You’re painfully aware of the deepwater oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that has produced the worst spill in U.S. history.
This week the company responsible, BP, apologized for the damage and agreed to set aside $20 billion in compensation funds to be put in escrow.
In a twist of language irony, escrow derives from an Old French word (spoken in the years 900 to 1400) meaning scrap, shred, and — most obviously — scroll. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this connects in Modern French to the verb écrouer, to lock up in jail, and to a noun that means ”entry of a name in a jail register.”
Outrage over the tragedy suggests that people might prefer a little less escrow from BP and a lot more écrouer.
So does this $20 billion escrow have anything in common with the process average people go through when they buy a house?
Escrow is a special agreement and fund managed by a third, independent party. This party finalizes the agreement only once all the terms and conditions of the deal are met. So, in the case of the oil spill, the fund will be overseen by Kenneth Feinberg, who managed the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He also has mediated cases as varied as an agent orange class-action lawsuit and a dispute over the value of the JFK assassination film.
Those of you who buy and sell items on eBay might use escrow. In this case, a third party holds onto a buyer’s money until the buyer approves a purchase. Escrow is also used sometimes when software programmers are selling source codes to clients.
But not all kinds of escrow are high stakes. Vending machines use a form of escrow. A customer’s money is kept in a separate area before a purchase is made. If the customer doesn’t follow through on the purchase, the money is returned. If a purchase is made, the customer’s money is deposited into the vending machine’s bank.
D.C. Sniper Shapshots of Death
AP Online October 11, 2002 | JERRY SCHWARTZ, AP National Writer 00-00-0000 There was nothing powerful about the sound. It was, an assistant store manager says, something like a lightbulb popping. And there was nothing cataclysmic about the damage _ just a small hole in the display window, about the size of a marble.
It was 5:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and an epic nightmare was beginning.
But no one knew it _ no one, that is, except the person who fired the rifle into a busy Michaels crafts store at the Northgate Plaza shopping center in Aspen Hill.
No one was injured or killed by the single rifle blast. But then the sniper’s aim turned deadly.
___ It is 6:04 p.m., 44 minutes after the shot pierced the store window. James D. Martin is in the parking lot of the Shoppers Food Warehouse in Wheaton, a mile away from Michaels.
Martin, a 55-year-old program analyst for a federal department, has been shopping. But not for himself _ he is buying stuff for the kids at Shepherd Elementary School in Washington. People in his department at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations serve as mentors there, and Martin is devoted.
The lot is full _ cars are waiting in line for spaces _ but the report of the gun resounds over the sounds of idling engines. Across the street, officers at a district police station jump to their feet and out to the street, looking for the source.
But some shoppers are unaware. One walks by, assuming the figure on the ground is merely a motorist working under his car. When the officers find him, they perform CPR, but to no avail. Martin _ Civil War buff, ardent volunteer, father of an 11-year-old son _ is dead.
This alone is a peculiar thing for this community. Montgomery County is not to be confused with the neighboring District of Columbia. It is Maryland’s most affluent; “violent crime is not regarded as a serious problem,” says the county Web site.
___ At 7:41 a.m. Thursday, the sky is a brilliant blue. James L. “Sonny” Buchanan cuts the grass at the Fitzgerald Auto Mall on Rockville Pike in the county’s White Flint area.
Buchanan is a 39-year-old poet, a self-employed landscaper who likes to teach children about plants. He has moved to Virginia and a Christmas tree farm he owns with his father, but he still comes back to Maryland and mows the grass for the dealership, as he has for 10 years. see here fitzgerald auto mall
There’s a loud sound _ like a huge object hitting the ground, thinks body shop manager Gary Huss. Outside, Buchanan stumbles 200 feet into the lot and collapses, face forward.
A hundred dealership employees surround the bleeding man. They, too, react to murder with disbelief _ surely, the lawnmower exploded. When the ambulance arrives, about 10 minutes later, emergency workers find the hole in his chest left by the bullet.
Thirty-one minutes later, 54-year-old Prem Kumar Walekar fills the tank of his cab at the Mobil station on Aspen Hill Road in Rockville. He immigrated 30 years ago, and worked hard all his life to raise his two children, now in their 20s, to help his family back in India, and to bring his siblings to the United States.
He does not usually take to the road this early, but the day is beautiful, and he wants to finish early and enjoy the sunshine.
Police Cpl. Paul Kukucka is nearby, driving to the funeral of a fellow officer who died of a heart attack, when a woman runs toward him, her arms waving.
“This man has just been shot! He’s bleeding!” she shouts.
Kukucka runs to the pumps and finds Walekar, blood flowing from his chest, dying.
A little more than a mile away, in front of a post office in Silver Spring, a Salvadoran immigrant sits on a metal bench and reads. Sarah Ramos was a law student in her native country; now she is a 34-year- old housecleaner, waiting for her ride to work. The shot, like all the others, comes from nowhere. It passes through her head and into the Crisp & Juicy carryout restaurant behind her.
“She was sitting on the bench, just sitting there,” says a witness, Dolores Wallgren.
It is 8:37 a.m., and three people have died in the past 56 minutes.
___ With horrible and abrupt clarity, the police realize they are in the middle of a massacre.
The brass convenes at the Mobil station to plot their next move. They would send every officer available to patrol the area, ordering them to wear their bulletproof vests. Park police, state police, police from surrounding areas all are drawn into the maelstrom.
There is one clue: According to a witness to the Ramos shooting, two men in a white “box truck” with black lettering sped away from the scene. All across the area, police stop and search white delivery vans.
But they cannot protect Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25-year-old mother of a preschooler. She pulls her burgundy minivan up to a Kensington Shell station’s coin-operated vacuum, removes her daughter’s car seat and begins to clean her car.
At 9:58 a.m., a single bullet strikes her, knocking her to the ground.
Mechanic John Mistry is working nearby under the hood of a car when he hears the loud “crack.” An electrical short, he figures. But when he looks up, the lights are still on.
Mistry and fellow mechanic Jimmy Ajca run out of the garage to find Lewis-Rivera under her van door, blood trickling from her mouth.
Small bubbles dribble from her lips as she struggles for breath.
Nor can police protect Pascal Charlot. The 72-year-old handyman is gunned down while standing on Kalmia Road and Georgia Avenue in Washington, half a block from the border with Montgomery County.
It is 9:15 p.m. In a little more than 27 blood-soaked hours, six people have been killed _ each apparently with a single, .223-caliber bullet fired at long range, each for no apparent reason. site fitzgerald auto mall
___ On Friday, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose appeals for an end to the murders. “We implore him to surrender, stop this madness, ” he pleads.
But the shootings do not stop. Instead, they spread to other places.
At 2:30 p.m. Friday, a 43-year-old woman from Spotsylvania, Va., the mother of two young sons, is parked in front of the Michaels craft store in Fredericksburg, 50 miles south of Washington. She has made her purchases, and is loading her champagne-colored Toyota minivan.
The bullet hits her in the lower right side of her back, exits under her left breast and is embedded in the rear of the minivan. Miraculously, her vital organs are spared.
“She’s very lucky,” says Spotsylvania County sheriff’s Major Howard Smith.
She is the first to survive this rampage. Police will not give her name; there are fears that her safety is still in jeopardy.
On Saturday, nothing. On Sunday, nothing.
On Monday, a 13-year-old student at Benjamin Tasker Elementary School in Bowie, Md., changes his daily routine, and almost pays for it with his life.
Normally, he attends a prayer service at a neighbor’s house before taking the bus to school. But on this day, he skips the service, and his aunt drives him to school. As he walks to the front door, he crumples to the ground, shot once in the chest.
His aunt is a nurse. She scoops him up and drives him to the hospital. He survives.
And this time, the gunman leaves a message. A police search a wooded area 150 yards from the school turns up a .223-caliber shell casing and a tarot card _ the Death card.
On it, someone had written this:
“Dear policeman, I am God.” People are unnerved by a villain who seems to be everywhere, all powerful and invisible. Some keep their children out of school. Soccer and baseball leagues cancel their games, and outdoor recesses are put on hold.
Adults find themselves looking over their shoulders as they scurry about, nervously doing chores that once entailed no risk.
“You think you’re safe, but you’re only as safe as your next step, ” says Sharon Healy, whose son Brandon attends school at Tasker.
On Wednesday, Dean Harold Meyers stops at the Battlefield Sunoco station, seven miles south of Manassas, Va. He is 53, a project manager and design engineer from Gaithersburg, Md., who has worked for the same engineering firm for 20 years.
He finishes filling the tank. He prepares to return to his black Mazda. There is a shot. It is 8:15 p.m., and the body of Dean Meyers lies crumpled on the station’s concrete floor.
And then, a little more than 25 hours later, another death: a man, gunned down at yet another Virginia gas station. A witness across the street from the Exxon station on Route 1 in Fredericksburg says he heard a single shot, saw a white van nearby.
It all fits the pattern. But for now, authorities say, they cannot be certain that this was the latest victim of a self-elected God.
___ EDITOR’S NOTE _ Stephen Manning, David Dishneau, Gretchen Parker, Angela Potter and David Crary in Maryland and Adrienne Schwisow in Virginia contributed to this story.
JERRY SCHWARTZ, AP National Writer
The Pantagraph Bloomington, IL December 17, 2006 Todays events BASKETBALL College women Eastern Michigan at Illinois State, 2:05 p.m.; Illinois Wesleyan vs. Blackburn at Millikin Tournament, 3 p.m.
TV/Radio Basketball 12:30 p.m. – Women: Tennessee at Texas – Comcast, Fox Sports Midwest 4 p.m. – Belmont at Illinois – WCIA (3), WAOE (59), WTRX-FM (93.7) 4:30 p.m. – Wake Forest at Virginia Tech – Comcast, Fox Sports Midwest 7 p.m. – Southern Illinois at Indiana – ESPN 7 p.m. – LSU at Oregon State – Comcast, Fox Sports Midwest Bowling Noon – PBA: Columbia 300 Classic – ESPN Football Noon – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears – FOX (43), (55), WJBC-AM (1230) Noon – Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers – CBS (3), (31) 3 p.m. – St. Louis Rams at Oakland Raiders – FOX (43), (55) 7:15 p.m. – Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers – NBC (17), (25) Golf 2 p.m. – PGA: Target World Challenge, final round – ABC (15), (19), (20) Schedule and times are provided to the Pantagraph, which is not responsible for errors due to last-minute changes. foxsportsmidwest.org fox sports midwest
From Pages Past 5 years ago (2001) When Roger Powell walks into the Assembly Hall for the basketball matchup between Illinois and Illinois State, he will wear his red and white Illinois State jacket. His son, Roger Jr., is a freshman forward for the Illini but the elder Powell was a standout player at ISU in the 1970s. “ISU is still close to my heart,” he said.
15 years ago (1991): Junior forward Allison Young scored 12 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a rebound basket with nine seconds left, to lead Prairie Central to a 57-56 win over University High in the championship game of the U High Girls Basketball Tournament.
25 years ago (1981) With 51 students, Bellflower High School is the states smallest school with a basketball team but veteran coach Don Harden isnt complaining. Twenty of the schools 26 boys are playing basketball. He had a run of superb teams in the mid-1960s when the Dragons won five district crowns and had a record of 103- 26. in our site fox sports midwest
50 years ago (1956) Fullback Rick Casares ripped off 190 yards including a 68-yard touchdown run, powering the Chicago Bears to a 38- 21 victory over the Detroit Lions and the Western Division title in the National Football League.
From Pages Past compiled by Roger Cushman from Pantagraph files