Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2000

Nation Briefs

August 3, 2000



No charges advised in newborn's death

The death of a 2-day-old boy whose parents relied on prayer rather than doctors was not a homicide, a coroner said Wednesday in Grand Junction.

Billy Ray Reed died July 9 after having difficulty breathing, Mesa County Coroner Rob Kurtzman said. Kurtzman said the child died because a hole in his heart limited the supply of oxygen in his blood.

Billy Ray was born at home without a doctor present. Kurtzman said that if the parents had sought medical attention after the boy was born, his life almost certainly could have been saved.

Kurtzman said he had favored a homicide ruling but did not have enough evidence. He said since no doctor saw the boy when he was alive, officials did not how severe the symptoms were.

Dist. Atty. Frank Daniels said he would review Kurtzman's report and a sheriff's report before deciding whether to press charges.


High tariff imposed on Japanese steel

The International Trade Commission imposed duties of up to 95.29 percent Wednesday on Japanese exports of tin plate, the kind of steel used to make beer cans.

The punitive duty represents the amount the Commerce Department determined was the difference between the price Japanese exporters were charging customers in the United States and the price they were charging in Japan for the same type of steel.

The Japanese steel industry issued a statement expressing bewilderment that the ITC, a U.S. government body, was not convinced by testimony from steel buyers, who said imports of the Japanese steel did not influence prices in the United States.

Tin plate refers to flat-rolled steel coated with tin. It is used mainly in aerosol, food and beer cans.

Washington, D.C.

Book company fined for overcharging

W.R. Grace & Co. and a former subsidiary agreed Wednesday to pay $15.5 million to settle allegations they overcharged schools, libraries and the government for books during a 10-year span beginning in the early 1980s, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

A lawsuit, originally brought by two private whistleblowers and later taken over by the federal government and 18 states, alleged that Grace and Baker & Taylor Inc., a national book distributor that was a division of Grace until 1993, defrauded the United States in direct book purchases and indirectly by overcharging local schools and libraries that bought books with federal grant money.


Teen claims mother orced her abortion

A woman was charged with forcing her pregnant 16-year-old daughter at gunpoint to go to an abortion clinic. No abortion was performed, police said.

Brittany Dowis, who is in her first trimester of pregnancy, told police that her mother pointed the gun at her belly Tuesday at their Fort Pierce home, then drove her 67 miles to the Aware Woman Medical Clinic, just outside West Palm Beach.

Alone with clinic workers, Brittany wrote on a form that her mother was forcing her to end the pregnancy, police said. About the same time, police said, Glenda Dowis told a nurse in the waiting room, "If my daughter doesn't have this abortion, I'm going to blow her brains out."

Clinic workers called police, and Dowis, 42, was arrested and charged with one count of false imprisonment and one count of domestic assault. A .38-caliber revolver was found in Dowis' car, police said.


Health care workers strike area hospitals

Thousands of union workers at eight San Francisco Bay area hospitals started a two-day strike at dawn Wednesday after the latest round of contract talks failed.

The 3,500 striking technicians, licensed vocational nurses, respiratory therapists, housekeepers and clerks, who also walked out for one day last month, want to show "they are serious about protecting patient care," said Christy Hawkins, a Service Employees International Union spokeswoman.

The union said it was unable to reach an agreement with Sutter Health, which operates five of the affected hospitals, and Catholic Healthcare West, which operates three.


Daughter alleges parental torture

An adopted woman was tortured and forced to live in a storage shed by her birth mother and stepfather after she spent years searching for them, police said.

Jennifer Simmons, 19, found Elizabeth Katrini after a long search, but what Simmons thought would be a happy reunion allegedly turned into a terrifying year of torture.

Katrini, 38, and her husband, Paul Padilla, 41, were arrested on multiple felony counts of aggravated assault and vulnerable adult abuse.

Police said the couple forced the young woman to live in a storage shed and tortured her repeatedly with electric shocks, knives and sticks, police said.

Simmons contacted authorities after escaping from the shed on July 26, said Wendy Escoffier of the Camp Verde Town Marshal's Office. Mary Ellen Simmons said her daughter dropped from 165 pounds to 98 pounds in the year she was with Katrini and her husband.


Toys R Us plans Times Square store

Toys R Us has announced plans to build the world's largest toy store, a 101,000-square-foot emporium with a life-size dollhouse and a 60-foot-tall Ferris wheel in Times Square.

The three-story glass-enclosed store, which would become the company's flagship, is scheduled to open next summer, said John Eyler, the company's chief executive officer.

"We expect it to draw over 20 million visitors a year that's two and a half times more people than visit the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island combined," Eyler said Tuesday.


Monument closed by lightning strike

Just three days after it reopened from seven months' rehab, the Washington Monument was closed Wednesday because an overnight lightning strike knocked out the elevator and the air conditioning system.

The National Park Service said the doors were not opened for visitors, some of whom waited in line two hours to get tickets.

Around 2,000 free tickets were issued for admission Wednesday. The park service said they will not be honored today. The tickets are distributed each morning on a first-come, first-served basis.

After being closed since December as part of a multiyear project, the 115-year-old monument reopened Monday after a $10 million facelift that included a massive cleaning.


Clinton recounts Waco memories

President Clinton was interviewed on the phone Wednesday by a special counsel investigating the siege at the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Tex., seven years ago.

The White House said Clinton spoke about 15 minutes with John Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri whom Atty. Gen. Janet Reno appointed to conduct an independent investigation of the Waco disaster.

White House press secretary Joe Lockhart declined to disclose details of the conversation. Danforth's office refused comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

The siege at Waco began Feb. 28, 1993, when federal agents tried to arrest Branch Davidian leader David Koresh. A gunfight broke out, leaving four ATF agents and six Davidians dead, and the standoff began. It ended 51 days later, on April 19, 1993, when a fire broke out and 80 Davidians, including Koresh, died.


7-Eleven revamping product lineup

Slurpees and sushi? It's a combination coming someday soon to 7-Eleven.

The Dallas-based convenience store chain best known for such products as Dashboard Dining and the Big Gulp is planning to expand its product line from cigarettes, soft drinks and beef jerky. It wants to offer everything from pantyhose to books and videos.

Jim Keyes, president and CEO of the company, said fresh food from fruit to sushi will be offered in some places and the goal is to offer busy customers an entire meal, not just a snack.

In 1993, the company had a net loss of $11.3 million after emerging from bankruptcy two years earlier. Last year, the chain reported net income of $83.1 million.

There are about 5,700 7-Eleven stores in the United States and Canada.


FBI told to respond to e-mail probe

A federal judge Wednesday gave the FBI 10 days to respond to a privacy group's request for information about the government's "Carnivore" e-mail surveillance system.

The Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center is seeking documents and software concerning the inner workings of Carnivore, which is designed to monitor and capture e-mail going to or from people under criminal investigation.

The privacy group had asked the FBI to grant expedited review of its request filed under the federal Freedom of Information Act.


Apple suing to stop product info leaks

Apple Computer Inc. is suing people who allegedly posted secret product information on the Internet, becoming the latest company to take aim at Web gossip that provides increasingly accurate insider information.

The civil complaint, filed Wednesday in Santa Clara County, seeks an injunction against an unnamed individual or individuals against further disclosure of Apple's trade secrets, as well as monetary damages.

Apple contends that a person using a computer pseudonym posted information and images about its new dual-processor G4 PowerMac and new oval-shape optical mouse ahead of the products' release at last month's MacWorld in New York.


Flights to Honolulu twice turn back

An airliner carrying honeymooners and other Hawaii-bound vacationers had to return to San Francisco on Wednesday because of engine trouble the second time in a day the travelers had been turned back.

American Airlines Flight 39 originally departed on schedule at 9 a.m. Tuesday but was turned back after about three hours when one of the three engines on the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 lost power, the airline said.

American dispatched another DC-10 to take the 290 passengers to Honolulu, but mechanical problems delayed its departure until 11:40 p.m. About an hour into that flight, the crew noticed one engine losing oil and turned around, landing in San Francisco at 1:53 a.m.


Tunnel construction blamed in car accident

A man who suffered irreversible brain damage when he was struck by a drunken driver at the city's tunnel construction site known as the Big Dig will receive $6 million from the state. Anthony Roberts' attorneys argued that the Big Dig's bad traffic configuration, combined with driver Stokely Boast's drunken condition, led to the accident.

Roberts, 43, also will receive $2.9 million from Boast, who struck him while he was crossing the street near the tunnel project two years ago. A jury last week found several Big Dig companies, Boast and his employer, Beacon Design Group, responsible for Roberts' injuries.


Disneyland ride's malfunction injures 9

The Space Mountain roller coaster ride at Disneyland was closed after a malfunction caused minor injuries to nine people. The accident happened about 10:55 p.m. Monday when a wheel support arm came loose and brought a 12-person car to a sudden halt. Nine people were treated at hospitals for bruises, including a woman in the first seat of the car whose feet were bruised when the floor buckled underneath her.

The safety system on the ride, which reaches a maximum speed of about 30 mph as it winds its way through a half-mile course, stopped other cars. The lights in the darkened Space Mountain were turned on and everyone was evacuated.

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