Archive for Saturday, August 2, 2003

Briefly

August 2, 2003

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Washington, D.C.

FDA removes label from fake fat olestra

Snacks made with the fake fat olestra no longer will have to bear the unappetizing label that warned they might cause cramps and diarrhea.

The Food and Drug Administration lifted the warning Friday, concluding that if the zero-calorie fat substitute had any stomach-troubling effect, it was mild and rare.

The FDA approved olestra's sale in 1996, as long as packages bore labels spelling out possible gastrointestinal side effects. The synthetic chemical made of sugar and vegetable oil tastes like fat but passes through the body undigested.

The consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest repeatedly urged the FDA to remove olestra from the market, noting embarrassing episodes it had caused some consumers. Ultimately, the FDA received about 20,000 reports of gastrointestinal complaints among olestra eaters.

Illinois

Jury convicts 'bully' in small-town killings

A man known as a small-town bully with a hair-trigger temper was convicted of murder Friday for shooting to death a sheriff's deputy and a couple he had feuded with for years.

Curtis Thompson, 61, could get the death penalty.

A jury rejected Thompson's innocent-by-reason-of-insanity defense. The penalty phase begins Monday.

Thompson, a retired coal miner, killed Adam Streicher in March 2002 when the rookie sheriff's deputy tried to arrest Thompson at his home in Toulon on a probation violation.

Thompson then stole the officer's gun and squad car, broke into the home of James and Janet Giesenhagen, and shot the couple in front of their 10-year-old daughter.

Prosecutors said Thompson had long been known as a bully and had had a 15-year feud with the Giesenhagens over a lawsuit filed in a dog bite case in the farming town of 1,100 people.

Washington, D.C.

Judges tap reserve fund to pay civil trial jurors

Federal judges plan to tap a $10 million emergency fund to avoid running out of money to pay jurors who serve in civil trials.

The spending averts the potential suspension of civil jury trials, but could mean new problems if another emergency arises before October, when the federal budget cycle begins anew.

Earlier in the week, a federal judge who oversees administration of the court system asked fellow judges to suspend "noncritical" civil jury trials because of an unexpected shortfall of more than $4 million to pay jurors.

On Thursday, Judge Carolyn Dineen King of the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals revised her advice to judges. She said the emergency money would allow civil trials to continue, although she said there might be delays in paying some private lawyers who represent criminal defendants too poor to afford their own lawyers.

Pennsylvania

Car-seat recall extended

Graco Children's Products said Friday it was extending its voluntary recall of the Snug-Ride infant car seat, begun in March.

A small number of SnugRide infant car seats may be missing hardware that helps attach the carrier to the base, the company said. No injuries have been linked to the problem to date, Graco said.

In March, Graco recalled 650,000 SnugRide infant car seats made in the United States between March 1, 2002, and March 6, 2003.

SnugRide infant car seats sold as part of a travel system or stand-alone units made in China are not affected.

Consumers can use the Graco Web site at www.gracobaby.com to determine if their unit is affected, or call Graco at (800) 345-4109.

New York

Brooklyn bishop resigns

The pope accepted Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Daily's resignation after 13 years on the job Friday, with both the bishop and the Vatican saying that age -- not Daily's alleged role in the Boston church sex scandal -- prompted the move.

At a Brooklyn news conference, Daily said he followed Roman Catholic policy by tendering his resignation after turning "the ripe old age of 75" last September -- the normal retirement age for bishops.

Daily was named in a report last month by Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Tom Reilly, who accused the church official of failing to thoroughly investigate allegations of child sexual abuse, and transferring alleged abusive priests to new parishes -- rather than removing them from pastoral ministry.

California

Information revealed in 5-year-old's murder

Hours after a prosecutor revealed details in the Samantha Runnion case -- saying fibers on the 5-year-old's body were believed to match those from a hotel room allegedly registered to the suspect in her slaying -- the District Attorney's Office discounted the evidence Friday.

Orange County prosecutor Jim Mulgrew discussed the evidence as he argued against a defense motion to throw out that and other information in search warrants that led to the arrest of Alejandro Avila in the 2002 slaying of the girl.

Mulgrew did not tell the judge in open court the fiber evidence listed in a search warrant affidavit was wrong, as others in the district attorney's office said hours later.

Samantha was abducted from her front yard in July 2002 as she played with a friend. Her nude body was found the next day along a highway.

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