. Call (401) 254-3626.
For more of what's going on, visit projo.com's Lifebeat page and calendar.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 7:00 PM
Consumer electronics fraud case on way to grand jury
PROVIDENCE -- A suspect in an Internet fraud scheme that bilked customers of $13 million waived his right to a preliminary hearing this afternoon, clearing the way for the case to be presented to a federal grand jury.
The suspect, 33-year-old David Whitaker, faces federal fraud charges in connection with his actions as one of the founders of Mixitforme.com, a Providence Internet company that sold consumer electronics.
Whitaker was arrested March 20 at Los Angeles International Airport by U.S. Secret Service agents and other federal authorities after he disembarked from a flight originating in Mexico. He had been living in Acapulco until Mexican authorities expelled him. He was taken to Rhode Island last week by federal authorities.
In a hearing this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond in U.S. District Court, Whitaker waived his right to challenge whether federal authorities have enough evidence to charge him in the case. Whitaker faces 10 fraud charges, each of which holds a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
Lawyers from the U.S. Attorney's Office now have 30 days to present their case to a grand jury, which could choose to hand up an indictment against Whitaker.
Whitaker was returned to the federal Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls this afternoon to await the outcome of the grand jury proceedings.
-- Journal staff writer Paul Grimaldi
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:56 PM
Update: Scalia: Court confirmation process has changed
Journal photo / Mary Murphy
Justice Antonin Scalia as he spoke today at Roger Williams University School of Law.
BRISTOL -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recalled that when he was nominated for the high court 22 years ago, the Senate confirmed him by a vote of 98 to 0.
But “I couldn’t get 60 votes today,” Scalia told a Roger Williams University School of Law audience today.
Scalia, a core member of the court’s conservative wing, made that point to illustrate how much the confirmation process has changed and to bolster his argument for originalism — the theory that the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted according to the intent of those who drafted and adopted it.
“Once upon a time,” Scalia said, justices were chosen on the basis of whether the nominees had the required legal skills, honesty and judicial temperament.
Those are still considered good qualities, but now that originalism is being elbowed aside by the idea of a “living constitution,” Scalia said: “The most important thing is whether this person will write the new constitution that you like.”
As a result, Scalia said, “You have confirmation hearings where they say: ‘Judge So-and-So, do you think there is a right to’ — you pick it, X,YZ, whatever you hate or love — ‘You think there’s a right to that? You don’t? Well, I think it’s there and my constituents think it’s there, and I’m certainly not going to put you on the court.' ”
“It’s crazy,” Scalia said. “It’s like having a mini-constitutional convention every time you select a new justice.”
-- Journal staff writer Edward Fitzpatrick
Scalia’s visit was arranged through Ronald A. Cass, a member of the Roger Williams University law school’s board of directors and a former Boston University law school dean who rallied support for the nominations of Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito Jr.
The visit is part of the law school’s “Supreme Semester,” which gave students a chance to meet Roberts when he visited Rhode Island on Feb. 12 and a chance to meet Alito in Washington, D.C., on April 14.
Scalia answered questions from law students, but reporters were not allowed to ask questions or interview Scalia. Members of the media were given a list of restrictions, including a ban on video recording by television stations. Reporters were allowed to bring tape recorders “for note-taking only, not for broadcast of any type.”
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:50 PM
Silva won't take DMV chief's post after all
About 2 1/2 months after it was announced he was chosen for the post, Anthony J. Silva of Cumberland has decided not to become the head of state Division of Motor Vehicles. The search for a new DMV chief resumes.
Gary Sasse, the state Department of Revenue director, announced this evening "with deep regret" that Silva declined the job, which has a new title of associate director of state revenue services.
“I understand that Mr. Silva has personal and family reasons for declining to take the post,” Sasse said in the statement. “While I am disappointed, I am certain that we will soon have a new associate director in place.”
The position will include the duties that were done by former DMV Administrator Ted Dolan, who recently retired. The new title results from the DMV moving from under the Department of Administration to the Department of Revenue.
Silva was director of the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy and a former Cumberland police chief. In late January, Sasse announce that Silva had been chosen to head up the DMV.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:11 PM
Police seize 43 pounds of pot, machine gun in Johnston
JOHNSTON — A four-month undercover police investigation brought Providence and Johnston police detectives to a Morgan Avenue home where they found more than 43 pounds of marijuana, cocaine and an automatic machine gun loaded with 17 rounds, the police said today.
“This is quite unique,” said Johnston Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini. “You don’t get guns like that. It was in the hands of a drug dealer.”
“If someone decided to use that machine gun against us, we were absolutely outgunned at the scene,” Tamburini added.
A key figure in the multi-jurisdictional probe, Christopher J. Guillemette, was not at 119B Morgan Ave. when the team of police officers arrived at the house early Friday evening, and he remained at large today, said Johnston Deputy Police Gary W. Maddocks Jr.
At the time, Guillemette’s live-in girlfriend, 22-year-old Elisha Asselin, was trying to get into a car in the driveway, Maddocks said. The police saw her handling a plastic bag with $5,000 cash inside, he said.
A search of the house turned up three scales and other signs of narcotics trafficking, Maddocks said.
Then, Johnston’s search dog, Cargo, a German shepherd, sniffed narcotics in a storage container toward the front of the property.
The police recovered large blocks of marijuana and a clear plastic bag holding 39 grams of cocaine, Maddocks said.
They found the machine gun in a bag. It was loaded with a 17-round magazine. The gun, a 9mm, appears to be a version of the British Sten gun, an illegal submachine gun, Maddocks said.
Correction: A previous version of this item misspelled Guillemette.
-- Journal staff writer Mark Reynolds
Asselin was charged with manufacturing, possession and delivery of marijuana, manufacturing, possession and delivery of cocaine, controlled substance conspiracy, carrying dangerous weapons and other violations.
She was held without bail over the weekend at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston, pending her arraignment today in District Court.
Guillemette has already been convicted of various cocaine and marijuana offenses. In 2000, he received a 15-year suspended prison sentence with 2½ years to serve, according to the search warrant application.
In 2004, he was caught with cocaine during another raid in North Providence, according to Providence Police Lt. Tom Verdi.
He was sentenced again and served another term at the Adult Correctional Institution and then in home confinement prior to his release in March of 2007.
Providence and Johnston undercover detectives worked together on the case since late December, and the Morgan Avenue house had been under surveillance, said Tamburini, who emphasized that Providence police deserve credit for an “impressive investigation.”
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 5:53 PM
Photo: Recognizing how Kids Count
Journal photo / Bill Murphy
William Bentley, president and CEO of Voices for America's Children, heads to the podium to deliver the keynote remarks this morning at the annual Rhode Island Kids Count Breakfast, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick. Kids Count released its annual report on the well-being of the state's children at the event. Read a related story on concerns from this morning's Journal.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 5:27 PM
Truck swerves, slides into house, dumps mulch
WARREN -- An 18-wheeler truck filled with mulch slid on its side and into a four-family house on Kickemuit Road after it was forced to swerve this afternoon.
Fire Department Chief Alexander Galinelli said the male driver, whom he did not name, was traveling north on Metacom Avenue shortly after 1 p.m. As he approached the sharp left turn for Kickemuit Road, an automobile in front of him was cut off and that driver had to swerve to avoid an accident.
The truck driver had to swerve as well, but the momentum of the dump truck caused it to tip over on its side. A portion of the truck and its cargo, yards of mulch, glided into the foundation of 104 Kickemuit Road, where four families live. Its diesel fuel also began to spew onto the road.
A telephone pole was knocked over enough to cut power to most of the surrounding area. By nearly 4 p.m. the electric company was still working to restore the neighborhood’s power.
Galinelli said the town, state Department of Public Works and other agencies immediately responded. Dirt was poured to solidify the diesel fuel before it went into the nearby street gutters.
Two tow trucks were brought in to take the truck away. Yet Galinelli said moving the truck had to be a slow process. “We just can’t lift it up because part of it is in the house,” he said. “We have to slide it out first and then pick it up.”
-- Journal staff writer Alisha A. Pina
The four families will have to find alternate housing until they can return home. The chief could not estimate the house’s damage.
He did not know how fast the truck driver or other involved motorists were going; the posted speed is 25 mph.
Right after the turn onto Kickemuit Road (which then turns into Market Street), there is a fork in the two-lane, one way street that mandates drivers to go left back towards Bristol and Newport or right towards Swansea and on ramps to Interstate 195.
Galinelli confirmed motorists often come around the curve and realize they are in the wrong lane and either stop completely until they can come over or cut off another vehicle in a near accident.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:16 PM
Rape suspect who fled hospital caught in Westport
A rape suspect who escaped from a New Bedford, Mass., hospital last week was captured this afternoon in Westport, Mass.
Anthony Flye, 38, was arraigned this afternoon in New Bedford District Court on a single count of escape. He was ordered held on $1 million cash bail by Judge Bernadette Sabra, according to an updated advisory from Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter's office. Flye is already being held without bail on Superior Court cases and would not be released even if he made the $1 million bail.
Flye had slipped out af a bathroom at the hospital several days ago, and the Bristol County sheriff has said a court officer guarding Flye did not immediately report the escape, the Associated Press has reported.
The sheriff's office did not learn of it until two corrections officers arrived at the hospital at least one hour later.
Flye faces charges of child rape, indecent assault and battery on a disabled person and incest.
-- projo.com staff and Associated Press reports
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:46 PM
Kerry, Reed: Iraq war weakening other anti-terror efforts
WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., said today that the Bush administration's focus on Iraq was preventing American forces from putting up a stronger fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"This is making us weaker and less effective in the real war on terror," said Kerry, who made a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan in February. "It is creating a security gap, an enormous security gap that threatens the ability of the United States to carry out its larger security objectives."
Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said the Taliban is making a resurgence in Afghanistan. Reed said the recent elections in Pakistan could pose dangerous new challenges in the region for America.
"Progress there is slipping away," said Reed, a former Army Ranger who has made several trips to Iraq. "You have a new political dynamic in Pakistan that may result in Al Qaeda leadership digging deeper in and being less reachable by our forces."
Debate over Bush's Iraq strategy is expected to intensify this week as Congress hears from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker. The American death toll in the unpopular, 5-year-old war has passed 4,000 lives while the price tag is nearly $500 billion.
Petraeus is expected to offer his proposal for a pause in troop cuts after July when the last of the five additional brigades ordered to Iraq last year as part of a buildup of U.S. forces have come home. He also could say how many more troops could be withdrawn this year, as long as conditions in Iraq remain stable.
Petraeus and Crocker are expected to tout political advancements by the Iraqis, although they will note that much more needs to be done.
The comments by Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Reed, an Armed Services panel member, came in a telephone conference call with reporters. Crocker and Petraeus will appear tomorrow before the two panels.
-- The Associated Press
The hearings on Capitol Hill come in the wake of violence that erupted late last month as U.S.-trained Iraqi forces attempted to oust Shiite militias from Basra in southern Iraq.
"The last days have brought home a bitter reminder of the limits of the surge and the military components of this to deal with the realities of what's happening in Iraq," Kerry said.
Reed said Iraqis must play a greater role to insure political stability and security in their country. He opposed Bush's troop buildup, which began last year.
"It comes down to the bottom line of we need a strategy that will clearly shift the burden to the Iraqis," Reed said.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:57 PM
R.I. gets $1.8M from EPA for brownfield cleanup
Rhode Island is raking in $1.8 million in federal grants to help clean up contaminated former industrial and commercial locations, known as brownfields, that could then be redeveloped.
Nine grants, announced this afternoon, for assessment and cleanup are going to:
* Providence Community Health Centers: Two grants totaling $400,000
* Middletown: $200,000
* Woonsocket: Three grants totaling $600,000
* Richmond: $200,000
* State Department of Environmental Management: Two grants totaling $400,000
The five Rhode Island communities/agencies getting Brownfields moneys were picked from nearly 100 New England applicants.
The idea behind the EPA's brownfields program money is to transform "abandoned and blighted properties into community assets," an EPA news release says. Projects are selected in a competitive national competition. Of the $74 million of Brownfields grants nationwide announced today, nearly $10 million are in New England states. Brownfields are places where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may need to overcome the presence or potential presence of pollutants.
The EPA says Brownfields projects nationally have turned industrial waterfronts to riverfront parks, rail corridors to recreational trails, landfills to golf courses and gas stations into housing.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 2:59 PM
DCYF director: Executive order creates climate of fear
The director of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families has become the first high-level member of the Carcieri administration to speak out against the governor's plans regarding illegation immigration.
Patricia Martinez, a Governor Carcieri appointee and former head of the Hispanic advocacy organization Progresso Latino, said today that the governor’s executive order, aimed at recognizing and reporting illegal immigrants, and reaction to it have created a climate of fear.
Martinez made the remarks in an interview with a Journal reporter following this morning’s annual Kids Count breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick.
“I think the executive order along with what has happened in the media has really created an environment that is unfortunate. Whether it was the purpose or not, you talk to people in church, you talk to people in the supermarket, you go to the little hair salons. People are afraid,” she said.
Audio: Listen to a clip from today's interview with Martinez (MP3) .
On March 27, Carcieri signed a six-point executive order giving an array of state government agencies the ability to address illegal immigration. Read the order here.
Since then, several advocacy groups, religious groups and local politicians have criticized the move, saying it could encourage racial profiling, and that it targeted an already vulnerable group in the state.
On Friday, Carceiri spokesman Jeff Neal said he believed most Rhode Islanders and most Americans would agree with most of the executive order’s provisions.
-- With reports from Steve Peoples, Journal State House bureau
Your turn: What do you think of the specific provisions of the governor’s executive order?
“Does anyone really think that state government should knowingly hire illegal immigrants as state employees? Does anyone really think that when the State Police pull a car over for speeding and determine that the driver is an illegal immigrant, they should turn a blind eye and instead bid him or her a good day? Does anyone really think that state prison officials should knowingly release illegal immigrants who have committed crimes back into the community without at least notifying federal immigration authorities first?”
These are some of the provisions listed in the order, although how they will be implemented have not yet been made public.
Martinez said today that it is not only “undocumented” immigrants who are worried; people are afraid of how the policies will be implemented, regardless of their legal status.
“… It’s just because you are going to be stopped just because you look different, just because you have an accent,” she said. “Just because now it has created this hatred.”
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 2:46 PM
Heads up, motorists: It's work zone safety week
Today marks the beginning of National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week. Haven’t heard of it? Ask Angelo Baldinelli and Chester De Witt.
Last December, the two had just finished pothole work along Route 195 for the state’s Department of Transportation. They climbed into their truck to leave, but before they fastened their safety belts, they were rear-ended.
According to RIDOT, a driver on the highway had driven past another DOT truck, and cut left to accelerate past it. That’s when the driver struck Baldinelli and De Witt’s truck, lifting it on two wheels and into a Jersey barrier.
“It happened so fast,” De Witt said in a statement. “All I had time to do was turn the wheel and look in the mirror before the impact.”
De Witt and Baldinelli are sharing their story to bring attention to National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, which aims to educate drivers about safe driving habits in work zones so that such an accident doesn’t happen again.
According to DOT, there are more than 1,000 a year in work zones across the country.
“Driver distraction, careless driving habits, and excessive speeds in work zones can be a deadly combination,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said in a statement.
“Whenever motorists see signs, cones and flashing lights marking a work zone, they should immediately reduce speed and refocus their attention to the situation in front of them. Literally, lives are at stake in those situations.”
RIDOT has the following tips to stay safe in work zones:
Slow down: Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes.
Read the signs: Signage and flashing arrows are used to guide you and other drivers to move safely through the work zone.
Don’t engage in distracting activities: Dedicate your full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using a cell phone while driving in a work zone.
Merge as soon as possible: Don’t drive right up to the lane closure and then try merging in.
Expect delays: Leave early so you can reach your destination on time.
Be patient and stay calm: Remember that work zones are not established to personally inconvenience you.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 2:41 PM
PBS 'Frontline' editor at Bryant tonight
Editing and producing documentaries can be touchy business, especially when the topics are controversial or politically charged.
Steve Audette, the award-winning senior editor of the PBS series “Frontline,” is coming to Bryant University today to speak with students about the process.
He’ll discuss the creative process as well as the practical aspects of editing and working with a producer in the context of “Bush’s War,” Audette’s latest work, a 5-hour documentary.
Audette’s presentation, sponsored by the university’s department of communications, is set to begin at 7 p.m. on campus, at the Stepan Grand Hall, Bello Center.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 2:13 PM
N.Y. Times columnist to give Earth Day address
PROVIDENCE -- Thomas L. Friedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist, will speak at Brown University on April 22 -- Earth Day.
His free and open-to-the-public Earth Day speech will kick off at 6 p.m. in the Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 101. It's sponsored by Brown¹s Environmental Change Initiative as part of a spring speaker series titled "Going Green, Globally: Scientific, Economic and Political Perspectives."
"Moving nimbly between politics, economics, history, culture and science, Tom Friedman demonstrates a tremendous intellectual agility in his columns and books," Osvaldo Sala, a biology professor and Environmental Change Initiative director, said in the statement. "The Environmental Change Initiative is proud to host his visit and we look forward to a challenging and enlightening conversation."
Friedman will talk about economic and foreign policy implications of "green technology," the new release says.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 2:09 PM
Coventry mother-daughter accused of counterfeiting
A Coventry woman and her adult daughter have been charged in an alleged scheme linked to Nigerian Internet contacts, in which authorities allege the mother has sent out more than $1 million worth of counterfeit cashier checks over the past four weeks.
State police said today that Nancy Alexander, 66, of 2404 Victory Highway met two people over the Internet, and they conspired to defraud people by making counterfeit bank checks and money orders. Alexander was given people's names and addresses, and amounts she was to make the checks payable for.
According to authorities, Alexander was promised $600 a month to act as the scheme's middle man, by putting checks/money orders in envelopes, attaching mailing labels provided to her, and mailing them.
Alexander has been charged with counterfeiting, conspiracy to commit the act of counterfeiting and possession of a counterfeiting device or implement.
Daughter Debra Mahoney, 44, has been charged with counterfeiting and conspiracy to commit the act of counterfeiting. The news release did not detail the allegations against Mahoney.
A state police news conference on the case is slated for 1:30 p.m. today. Investigation continues into the scope of the alleged operation.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
During the week of March 30, members of the state police intelligence unit got information from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Providence office that a package bearing more than $170,000 of counterfeit cashier checks and money orders had been shipped from Nigeria and was destined for 2404 Victory Highway in Coventry.
Once the package was delivered, Detective William Accardi got a search warrant for the residence. On April 4, state and Coventry police and Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials used the search warrant and seized the original package plus more than $100,000 of additional counterfeit bank checks that were being made on a home computer, the news release says.
Detectives also seized receipts of delivered packages originating from Africa, materials and instruments used to made counterfeit cashier checks, and a mailing-labels list with people's names from throughout the United States and abroad who were intended to received the counterfeit checks.
Detectives also seized a computer, which was apparently used to communicate with people believed to be in Nigeria, who were directing and profiting from the operation.
Counterfeit fraud schemes with Nigerian ties have become more prevalent due to the ease of contacting large numbers of victims via the Internet, police said, as well as increase in sales of items on sites such as EBay.
In the latter case,sellers may receive a counterfeit cashier check or money order in payment. Individauls may also be contacted by e-mail with a sympathy story and asked to help by sending a cashier check.
State police cautioned today that to avoid falling victim to such scams, never cash a check for someone you don’t know personally, especially if solicited online.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:08 PM
Doctor pays feds $50k for faulty drug accounting
A Warwick-based physician has paid $50,000 to settle claims in connection with ordering some 1,200 hydrocodone pills every two to three weeks that he said were for personal use, according to federal authorities.
Ralph A. DiGiacomo paid the money to the federal government for failing to "adequately account" for hydrocodone, known by brand name Vicodin, U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente and June W. Stansbury, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said in a news release today. The settlement was finalized on March 31.
The settlement, with the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration, came after the state Board of Pharmacy on March 30 last year inspected Dr. DiGiacomo’s medical practice on Toll Gate Road, Warwick. The inspection found he had failed to maintain records of his hydrocodone inventory and he had taken hydrocodone from the practice to his home in West Kingston, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
The next week, federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents said they seized 2,400 tablets of hydrocodone from Dr. DiGiacomo’s residence, also seizing Librium and Soma. Dr. DiGiacomo said at the time all the Vicodin he ordered from 2000 to 2007 was for personal use and that he took 30 to 40 pills every day, according to the U.S. Attorney's news release.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:44 PM
Providence doctor's license suspended
A Providence doctor's medical license was suspended today by the state health director "for presenting an immediate danger to the public's health and safety," the state Department of Health announced.
Dr. Tarek W. Wehbe, of Renaissance Medical Group, 790 North Main St., Providence, has been the subject of a state and federal investigation related to allegations of healthcare fraud and medical negligence, the Health Department news release says.
A specific concern, according to the Health Department, the care for a small group of cancer patients who may not have gotten appropriate doses of chemotherapy in the doctor’s office. The patients have been identified and are being informed by the Health Department.
"Clinicians will be talking with these patients’ current treating physicians to discuss the implications, if any, for their ongoing treatment," the release states. "All other medical patients of Dr. Wehbe may elect to be seen by other physicians still practicing at Renaissance Medical Group or may choose to transfer their care to another practice."
The state Department of Health director, Dr. David R. Gifford, determined Wehbe "should not currently continue in the practice of medicine."
The Health Department stated that patients with questions can call the department's information Line at 1-800-942-7434, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
According to the summary suspension posted on the state Department of Health Web site, investigation found:
* "A clear pattern of intentional misconduct in the practice of medicine with regard to billing third-party payers for services rendered that exceed the number of hours in a day."
* Excessive and inappropriate use of diagnostic tests.
* "A pattern of failing to adhere to the minimal standards of acceptable medical practice" in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, Hepatitus C, and Fibromyalgia, and other medical diagnoses.
* Failure to maintain "acceptable standards of practice in prescribing pain medication" and failure to "address drug treatment issues when they were brought to the doctor's attention by third-party payer drug-utilization reviewers."
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:25 PM
Salmonella prompts Malt-O-Meal recall
Malt-O-Meal is recalling two of its cereal brands after the company's safety testing detected salmonella in one of its products.
The company’s unsweetened Puffed Rice and unsweetened Puffed Wheat Cereals with “best if used by” dates between April 8, 2008 and March 18, 2009 have the potential to be contaminated and are being pulled from shelves.
In addition to the brand name cereals, the recall affects private label brands, including Shaw’s, ShopRite, America’s Choice and other regional brands, which can be found online.
According to the statement, no illnesses have been reported as a result of the contamination and no other products are believed to be affected.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
People infected with the salmonella bacteria may develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most healthy people can recover without treatment.
But if the bacteria spread to the intestines, the resulting infection can cause death. The very young, very old and people with weakened immune systems are especially at risk.
Consumers with questions are advised to call the company at 1-877-665-9331. Information regarding this recall, including images of the Malt-O-Meal product packaging, also will be posted to the company’s website.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 12:03 PM
Three workers claim $200,000 Powerball prize
Three employees of a South County-based company this morning claimed a $200,000 winning Powerball prize -- a ticket sold in Charlestown for Saturday night’s $58.4 million drawing.
The ticket, which matched the first five numbers but not the Powerball number, was bought at Rippy’s Liquor & Marketplace, 4158 South County Trail.
The employees have been playing together for more than five years, a Rhode Island Lottery news release says.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 11:59 AM
Feds holds hearing on New Bedford immigrant raid
BOSTON — A commission investigating immigration raids at a series of Iowa meatpacking plants in 2006 is visiting Massachusetts to take testimony about last year’s raid at a New Bedford leather goods plant.
Some 361 workers at Michael Bianco Inc. were detained, splitting up families and creating other hardships as federal ICE agents enforced immigration laws.
The National Commission on ICE Misconduct and Violations of the 4th Amendment was formed by the United Food & Commercial Workers, which represented many of the Iowa workers.
Among those testifying at a Statehouse hearing today were Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and Sen. John Kerry.
In his remarks, Murray said the United States is a nation of laws “and we need to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and fairness.”
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:57 AM
Update: 2 students struck, one killed, were roommates
The 19-year-old woman who died after being struck by a car, and the 20-year-old who was injured were sophomore roommates at the University of Rhode Island, according to a University spokesman.
Woodcliff Lake, N. J. resident Mary Ellen “Molly” Offer, 19, was taken to South County Hospital and pronounced dead yesterday morning, according to the Narragansett police.
Holly Maganzini, 20, of Wakefield, Mass., was taken to South County Hospital, and then to Rhode Island Hospital with lower extremity injuries. She is currently in the hospital's Cooperative Care Center, which houses outpatient surgery centers and clinics.
“Our campus community is shocked by this tragedy,” said Chip Yensan, director of residential life and assistant vice president for student affairs. “We all extend our thoughts and prayers to both families.”
The police say the accident was called in at about 1:20 a.m. yesterday. Fifty-three-year-old Gayle Cherenzia of Westerly was driving, according to the police, when she struck the women near 753 Boston Neck Road.
Cherenzia has not been charged in the incident, Deputy Chief Dean Hoxsie said.
Offer was an art major and Maganzini, her roommate at Aldrich Hall, is a business major, according to University spokesman David Lavallee.
University officials spoke with Offer’s family a few hours after the accident, Lavallee said, and with Maganzini’s family shortly thereafter. Staff at Aldrich Hall was notified early Sunday morning, and as the day went on, counselors made themselves available to all students; they will continue to do so through the week.
According to Hosxie, Offer and Maganzini had just left a party in the area when they were struck.
The accident is still under investigation.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:25 AM
Solar manufacturer announces Mass. expansion
BOSTON — A Marlborough, Mass.-based company that makes solar panels plans to double the size of a manufacturing facility being built at the former Fort Devens.
Evergreen Solar also was announcing today it plans to more than triple its 300-person workforce to 1,000 workers.
Gov. Deval Patrick and company Chief Executive Officer Richard Feldt were announcing the expansion during a news conference at Deer Island. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority water treatment plant there uses Evergreen solar panels, and the facility will soon add two 190-foot wind turbines.
The conservation steps are expected to save the authority about $120,000 on its $12.5 million annual electric bill.
Feldt credits Patrick’s emphasis on solar energy as the reason the company is expanding in Massachusetts.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:16 AM
Gas prices up another 2 cents, near record
Gasoline prices in Rhode Island have increased two cents and are now just three cents below the all-time high, according to AAA Southern New England.
The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is $3.209 per gallon at the self-service pump, according to AAA's weekly survey.
The record high here was reached in 2005 soon after Hurricane Katrina.
Rhode Island is 13 cents below the national average of $3.33 for self-service regular. A year ago at this time the average price of regular unleaded gasoline in Rhode Island was $2.749.
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:44 AM
Woman, 18, accused of murder waives bail hearing
The 18-year-old woman accused of stabbing to death another 18-year-old woman has waived her right to a bail hearing.
Friends and family of the victim, Natasha Gonsalves, filled two rows of benches in the courtroom this morning. Some wore shirts with a photo of Gonsalves screen printed on them, her name airbrushed on the corner.
Abimbola Johnson will continue to be held at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston, where she has been since March 20.
The police say Johnson stabbed Gonsalves after the two argued in front of Johnson’s parents’ house in West Warwick.
In District Court this morning, Judge Elaine Bucci said that the waiver rests on the condition that Johnson is indicted by June 30. If not, she will be granted a new bail hearing.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson, with reports from Journal staff writer Talia Buford
Police say Gonsalves and friends followed Johnson home from work the night of the stabbing.
Johnson went into her home on Pepin Street, according to the police, and came back outside with a kitchen knife in her waistband.
After she returned, according to police, the two women argued some more, and Gonsalves charged Johnson.
Johnson allegedly pulled the knife from the back of her waistband, stabbing Gonsalves.
Officers received two calls in connection with the incident – one reporting a disturbance and another reporting a stabbing. The police arrived to find neighbors tending to Gonsalves, who was on the ground in front of Johnson's house.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 10:09 AM
Providence forum focuses on adolescent learners
Can after school programs help middle school students learn? If so, how?
That’s the question that local school officials, municipal leaders and program directors hope to tackle at a forum this morning sponsored by the Providence After School Alliance and the After School Plus Alliance.
“The aim of this conference is to explore some of the reasons why middle school is such a critical age and how we can use research and best practices to create programs that work for these young people,” Hillary Salmons, executive director of PASA, said in a statement.
The forum is set for today from 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at the Providence Marriott Hotel.
The first topic of discussion, “Unpacking the Adolescent Brain,” will be led by Dr. Abigail Baird, the director of the laboratory of adolescent studies at Vassar College.
Mayor David Cicilline will moderate the forum, which will also include Priscilla Little from the Harvard Family Research project and Edward Dulaney from the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.
The forum will also look at four programs in particular –– three after school programs and one middle school –– and how they are creating new models based on research.
Panelists for this discussion include Shanita Burney, assistant director, Project My Time, DC Children and Youth Trust Co; Patrick Duhon, deputy director, PASA; Dinah Larbi, principal, Springfield Middle School, Providence; and Emily Stainer, program director, Citizen Schools.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 9:38 AM
R.I. air guard deploying to support Iraq war effort
Twenty seven members of the Rhode Island Air National Guard are leaving for an “undisclosed location” tomorrow morning, according to a statement released by the guard.
The members of the 143rd Civil Engineering Squadron, 143 Airlift Wing, based in North Kingstown, will be providing support before and after attacks, and working on passive defense in support of the war in Iraq, according to the statement.
The guardsmen and women will also work with the Air Force handling engineering and operations responsibilities and well as helping to maintain airfields and base encampments.
A formal departure ceremony is set for tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Quonset Air National Guard Base auditorium, 13 Minuteman Way, in North Kingstown.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 8:28 AM
Justice Scalia to visit Roger Williams law school today
BRISTOL -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin G. Scalia will spend today Roger Williams University School fo Law meeting with faculty, alumni, members of the state bar and judiciary and students, the university said today.
Scalia will also teach a constitutional law class and take part in a question-and-answer session with 175 students who won a lottery drawing.
Scalia’s visit comes after both Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. visited to honor the 100th anniversary of Providence's federal courthouse, and just ahead of a scheduled visit from Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Scalia, considered one of the more conservative justices, was appointed to the bench in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.
Extra: Take a look at brief biographies of all the U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:01 AM
Clearing skies and calming winds
We're waking up to cloudy skies and winds, but as the day goes on, the clouds should clear and the winds should calm. The National Weather Service is forecasting a high temperature near 47 degrees with east winds between 13 and 16 mph.
Tonight we'll see partly cloudy skies with a low temperature near 33 degrees and east winds dropping to between 7 and 14 mph.
Tomorrow may bring some spring-like weather with sunny skies and a high temperature near 57 degrees. It will still be breezy, with east winds between 9 and 13 mph.
To keep an eye on weather updates, see projo.com's weather page.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:01 AM
Today's front page
Today's front page features a story about a dramatic increase in women needing emergency housing in the area.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM