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June 5, 2008
Tonight: Celtics-Lakers resume rivalry for all the cards
The rivalry resumes.
The Celtics and the Lakers open game one of the NBA championships tonight at 9.
Journal sports writer Mike Szostak writes the Celtics will win the series. Read why.
Boston is drawing an international media contingent for the series.
The two teams have quite the history together.
Projo.com will provide live stats and scores, and Journal sportswriters will blog before, during and after the game. For the latest, go to projo.com/celtics.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:58 PM
R.I. Senate OKs bill improving access to public records
PROVIDENCE -- The state Senate today approved legislation to speed the release of requested public records and to specify the arrest record information that police must make public.
The bill sponsored by Sen. J. Michael Lenihan, D-East Greenwich, which cleared a Senate committee last week before winning the full chamber's backing, goes next to the House of Representatives.
According to a news release announcing Senate passage, the measure would mark the first major change to the state’s “sunshine” laws in a decade. The aim, according to proponents, is to see to it that those in charge of public records get them swiftly and in full to the media, the public and any entity that wants them.
If it becomes the law, the measure would take effect on Sept. 1.
It would reduce the time that public agencies have to respond to public records requests from 10 days to 7. And it would prevent agencies from requiring those requesting the information to provide personally identifiable information or from requiring them to state the reason for their request.
The act would also require that all public agencies annually certify in writing that all employees who handle public records requests have been trained in those responsibilities. It also spells out information that police departments are required to release about arrests, including narratives about the arrest, and specifies that the information must be released within 24 hours of any request.
“Having a strong policy about providing information to those who want it is beneficial for our government, " Lenhian said in the statement. "Guaranteeing the public’s right to review records encourages honesty and integrity in government, and helps strengthen the public’s confidence in its government."
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:29 PM
Update: Extended family mourns death of 19-year-old
Journal photo/ Andrew Dickerman
Relatives and friends gather at the scene where Michael Fortes, 19, was found dead in front of his home at 112 Warrington St., Providence.
PROVIDENCE – Dozens of relatives from all over the country gathered at the home of Michael Fortes’ mother today, hours after the 19-year-old was found dead, shot in the back.
The extended Cape Verdean family had recently been together for the funeral of his Fortes’ great-grandmother, who died on May 26. Fortes was one of 26 great-grandchildren.
Shortly before 2 a.m., the police were called to 112 Warrington St., where they met with fire department personnel, according to Det. Capt. Hugh Clements.
Fortes, who lived at the house with other family members and friends, had gone out around 1:30 a.m., police said later today. About a half-hour later, he was found outside the door, hurt and bleeding.
Fortes was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to Clements.
No arrests have been made. Clements says the police have interviewed several people and continue with their investigation.
He would not say whether Fortes was inside or outside the house when he was shot, or how many times he was shot.
Fortes had been badly injured six months ago, when he and two other young men were stabbed in a fight in a South Providence apartment just before New Year’s Eve. Family members said that Fortes had been hospitalized for two weeks from that attack.
Fortes, whose family nickname was “Mikey-Mike,” was the fifth homicide in the city this year. Providence police are still investigating the shooting.
-- projo.com staff writers Jack Perry, and Brandie M. Jefferson, with reports from Journal staff writer Amanda Milkovits
Journal Photo/Bill Murphy
Providence Police investigate an overnight shooting at 112 Warrington Street, 19-year-old Michael Fortes was killed this morning.
Posted by Jack Perry at 6:09 PM
Air conditioner fire displaces 2 Fox Point hotel guests
PROVIDENCE -- An overheated air conditioning unit caused a small fire at the Radisson Hotel in Fox Point early this morning that sent two hotel guests to the hospital for minor injuries.
The unit in the guests’ fifth-floor room overheated around 3:50 a.m., igniting a curtain,
according to Providence Fire Marshal Anthony J. Di Giulio.
Firefighters were soon on the scene at the 220 India St. hotel and had the fire under control quickly, Di Giulio said. The fire caused smoke and fire damage to the room, and water damage to other parts of the floor.
The two guests, whose names were not immediately available, were taken to Rhode Island Hospital and released soon after.
-- Journal staff writer Daniel Barbarisi
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:05 PM
Man rescued off Watch Hill after boat capsizes
WESTERLY -- A man was rescued from waters off Watch Hill this afternoon after his boat capsized, the Coast Guard said.
The boat was just south of Watch Hill Reef when something got caught in its propeller, possibly a lobster trap or boat’s anchor line, said Mark Averill, a Coast Guard search and rescue specialist.
The man was picked up by the Watch Hill Fire Department and taken to The Westerly Hospital, where he was treated for mild hypothermia, Averill said.
The man, identified as Leo Willett, was treated at the emergency room and then discharged, the hospital said.
-- Journal staff writer Randal Edgar
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:14 PM
Update: R.I. holding steady on rate of foreclosure starts
Rhode Island's home foreclosure starts showed no increase during the first quarter of this year from the previous quarter, according to a report released today by the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Rhode Island is one of more than a dozen states where foreclosure starts remained essentially unchanged between the last three months of 2007 and the first three months of this year, said Jay Brinkman, the MBA’s vice president research and economics.
Twenty other states showed a decline during the same period, the MBA data shows. The last decline in the start rate of foreclosure proceedings in Rhode Island was at the end of 2005.
It’s still too early to say whether the leveling off or decline in foreclosure starts in some parts of the country represents an overall improvement in the mortgage market, said the MBA’s Brinkman.
“I’m hesitant to say that based on just one quarter,’’ he said. “I would need to see another quarter’s data.”
Nationwide, foreclosures during the first three months of this year were up from the end of last year, though the increase reflected the "overwhelming impact" of the hardest-hit states, he said, of California and Florida, followed by Arizona and Nevada.
Trend or no trend, people in Rhode Island are unlikely to feel any improvement for a while, since banks are still working their way through much of the inventory of foreclosed properties.
While foreclosure starts during the first-quarter leveled off in Rhode Island, the number of properties put up for foreclosure auction has continued to rise, according to data from Rhode Island Housing.
During January, February and March, about 1,060 houses were advertised for foreclosure auction in Rhode Island, up 282 percent compared with the first-quarter of last year, according to Rhode Island Housing.
See the press release on first-quarter foreclosures issued by the MBA.
Extra: Visit our continuing report on foreclosures in Rhode Island.
-- Journal staff writer Lynn Arditi
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 3:51 PM
W. Warwick woman indicted in Gonsalves' killing
Abimbola O. Johnson, the West Warwick woman accused of fatally stabbing Natasha Gonsalves in March, has been indicted on one murder count.
Abimbola O. Johnson
A statewide grand jury handed up the indictment Wednesday, and Johnson, who is being held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston, is scheduled for a June 20 arraignment in Kent County Superior Court, according to a news release today from the Attorney General's Office.
The police have said that on the night of March 20, Gonsalves and two friends followed Johnson to Gonsalves' 114 Pepin St. home. Johnson and one of Gonsalves’ friends argued, potentially over a man, when the police said Johnson went inside and returned with a kitchen knife. The women argued, Johnson pulled the knife from her waistband and stabbed Gonsalves, the police said.
Officers arrived to find Gonsalves lying on the ground as neighbors tried to help her. She was pronounced dead at Kent Hospital, in Warwick.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with reports from Journal archives
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:44 PM
Woonsocket man's murder sentencing postponed
The sentencing hearing for Joshua Davis, the Woonsocket man who pleaded guilty in April to kidnapping, raping and killing 8-year-old neighbor Savannah Smith, has been postponed to June 25.
The sentencing date, initially slated for today, was continued to later this month at the defense's request.
Davis faces life in prison without parole, the Journal reported in April.
-- Michael P. McKinney, with reports from Journal staff writer Tatiana Pina and Journal archival reports
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:31 PM
Presidential counsel on governor's tribal land case team
Governor Carcieri's office will rely on the legal acumen of former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson in its fight to keep control of 31 acres owned by the Narragansett Indian Tribe.
Olson, a partner with the Washington, D.C., firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, will join a legal team of Assistant Attorney General Neil F. X. Kelly; Joseph S. Larisa Jr., Charlestown’s solicitor on Indian affairs; and Claire J.V. Richards, Carcieri’s former deputy legal counsel, in arguing the Indian land case before the U.S. Supreme Court this fall, according to a U.S. Supreme Court docket.
Olson served as the government’s top lawyer before the high court under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004.
As an appellate lawyer, he successfully argued the disputed 2000 election case in favor of George W. Bush before the Supreme Court. He represented President Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra affair as assistant attorney general during the 1980s.
-- Journal staff writer Katie Mulvaney
Olson's wife, conservative political commentator Barbara K. Olson, was a passenger on the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that was crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in February to decide whether the U.S. Department of Interior should be allowed to take the 31 acres just north of Route 1 into trust on behalf of the Narragansett Indians. Trust status would remove the land from most state and local laws, placing it under tribal and federal control.
The tribe bought the land in 1991 for development of housing for its elderly. The state filed suit against the Interior Department after the federal agency agreed to take the land into trust for the tribe in 1998.
The parcel is across Kings Factory Road from the 1,800 acres that Congress granted to the Narragansetts in a landmark land-claims settlement law 30 years ago.
Lawyers have argued the case could have big implications for Indian land disputes across the country. Sixteen states from New England to Alaska joined Rhode Island in appealing a decision by the federal appellate court in Boston that favored the Narragansetts.
Posted by maria caporizzo at 3:18 PM
Rug once owned by Doris Duke sells for record $4.4M
PROVIDENCE -- A silk Persian rug dating from the 16th or 17th century has sold for a record $4.45 million at auction, or about $729.87 per square inch.
The rug was sold by Christie's auction house Tuesday on behalf of the Newport Restoration Foundation. It had been expected to fetch up to $1.5 million.
The rug, which measures 7 feet, 7 inches by 5 feet, 7 inches, had been purchased by the late tobacco heiress Doris Duke in 1990. She left it to the foundation when she died.
Elisabeth Parker, head of Christie's rugs and carpets department, says there are only two other known rugs like it. She calls it an "amazing work of art'' and says it has an intricate floral design and an unusually large number of colors, at 17.
Christie's says the buyer prefers to remain anonymous.
The Newport Restoration Foundation, founded by Duke in 1968, is a nonprofit institution formed with the purpose of preserving, interpreting, and maintaining landscape and objects reflecting Aquidneck Island’s 18th and 19th century architectural culture.
Among the properties it oversees is Duke's Rough Point mansion in Newport.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:07 PM
Amtrak: Conn. bridge work to disrupt Northeast corridor
NEW LONDON, Conn. -- Amtrak says some of its Northeast corridor service will be disrupted for four days in New England later this month while it renovates an aging Connecticut drawbridge and does maintenance work.
Amtrak will replace the span of the 90-year-old Thames River Bridge between New London and Groton from June 14-17. The work marks the final stage of a multi-year, $83-million improvement project on the bridge. The bridge handles 36 passenger trains and two freight trains every weekday.
The railroad says it also will do maintenance over the same four days between New Haven and Boston. That work will result in cancellations of Acela Express service between New York and Boston and regional trains between Boston and New Haven.
Amtrak is urging passengers traveling between Boston and New Haven to make arrangements with commercial bus lines Peter Pan and Greyhound.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 2:51 PM
Whitehouse: Report shows Bush misled nation on Iraq
WASHINGTON -- A new Senate report debunking the Bush administration’s pre-war claims about the threat from Iraq underlines "a disturbing pattern’’ of twisting the facts about important domestic and national defense issues, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse charged today.
In a Senate floor speech and at a news conference later in the Capitol, the Rhode Island Democrat said President Bush and his national security leaders "misled this country into a war that never should have been fought.’’
Whitehouse joined other members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in speaking out on the panel’s new report, which scrutinizes several of the administration’s claims about the Iraqi dictatorship’s purported weapons-making ability and links to terrorists and the possibility of establishing a friendly Iraqi democracy in its place.
The report generally finds that the administration’s claims went beyond the findings of its own intelligence establishment and in some cases ignored intelligence that did not support its case for invading Iraq.
Whitehouse said the administration chose to set aside evidence that "did not conform to its preordained view of the world.’’
-- John Mulligan of the Journal Washington Bureau
During the news conference, Whitehouse said the pre-war intelligence claims were part of a pattern echoed later in the firings of several U.S. attorneys for political reasons and in what he portrayed as the official manipulation of scientific evidence about key environmental
Such twisting of facts "rots the sinews of our democracy,’’ Whitehouse said.
The panel released two documents: One related to the "public statements," or claims, made by the government, and the other addresses more alleged wrongs in marshaling of evidence.
The report had a bipartisan cast because two committee Republicans, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, joined the Democrats in voting to accept its conclusions
But most of the Intelligence Committee Republicans joined in a dissenting view of pre-war intelligence – and of the majority’s conclusions. Missouri Sen. Christopher Bond, the panel’s ranking Republican, wrote that the new report "confirmed our early suspicions’’ that the committee’s investigation was "a partisan exercise.’’
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said there was little news in the report on Saddam Hussein and his weapons programs. "We had the intelligence that we had, it was fully vetted and it was wrong,’’ she said, reiterating the administration's regret over the mistakes.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 2:09 PM
Sen. Kennedy getting honorary degree from Harvard
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy is being awarded an honorary degree by Harvard University.
The Massachusetts Democrat was to receive the degree as part of Harvard’s 357th commencement ceremonies today. But he is recuperating from brain tumor surgery earlier this week at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
In a statement, Kennedy, who graduated from Harvard in 1956, said he looked forward to accepting the honor in person very soon. He said that Harvard has long been a very special place for the Kennedy family.
Kennedy was expelled from Harvard in 1951 after he was caught cheating but eventually returned, earning his degree in 1956.
Harvard’s school of government is named for Kennedy’s brother, the late President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.
The graduation also comes on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of another Kennedy brother, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who also graduated from Harvard.
Sen. Edward Kennedy is also the father of U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, who graduated from Providence College.
-- The Associated Press, with projo.com reports
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 11:55 AM
Jury selection continues in Entwistle trial
WOBURN, Mass. — Jury selection in the trial of a British man charged with killing his wife and infant daughter is continuing for a fourth day.
Neil Entwistle is accused of fatally shooting his 27-year-old wife, Rachel, and 9-month-old daughter, Lillian Rose, in their Hopkinton home in January 2006.
Judge Diane Kottmyer today rejected a request by the defense to allow the jury, once seated, to go to the family’s former home in Hopkinton as well as the home of Rachel Entwistle’s mother in Carver.
Many potential jurors have been dismissed after they said they had already formed an opinion about Entwistle’s guilt. A new pool of 70 potential jurors was called in to be questioned on today.
Twelve regular jurors and four alternate jurors will be chosen.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 11:12 AM
Whitehouse, Intelligence Committee, speak on Iraq
The Senate Committee on Intelligence today released the final two sections of its report on prewar intelligence.
Members of the committee, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., are speaking on the Senate floor about findings of the report, which includes several instances where the committee concludes that statements made by the administration in support of going to war in Iraq were not supported by the intelligence.
Statements by the president and the vice president indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.
Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.
The intelligence community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the vice president repeatedly claimed.
Watch the hearings live on C-SPAN.
Members of the committee are scheduled to discuss the findings further at a press conference later this morning.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 10:57 AM
Taunton, Mass., soldier killed in Iraq
TAUNTON, Mass. -- A soldier from Taunton has been killed in Iraq less than two weeks after returning from a short visit home.
Mayor Charles Crowley confirmed the death of Army Sgt. Shane Duffy.
Crowley did not disclose details of Duffy's death but said the family was notified yesterday.
The 24-year-old Duffy's father, Keavin, is a Taunton firefighter.
Duffy was on his second tour of duty in Iraq, according to the Taunton Gazette. He served there for 10 months in 2004, and was re-deployed last September.
Duffy was honored at a Taunton High School softball game on May 23 in which his sister had the game-winning hit.
He leaves behind a wife and young child.
Crowley ordered flags on city property lowered to half-staff to honor Duffy.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 8:18 AM
Today in history: Robert F. Kennedy's assassination
On this day in 1968, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles after claiming victory in California's Democratic presidential primary. Gunman Sirhan Bishara Sirhan was immediately arrested.
Kennedy is the uncle of U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island and brother of Congressman Kennedy's father, U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who is recovering from brain surgery for a malignant brain tumor.
From The Journal archives: Political columnist M. Charles Bakst interviews a former Rhode Islander who was there when Kennedy was shot, in "Robert Kennedy's final hours: Euphoria gives way to grief"
Read more about today in history.
Watch a video on today in history.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:02 AM
Clouds, clouds and more clouds
Skies are cloudy this morning, and they'll probably stay that way all day. But on the bright side, there's only a slight chance of rain this morning; we should stay pretty dry. Temperatures look similar to yesterday, hitting 66 degrees with northeast winds gusting up to 23 mph.
Expect more clouds and tonight, with temperatures in the mid 50s, north winds.
Tomorrow morning should look like this morning, with fog and clouds, but as the day moves on, so will the clouds and we'll eventually have a sunny day with temperatures reaching about 72 degrees.
For a glimpse of what's to come, see projo.com's weather page.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 7:01 AM
Today' front page
Today's front page features a story about Lakers' star Kobe Bryant, who leads his Lakers against the Celtics in the NBA finals, which start tonight, and coverage of the bail hearing for a former Providence police officer charged with killing his Cranston neighbor in dispute.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM