Crashes Drop With Intersection Cameras

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Cameras at intersections to catch drivers running red lights have significantly cut the most dangerous type of collision, a Texas study released Tuesday shows.

The Texas Transportation Institute’s Center for Transportation Safety compared records at 275 intersections for the three years before and after cameras were installed.

Investigators found red-light related crashes were down 25 percent and the most dangerous collisions, T-bone crashes where one car hits the side of the other, dropped 32 percent.

“These findings show clearly that red light cameras offer significant safety benefits,” said Troy Walden, author of the institute’s study. “Most important, they help prevent the most severe and deadly type of intersection crashes.”

The cameras are controversial in some Texas cities and elsewhere. In Houston, voters approved a referendum last year to remove the cameras, but a federal judge found the vote invalid.

Michael Kubosh, one of the leaders of the anti-camera movement, planned a rally Tuesday afternoon outside city hall, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Opponents of the cameras argue the study data is inconsistent between cities, with crashes dropping less in Houston than in Dallas and actually increasing in Corpus Christi after cameras were installed.

Texas Homeowner Who Killed Teen Cleared

SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A San Antonio homeowner who shot a college student to death has been cleared of murder in his second trial.

Ray Lemes, 52, was acquitted Monday night in the Aug. 4, 2007, death of Tracy Glass, 19, a student at Angelo State University, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Lemes called the district attorney’s office a “disgrace,”

“They would better serve us by opening up a clown academy,” he said.

Lemes’ attorneys said he was chasing an intruder out of his house in the middle of the night and was trying to shield his wife from rape. They suggested Glass had spied on Lemes’ wife the day before.

Lemes was “just unlucky” he did not shoot Glass in his home because then there would have been no trial, they said.

But Assistant District Attorney David Lunan said there was no evidence Glass entered the home, where nothing was disturbed and there was no sign of forced entry.

Glass, who was drunk, may have rattled the door handle thinking it was his sister’s house next door, Lunan said.

The first trial ended in a mistrial in March.

KFOR Blocks Entry Of Supply Vehicles

JARINJE, Kosovo, Aug. 2 (UPI) — NATO’s Kosovo force has barred entry of vehicles carrying food, medical supplies and heating fuel to Serbs in northern Kosovo, a news agency reports.

KFOR soldiers have “an order” to stop vehicles carrying the goods through the entry point at Jarinje, drivers were told, B92 reported, citing the Tanjug news agency.

The supplies have been delivered to Serbs in northern Kosovo from central Serbia through checkpoints at Brnjak and Jarinje.

Tanjug reported only cars are being allowed to pass through the Jarinje checkpoint.

Milk and bread have reached northern Kosovo in smaller vehicles at Brnjak, Tanjug reported.

Serbs, who erected barricades and staged peaceful protests against Kosovo Albanian efforts to take control of the checkpoints, spent an eighth night at barricades near Zupce and Rudare and in Leposavic, blocking a road to Jarinje.

Serbian government officials arrived in Kosovo Monday night and were expected to meet Tuesday with Erhard Buehler, the KFOR commander, after discussions with EU mediator Robert Cooper in Raska.

Kosovo sent police to the northern border last week to enforce a trade embargo on Serbia.

NATO forces were sent to quell violence.

Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci blamed Serbia for the skirmish but Serbian President Boris Tadic was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency, RIA Novosti, as saying his country “will not go to war” over border violence.

Police Seek Stolen Helicopter In Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Police in Oklahoma say a search is on for a helicopter stolen from the grounds of an Oklahoma City construction company.

Shortly after the theft was reported at 5 a.m. Tuesday, the search moved to west Oklahoma City where a police officer had earlier reported seeing a helicopter on a trailer, The Oklahoman said.

He thought it was unusual but did not get a message of a stolen helicopter until later, the newspaper reported.

The stolen aircraft is described as having red seats and blue tail rudder, with an open-cockpit design and 20-foot rotor span.

Construction company owner Bruce Akbaran said he found the helicopter missing when he arrived at work Tuesday, with signs of it having been dragged across concrete and loaded onto something.

He bought the helicopter about five months ago, he said, but had not had the opportunity to fly it yet.

“It is a toy I got for me and my son,” he said.

Peacekeepers Killed In Sudan

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Four members of the Ethiopian contingent to a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan were killed Tuesday in the disputed region of Abyei.

Ethiopian members of the newly created U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei were on patrol in the region when they struck a land mine. Four soldiers were killed and seven others were injured, the United Nations said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement expressed condolences to family members and the Ethiopian government.

South Sudan became the world’s newest independent nation July 9. Its secession from Sudan came through a peace deal reached in 2005 that ended a civil war in the region.

Issues such as citizenship, the sharing of oil revenue and border demarcation are unsettled. Border conflicts centered on Abyei and South Kordofan state threaten the principles of the peace agreement.

Alain Le Roy, U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told the U.N. Security Council that hundreds of peacekeepers deployed to Abyei in Sudan as part of the UNISFA in July.

He said there were outstanding issues over jurisdiction in the area, however.

More than Ethiopian 500 troops were sent to the region since UNISFA was established in June.

Serbia, Kosovo Trade Barbs

BRUSSELS, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Violence along the Serbian-Kosovar border was the act of thugs and criminals, a Serbian official sent to Brussels to speak with European leader said.

Serbian President Boris Tadic is upset that Kosovo Albanian authorities announced they were going to open customs offices along the Serbian border. Tadic repeatedly stressed the dispute should be resolved without violence, however.

Fighting broke out last week after the government in Pristina ordered troops to set up border checkpoints in the mostly Serb populated regions in the north to enforce a recent trade embargo with Serbia.

NATO’s peacekeeping force for Kosovo said some of its forces came under attack along the border by unknown gunmen in the area.

Robert Cooper, a mediator for the European Union, met his Serbian negotiator Borko Stefanovic to call for regional calm.

“We were appalled by this act,” Stefanovic was quoted by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle as saying.

He added, however, that it was an effort by regional Albanians to gain more control over Serbians in the north.

Kosovo Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi was quoted as saying his country wouldn’t step back from its international rights to sovereignty.

“This is reality regardless of whether Serbia and some other countries accept it or not,” he said.

Serbia doesn’t recognize the unilaterally declared independence of its former province and ethnic Serbs in the north don’t accept the Pristina government’s authority.

Ally Says Giffords Will Return To House

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who made a dramatic appearance to vote on the debt bill, will return to Congress, a close friend and colleague said Tuesday.

“We are confident that she is going to come back to help us full time,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D- Fla., chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, told CBS.

Giffords is still recovering from nearly fatal brain injuries suffered when she was shot in Tucson Jan. 8.

“She is remarkable. Her recovery has been miraculous,” Wasserman Schultz said, while acknowledging her friend “still has a long way to go.”

“She still has intensive rehabilitation, physical and occupational and speech, and she’s working hard. In fact, she went right back to Houston, and she’ll be back in all her therapies tomorrow,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Giffords received a standing ovation from both parties when she surprised the House by showing up for Monday night’s vote on the debt ceiling.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hailed her as the “personification of courage.”

Wasserman Schultz said the party would help Giffords seek re-election next year if she chooses to run.

July Rebound Month For U.S. Auto Sales

DETROIT, Aug. 2 (UPI) — U.S. auto companies reported sales rebounded in July, as Chrysler led the group with a 20 percent jump compared to July 2010, the company said.

Ford Motor Co. sales rose 8.9 percent. For General Motors, sales were up 7.6 percent compared to a year ago, The Detroit News said Tuesday.

“In a market that remains tougher than a cheap steak, we were able to produce our highest retail sales in more than three years,” Chrysler’s head of U.S. sales and the Dodge brand Reid Bigland said.

Car sales were up 28 percent for Chrysler, while truck sales were up 18 percent from July 2010. For the Jeep Compass, sales soared 240 percent compared to the same month a year earlier.

Ford vice president in charge of U.S. marketing, sales and service Ken Czubay said, the “Fiesta, Focus and Fusion put Ford back in the car business.” Sales also grew 66 percent for the Ford Escape and 108 percent for the Ford Explorer.

The Chevrolet Cruze has sold 20,000 or more units for four months running for GM. In June, the vehicle was the best selling car in the country.

Man Stabs 3 Victims In Chicago Store

CHICAGO, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A man entered a Chicago Walgreens store early Tuesday morning and stabbed three people, police said.

The man, in his 20s, walked into the Southwest Side store around 1 a.m., Officer Amina Greer, a police spokeswoman, told the Chicago Tribune.

Police arrested him when they saw people running out of the store, but he was not identified.

“He walked in, he looked normal,” said employee Manuel Rodriguez. “But he had a butcher knife.”

The victims were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. The 46-year-old male store manager, stabbed in the hand, was treated and released, WLS-TV reported.

A 66-year-old female customer, stabbed in the breast, was listed in good condition. Another female customer, 40, was listed in critical but guarded condition, stabbed in the abdomen, thigh and arm, and was in surgery.

The motive was unknown, and it seemed the attacker did not know his victims, police said.

Man Gets Six Weeks For Murdoch Pie Attack

LONDON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A comedian was ordered Tuesday to spend at least three weeks in jail for throwing a shaving cream pie at Rupert Murdoch in the British House of Commons.

A judge in the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court imposed a six-week sentence on Jonathan May-Bowles, who uses the name Jonnie Marbles, and said he must spend at least half of it behind bars, the BBC reported. The attack occurred July 20 when Murdoch came to Parliament to testify before a committee about the phone-hacking scandal involving his media empire.

“This is a parliamentary process, which — as you know — conducts itself with dignity and in a civilized fashion,” Judge Daphne Wickham said. “Everybody else in the room expected that, with one exception — you. You attended those proceedings with only one intention, to disrupt them.”

Murdoch, 80, was not injured, although shaving foam got on his jacket. His wife, Wendi Deng, became an international sensation when she rushed May-Bowles and apparently clouted him.

When he pleaded guilty last week, May-Bowles called it “the most humble day of my life,” quoting Murdoch.

May-Bowles, 26, a Windsor resident, does stand-up comedy part-time.