Archive for Friday, April 1, 2005

Briefly - Nation

April 1, 2005



Cookie may be key to Powerball fortunes

Dozens of people recently received an extra-special dessert with their Chinese food: a winning lottery number.

A record 110 players won $500,000 and $100,000 prizes in Wednesday's Powerball drawing, most of whom apparently used the numbers included in a fortune-cookie message. Ordinarily the multistate lottery expects only four tickets to win at those prize levels.

Several winners in a half-dozen states revealed that they got the winning number from a fortune cookie, said Doug Orr, marketing director with the West Des Moines-based Multi-State Lottery Assn., which operates Powerball.

The cookie was one number away from winning the $25.5 million jackpot: The winning numbers were: 22, 28, 32, 33 and 39, with 42 being the Powerball.

One ticket also matched all six numbers. Bobbi Hubbard, above left, and her husband, Richie, of South Pittsburg, Tenn., talk with the media after being awarded checks for their $25.5 million Powerball-winning ticket.


5-year-old calls 911 about parents' deaths

As her parents lay mortally wounded, a 5-year-old girl called 911, telling an emergency dispatcher, "I think they're dead."

Police said Aeneas and Julie Hernlen were shot to death early Monday in New Smyrna Beach by a man who mistakenly thought the couple had turned him in for drug possession. Their daughter, Tia, was not harmed.

Investigators said the gunman, David Edward Johnson, 33, committed suicide later Monday. The Hernlens had nothing to do with his drug arrest late last year, authorities said.

Tia Hernlen first told the dispatcher that she saw a bullet on the floor, her father was bleeding and he "fell off the bed."

When the dispatcher, Donna Choufani, asked where her mother was, the child answered, "She is, I don't know, I think they're dead."

At one point, Choufani asked, "Are you the only one there besides Mommy and Daddy?"

Said Tia: "Well, I said 'Mommy' and 'Daddy,' and they didn't even answer."


City sued by witness to fatal porch collapse

A man whose brother died in a porch collapse along with 12 others sued the city Thursday, alleging that officials accused him of contributing to the collapse only because he had criticized Chicago's construction permit and inspection process.

John Koranda's brother Robert was killed when the porch filled with partygoers collapsed June 29, 2003. In civil court filings in February, the city alleged John Koranda and another man contributed to the collapse by jumping on the three-story wooden structure.

Koranda, 24, denies jumping or seeing anyone else doing so. He said city officials were angry after his family publicized its belief that a corrupt and incompetent Chicago Building Department was to blame for the tragedy.

The city has said the porch was built without construction permits and not according to code.

Many of the victims' families, including the Korandas, have filed lawsuits in state court against the city and the building's owner. The city made its allegations against Koranda in a countersuit.

Washington, D.C.

Brownback visits test possible presidential bid

Sen. Sam Brownback, quietly weighing a presidential bid in 2008, is using a network of social conservatives and Christian advocates to raise his profile in Iowa and New Hampshire, two states critical to White House hopefuls.

In some of the most detailed comments the Kansas Republican has made about a possible bid for president, Brownback said Thursday that he had not made a decision on whether to run and would not give a timetable on when he might decide.

Brownback, one of a dozen or so ambitious candidates already warming up for the next round of presidential contests more than two years away, has visited Iowa to meet with prominent Republicans and see if he can connect with voters in informal settings, according to supporters.

He also is making inroads in New Hampshire, where he will be a keynote speaker at Cornerstone Policy Research's April 16 award ceremony honoring lawmakers that the family advocacy group supports.


Aquarium releases record-setting shark

A great white shark that survived far longer than any other in captivity was returned to the wild Thursday because it was growing too large and had begun preying on other fish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The shark, captured by a halibut fisherman in August off the coast of Orange County, was in captivity for 198 days. The previous captivity record was 16 days.

The predator had killed two soupfin sharks earlier this year, although aquarium officials weren't sure whether the shark was hunting at the time. After close observation this week, researchers noticed it was starting to exhibit true hunting behavior.

During its stay in Monterey, the shark had grown from a length of 5 feet and a weight of 62 pounds to 6 feet, 4 inches and 162 pounds. It was about a year old when it was caught.

Washington, D.C.

Ex-national security adviser to plead guilty

Former national security adviser Sandy Berger will plead guilty to taking classified documents from the National Archives, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Berger, who served in the Clinton administration, will enter the plea today in U.S. District Court in Washington, said Justice spokesman Bryan Sierra.

The plea agreement, if accepted by a judge, ends a bizarre episode in which the man who once had access to the government's most sensitive intelligence was accused of sneaking documents out of the Archives in his clothing.

Berger previously acknowledged he removed from the National Archives copies of documents about the government's anti-terror efforts and notes that he took on those documents.

He said he was reviewing the materials to help determine which Clinton administration documents to provide to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. He called the episode "an honest mistake," and denied criminal wrongdoing.


Massachusetts House approves stem cell bill

The Massachusetts House passed a bill Thursday night that would give scientists more freedom to conduct embryonic stem cell research in the state.

The House voted 117-37 for the bill, a day after the Senate approved it 35-2, giving the measure enough votes to override an expected veto by Gov. Mitt Romney.

The bill would allow scientists to create cloned embryos and extract their stem cells for research into the potential treatment and cure of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.

Under current state law, scientists interested in conducting stem cell research need the approval of the local district attorney. The bill would remove that requirement, give the state Health Department some regulatory controls and ban cloning for reproductive purposes.


CDC: Tobacco use steady among U.S. students

Tobacco use is no longer decreasing among middle and high school students, underscoring the need to fully implement smoking-prevention measures targeting youths, the federal government reported Thursday.

After years of declining tobacco use among children starting in the late 1990s, new data indicates use of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products among students in grades 6 to 12 has not changed in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

More than one out of five high school students (22.3 percent) and one out of 12 middle school students (8.1 percent) said they were cigarette smokers in a survey of 31,774 students conducted last year by the CDC.

When including the use of any form of tobacco, the rates climbed to 28 percent among high schoolers and 11.7 percent among middle schoolers.

The rates were about the same as those in a similar 2002 survey, the CDC said.


Clinton receives honor in 1st public appearance

Three weeks at home was apparently enough rest for former President Clinton, who stepped back into the public arena Thursday night with a call for more action to fight AIDS. He also couldn't resist a few joking jabs at Republicans.

"I got all juked-up at home," said Clinton, looking energized, as he was honored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases for his post-presidency work fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Clinton's first public appearance since undergoing surgery three weeks ago in New York was slightly ahead of the four- to six-week timetable doctors had said he would need at home.

The 42nd president received a humanitarian award named after the 39th president and his wife, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. In nominating Clinton for the honor, Carter singled out Clinton's work brokering deals to supply AIDS drugs at lower prices to Third World countries.

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