A couple who forced some of their 11 adopted, special-needs children to sleep in wire-and-wood cages were sentenced to two years in prison Thursday, after the parents insisted they were only trying to keep the kids safe.
Two of the children, however, said in statements read in court that they were treated harshly while they lived with Sharen and Michael Gravelle. One wrote that they should be imprisoned “for as long as my siblings had to be in cages.”
Sharen Gravelle told the court the children were never confined as punishment but rather to protect them, including a child who wanted to jump out a second-floor window.
The children, who suffered from problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and a disorder that involves eating nonfood items, ranged in age from 1 to 14 when authorities removed them in September 2005 from the Gravelles’ home in Wakeman, about 60 miles west of Cleveland. They were placed in foster care in fall 2005 and the couple lost custody last March.
Parasite found in hatchery trout
A parasite that causes trout to swim in circles until they die has been found in two hatcheries in western Maryland, meaning 80,000 fish that would have been stocked in lakes and streams this year will instead be destroyed, an official said Thursday.
The organism, Myxobolus cerebralis, which is not a risk to humans or other fish, deforms the spines and skulls of trout in what is known as “whirling disease.” It has devastated wild rainbow trout in the West and is now found in 22 states, according to the Whirling Disease Foundation.
Twenty percent fewer rainbow and brown trout will be stocked this spring across Maryland, Lunsford said.
The parasite has long been known to exist in the Potomac River’s North Branch, which is several miles from both hatcheries. It might have been spread to the hatcheries from mud on the feet of birds or bears, said H. Robert Lunsford, director of freshwater fisheries.
Passengers, crew overpower hijacker
An armed man who hijacked a Mauritanian plane to Spain’s Canary Islands on Thursday was overpowered by passengers and crew before he was arrested by police who boarded the plane shortly after landing, government and airline officials said.
Police stormed the Air Mauritania Boeing 737 shortly after the aircraft landed at Gando military base on Gran Canaria Island, Spanish Interior Ministry official Carolina Darias said.
Police said the man had been carrying two loaded handguns.
Mohamed Ould Mohamed Cheikh, Mauritania’s top police official, said the hijacker was a Moroccan from Western Sahara who wanted to immigrate to France.
Internet cameras show work at site
Israel began operating live Internet cameras Thursday at a construction project next to a hotly disputed Jerusalem holy site and agreed to a Turkish request to inspect the work, responding to intense criticism from the Muslim world.
The Internet cameras, accessible from the Israeli Antiquities Authority Web site, showed three angles of the archaeological excavations, shifting from one to the next automatically.
The Israeli government hoped the live pictures would put fears to rest, demonstrating that the excavations are well outside the wall in front of the Al Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site. Muslims have charged that Israel is plotting to undermine the foundations of the mosque in order to rebuild the Jewish temples that stood there in biblical times.
The dispute over the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, has triggered violence in the past.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand
Ship drifting near penguin grounds
A Japanese whaling ship crippled by fire drifted off the world’s largest penguin breeding grounds today, and New Zealand alerted other countries it may need help if the vessel leaked oil into the pristine Antarctic waters.
A Japanese fisheries official said that the blaze could force an early end to the season’s whale hunt.
One crewmember was missing from the 8,000-ton Nisshin Maru, which had started to list from water pumped aboard to fight the fire. The fire was contained below decks but continued to burn, said New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter.
No oil had spilled and the vessel was in no immediate danger of sinking, officials said.