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Archive for Sunday, March 25, 2001

National briefs

March 25, 2001

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Oklahoma

Inmate dies at hostage site

One of two convicted murderers who held an elderly couple hostage in their Edmond home was found dead late Saturday inside the house, authorities said. Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said William Davis may have killed himself. The other inmate, Douglas Gray, emerged from the home and surrendered, Whetsel said.

Hostage Gilbert Tuepker, 73, walked out of his home and was reunited with his wife, Mildred, 72, who had been released earlier in the evening, police spokeswoman Glynda Chu said.

Whetsel said the men apparently made a pact to kill themselves if they were cornered, but Gray changed his mind.

California

Flat Earth president dies

Charles Johnson, irrepressible advocate and president of the International Flat Earth Society for nearly three decades, has died. He was 76.

"We have studied the Earth," he assured anybody who would listen, "and found it flat." That plane Earth, he insisted, is infinite in size, a disc with the North Pole in the center and impenetrable Arctic ice 150 feet high all the way around. The sun and moon, each 32 miles in diameter, circle the disc at a steady height of 3,000 miles, with so-called rising or setting only an optical illusion.

Johnson died near Hi Vista, where he had moved the iconoclastic society's headquarters in 1972.

Washington

Apple product recalled

Fresh Products Northwest is recalling its "Crunch Pak" Fresh Sliced Apple packages in 17 states, including Kansas, because of possible bacterial contamination. Recent samples show some packages may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the company said on Saturday.

The organism can cause serious or fatal infections in children, and the sick and elderly. It also can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Others may get fevers, headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Anyone with questions can call recall coordinator Mary Hixson at (541) 608-1719.

California

Power costs may skyrocket

The state's power purchases for two struggling utilities could cost $23 billion by the end of next year, leaving customers paying at least 50 percent more for electricity, The Associated Press has learned.

State officials told several key legislators Friday that the state's efforts to help credit-poor Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. could hit $23 billion by 2003, a legislative source told the AP on condition of anonymity.

That's far more than lawmakers and Gov. Gray Davis estimated when they approved legislation authorizing the state's power purchases. At the time, they projected they would need $10 billion in revenue bonds to buy power for the two utilities over a decade. The bonds would be repaid by the utilities' customers over several years.

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