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Archive for Saturday, November 6, 2004

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November 6, 2004

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Wisconsin

Two killed, two wounded in hotel shooting

A gunman killed his girlfriend and another man and wounded two others at an Oak Creek hotel early Friday, at one point spraying the hallways with bullets, police said.

The 34-year-old man, who was holding a hostage when officers arrived, surrendered after about 30 minutes of negotiations, Police Chief Thomas Bauer said. He did not release the man's name.

Bauer said officers were called about 2:30 a.m. to the Comfort Suites, where a man indicated he had killed "some people."

Investigators believe the shooting started after the suspect and his 23-year-old girlfriend, Sandra Wisniewski of Milwaukee, got into a fight, Bauer said.

Anton Uebelhoer, 43, a German in town for a trade show, also was killed when he stepped into the hallway after Wisniewski was shot.

Pennsylvania

Nasal spray users suing for alleged loss of smell

Nine people have sued the manufacturer of a nasal spray, alleging that it caused them to permanently lose their sense of smell.

The plaintiffs, who used the nasal spray version of the cold remedy Cold-Eeze, filed the suit against Doylestown-based Quigley Corp. on Thursday. They are demanding unspecified damages for medical costs, pain and suffering.

A Quigley spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday, saying the company had not seen it.

The nasal spray contains zinc gluconate, which has been shown to be "toxic to the olfactory epithelium, the membrane essential for smell," the lawsuit said.

California

Peterson jurors end 3rd day of deliberations

Jurors in Scott Peterson's murder trial deliberated for a third day Friday before retiring to a hotel for the weekend.

They are forbidden from discussing the case until Monday, and are only permitted to watch sports and movies from a court-approved selection on television. They are not allowed visitors.

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi has reversed course and barred live television coverage of the verdict, citing concern for the families of Peterson and his wife, Laci, whom he is accused of killing around Christmas Eve 2002.

Kentucky

Patient implanted with artificial heart dies

A man who lived more than five months with an artificial heart has died of multiple organ failure, the heart manufacturer said Friday.

William Wiley, 73, was the 14th recipient of the softball-sized AbioCor artificial heart, which is made of plastic and titanium and powered by batteries.

When he received the device at Jewish Hospital in May, Wiley probably had less than two weeks to live without the implant, said Andrea tenBroek, spokeswoman for Abiomed Inc., the Danvers, Mass.-based company that makes the device.

New Jersey

Senator calls for halt to flights near school

Sen. Frank Lautenberg called on a National Guard unit Friday to halt all training flights over New Jersey until it determines why an F-16 fighter pilot strafed a school with cannon fire during a night mission.

The New Jersey Democrat called the pilot's actions "totally incomprehensible" and demanded a "guarantee that nothing like this can ever happen again."

National Guard officials are trying to figure out why the pilot opened fire on the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School from 7,000 feet with 25 rounds from a wing-mounted M61-A1 Vulcan cannon. The pilot, who was not identified by the military, was supposed to be aiming at a target on a practice range 3 1/2 miles away.

New York

Couple plead guilty to smuggling immigrants

A couple pleaded guilty Friday to charges of smuggling dozens of illegal immigrants from Peru and forcing them into "virtual servitude" to pay for their passage.

Jorge Ibanez and Maruiluz Zavala, both 43, pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors to charges that include conspiring to commit forced labor, transporting undocumented workers and providing them with forged green cards.

The couple was arrested during June 21 raids on three houses they owned in Suffolk County, where authorities found 69 aliens, including 13 children, living in what were described as squalid conditions.

Ibanez and Zavala could face more than 7 years in federal prison under the agreement, which includes fines of up to $250,000 each. No sentencing dates were scheduled.

Beijing

China hopes to flush smelly toilet image

Beijing hopes the smelly reputation of its public restrooms will be, well, flushed down the toilet soon. City officials will use the 2004 World Toilet Summit, starting Nov. 17, to showcase efforts to transform the capital's lavatories from foul to fragrant, from crude to cultured.

The issue is especially pressing as Chinese leaders try to clean up their capital before the 2008 Olympics.

The three-day summit is expected to attract 150 academics, sanitation experts, toilet designers and environmentalists from 19 countries.

Above, a worker cleans a public toilet in Beijing. China's public restrooms -- often little more than open trenches -- have long shocked and disgusted tourists with their stench and lack of soap, toilet paper and other basics.

Peru

Rebel leader retried after sentence tossed

The founder of Peru's Maoist Shining Path insurgency raised a defiant fist and proclaimed "glory to Marxism" in court Friday as the government retried him on terrorism charges a decade after he was sentenced to life in prison.

The proceedings against Abimael Guzman were quickly suspended as his 15 co-defendants joined him, standing up and chanting revolutionary slogans.

The life sentence against Guzman was overturned last year by Peru's Constitutional Tribunal, which declared that the secret court that convicted him was unconstitutional.

Guzman, 69, mastermind of a bloody insurgency initiated in 1980 by a movement that envisioned a classless utopia, was captured in 1992.

Ivory Coast

Clashes, bombing runs continue in north

Rebel fighters clashed with government troops, and warplanes struck rebel positions in the north Friday, escalating hostilities a day after army hard-liners broke a cease-fire and relaunched Ivory Coast's civil war after more than a year of relative peace.

With scores of civilians injured and an unknown number killed, regional gains toward peace were again in the balance, with international leaders appealing for restraint.

In Paris, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie called the situation "extremely worrying" and urged the United Nations to "give all lawful means" to help peacekeepers here restore order.

Afghanistan

Kidnappers extend deadline for hostages

Militants claiming to hold three U.N. hostages in Afghanistan postponed a Friday deadline for carrying out their threat to kill the trio, giving United Nations and Afghan officials another day to open negotiations.

The world body and the Afghan government have until tonight to open "formal" talks with Jaish-al Muslimeen, said Ishaq Manzoor, who claims to be a spokesman for the shadowy Taliban splinter group.

Manzoor told The Associated Press from an undisclosed location that "some respected people intervened and convinced our leaders to give time to the Afghan government and United Nations" to contact the group.

Tennessee

Kidney donor accepts TV offer of polygraph

A man who donated his kidney to a dialysis patient he met through the Internet has accepted a television show's offer to take a lie detector test aimed at rebutting claims he was paid.

Rob Smitty's decision to donate his kidney to Bob Hickey came after the two met through a for-profit Web site that matches donors and patients for a fee.

Smitty's lawyer, Bill Speek, said he now must rebut the "presumption that most people have that he did it for money or personal gain." He said such questions, if left unanswered, "will prevent other people from coming forward and doing altruistic and kind acts."

Speek said he will travel with Smitty to Los Angeles for a Nov. 13 lie-detector test offered by the PAX TV network for its planned "Lie Detector" series.

Seattle

NAACP sues district over discipline of blacks

Security guards in a Seattle-area school district handcuffed black students, twisted their arms and grabbed their hair, the NAACP alleged in a lawsuit filed Friday.

Black students, who make up 10 percent of the Kent school district's 26,000 students, were subjected to more corporal punishment than others in violation of state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and a law barring corporal punishment in schools, the lawsuit said.

The treatment violated the students' civil rights and damaged their ability to learn, lawyers for the group said.

Becky Hanks, a spokeswoman for the district, said it "rejects any claim that there's been any discrimination or mistreatment." She said officers use handcuffs, hair holds and arm holds when needed for safety.

Louisiana

Judge denies former governor's appeal

A federal judge denied former Gov. Edwin Edwards' latest attempt to overturn his 2000 conviction for extorting payoffs in return for riverboat casino licenses.

In a ruling made public Friday, U.S. District Judge Ralph Tyson also declined to throw out the related conviction of Edwards' son, Stephen Edwards. Both men are serving prison sentences in the scheme.

The defense motion, filed in February, claimed in part that the trial's presiding judge was biased against the four-term governor and could have been impaired by strong painkillers taken for a back injury.

Texas

State OKs textbooks with marriage phrases

The Texas Board of Education approved new health textbooks for the state's high school and middle school students Friday after the publishers agreed to change the wording to depict marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The decision involves two of the biggest textbook publishers and represents another example of Texas exerting its market clout as the nation's second-largest buyer of textbooks.

On Thursday, a board member charged that proposed new books ran counter to a Texas law banning the recognition of gay civil unions because the texts used terms like "married partners" instead of "husband and wife."

North Carolina

Man's 1984 molestation conviction thrown out

Prosecutors threw out charges Friday against a man who served 20 years in prison for the sexual molestation of two girls who recanted their allegations.

The victims, who were 4 and 6 when they made the charges, testified that they falsely accused the man under pressure from their grandmother because she wanted to protect the real abuser: a cousin of the girls.

More than 40 members of the family of Sylvester Smith were in court when the charges against him were dismissed. Smith's reaction to the dismissal was "a jubilation," said his attorney, Roy Trest. "We all are jubilant."

Smith, 53, was serving two consecutive life sentences after being convicted in 1984.

Seattle

Technician sentenced for identity theft

Lying in a hospital bed, dying from cancer and weak from massive doses of chemotherapy, Eric Drew began to get mail. Not from well-wishers but from banks and credit cards, thanking him for opening accounts he knew nothing about.

After a maddening six months of calling the companies, police, reporters and collection agencies, Drew discovered who had stolen his identity: a technician at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, where he received the first of his two bone marrow transplants.

The technician, Richard W. Gibson, 42, was sentenced to 16 months in prison Friday, the first person in the nation sentenced under a new law designed to protect patients' privacy, prosecutors said.

Moscow

Putin ratifies Kyoto Protocol on slowing global warming

Russia gave final approval to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming as President Vladimir Putin signed legislation ratifying the landmark environmental pact that seeks to slow global warming by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, the Kremlin said Friday.

The protocol, ratified by both houses of Russia's parliament last month, commits 55 industrialized nations to make significant cuts in emissions of gases like carbon dioxide by 2012.

The United States and Australia have rejected the pact, which was signed by Putin late Thursday and could not have come into effect without Russia.

Washington, D.C.

New FDA measures aim to improve drug safety

Buffeted by criticism, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it would appoint a director of drug safety and take other actions to assure the safety of medications it approves.

Dr. Steven Galson, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said the FDA would name a director of the Office of Drug Safety, vacant since October 2003, to oversee the safety of drugs after their approval.

In addition, the agency is asking the Institute of Medicine to study whether improvements are needed to tease out more about a drug's side effects as it comes into more widespread use. The study also will examine whether the agency is too close to the drug industry to regulate it effectively.

United Nations

Survey predicts population of 9 billion in world by 2300

Three hundred years from now, the world's population will have stabilized at about 9 billion and we will look forward to living until age 95. In Japan, that bastion of longevity, people will be hanging around until they're 106.

India, China and the United States will still be the most populous countries on the planet -- if they still exist -- and Africa's share of the world's population will double to 25 percent. The average woman will have two children.

Those are just a few possibilities projected in a U.N. report released Thursday, which lowers long-term population estimates because of new thinking about fertility rates in the future.

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