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Archive for Thursday, July 3, 2003

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July 3, 2003

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Chicago

Building owner sued in deadly porch collapse

The city on Wednesday sued the owners and managers of the apartment building where 13 people died in a porch collapse, demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties for allegedly building the deck without a permit.

The city also alleged that the porch was too large and did not have proper support beams, causing it to crash onto two lower porches during a party early Sunday in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

The city asked for a court order requiring immediate replacement of the porch and is seeking up to $500 a day for each violation. That would add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars; the porch was built in 1998.

Denver

Court-martial ordered in sex assault on cadet

An Air Force Academy sophomore will be the first to face a court-martial on rape charges since a sexual assault scandal broke at the academy earlier this year, officials announced Wednesday.

Douglas Meester, 20, is charged with rape, sodomy, indecent assault and providing alcohol to minors. If convicted at a military trial, he could face life in prison and dismissal from the Air Force.

The decision to court-martial Meester was made by Brig. Gen. John Weida, who became cadet commandant earlier this year in a management shakeup that stemmed from the scandal.

During Meester's Article 32 May hearing, an 18-year-old freshman cadet from Pennsylvania testified that on Oct. 18, she drank at least six shots of tequila with Meester and two other cadets in his dorm room. She said she passed out and awoke as Meester raped her, and that she drifted in and out of consciousness.

New York City

WTC site panels covered in graffiti

Information panels along a viewing wall at the World Trade Center site, directly below a memorial list of victims' names, have been defaced with graffiti.

The panels outline the twin towers' history, including their construction, the 1993 bombing and their destruction by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.

The diagrams and photos are now covered with writing.

Some of the messages are words of hope, remembrance or prayer: "God bless you. ... We will never forget."

Others are indecipherable or vaguely crude: "madison arrived here... Jaz -- A.K.A Big Butt..."

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, said agency officials were aware of the graffiti and appalled by it.

The agency is in the process of having replacement panels made, he said.

Atlanta

CDC: Destroy pets with monkeypox

Any pets feared infected with monkeypox should be destroyed, and other animals, including cats and dogs, that may have been exposed to the disease should be quarantined for up to six weeks, federal health officials said Wednesday.

The announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention represents a stepping-up of its efforts to control the outbreak.

There have been no confirmed U.S. cases of monkeypox in cats and dogs, but such pets could get the virus from close contact with an infected animal and spread it to humans, the CDC said.

The CDC also said tests confirmed that the monkeypox outbreak in the United States came from six African rodents that arrived three months ago on a ship from Ghana.

Texas

Suspect admits committing hate crime

A man pleaded guilty to arson as a hate crime for setting a Pakistani man's gas pump ablaze in 2002.

Norman Lee Warden Jr., 59, was sentenced to 16 years in prison as part of a plea agreement.

He faced up to life in prison if convicted of the charge for a blaze on May 27, 2002, at the Buy-N-Bye convenience store in Kountze, about 75 miles northeast of Houston.

Prosecutors said Warden selected the convenience store because of his "bias or prejudice" toward owner Tahir Mahmood, a Muslim man from Pakistan.

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