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Archive for Saturday, March 6, 2004

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March 6, 2004

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CHICAGO

Wind storms tear through Midwest

A bus toppled from a bridge Friday in central Illinois during blustery wind storms that tore across the Midwest with gusts topping 60 mph. The bus driver and a passenger were hospitalized.

Elsewhere, the wind pushed over trucks, peeled off rooftops and knocked out power to thousands in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

"It has been a day of truly going head-to-head against Mother Nature," Illinois' ComEd utility spokesman Trent Frager said.

The National Weather Service reported winds gusting to 58 mph near the Peoria airport and in Galesburg, meteorologist Kirk Huettl said. He said the wind overturned two trucks on a highway between Bloomington and Champaign.

INDIANAPOLIS

Study procedure altered after participant dies

Eli Lilly and Co. said Friday that it would lengthen the withdrawal period used to wean participants in a drug study of an experimental medication after the suicide of a 19-year-old woman who was taking part in the tests.

Lilly required mental-health evaluations of test subjects after the Feb. 7 suicide of Indiana college student Traci Johnson. Some participants complained of sleeplessness, anxiety or nervousness during their withdrawal from duloxetine, a drug Lilly is testing for two uses: depression and stress urinary incontinence.

Indianapolis-based Lilly has now doubled the tapering period for the drug from four days to eight days.

Virginia

Scholar gets 7 months for selling technology

A scholar who was freed from a Chinese prison after the U.S. government interceded on her behalf was sentenced Friday to seven months in a U.S. prison for selling computer equipment with potential military uses to China.

Gao Zhan, who was born in China but is a U.S. resident living in McLean, had pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully exporting electronic equipment to agencies associated with the Chinese military.

She could have been sentenced to three years in prison, but was given a sharply reduced term after prosecutors said she provided substantial cooperation after her arrest on matters of national security.

North Dakota

Suspect to stand trial in kidnapping of student

A convicted rapist was ordered Friday to stand trial on charges he kidnapped a University of North Dakota student who was last seen in November at a shopping mall.

A magistrate judge ruled that prosecutors presented enough evidence to try Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. At a separate hearing, Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to the charge. A trial date was not immediately set.

Sjodin, 22, of Pequot Lakes, Minn., disappeared Nov. 22 and investigators believe Rodriguez abducted her from a Grand Forks mall parking lot. Sjodin was last heard from in a cell phone conversation with her boyfriend, Chris Lang.

Investigators have said they believe Sjodin is dead.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Dallas law firm settles tax-shelter claims

The law firm Jenkens & Gilchrist reached a $75 million class action settlement Friday to resolve claims related to tax shelters.

The settlement, subject to court approval, stems from two class action lawsuits filed in New York federal courts brought by individuals who used tax shelters later criticized or audited by the Internal Revenue Service.

An attorney who represented some of the investors in the shelters said the promoters took advantage of his clients' trust in their longtime financial advisers.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Report: U.S. failed to bill $44 million to insurers

The Defense Department is failing to collect at least $44 million a year from private insurance companies for health care services provided to military-related patients, according to congressional findings obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

Investigators with the General Accounting Office examined billing practices at the largest 35 of 132 military treatment facilities, and said third-party insurance companies often weren't billed because the necessary information was not properly collected or recorded.

The Defense Department acknowledged that "additional funds could have been collected," but said that staff had been working over the past three years to strengthen its billing practices.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Senator: Tenet must say why he was quiet on Iraq

CIA Director George Tenet must explain why he waited until last month to "set the record straight" that Iraq posed no immediate threat to the United State in the months leading up to the war, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said Friday.

Kennedy, D-Mass., said Tenet must explain why he never corrected President Bush and others in the administration when they warned of a nuclear threat building in Iraq.

"Where was the CIA director when the vice president was going nuclear about Saddam going nuclear?" Kennedy asked in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Kennedy said the administration manipulated the intelligence, when "the only imminent threat was the November congressional election."

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