Week In Review

December 17, 2006

Annapolis

First woman takes academy post

Capt. Margaret Klein took command Friday as the first woman in the No. 2 post at the Naval Academy.

Known as a tough officer with impeccable "warrior" credentials and a sense of humor, Klein has been received warmly by midshipmen, faculty and officers at the 161-year-old military college, as well as by its civilian oversight panel.

But some old-guard alumni have been less than cordial to Klein, who graduated in the second class of women to be admitted at the academy. One member of the class of 1945 says her appointment as commandant, overseeing the military training of all 4,200 midshipmen, represents a further "feminization" at the academy.

FOR THE RECORD - A headline in Sunday's Week in Review in the Anne Arundel section incorrectly stated that a mother and infant daughter had died in a three-alarm fire at an Annapolis apartment complex on Dec. 12. The mother and daughter survived the blaze. The Sun regrets the error.

She was selected by Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, the superintendent, who has found himself in the center of a 30-year-old debate over what role women should play at the academy. During his tenure, he's aggressively sought to stamp out sexual misconduct, most notably by prosecuting a football captain on rape charges, and trying to boost female enrollment to 20 percent.

Friends and colleagues expect her to ignore any questions about her sex, as she has throughout her career, and to be a strong and visible presence at the academy.

Maryland section, Friday

Millersville

$3 million awarded in custody case

A jury awarded more than $3 million in damages Thursday to a Millersville man whose sons were taken to Egypt by their mother five years ago and are being kept from him illegally.

Michael Shannon has not seen his boys - Adam, 9, and Jason, 5 - since Aug. 18, 2001. He has been fighting his ex-wife, Nermeen Khalifa Shannon, and her mother, Afaf N. Khalifa, in court ever since. It is believed that the children remain in Egypt.

For two years, Shannon's attorneys, Stephen J. Cullen and Edward Brady, have been arguing in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court that the Khalifa family is civilly liable for interfering with Shannon's custodial rights by abducting the children.

Cullen said he is hopeful that Shannon will be able to collect the money awarded to him, because the Khalifa family owns property in the United States. But the suit was not about the money, he said.

"Michael Shannon has never ever stopped doing whatever he can do to bring pressure to bear to get his children back," Cullen said. The fact that the case has been successful, he said, is "a message for people who want to run off with children from Maryland."

Maryland section, Friday

Anne Arundel

Hiring freeze imposed

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, stepping up his cost-saving efforts, has imposed a temporary hiring freeze on most county departments and called on agency directors to set efficiency goals.

Leopold announced plans Wednesday for a hiring stoppage - except for police, fire service and other public safety personnel - that would last until at least June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

County officials confirmed that about 200 positions will be held open, but they were unable to estimate the savings or which departments would be most affected. The county employs more than 4,000 workers.

Leopold, a Republican, said he had been contemplating the move for several weeks, part of a wider effort to "restore a foundation of trust on fiscal matters" - a cornerstone phrase of his recent campaign - and prepare for severe budget shortfalls starting next fiscal year.

Anne Arundel section, Friday

Annapolis

Apartment fire kills mother and infant

A three-alarm fire at an Annapolis apartment complex Tuesday injured two people and displaced 40 people, many of them low-income Salvadoran immigrants.

A woman and her infant daughter suffered smoke inhalation in the blaze at the Admiral Farragut Apartments on Hilltop Lane, and firefighters had to rescue eight people from their homes, said Capt. Ed Hadaway, an Annapolis Fire Department spokesman.

More than 70 firefighters from Annapolis, Anne Arundel County and the Naval Academy battled the fire, which broke out shortly before 9:30 a.m. It took an hour to bring the fire under control.

Fire department officials have not determined the cause; damage was estimated at $1.5 million.

Maryland section, Wednesday

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