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Archive for Thursday, August 28, 2003

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August 28, 2003

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Illinois

Students, driver hurt as school bus overturns

A school bus carrying 15 students clung precariously to the narrow gravel along a winding rural road for more than 300 feet before rolling into a steep ravine and injuring everyone on board, authorities said.

The road outside Van Burensburg was recently repaved and a guardrail had not yet been replaced, said Montgomery County Sheriff Jim Vazzi. He said the ravine was so steep rescue workers used ropes to reach the bus, which plunged about 15 feet.

Two students flown to a hospital in Springfield were in critical condition, said Vandalia School Supt. Garry Krutsinger.

Linda Schulte of Krutsinger's office said the students were of all ages from kindergarten through high school and were headed to school when the accident took place.

Florida

Undersea cables will run through coral reef gaps

Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet have approved five routes through South Florida coral reefs where communications companies can lay undersea fiber-optic cables.

The rules give incentives for companies to lay cable in the natural corridors off Broward and Palm Beach counties instead of in denser coral beds. Cables would be banned from coral-rich areas of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.

Environmentalists had urged the state to require companies to drill under the reefs or route their cables 100 miles north, where coral is less abundant. They cited a 1999 accident when two cables came loose and dislodged 283 corals.

Dan Meyer, general counsel for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a group that has studied the impact of cables on reefs, said there was no "pressing need" for new cables in that area. The group says the swaying motion of the cables damages coral, which requires hundreds of years to regenerate.

New York City

Convicted mobster can go to Disney World

Andrew Gigante, son of Genovese crime boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante, is about to serve a two-year sentence for extortion. So what's he going to do next?

He's going to Disney World!

Gigante, 46, asked for and received permission this month to take care of some family business -- a trip with his wife and four children to Disney World in Orlando -- before he heads off to prison Sept. 23.

Prosecutors did not oppose the unusual vacation request.

Gigante, who lives in Norwood, N.J., pleaded guilty in April to extorting $90,000 from a businessman and agreed to a lifetime ban from doing business on the waterfront in New York, New Jersey and South Florida.

Los Angeles

Gallons of PCP, weapons seized in police raid

Federal agents and police announced the arrests of 24 people in Los Angeles and Houston in a crackdown on PCP manufacturers and distributors.

Authorities said Tuesday they seized enough chemicals and laboratory materials in both cities to produce at least $3 million worth of the potent hallucinogen on an ongoing basis. Also confiscated were 10 gallons of finished PCP, half a dozen guns and rifles, vehicles, and $125,000 in cash and other assets.

Authorities didn't say how many arrests were in Houston and how many were in Los Angeles.

Ray Tripicchio, chief of the Southern California Drug Task Force, said another dozen people were still being sought in connection with the PCP manufacturing. He said those arrested helped distribute the drug nationwide.

Steven Woodland of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles said the arrests knocked out a third of the 10 to 15 PCP-producing organizations in the West.

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