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Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004

Briefly

June 17, 2004

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New York City

Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrates 100th year

"Bigs and Littles" from around the country gathered Wednesday in New York's Bryant Park to celebrate the 100th birthday of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

About 100 pairs of Big Brothers and Big Sisters swarmed into the park, slurping rapidly melting ice cream served by celebrity scoopers such as singer Nick Lachey, above left.

Officials of Big Brothers Big Sisters say their 100th anniversary will help kick off a decade of growth expected to build membership from 220,000 pairs to 1 million.

Chief executive Judy Vredenburgh, said her organization's research showed that Big Brothers Big Sisters helped keep children in school and avoid alcohol and drugs.

"Big Brothers Big Sisters prevents destructive behavior and encourages constructive behavior," she said.

Washington, D.C.

U.S. Postal Service goofs on checks in mail

More than 41,000 postal workers will be getting a little something extra in their paychecks this week, but they can't keep it.

A spokesman for the Postal Service said Wednesday that a computer error caused it to send overpayments averaging about $4,000 to more than 41,000 postal workers across the country. Gerry McKiernan said the agency had written to those employees, explaining the error.

"We're asking all the employees to write a personal check to the postal disbursing office," he said.

The Postal Service intended to send bonuses that were owed to about 1,900 workers. But it accidentally began sending the money to a list of about 77,000 employees who had received those bonuses in 2002.

Washington, D.C.

GAO finds flaws with online pharmacies

Congressional investigators were able to purchase powerful painkillers and other drugs online without the required prescriptions, according to a report to be discussed today at a Senate hearing.

In one instance, a drug labeled as the powerful painkiller Oxycontin arrived inside a compact disc case. and an HIV-medication was shipped inside a canister labeled stain remover, the study by the General Accounting Office found.

Of the 68 online purchases the GAO made between January and June, 45 required no prescriptions, even if the medicines were addictive and or had serious safety restrictions. As in prior studies, the GAO found Internet sites that relied solely on online questionnaires to screen buyers, received products that were not properly labeled or stored and arrived without patient pamphlets.

Washington, D.C.

Reagan stamp planned

A postage stamp honoring Ronald Reagan will be issued next year, the Postal Service announced Wednesday.

Postal policy is to honor prominent Americans with a stamp no sooner than 10 years after their death, except for former presidents who, the agency said, can be honored on their first birth anniversary following death. Reagan was born Feb. 6, 1911, and died June 5.

In announcing the Reagan stamp, Postmaster General John Potter said, "The Postal Service will be proud to add a commemorative postage stamp to recognize the many honors that President Reagan, a man of diverse talents, accumulated throughout his life and beyond."

Washington, D.C.

Senate reaffirms stand against torture

Confronting new doubts raised by government memos, the Senate voted Wednesday to reaffirm that the United States would not use torture against detainees.

The voice vote, on an amendment to a defense spending bill, followed disclosures last week of Bush administration memos contending the government might not be bound by international anti-torture principles in the war against terror.

"The world is watching us," said the legislation's sponsor, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. "They are asking whether the United States will stand behind its treaty obligations in the age of terrorism."

The amendment also would require the secretary of defense to issue guidelines to ensure troops comply with the standards and report to Congress on any suspected violations.

Honolulu

University president fired without notice

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents fired the school's president without immediately giving a reason, though the board said the action was "with cause."

Tuesday night's vote to fire university President Evan Dobelle was unanimous, said board chairwoman Pat Lee.

"Sadly, we have come to the realization that the president no longer has our trust, and there is no longer a unity of purpose between the board and the president, or a clear recognition of his integrity, character and commitment," Lee said.

Lee did not elaborate on the reason for Dobelle's firing, but the board fired Dobelle "with cause," signaling they do not intend to pay him the $2 million severance package.

The regents were unable to contact Dobelle about the decision, university officials said.

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