Archive for Saturday, March 15, 2003

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March 15, 2003

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Iowa: College president faces marijuana charges

A day after a community college president was arrested on drug charges, his wife and two children turned themselves in to police.

Officers seized harvested marijuana worth about $20,000, along with 72 plants, from the home of David England, president of Des Moines Area Community College.

England, 50, was arrested Wednesday on felony charges of growing marijuana to sell. His wife, Donna, 49; their daughter, Jessica, a 22-year-old senior at Iowa State University; and son, a 16-year-old high school junior, turned themselves in Thursday on related charges.

The two-year college, which has about 12,000 students, placed David England on paid administrative leave.

England's attorney, William Kutmus, declined to comment on the charges Friday. He had told The Des Moines Register that his client would plead innocent.

Texas: Student charged in university hacking

Authorities filed federal charges Friday against a 20-year-old student accused of hacking into a University of Texas computer system and stealing Social Security numbers and other personal information from more than 55,000 students, faculty and staff members.

Christopher Andrew Phillips, who is studying computer science at the Austin campus, was charged with unlawful access to a protected computer and unlawful use of a means of identification.

He turned himself in Friday morning and was released without bail.

Phillips' attorney, Allan Williams, said his client was cooperating fully with the government.

Phillips told officials he had no intention of using the information to harm anyone, according to court papers. Federal prosecutors said there was no indication that the stolen data was used to anyone's detriment.

Detroit: Flight attendant accused of spiking child's juice

A former Northwest Airlines flight attendant was charged with assault for allegedly putting a prescription depressant in a toddler's apple juice to stop her crying on an international flight.

Daniel Reed Cunningham, 33, also was charged Thursday with distributing a controlled substance on the Aug. 25 flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The girl's mother, Beate Turner, told FBI special agent Terry Booth that Cunningham seemed upset when her 19-month-old daughter became restless and began squirming and crying on the flight. Cunningham offered the apple juice three times before Turner accepted, according to the agent's affidavit. The girl suffered no serious injury.

Turner later noticed the juice was bitter and foamy and had blue and white specks floating in it. Ten days after the flight, she took the juice to University Laboratories in Novi, Mich., which confirmed the presence of Xanax, a prescription medication used to treat panic attacks and anxiety, the FBI said.

Virginia: Bomb-sniffing dogs bogus, government says

The federal government Friday arrested a businessman who had provided it with purported bomb-sniffing dogs that were allegedly unable to detect even 50 pounds of dynamite.

Russell Lee Ebersole, 43, was in custody Friday awaiting arraignment next week on fraud and other charges.

Ebersole is accused of lying about the qualifications of his dogs and their handlers and faking certifications. He did business with several federal agencies, including the State Department and the Federal Reserve.

Ebersole, owner of Detector Dogs Against Drugs and Explosives near Winchester, Va., was paid $700,000 for work for the agencies in 2001 and 2002.

Thursday's indictment alleges Ebersole's dogs failed five independent tests. In one, dogs and handlers were unable to detect 50 pounds of dynamite and 15 pounds of plastic explosives hidden in vehicles.

Ebersole's lawyer, Spencer Ault, said his client was innocent.

Atlanta: U.S. life expectancy reaches 77.2 years

Life expectancy for Americans reached an all-time high of 77.2 years in 2001, federal officials said Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said life expectancy increased by two-tenths of a year from 2000. A drop in major causes of deaths such as heart disease, cancer and stroke contributed to the increase.

For men, life expectancy rose from 74.3 years in 2000 to 74.4 years in 2001. For women, it went from 79.7 years to 79.8 years for the same period. The CDC analyzed more than 97 percent of all state death certificates issued in 2001.

The national death rate dropped slightly from 869 deaths per 100,000 people in 2000 to 855 deaths per 100,000 in 2001. The 2001 infant mortality rate remained the same from 2000 at 6.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

Deaths from HIV and AIDS dropped nearly 4 percent between 2000 and 2001, a downward trend since 1995.

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