Archive for Monday, November 15, 2004

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November 15, 2004

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New Jersey

New governor begins transition

State Senate President Richard Codey on Sunday took the oath of office as New Jersey's acting governor, a role he will assume Tuesday after Gov. James E. McGreevey's resignation becomes official.

The transfer of power caps a transition period that began with McGreevey's stunning disclosure in August that he would resign because of a gay sex scandal.

Codey, 57, a Democrat, opted for a private swearing-in ceremony in deference to the circumstances of McGreevey's departure, aides said. The event at his West Orange home was closed to the public and the news media.

"I'm looking forward to governing and bringing back calm, peace and a sense of harmony to the state of New Jersey," Codey said outside his home minutes after the brief ceremony.

California

Bison to be moved to South Dakota

Nearly half the buffalo herd that runs free on Santa Catalina Island will be rounded up and shipped to an Indian reservation in South Dakota next month, returning the animals to their ancestral home and easing ecological pressure on the island.

The island's buffalo, descendants of 14 brought there for a movie in the 1920s, are a favorite with tourists and island residents. But since 1972, some have been removed every few years to keep the herd from growing so large that island plants are ravaged and the buffalo begin to starve.

In past years the buffalo have been auctioned. But last year, for the first time, 104 were taken to Lakota Indian reservations in South Dakota.

The buffalo took to their new, snowy home, and another group will be taken to another Lakota reservation in South Dakota on Dec. 15.

"It's like their genes kick in: We're home!" said Leslie Baer, spokeswoman for the Catalina Island Conservancy, which is in charge of the project.

The Catalina buffalo herd, now numbering about 250, once grew to as many as 600 animals. But lack of food left them thin and hungry. In 1972, the conservancy began moving some off the island every few years and selling them at auction.

Las Vegas

Cuban performers to seek asylum

Cuban members of a theatrical production in Las Vegas plan to seek asylum in the United States, leaving families behind and defying their government, the show's founder and creator said Sunday.

The 43 performers, including dancers, singers and musicians, will submit their requests this morning at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas, said Nicole "N.D" Durr, who also directs the "Havana Night Club" show.

"Art should have no boundaries," the Durr told The Associated Press. "My artists stood up in one voice and said they want to go. We want to dance. We want to continue to dance."

Durr said seven additional cast members, who are currently in Germany, also are seeking asylum. They are expected to arrive in the U.S. within the week. Another three members have decided to return to Cuba, she said.

Washington, D.C.

Car seats not built to prevent whiplash

More than half of car seats do a poor job of preventing whiplash injury because of the way they are built, according to tests by the insurance industry.

General Motors Corp. cars were among the worst performers, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said in results released Sunday. Volvo and Saab cars were among the best.

The institute examined 97 seat and headrest combinations found in 88 cars now on the market. It tested 73 of those seats in a 20 mph rear-impact crash to see how well they would protect an average-size male dummy.

Eight seats earned the institute's highest rating, including those in the Volvo S40, S60 and S80, the Saab 9-2X and 9-3, and the Jaguar S-type.

Sixteen seats, including those in the Chevrolet Malibu and the Subaru Outback, got the second-highest rating of acceptable; 19 seats, including those in the Ford Focus and the Mini Cooper, earned the third-highest rating of marginal.

The institute did not test 24 seats -- among them those in the Buick Regal, Cadillac Seville, Acura RL and Volkswagen Passat -- because it determined the headrests were designed in a way that would not protect taller people.

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