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Archive for Saturday, July 20, 2002

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July 20, 2002

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Washington

Gay physician to lead AIDS policy office

The White House made it official Friday: Joseph O'Neill is taking over the helm of President Bush's office on AIDS policy, replacing an openly gay director whose activism rankled some conservatives.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer issued a statement naming O'Neill, an openly gay physician who is acting head of the office of AIDS and HIV policy in the Department of Health and Human Services, to be director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.

Outgoing director Scott Evertz, the first openly gay person nominated to an executive branch office by a Republican president, was shifted to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Georgia

Mentally ill inmate gouges out own eyes

A mentally ill man who was jailed after wandering into traffic and knocking on doors late at night gouged his eyes out in his cell, authorities said Friday in Hazlehurst.

Jailers discovered 49-year-old Alvin Kent Smith in his cell with his eyes plucked out April 4, Sheriff Jimmy Boatright said. Doctors saved one eye, but it is unlikely Smith will regain his sight.

Smith's family thought he was attacked by his cellmate, but a Georgia Bureau of Investigation report concluded Smith's injuries were self-inflicted.

Smith had no injuries to his eyelids or face, which almost certainly would have occurred if someone attacked him, Boatright said. Also, there was no trace of Smith's blood or tissue under his cellmate's fingernails.

Smith would not tell investigators how he lost his eyes.

Smith was picked up late April 3 after several people reported he was walking in traffic and knocking on people's doors.

Washington

Gas grills recalled

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced two recalls of more than 60,000 gas grills Friday.

Wal-Mart Stores are recalling some 60,000 Red Devil grills because the air intake tube can warm to temperatures as high as 750 degrees Fahrenheit, putting consumers in danger of being burned. Also, heat can cause the grill to collapse.

The CPSC said there had been 44 reports of people being burned on the legs, hands and fingers, and more than 1,000 grills have been returned because they collapsed. None of those injuries involved grills sold by Wal-Mart.

The grills were manufactured by e4L Inc., and Quantum North America Inc., which are now out of business. They sold the grills on television infomercials from May 1998 to January 1999.

Only grills sold by Wal-Mart are included in this recall which the agency said was the result of a cooperative agreement with Wal-Mart.

For more information, call Wal-Mart at (800) 925-6278 or CPSC at (800) 638-2772.

Detroit

$12 million in phony checks found on suspect

A Jordanian-born man carrying $12 million in phony cashier's checks was arrested at the Detroit airport and is being investigated by a terrorism task force, federal authorities said.

Omar Shishani, 47, was charged with possessing fraudulent bank notes. A bail hearing Friday was postponed to give his attorney more time to prepare.

Shishani lives in Dearborn and identified himself at his arraignment Thursday as a naturalized U.S. citizen. Federal prosecutor Eric Straus said Shishani was born in Jordan and is of Chechen descent.

The U.S. attorney's Anti-Terrorism Task Force, made up of federal and state authorities in the Detroit area, is investigating.

Florida

Two patients contract HIV from transfusions

Two people contracted HIV from blood transfusions after tests failed to find the virus because the donor's infection was in its early stages, officials said.

The incident marks the second time since the nation's blood banks implemented new screening technology in 1999 that HIV has been transmitted through a transfusion, according to Florida Blood Services. The first case infected a man in September in San Antonio.

The victims, one young adult and one in the mid-60s, were told Wednesday they contracted HIV from blood and plasma transfusions in Hillsborough and Pinellas county hospitals, according to Florida Blood Services, which processed the blood.

The donor gave infected blood in March, but had contracted the disease so recently that tests did not detect it. The virus takes seven to 10 days to build up sufficiently for detection.

New jersey

Infant killed, burned in couple's fireplace

A couple has been charged with beating their infant son to death, then burning his corpse in their fireplace, officials said Friday.

Kevin Abrahams, 25, and Jessica Morgan, 20, were arrested Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla., Burlington County prosecutors said.

Investigators believe the couple killed Sage Tyler Morgan-Abrahams in Burlington City sometime between March 31 and April 28, when he was 7 to 8 months old. He was born Aug. 17, 2001.

No one noticed the boy was missing until June 15, when Morgan's mother called police to say she had not seen her grandson since Easter.

Police said they found an infant's charred remains in a trash bag in the closet of the room where the couple had been living in New Jersey.

Morgan and Abrahams were charged with drug possession by Florida authorities. They were being held without bail.

In New Jersey, they have been charged with murder.

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