Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

National Briefs

October 18, 2000



Food stamp nutrition questioned

Low-income people who get food stamps eat more, but not necessarily better. The program increases intake of fat, sugar and meat while having little effect on consumption of the foods people need to eat more, such as fruit, vegetables and grains, a government study says. Food-stamp beneficiaries eat 4 more grams of fat, 2 more teaspoons of sugar and a quarter-ounce more meat than low-income people who aren't getting the assistance, according to the study by the Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service.

By contrast, participants in a separate government nutrition program targeted to pregnant women and young children tend to lower their intake of sugar and added fats, the study said. That's because the Women, Infants and Children program strictly limits what beneficiaries can buy with the assistance.


Cruise line's pollution probed

Carnival Cruise Line has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to provide documents about environmental practices on its ships.

The subpoena suggests that the Miami-based cruise giant, which operates six lines, could be the target of a continuing pollution investigation similar to one that resulted in a conviction and fine of rival Royal Caribbean.

Miami-based Royal Caribbean was fined $18 million after pleading guilty in July 1999 to charges related to dumping waste in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The company paid $9 million after pleading guilty to similar charges in 1998.


Father pleads to son's Freon death

A father who pumped Freon gas into his son's bath to entertain the boy with the bubbles pleaded guilty to child-abuse homicide in the 4-year-old's death.

With Monday's plea, Michael Jeffrey Bunting, 31, avoided a trial on murder charges. He could get up to 15 years in prison at sentencing Dec. 8.

The boy was asphyxiated last year after his father used a pressurized Freon canister and a hose to make bubbles in the youngster's bath.

Prosecutors had charged the father with murder because he is an air-conditioning installer licensed to carry Freon, a refrigerant, and was expected to know the dangers posed by the gas.


Month-long transit strike settled

Bus and subway drivers voted late Tuesday to end their month-long transit strike that has stranded nearly a half-million regular commuters and hit particularly hard at Los Angeles' working poor.

Buses could be back on the streets as early as today, and subways could be back in service by Thursday.

Officials with the Metropolitan Transit Authority said Tuesday that commuters would be give five days of free rides in a way of an apology.

"We think we owe them something," County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said. "They have been terribly inconvenienced. There are some people that probably lost their jobs."

New Mexico

Feds interview embattled scientist

Investigators met with Wen Ho Lee on Tuesday for the first time since his release from jail to learn what the former Los Alamos scientist did with 17 computer tapes containing nuclear secrets.

The meeting is part of a plea deal reached Sept. 13. Lee pleaded guilty to one count of improperly downloading data and agreed to submit to 10 days of debriefings, answering questions under oath for six hours a day and submitting to polygraph examinations on demand. In exchange, 58 counts against him were dropped, and Lee was sentenced to the nine months he had already served in jail and freed.

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