Archive for Wednesday, April 30, 2003


April 30, 2003


Washington, D.C.: Screenings of foreigners to rely on biometrics

Foreign visitors arriving in the United States by air and sea will be tracked by a new system that verifies their identities through fingerprints or newer technologies such as iris scans or digital photos.

The new program is designed to allow U.S. officials to track the comings and goings of tourists, students and business travelers from overseas, part of efforts to tighten border security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Fingerprints, for example, will be checked against law enforcement databases to find potential terrorists trying to enter the United States.

The department's goal is to have the program in place by the end of the year at seaports and at airports where international flights arrive. It is to be expanded to border crossings with Canada and Mexico by 2005.

Washington, D.c.: Holocaust-era records on insurance released

The release by German insurance companies of more than 360,000 names of life insurance policyholders who died in the Holocaust could help relatives seeking to claim unpaid benefits.

The International Commission of Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims will list the 363,232 names on its Web site,, starting today, said Dale Frank, the panel's chief of staff.

It's unclear how many people may benefit from the release of the names. The German insurance companies say many of the beneficiaries already have received payments through restitution programs established in the 1950s and '60s.

Many Holocaust victims or survivors were denied payment of claims after World War II because insurance companies demanded to see policies or death certificates as proof.

Honolulu: Lovesick vacationer faces terror charges

A woman faces terrorism-related charges accusing her of planting threatening notes aboard a cruise ship in hopes of halting a family trip so she could return home to her boyfriend.

Because of the notes, the Legend of the Seas cruise was interrupted last week so the FBI could question passengers.

Kelley Marie Ferguson of Laguna Hills, Calif., appeared Monday in federal court on two counts of violating terrorism laws. A hearing is set for Thursday.

Ferguson, 20, admitted penning two notes threatening to kill all U.S. citizens aboard the Legend of the Seas if the ship, which had sailed from Ensenada, Mexico, stopped at an American port, U.S. Atty. Edward Kubo said.

"The defendant said she never wanted to go on this cruise ship with her family to begin with and that she wrote these notes hoping that it would shorten her time on the cruise," Kubo said.

Alabamba: Seven states shaken by rare Southern quake

An uncommon Southern earthquake shook people out of their sleep early Tuesday, fraying nerves and cracking foundations but causing no major damages or injuries.

Some people thought the boom and rumble was a bomb, a gas truck explosion, a tornado, even terrorism, but fright soon gave way to nervous laughter.

"The quake shook up the chicken shed so bad they all laid scrambled eggs," Jim Toler joked at a restaurant. "It bounced us pretty heavy."

The magnitude 4.9 quake, tying the record for Alabama, struck around 4 a.m. and was centered near Fort Payne, close to the Georgia line, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was felt in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi.

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