Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2004


June 24, 2004


Washington, D.C.

Food stamps get modern makeover

The Agriculture Department, hoping to modernize the staid image of food stamps, is taking the program for the needy fully electronic and looking for a snazzier name.

The paper coupons issued under the government's Food Stamp Program will be phased out this month in favor of a plastic card much like a bank debit card, the department said Tuesday.

In the electronic age, the term "food stamps" no longer has the right ring, said Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. She said her department would ask for suggestions for a new name "to better reflect the mission of this vital program" that subsidizes food purchases for 23 million low-income Americans every month.

Washington, D.C.

Tractor protest brings six-year sentence

A tobacco farmer dubbed "Tractor Man" was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison in connection with a March 2003 incident that brought traffic in the nation's capital to a standstill.

Dwight Ware Watson, 51, of Whitakers, N.C., was handed the prison time for his conviction on charges of making a false threat to detonate explosives and destruction of federal property.

On March 17, 2003, Watson drove his tractor into a shallow just west of the Washington Monument. For the next 47 hours he sat there, claiming to have "organophosphate bombs" in a metal box attached to a flatbed trailer that he towed to the scene.

U.S. Park Police closed several blocks of Constitution Avenue as Watson continued the standoff. Over four consecutive rush hours, traffic was backed up for miles in the District of Columbia and neighboring northern Virginia.

A search of Watson's vehicles turned up a pair of aerosol insecticide cans and a practice grenade incapable of exploding.

Washington, D.C.

Strollers recalled for faulty seat

An Indiana company is recalling 300,000 baby strollers because the seat can partially detach from the frame and allow the infant to fall. There have been 77 reports of problems, including dozens of injuries, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.

Dorel Juvenile Group USA, of Columbus, is recalling the COSCO "Rock 'N Roller" strollers, which have seats that can be removed, repositioned or used as a bassinet. The seat can partially detach if certain pins are bent or missing or if the seat has not been correctly attached, allowing the infant to fall out of the seat.

The strollers were sold at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Sears, Toys R Us, Target, J.C. Penney's and other children's stores nationwide from April 1996 through August 2002 for $79-$179. They were manufactured in China and have dark blue or green metal frames with four wheels on the front and two wheels on the back.

West virginia

Gun seller to pay $1 million settlement

A judge approved a landmark $1 million settlement Wednesday between two New Jersey police officers and the store that sold the gun used to shoot them.

Police officers David Lemongello and Kenneth McGuire of Orange, N.J., were shot with a Sturm, Ruger 9mm handgun in January 2001. Both were disabled and have retired. Their attacker, Shuntez Everett, was killed in a gunbattle with them.

The settlement between the officers and the Will Co., which operated Will's Jewelry and Loan in South Charleston, was approved by Kanawha County Circuit Judge Irene Berger.

The shop sold the gun and 11 others in July 2000 in a "straw sale," in which someone without a criminal record buys guns and turns them over to someone else. The store later contacted federal agents and cooperated in an undercover sting.

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