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Archive for Friday, November 7, 2003

Briefly

November 7, 2003

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Washington, D.C.

Report shows increase in foreign-born people

The U.S. foreign-born population surged by 1 million in the year ending in March, according to a report released Thursday, evidence the sluggish economy and stepped-up government enforcement of immigration laws after the 2001 terror attacks did not lead to a long-term slowdown in the influx of immigrants.

The 3 percent rise in the foreign-born population came after an increase of 2 percent, or 700,000, the previous year, according to the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. During the explosive growth of the 1990s, the foreign-born population grew at a pace of about 1.3 million a year.

The Center for Immigration Studies used Census Bureau data to calculate that the total foreign-born population in March was a record 33.5 million, roughly 12 percent of the U.S. population. Mexico was the country of origin for the most people, nearly 10 million.

Dallas

Human airline cargo suspect pleads guilty

The man who shipped himself from New York to his parents' home in DeSoto, Texas, inside a wooden cargo crate pleaded guilty Thursday in Fort Worth to a single count of stowing away aboard an aircraft.

Charles D. McKinley, 25, is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 4. He faces up to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine.

McKinley declined to comment. He has not spoken publicly about the incident since early September, when he acknowledged shipping himself to his parents' house "because I wanted to get home so bad it hurt."

He stowed away in a crate that traveled in several delivery trucks and two cargo airplanes between Sept. 5 and 6, skirting security at five major U.S. airports and prompting top government officials to question the security of the nation's air cargo industry.

Washington, D.C.

Anthrax scare closes federal mail facilities

The Postal Service closed 11 Washington-area post offices Thursday while authorities ran tests to determine whether anthrax was detected at the Navy site that handles mail for federal agencies.

Postal Service spokesman Azeezaly Jaffer said authorities decided "out of an abundance of caution" to close the facilities and test them for any biohazard contamination.

There was no indication any of 1,200 to 1,500 postal workers involved were exposed to anthrax, and Jaffer said no employees had been offered Cipro or any other antibiotic.

Equipment that routinely monitors the air at the Naval Automated Processing Facility in the District of Columbia indicated Wednesday the presence of "small amounts of biological pathogens, possibly anthrax," said Rachael Sunbarger, a Homeland Security spokeswoman.

Texas

Education board OKs new biology books

The State Board of Education, swayed by arguments that watering down the theory of evolution would "demean both faith and science," adopted a new slate of high school biology books Thursday that were expected to land eventually on the desks of millions of students in more than a dozen states.

Technically, the board's 11-4 vote was preliminary, but it was seen as a rebuke of religious conservatives seeking to have the books rejected.

Both sides said final approval in a vote to be taken this morning was a foregone conclusion. The books -- $30 million worth, by some estimates -- will be available for the 2004-2005 school year.

Religious conservatives and advocates had argued for months that the proposed textbooks presented too clear-cut a case on the theory of evolution.

Washington, D.C.

Self-reproducing worm needs males, study says

Male sex is important even for the lowly nematode, a soil worm that can reproduce without the masculine gender. A new study shows that keeping guys around may be essential to survival of the species.

Researchers long have wondered why the male nematode continues to exist because the simple worm reproduces so well without a partner. The answer, says Elizabeth B. Goodwin, a University of Wisconsin researcher, is that when conditions are tough, the male makes a key genetic contribution to keep the species going.

"The X chromosome coming from the dad makes all of the difference" in the species survival, said Goodwin, an associate professor of genetics and the senior author of a study appearing today in the journal Science.

"Sometimes we wonder why men are around, and maybe this explains it," she said, before adding with a laugh: "Not entirely, but it helps."

Rhode Island

Nightclub fire tapes released to public

Rescue workers arriving at February's deadly nightclub fire met a horrific scene, describing a "stampede" and "people on fire inside," tapes released Thursday show.

"We have multiple people trapped. We're just dragging them out, one by one," one rescue worker says.

"We've got a stampede," says another on the recordings, released by Atty. Gen. Patrick Lynch after a judge ordered that they be made public.

The Feb. 20 fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick killed 100 people and injured about 200 others as many concertgoers became trapped when they scrambled for the same exit.

The transmissions' release was ordered Wednesday by Kent County Superior Court Judge Mark Pfeiffer. The order came in response to a lawsuit filed in March by The Providence Journal seeking more information about what happened at The Station.

California

Schwarzenegger to hire grope investigator

Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger will hire a private investigator to look into allegations that he groped women, but he may keep the results from the state attorney general, a spokesman said Thursday.

Schwarzenegger's reluctance to turn over the results of the investigation stem from remarks Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer made earlier Thursday. The Democrat said he advised Schwarzenegger that the misconduct allegations "are not going to go away" and he should cooperate with an independent investigation.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman said those statements violated attorney-client privilege and had forced Schwarzenegger to reconsider whether he would provide any information to Lockyer.

Five days before the election, the Los Angeles Times detailed allegations from six women who said Schwarzenegger groped or sexually harassed them between 1975 and 2000. By the election, the number had grown to 16.

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