June 25, 2004 - July 14, 2004

Turnpike Accident Death Identified


(Associated Press) Police have identified the girl killed in a 20-vehicle pileup on the West Virginia Turnpike on Saturday as 12 year old Molly Gant of Elkview. Gant was riding in a minivan that had slowed down for an accident about two miles north of the turnpike's North Beckley exit. State Police say the van was hit from behind by a tractor-trailer truck.

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Slots In Pennsylvania
(Associated Press) West Virginia has three racetracks near Pennsylvania's borders, and all say they're ready for competition. Yesterday, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed legislation allowing 61 thousand slot machines at 14 sites across his state -- more than any state but Nevada. Although that's bound to have some impact on West Virginia, executives here say they don't expect to feel the competition for at least a year or two.

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Krzyzewski turns down offer to coach Lakers
RALEIGH, N.C. — At the end of what new Duke University President Richard Brodhead called "the great drama of choice," Mike Krzyzewski elected Monday to remain head coach of the Blue Devils.

Krzyzewski declined what he called "an option" to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, reportedly for $40 million over five years, citing the passion for a campus that has been his family's home for 24 seasons, 621 victories and three national championships.

"Your heart has to be in whatever you lead," he said. "It became apparent that this decision was somewhat easier to make because you have to follow your heart and lead with it. Duke has always taken up my whole heart." (Related items: Audio: Why he's staying What's ahead at Duke.)

Krzyzewski, who has a lifetime contract at the university, will continue as a special assistant to the president, one of several significant roles he plays on the Duke campus separate from basketball. "We feel like we're really a part of this university in every aspect," he said. "There's no ... price tag for that. I don't know. It makes you lead a nice life."

The terms of his contract aren't public. He arrived at the decision late Sunday night but decided to wait until Monday morning to inform his new boss. "I wasn't sure of the sleeping habits of my new president," Krzyzewski said.

"They'll be better now," Brodhead said.

Krzyzewski said the timing of the Lakers' offer and the team's prominence made their offer tempting. But he never got to the point of being ready to leave.

"The decision has always been to stay at Duke. It would have to be something changing (that)," he said.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak first made his interest in hiring Krzyzewski clear during conversations the two had around the time of the NBA draft, Krzyzewski said. Kupchak met with Krzyzewski in North Carolina and offered him the job last Thursday.

Even Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who was recruited by Krzyzewski while in high school, reportedly tried to persuade "Coach K" to take the job.

"We're disappointed because we would have liked to have brought coach Krzyzewski to Los Angeles," Kupchak said Monday night. "We thought he would have been a wonderful coach."

Krzyzewski's announcement was welcome news for Duke fans, players and administrators, who had waited anxiously for a decision.

Still, Krzyzewski, who has had several flirtations with the NBA and came close to leaving to coach the Boston Celtics in 1990, declined to rule out the possibility of ever coaching in the pros.

"I don't want to say never, but I also don't want to lead anyone on. ... I want to coach for a long time," he said.

Kupchak said he believed the Lakers' chance of getting Krzyzewski was remote even after the parties met.

"We knew what we were up against, but if you don't ask, you don't know," Kupchak said.

The Lakers have been searching for a new coach since June 18, when they announced Phil Jackson wouldn't return next season. That was three days after they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

The 57-year-old Krzyzewski has a 621-181 record at Duke, leading the Blue Devils to championships in 1991, 1992 and 2001. Under Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils have 10 Final Four appearances, eight Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships and 10 conference regular-season titles. He signed a lifetime contract with the school three years ago.

His Duke teams have been ranked No. 1 in 12 seasons, including each of the last seven. With his team's success on and off the court, Krzyzewski — like John Wooden did at UCLA and Dean Smith at North Carolina — has become the personification of Duke basketball.

Current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said he wasn't surprised by Krzyzewski's decision.

"Mike has accomplished so much at Duke, and his roots are so deep that I thought it would be difficult for him to leave," Williams said. "I'm sure he felt it was in the best interest for him and his family. I know it is great for college basketball."

Krzyzewski called his players Monday morning to tell them he was staying.

"When I first heard about this situation, I was pretty upset," guard Sean Dockery said. "Today, it was the best news when I heard he's coming back to coach us."

David McClure, a Duke recruit from Ridgefield, Conn., was also heartened to hear the news.

"It was an incredible relief," McClure told The Associated Press. "All I can say is I'm speechless. I'm so happy he's staying."

Former Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich had been considered a front-runner to succeed Jackson with the Lakers. He has met with team owner Jerry Buss and Kupchak.

Former Lakers coach Pat Riley, an executive with the Miami Heat, also met with Buss and Kupchak, but issued a statement saying he wasn't a candidate.

Others mentioned have been Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons, members of Jackson's staff.

But the Lakers appeared most interested in trying to lure Krzyzewski from Duke, a private school where basketball has a rabid following among the 6,300 students.

The Cameron Indoor Stadium hardwood is named "Coach K Court." Outside the arena, a sign designates the grassy plot where students camp out to attend games as "Krzyzewskiville," where the coach has been known to occasionally buy pizzas for the waiting "Cameron Crazies."

After the Lakers' interest became known, Duke officials said they were open to improving Krzyzewski's contract.

Athletics director Joe Alleva said Monday that the school was "able to do a few things for Mike in his contract, but believe me, he didn't make his decision based on a financial situation."

Krzyzewski agreed.

"The allure of coaching in college has no price," he said.

***

The Asssociated Press contributed to this report.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



NFL tug-of-war over revenue


As Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian spoke of the tight resources that prevented him from keeping a pair of key linebackers, he was approached at the recent NFL meetings by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

After chatting, the last thing Snyder mentioned was that linebacker Marcus Washington, the Colts' No. 2 pick in 2000, is fitting in well with his new team, the Redskins.

"A super kid," is how Snyder put it — and Polian could do nothing but grin, bear it and nod about the snapshot of revenue disparity in the NFL that is causing friction among league power brokers.

Sure, the NFL's 32 teams — with a combined value exceeding $20 billion — split most of the revenue. Including the eight-year, $17.6 billion television package that expires after the 2005 season, the NFL and its franchises generate about $5 billion in annual revenue and share roughly two-thirds of that amount equally.

It's the unshared revenue at issue.

With changing economics driven largely by stadium deals (and luxury boxes), the difference in annual revenue for the richest teams, such as the Redskins, and lower-revenue teams, such as the Colts, is more than $100 million, according to some NFL executives.

That could explain why Washington, lured to the Redskins in March with a six-year, $24 million contract, is one of the linebackers Polian wishes he could have kept. The other, Mike Peterson, went to the Jacksonville Jaguars last year with a $20 million deal.

"We can't keep as many people as some teams can," Polian says, grumbling. "The issue is cash. If you have cash that your stadium is generating every year, you can commit that to bonuses to retain or get players in the free agent market. That's the name of the game."

In a league that prides itself on competitive balance, just the perception of a wide revenue gap strikes at the heart of a philosophy that has long been a pillar for success.

"There's concern that the disparity between the first quartile and the fourth quartile is getting too great," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft says. "How do we equalize it? The main issue is allowing everybody to compete."

Whose money is it, anyway?

The debate has heated up this offseason. In addition to TV negotiations, an extension of the collective bargaining agreement with players is also on the horizon. The current CBA, which stipulates 65% of defined gross revenue is paid to players, expires after the 2007 season; the salary-cap component expires after 2006.

"This is a very delicate balance for the league," says Marc Ganis, a consultant with Chicago-based Sportscorp Ltd., which has negotiated several stadium deals.

"They don't want to screw up the salary cap (for a CBA extension) or the bulk of their revenue-sharing."

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has appointed a 12-member special committee to study myriad financial matters, including the disparities. The committee was mandated in March after three owners voted against and three others abstained from voting for the new Master Agreement that binds franchises as a single entity for various arrangements, such as marketing and sponsorship deals. (The agreement replaced the NFL Trust that expired after 15 years.)

"You only discuss this subject as much as we do if you have a very strong partnership," Tagliabue says. "If you don't have a strong partnership, you don't worry about league economics. Everybody would worry about their own economics."

Some might also theorize that the NFL — which shares more of its revenue than any major pro sports league and doesn't have a single franchise that is not profitable — will never have a perfect balance.

Tension is bound to exist as polar economic ideologies, capitalism and socialism, clash.

Says Jones: "That unshared money around stadiums and local marketing is vital. I want to maintain that. It creates incentive for clubs to promote themselves."

Jones, whose legal battles vs. the league in the mid-1990s resulted in more marketing rights returning to the teams, has been vociferous in such debates for years.

"If you don't have some unshared revenues, those stadiums never get built because of all the debt," Jones says. "You think people are going to build those stadiums if they were sharing the revenue 32 ways? No. Why did they get built? Because of the incentive."

Marketing to your strengths

Polian, who once built a team in small-market Buffalo that advanced to four consecutive Super Bowls, refuses to characterize Indianapolis' state as "disadvantaged."

After all, the Colts in March paid quarterback Peyton Manning the biggest signing bonus in NFL history — $34.5 million. And the team came within a victory of advancing to Super Bowl XXXVIII.

"This team will be competitive for the very foreseeable future," Polian says. "But ask me about five to seven years down the road? That's a horse of a different color."

According to a Forbes report published last year, the Colts ranked 29th in 2002 franchise value ($547 million), while leasing the NFL's smallest stadium (the RCA Dome, capacity 56,127) in the 25th-largest market. Colts owner Jim Irsay says his market lacks the number of corporate supporters that allow other franchises to flourish with premium seat and suite sales.

The Redskins are the NFL's most valuable franchise, worth $952 million in 2002, according to Forbes. In addition to playing at the NFL's largest stadium (FedEx Field, capacity 86,484), the Redskins are at the forefront of aggressive marketing.

From a 30-year, $205 million stadium naming-rights deal to increased sponsorships and even a dozen "Redskins store" outlets, Snyder propelled the Redskins to become the first NFL franchise to top $200 million in revenue for a year.

This, despite mediocrity. The Redskins, purchased with the stadium for $803 million in 1999, haven't been to the playoffs since the 1999 season.

The latest offseason spending spree included committing more than $60 million in bonuses in March for six new players. (Snyder declined to comment for this story.)

"Snyder's efforts to improve the team haven't been successful, but I don't think there's an owner who has done as well in taking advantage of his marketplace," says Dennis Howard, a professor with the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. "You can't blame him for maximizing revenues. It's a hugely leveraged investment. He's got more overhead than any NFL owner."

Stadium deals worth the cost

Howard maintains that at least six teams are at a "significant disadvantage because of their venues" and several others have trouble keeping pace with richer teams. He says the Denver Broncos' annual operating income, boosted by a new stadium, is at least $60 million more than that of the AFC West rival Oakland Raiders.

"It's all about being in a new facility with all the bells and whistles — and with a favorable lease agreement," Howard says.

Irsay contends the disparity is glaring when considering the Colts paid more than 70% of their revenue to salaries in 2003 while richer teams paid roughly 38%.

"As an owner," Irsay says, "you're faced with, 'Are you going to become the Florida Marlins?' Will you look at it strictly in the short-term business sense, or are you going to make a long-term investment and want to win?"

The mention of major league baseball's Marlins — disbanded in a postseason fire sale after winning the World Series in 1997 — is shock value. Baseball's owners share just an estimated one-third of their revenue equally.

"At some point there is a correlation between what you're paying your players and your ability to compete," Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank says.

The NFL's salary cap, set at $80.6 million a team for this season with a $67.3 million floor, levels the field to a degree. But in addition to trying to compete with bonuses in a cash environment, lower-revenue teams feel a crunch when the cap rises — as it does with higher receipts from new stadiums — and their revenue doesn't increase proportionately.

"The combination of higher revenues and the salary cap, which stipulates a minimum that all of the teams have to meet, is what led to an imbalance," Ganis says.

"It was unintentional, but it's there."

Disparity could affect labor talks

Since 1995, the league has dispersed funds to lower-grossing teams from a supplemental revenue-sharing pool. Harold Henderson, the NFL's executive vice president for labor relations, says typically six to nine teams each year draw from the pool, which has grown from $18 million to $40 million last year.

But Henderson says that pool has fallen short of diminishing huge revenue gaps. The most a team has drawn in a year is $8.5 million. "As the disparity is greater and the need is larger, people want to look at all the economic factors," he says.

One of the tasks of the special committee will be to explore formulas that take franchise acquisition, stadium financing and other costs into account.

Says Kraft, whose Patriots moved into new Gillette Stadium in 2002: "We're generating more revenues, but we have over $300 million in debt. So you figure out the mortgage payment on that. When we go to bed every night, we're thinking about how we make our payments. That was part of not having a publicly financed stadium. You've got to think net."

"I don't buy into this debt-service crap," says Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association. "They never want to talk about the appreciation they get with their franchises."

Although Tagliabue and Henderson insist the revenue-disparity debate is not a labor issue, Upshaw says it's a "big concern" as CBA talks progress. Like some owners, Upshaw suspects that some teams lag in marketing to create more revenue.

"I don't care if their revenues are shared or unshared," Upshaw says. "I just want our share."

Upshaw also says his union won't agree to an extended CBA with the "defined gross revenues" in the current deal. It appears revenue that is currently unshared — and growing — could become an issue in labor talks.

But before working out a new CBA, the NFL's owners have another round of negotiations — with themselves.

"We've got an economic system that's in place," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver says. "Maybe it needs to be tweaked. But while we all have our agendas, in the end we know that what's good for one is good for all. The sum of the total is worth more than the parts."

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Pictures from Titan have scientists puzzled


As the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft zooms away from Saturn on its first sweeping, orbital loop, it has left a wake of questions that has scientists buzzing about the craft's first pass by the moon Titan.

Scientists expected to see oceans or lakes reflecting like mirrors from Titan's surface. Instead, Cassini sent back murky pictures obscured by moon clouds.

"All of this is very mystifying," Cassini's imaging team leader, Carolyn Porco, said Monday. "We are trying to piece together a picture with really scant evidence."

The ship snapped pictures and took instrument readings as it passed within 211,000 miles of Titan, about as close as Earth is to its own moon. The craft is soaring away from Saturn on the first orbit.

Titan is a focus of the $3.27 billion mission, which will spend at least four years exploring Saturn's rings, moons, atmosphere and magnetic field. The multinational team of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency launched the mission in 1997 with a focus on planet-like Titan because it is believed to be similar to primordial Earth.

Cassini will be back near Saturn in about 50 days, and in October will pass within 750 miles of Titan. Once in a tight orbit, Cassini's regular passes within 600 miles will produce a steady stream of data.

Until then, scientists can only debate what they've seen so far.

The team wonders which of its assumptions were wrong. Are there no lakes or oceans, or is the haze in the atmosphere just much thicker than expected?

"It's not obvious to us what we are seeing," Porco says. "The paradigms we have are inadequate."

Comparing Titan today to the Earth 4 billion years ago could be like opening a scientific time capsule, providing insight into the conditions in which life arose here.

Or it could raise new questions.

"It's going to take all of the instruments and all of us working together to work out the story of Titan's surface," Porco says.

Though clouds obscured the view, they also provided scientists with clues. A methane cloud near Titan's south pole is made of unusually large particles, suggesting something is brewing below.

And scientists were able to look for the first time at the surface, using an infrared mapping spectrometer that cut through the haze, to map minerals and chemicals.

"We have indeed seen Titan's surface with unprecedented clarity," said Dennis Matson, one of the project scientists. When the ship gets closer to Titan in coming months, the scientists will use radar to map the surface in greater detail. In January, a probe will descend to the surface.

Friday's distant flyby, primarily a braking and navigational move, gave Cassini a good view of how Titan interacts with huge Saturn.

Cassini showed a vast swarm of hydrogen molecules surrounding Titan, which is one of 31 known moons circling the planet.

"The top of Titan's atmosphere is being bombarded by highly energetic particles in Saturn's radiation belts," said Stamatios Krimigis, a team scientist. "Titan is gradually losing material from the top of its atmosphere, and that material is being dragged around Saturn."

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Rash of recalls dogs tech companies


Hundreds of thousands of computer parts and cell phone batteries have been recalled in recent weeks because of serious defects.

• No. 1 PC maker Dell last week recalled 38,000 Auto/Air Power Adapters connecting laptops to power outlets in cars and planes. Users may get shocked if they plug the wrong cord into the adapter.

• No. 2 PC maker Hewlett-Packard is recalling the memory component of 900,000 laptops over a problem that can make them crash or lose data. H-P blames memory-makers Micron Technology, Samsung, Infineon Technologies and Winbond. It says other PC makers should have the same problem. But Dell, IBM and Gateway say their computers appear fine or were fixed before shipping.

------------------------------------------------------
RECENT RECALLS

Hewlett-Packard/Compaq laptops

Affects: Several models sold from March 2002 to July 2003
Fix: Visit www.hp.com/support/memoryreplacement. If your laptop tests positive for the flaw, H-P will send a replacement part in five to 10 days. You install it with a screwdriver.

Verizon Wireless/LG cell phone batteries

Affects: Replacement batteries for LG cell phones, sold through Verizon Wireless stores and Web site, from August 2002 to November 2003.
Fix: Visit www.vzwshop.com/lgbattery for a replacement.

Dell laptop power adapter

Affects: Combination Auto/Air Power Adapter sold from December 2003 to May 2004.
Fix: Visit www.auto-air-adapter.com for a retrofit kit.

Sources: The companies
-----------------------------------------------------

• No. 1 cell phone carrier Verizon Wireless is recalling 50,000 replacement cell phone batteries for LG phones that overheat and may burst. The problem appears most often when customers use after-market recharging cords. Verizon also blames a vendor that it says sold counterfeit batteries.

• No. 1 chipmaker Intel is recalling early shipments of a new set of PC chips. Intel won't say how many. But analysts estimate hundreds of thousands of chipsets are affected. These chips are not PC processors, but secondary chips that help other parts work together. Computers with the chips may not boot or work in other ways.

Most of the chipsets did not get to consumers; they were sitting in PC factories waiting to be installed. PC buyers should not be affected.

Since tech products are very complicated, occasional design flaws are unavoidable. But independent analyst Rob Enderle says hardware flaws seem to be increasingly common in recent months. In January, cell phone maker Kyocera Wireless recalled 140,000 phone batteries because they could overheat. In September, 6,000 Segway Human Transporters — pricey high-tech scooters praised for their design — were recalled because of a flaw that could cause riders to fall.

The economy also may be to blame, as fierce price wars force component makers to cut corners, Enderle says. Gilbert Lessenco, a lawyer and adjunct business professor at Johns Hopkins University, says companies also are more willing to recall faulty products instead of hiding problems. While a recall can cost millions, companies are learning that keeping a good reputation is worth more, he says.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Decongestant sales being curbed to halt meth trade


A growing number of states are enacting laws to restrict sales of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines such as Sudafed in an effort to halt production of the highly addictive stimulant methamphetamine.

This year three states have passed laws limiting where or how much of the medication can be purchased. A fourth state, Illinois, has sent a similar bill to the governor to sign. That would make 11 states that have laws controlling the sale of the common medication, which contains pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in meth, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"We've said all along if we want to control the meth problem, we have to control pseudoephedrine, and it's paying off for us," says Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

In April Oklahoma enacted the most restrictive law, reclassifying many cold and allergy medicines as controlled substances that can be sold only in pharmacies. Customers don't need a prescription but must show a photo ID and sign for the medication. (Related story: Cold drugs becoming headache to buy)

Woodward says police broke up 90 meth labs in March and only 29 in May.

The popularity of methamphetamine has spread across the country in the last 10 years, says Mike Heald, chief of the dangerous drug and chemical section of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

In 1996 the federal government passed a law restricting sales of cold and allergy medicines, but it has had "mixed success," DEA spokeswoman Rogene Waite says.

The amount purchased at one time is limited to products containing a total of 9 grams of pseudoephedrine, generally six to 12 boxes. Up to 1,000 pills are needed to produce 1 ounce of methamphetamine — enough for about three people.

But federal law does not limit where the drug can be sold or require registration.

Most major drugstore chains are limiting sales of the medication.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Delta to ask pilots for $1B cut


Financially ailing Delta Air Lines will ask its pilots for more than $1 billion a year in concessions when labor negotiations resume in the next few weeks.
A reduction that size would reduce Delta's pilot labor costs by almost half.

The new demand, provided by a source briefed on management's position, is up sharply from the more than $800 million sought earlier this year. It's roughly the same savings the larger United Airlines got from its pilots union.

Union spokeswoman Karen Miller said pilots will make their own proposal next week.

Since January, when talks with the pilots broke down, fuel prices have soared and fare competition has intensified, CEO Jerry Grinstein told employees last week. He said he will present a strategic plan to the board next month.

Both Delta and its pilots union say the upcoming talks are driven by Delta's financial problems alone.

But industry experts suspect both sides are also watching what's happening at No. 2 United, where more wage cuts seem unavoidable.

Airline consultant Doug McKeen says Delta pilots, the industry's best paid, may decide they're better off using United's current pay rates as their benchmark.

If they delay, they could be pressured by an even lower pay scale for United pilots. Likewise, pilots at Northwest Airlines may feel similar pressure in the face of management concession demands, McKeen says.

A senior Boeing 777 captain at Delta earns $320 for an hour of flying. A senior 777 captain at United, who used to make almost that, now earns $203 an hour.

United won $1.1 billion a year in concessions from its pilots union last year. But United is under pressure to make more cuts so it can attract private financing to exit bankruptcy court, now that it has been denied a federal loan guarantee.

The seemingly inevitable changes at United are "a wake-up call to other unions and employers," says McKeen of Eclat Consulting in Arlington, Va.

Delta, the USA's No. 3 carrier, recently warned it could land in bankruptcy court if it can't get major concessions from its pilots, the only large labor group unionized at Delta.

The airline also wants to cut other expenses $2.5 billion a year by 2006. It has lost $3.6 billion since the end of 2000. Fuel will cost Delta $680 million more this year than last, Grinstein says.

Based on Delta's worsening condition, spokeswoman Miller said, union leaders decided June 16 to resume talks with the airline.

Union Chairman John Malone said last month that the union will expect equity or a board seat in exchange for concessions.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Brother says missing Marine in Iraq freed


The family of a Lebanese-born U.S. Marine held hostage in Iraq said it was confident Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun had been freed and was well, though relatives have not heard directly from him, his brother said Tuesday.

"We have received reliable information the guy is free," Sami Hassoun told The Associated Press from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, where the Marine has family.

Though he had not spoken with his brother, who was serving as a translator with the U.S. Marines in Iraq when he went missing June 20, Sami Hassoun said "we received a sign from my brother reassuring us."

He would not say what was the sign, but said the family received information deemed credible from a person he did not identify who came to their Tripoli home. That person, he said, did not disclose the whereabouts of the Marine to the family.

Hassoun's alleged captors have variously claimed to have beheaded him, then claimed that he wasn't. On Monday they said he was in a safe place and had promised not to return to the U.S. military.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Kerry picks Edwards to be running mate


John Kerry named former rival John Edwards to be his running mate this morning, picking the smooth-talking Southern populist over more seasoned politicians in hopes of injecting vigor and small-town appeal to the Democratic presidential ticket.

Kerry made the announcement in an e-mail message to supporters Tuesday morning, ending what had been a closely held secret. He is scheduled to hold a campaign rally later this morning to give his supporters the news in person.

Edwards, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack were identified by campaign aides as finalists, and Kerry spent the Independence Day holiday in Iowa. But Edwards interrupted his Walt Disney World vacation last week to meet with Kerry, according to reports.

Edwards, a polished populist from North Carolina, was Kerry's strongest challenger in the Democratic primary fight and is the favorite of many party regulars. He also has public support: Twenty-nine percent of likely voters said they would be "enthusiastic" about Edwards as Kerry's vice presidential pick, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll conducted June 21-23. That was more than double the "enthusiastic" rating for the next closest candidate, retired Gen. Wesley Clark.

----------------------------------------------------
Bio Box of John Edwards

NAME: John Edwards.

AGE-BIRTH DATE: 51; June 10, 1953.

RELIGION: Methodist.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, North Carolina State University, 1974; law degree, University of North Carolina, 1977.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Elected U.S. senator in 1998.

OTHER EXPERIENCE: Trial lawyer in Nashville, Tenn., and Raleigh, N.C., for two decades.

FAMILY: Wife, Elizabeth Anania Edwards. Children: Cate, Emma Claire, Jack. Son Wade died in a 1996 traffic accident.

POLITICAL HERO: Former North Carolina Sen. Terry Sanford ``because he was ahead of his time on civil rights. He stood up for civil rights in the South when it wasn't an easy thing to do."

QUOTE: "George Bush has a health care plan — pray you don't get sick," Edwards said. "They have led us from the edge of greatness when Bill Clinton left office to the edge of a cliff."
------------------------------------------------------

"In the next 120 days and in the administration that follows, John Edwards and I will be fighting for the America we love," Kerry said in an e-mail to supporters obtained by The Associated Press. "We'll be fighting to give the middle class a voice by providing good paying jobs and affordable health care. We'll be fighting to make America energy independent. We'll be fighting to build a strong military and lead strong alliances, so young Americans are never put in harm's way because we insisted on going it alone."

The Massachusetts senator said as late as Monday he had not settled on a running mate, but that didn't stop the rampant speculation in Democratic circles. Party leaders said they were told to expect a decision Tuesday.

"I've made no decision at this point in time, and I'm going to continue to keep it a private and personal process until I announce it publicly," the senator told WTAE, an ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh, on Monday. Since the search began in March, Kerry's staff has disclosed almost nothing about his list of candidates, their interviews and his winnowing process.

The Kerry campaign has a staff of more than a dozen standing ready to serve the vice presidential nominee. Several other aides, preparing to respond to GOP criticism of Kerry's pick, have material in hand for a half dozen potential candidates, though they have no assurances that their secretive boss will pick from that list.

The focus of last-minute speculation, Edwards is the favorite of many Democratic activists because of his youthful good looks, a self-assured manner and a message that focused on President Bush's "two Americas" — one for the wealthy and another for everybody else.

Others express concern that Edwards, whose only political credential is a single term in the Senate, lacks the experience in international affairs, particularly in wartime, to be a credible candidate to assume the presidency in the case of death, resignation or removal.

Edwards, 51, seldom criticized Kerry or any of the other Democrats while running a generally positive campaign. The two had few major policy disagreements — both supported the decision to go to war in Iraq, for example, and both voted against the $87 billion package for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kerry finished first and Edwards second in the Iowa caucuses in January, surprising front-runner Howard Dean and driving regional favorite Gephardt out of the race.

Contributing: USA TODAY's Susan Page and The Associated Press.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



UC Says No to Watt Powell Park


The University of Charleston Board of Trustees has said no to purchasing Watt Powell Park. U.C. President Ed Welch says the trustees decided it would be more expensive to buy Watt Powell and do renovations, than to renovate the current Blackwell field. The city says other parties are still interested in Watt Powell and the funding from the sale of the ballpark won't be needed until near the end of construction early next year.


©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Jefferson B and O Taxes
More money for the city of Jefferson, that's the plan. The City Council voted on Wednesday to begin collecting B and O taxes for the previous year and the new year which starts today. The original town budget could swell from roughly 200,000 dollars to over 625,000 dollars. Still some business owners say they won't pay the tax yet. They're waiting to see how a hearing to remove Mayor Thomas Lewis, Recorder Kathy Miller, and Councilman James Lynch comes out in August. Two civil suits against the city have been dismissed.

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Dow Layoffs
A report this morning says 25 more workers have been laid off at Dow Chemical in South Charleston. An anonymous source says termination would be effective next pay period. Dow announced this year that they would be terminating 3000 workers nationwide. Earlier this spring, 22 workers were let go from the South Charleston facility.

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



ACC welcomes new members
Former Big East football powers Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech officially join the Atlantic Coast Conference Thursday.

Little fanfare is planned, though according to Tech sports information director Dave Smith, some Hokie Clubs are planning parties.

The ACC will have 11 schools this year and grow to 12 for 2005 when Boston College joins.

"It'll be good to officially have the two schools on board," ACC commissioner John Swofford said this week. "But I don't think July 1 is going to be very different for us. ... It feels like they're already here."

The changes will allow the ACC to cash in during the football season.

In addition to revenue from a championship game that will start in 2005, the league will get more money for its regular-season football package under a seven-year deal with ABC and ESPN that is reportedly worth $258 million.

ACC purists are concerned that the football-driven expansion will dilute the conference's rich basketball tradition. For now, ACC schools will keep a 16-game schedule, which means teams will no longer play all their conference opponents home and away each season.

The defections have not stopped the acrimony between the ACC and Big East.

A suit seeking compensation from the ACC on behalf of four of the remaining Big East schools is "alive and well," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday.

"We want compensation for Connecticut, and we're also trying to protect the position of the Big East in the Bowl Championship Series," he said.

Over the next two seasons, about 20 percent of the 117 Division I-A football schools will switch leagues with the ACC-Big East changes in the middle of the changes.

***

Contributing: The Associated Press

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



First base a Boston weak link again


NEW YORK — Eighteen years later, a grounder to first base did in the Boston Red Sox again. This New York setting was far less dramatic and the game not nearly as important than when Bill Buckner made his infamous error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, but the play was eerily similar.

David Ortiz made a key error that allowed New York to tie game in the seventh inning, and Gary Sheffield's RBI double in the eighth sent the New York Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday night. (Related item: Game report)

"That kind of stuff seems to happen a lot to us, especially when we're playing the Yankees," Johnny Damon said. "Every single loss is just magnified right now."

The Yankees have won the first two matchups of the three-game series to open a season-high 7 1/2-game lead over Boston in the AL East. They'll go for a sweep Thursday night against Pedro Martinez.

Making his first appearance at Yankee Stadium since giving up Aaron Boone's pennant-winning homer in Game 7 of the AL championship series last year, Tim Wakefield shut down the Yankees on three hits for 6 1/3 innings.

After a walk and a hit batsman, he left with a 2-0 lead — but the worst defense in the major leagues defense let him down.

"In the seventh inning, the wheels kind of fell off," Wakefield said.

Scott Williamson replaced Wakefield with runners at the corners, then departed with the bases loaded and two outs because of a strained right forearm.

Tony Clark hit a sharp grounder off Mike Timlin (4-3) right at Ortiz, the designated hitter in Boston's original lineup. He was switched to first base before the first pitch because Trot Nixon had a tight quadriceps and moved from right field to DH.

Thinking the inning was over when the ball was hit, Wakefield began to applaud in the dugout.

Then the ball squirted through Ortiz into shallow right field for an error that allowed two runs to score, and the 37-year-old knuckleballer just stared quietly straight ahead.

After the play, Ortiz headed toward the dugout for a new glove because the ball had slipped right through the webbing of the other one.

"I thought I had it. I was starting to go to first base, and I saw the ball missing. My glove was kind of soft. Maybe that's why it went through," Ortiz said. "We should've won the game."

Eighteen years earlier across town at Shea Stadium, it was Buckner who allowed Mookie Wilson's 10th-inning grounder to go through his legs, giving the Mets a 6-5 win. Two nights later, New York won the World Series, keeping Boston without a title since 1918, a streak that endures.

Kenny Lofton led off the eighth with an infield single and went to second when shortstop Nomar Garciaparra threw wildly for his third error in two games.

Derek Jeter sacrificed Lofton to third, and he scored when Sheffield doubled down the third-base line on the 10th pitch of his at-bat against Timlin. Sheffield, playing with an aching shoulder, fouled off seven 0-2 pitches.

"It was just one of those battles," he said. "It seemed like we wanted it a little bit more."

Hideki Matsui added a two-out RBI single off Alan Embree, making it 4-2.

Yankees reliever Felix Heredia got the crowd into it in the seventh, escaping a bases-loaded, none-out jam by striking out Ortiz.

"I think that was his best moment as a Yankee," Alex Rodriguez said.

Tom Gordon (2-2) struck out two in a perfect eighth for the win, and Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 30 chances.

The Red Sox, who made three errors in an 11-3 loss Tuesday night, have allowed 60 unearned runs, the most in the majors. Boston has lost seven of 10 and is 13-17 in its last 30 games.

"We had them where we wanted them," said an emotional Terry Francona, Boston's manager. "We had our chances to extend the lead. This is a tough one. It hurts."

Jon Lieber got his introduction to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, keeping New York in the game for six-plus innings. The Yankees rallied for their fourth straight win and fifth in six games. It was their 30th comeback victory of the season.

"We just showed we can beat 'em both kinds of ways," Sheffield said.

Ortiz had an RBI single in the first. Then he hit Lieber's first pitch of the sixth over the right-center fence for his AL-leading 21st homer. He also tops the league with 75 RBI.

"We had them up against the ropes," Damon said. "This was our game to win. But we're finding ways to lose. We've got no luck, we're not playing great defense."

Notes: Yankees 1B Jason Giambi was out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive game because of an intestinal parasite. Clark started in his place again. ... Lofton stole two bases for the Yankees but was caught trying to steal third with two outs and Rodriguez at the plate in the first. ... Boston signed RHP Pedro Astacio to a minor league contract. ... The Red Sox dropped to 17-20 on the road. ... Yankees RHP Orlando Hernandez struck out six in 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run, four hits and one walk in second Triple-A rehabilitation start, a 9-1 win for Columbus over Syracuse in the International League. He is 1-1.


Source:
USA TODAY


©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



CBS could face $550,000 fine for Janet Jackson's exposure


WASHINGTON — CBS could face a fine of $550,000 for airing Janet Jackson's breast-baring performance during the Super Bowl, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

According to the source, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, a staff recommendation to the Federal Communications Commission suggests each of the 20 CBS-owned stations be fined the maximum indecency penalty of $27,500 for the incident.

The staff did not recommend fining CBS affiliates that aired the Super Bowl show but are not owned by Viacom Inc., the parent company of CBS, the source said.

The commissioners now must decide whether to accept the recommendation. A decision is expected in the next few weeks.

FCC spokesman David Fiske declined to comment.

Calls to CBS and Viacom seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Produced by MTV, the Feb. 1 Super Bowl halftime show featured Jackson and singer Justin Timberlake performing a flirtatious duet. At the end, Timberlake ripped off a piece of Jackson's black leather top, exposing her right breast to a TV audience of some 90 million.

The commission was flooded with more than 500,000 complaints.

There is no government definition of indecency. Federal law bars radio stations and over-the-air television channels from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuning in. When a complaint is made, the FCC determines whether the incident was indecent.

The rules do not apply to cable and satellite channels or satellite radio.

The FCC stepped up enforcement of indecency standards soon after the Jackson incident, slapping a $755,000 fine on Clear Channel Communications for a "Bubba the Love Sponge" broadcast and a record $1.75 million fine, also against Clear Channel, for indecency complaints against Howard Stern and other radio personalities.

Last week, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to increase the top fine to $275,000 per indecent incident with a limit of $3 million a day. The House passed a bill earlier that would set fines at $500,000. Differences between the two bills must be worked out.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Army recalls thousands for Iraq duty


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is calling up nearly 10,000 more troops, more than half of them soldiers who had thought they had finished their active-duty time, Defense officials said Wednesday.

Underscoring how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched the military's resources, the call-ups include 5,674 members of the Army's Individual Ready Reserve, or IRR. Those are soldiers who were honorably discharged after finishing their active-duty tours — usually at least four to six years — but remain part of the IRR for the rest of the eight-year commitment they make when they join the Army. Those being called up will receive mailgrams beginning July 6.

In addition, 4,000 more Army National Guard and Reserve members will be activated. (Video: Tough times ahead for soldiers)

The IRR call-up is the first major one in 13 years, since 20,277 troops were ordered back to duty for the Persian Gulf War.

Although members of the IRR are aware they can be recalled at any time, "There's going to be soldiers who, yes, will be shocked," said Col. Debra Cook, commander of the Army Human Resources Command.

Word got out weeks ago that the IRR might be activated when the Pentagon sent letters to 25,000 IRR members to warn them.

Cook said about 3,000 members of the IRR recently joined Army National Guard or Reserve units that just returned from Iraq or Afghanistan as a way to avoid being sent to those theaters, since units just back from the war are usually not redeployed without a long break. "I would not say there has been a mass exodus (from the IRR) but we are seeing movement, a spike," she said.

The call-ups will be made in three increments from July through December. Cook said those notified will be given 30 days to report. Pregnant women will be exempted.

Once they report, individuals will receive a minimum of 30 days of training, and those with weight or health problems will likely be screened out.

The Army is targeting its recall on individuals who recently left the service and have fresher skills, and so should need less time for re-training.

Among the skills being sought are military police, mechanics, truck drivers, combat engineers, supply clerks, carpentry and masonry specialists, food service personnel and cable system installers.

In the last several months, the Pentagon has extended tours in Iraq for troops due to rotate home and put in effect "stop-loss" orders that bar troops in or headed for Iraq to leave the service, even if their voluntary commitments are fulfilled.

Also, the Pentagon signaled Wednesday that it plans to call thousands more members of the IRR back to duty next year.

"We are doing this to meet mission requirements as our all-volunteer Army moves into one of the most demanding periods for fighting and winning the nation's wars in its modern history," said Robert Smiley, the Army's director of training, readiness and mobilization. He disputed the idea that the IRR activation was a response to the Army being overextended and said it was the proper use of a manpower pool that demonstrated good planning.

Some members of Congress disagree.

"Calling up the Individual Ready Reserve is an effort, much like recent stop-loss orders, to mask profound problems in our military's recruitment and retention programs," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services Committee. "I believe this is a dangerous step that could bring us closer to breaking our military."

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Most states rebounding from money woes


Smokers in Michigan will pay an extra $7.50 per carton of cigarettes. Virginians will pay another half-cent sales tax on everything from CDs to hair spray. Wealthy families in New Jersey will pay higher state income taxes.

But most taxpayers will not have to pay higher state income or sales taxes in the next 12 months because an improving economy has sent tax collections soaring, marking an end in many states to three years of financial pain.

Forty-six states begin new budget years today. All but eight — California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Delaware — have their spending plans in place.

In many states, schools will get more money, state workers will get pay raises and tourism offices and veterans' homes will have more to spend.

"States are out of crisis mode," says Nicholas Jenny, who tracks state tax collections for the Nelson Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, N.Y., which studies state and local governments.

Unlike in 2003, the budget debates this year in state legislatures have largely been about how to spend money, rather than where to cut. State tax collections rose 8.1% in the first three months of 2004, according to the Rockefeller Institute.

States on the East and West coasts are enjoying the most robust growth. Midwestern states, especially in the industrial north, are faring less well. Three states — Michigan, Kansas and Louisiana — saw declines in tax collections in the first quarter.

"States are like a two-income family that had a spouse laid off for three years," says Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. "Now, both spouses are working, but there's a lot of catch-up spending to do."

The financial condition in California, the nation's most populous state, remains the worst, although it has improved slightly.

Revenue rose 8.7% in the last year while spending declined 0.5%. This trimmed the state's annual deficit from $14 billion in the 2003 budget year to $8 billion for the budget year that ended Wednesday.

The state has borrowed money to pay its bills through June 30, 2005. But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature remain far apart on a long-term plan to end the state's problems.

This year, states have focused more on immediate results than long-term commitments:

• Arizona last year put 6,700 children from families earning $25,000 a year or less on a waiting list for subsidized day care. The new budget reinstates the subsidy. Arizona also will give state workers a pay raise, finance full-day kindergarten for the first time and increase spending in its tourism office by 25%.

• Kansas is increasing employee pay by 3%, the first raise in three years.

• Florida is giving state police 5% pay raises and $1,000 bonuses to other workers.

Most states have avoided big tax increases or cuts this year. Key exceptions:

•Sales tax. Virginia raised its levy from 4.5% to 5%. It's part of a series of tax increases that will bring in an extra $1.4 billion over two years.

•Income tax. New Jersey raised taxes on 28,000 families who earn more than $500,000. The extra $830 million will fund tax rebates for 1.2 million property owners and seniors.

•Cigarette tax. Michigan approved a 75-cent increase to $2 per pack, the second-highest in the country behind New Jersey's $2.05. Alabama, Alaska and Virginia also raised their cigarette taxes.

"Other than Virginia and New Jersey, taxpayers did OK this year," says Chris Atkins, director of tax and fiscal policy at the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization of conservative state legislators. "But you can see less of an appetite for spending control as revenues rise."

Finances for state and local governments sagged starting in early 2001 when the economy went into a recession and sharply cut the growth in tax revenue. But states and local governments continued to increase spending by more than 5% during the recession, even when revenue growth sank to just 2.4% in 2002.

States avoided big spending cuts or tax hikes by borrowing record amounts of money and tapping budget reserves.

The turnaround started last year when tax collections rebounded and spending increases were kept below 5%.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Microsoft sanctions not too lenient


A U.S. Court of Appeals, as expected, on Wednesday threw out objections by Massachusetts that sanctions in the Department of Justice's long-running antitrust case against Microsoft were too lenient.

That brought an anticlimactic end to the landmark monopoly case. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in April 2000 found Microsoft guilty of illegally maintaining its monopoly of desktop PC operating systems; in June 2000, he ordered the software giant split in two.

But Microsoft successfully appealed the controversial ruling, and negotiated milder sanctions with the Justice Department.

The appeals court ruled that the settlement negotiated by the Bush administration, which requires Microsoft to adjust how it deals with PC manufacturers and rival software makers, was "in the public interest."

"It's a good win for the government and Microsoft, but in some ways, the opinion is not so important because the marketplace is a lot different now," says Richard Donovan, head of antitrust practice at Kelley Drye & Warren.

The case focused on how Microsoft bundled its Internet Explorer Web browser into the Windows operating system to overtake the Netscape browser. Critics say the negotiated settlement has done little to slow Microsoft's increased bundling of popular applications in Windows.

"It appears on first reading that Microsoft has been cleared to continue its campaign of predation," says former judge Robert Bork, in a statement issued by ProComp, a lobbying group of Microsoft's competitors. "If that analysis is correct ... the future of competition in this industry seems very much in doubt."

Several states joined the Justice Department's prosecution — and agreed to the milder remedy. Massachusetts, the lone holdout state, pressed for tougher sanctions.

In a separate case, Microsoft on Tuesday said it will issue computer hardware and software vouchers worth up to $34 million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of overcharging Massachusetts consumers for its software products. Microsoft has now settled 13 similar cases for more than $1.5 billion. Those cases repeated the abusive monopoly arguments made in the Justice Department's case.

R. Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, called the appeals court ruling "a resounding victory" for U.S. consumers "by providing a full and effective remedy for Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior."

Microsoft's general counsel, Brad Smith, said the company remains "100 percent committed to fulfilling our obligations under the settlement and earning the trust of our customers and the industry."

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Interest rates reverse course


WASHINGTON — Everybody take a deep breath.
Yes, Federal Reserve policymakers raised interest rates for the first time in four years Wednesday and likely will continue to raise rates in the months ahead.

But their actions don't mean the walls of the improving economy are about to come tumbling down.

Most consumers, with fixed-rate mortgages, small amounts of other debt and steady savings accounts, will see small effects from higher interest rates — some positive.

Rates will still be extremely low, historically speaking.

Gains in the housing market and car sales, the two most interest-rate sensitive sectors for consumers, are likely to ease with higher interest rates, but only slightly.

Savings accounts and other interest-bearing investments, which basically have been treading water for several years, will finally grow.

Evelyn Reichert, 89, is thrilled to see interest rates moving higher. Although the interest rates on her deposits have been next to nil for years, her expenses have been rising.

Both rent and meal charges at her assisted-living facility in Milwaukee have gone up in the last year.

"Then you go to the store, and the prices are all higher, too," she says. "All except Social Security and interest rates."

Businesses, led by an increase in demand in a growing economy, will not let higher rates stop them from investing and hiring.

Scott Anderson, president of Contract Staffing Specialists in Omaha, paid down 90% of his firm's loans in the last 18 months but has decided to take on more debt to add to his staff to meet increasing demand, even though rates are rising.

"Even if (the Fed's interest rate target) went up considerably, it is still going to be better than it was in years past," says Anderson, whose company does consulting for high-tech firms. "We're still in a great position."

Hiring is the key. It will be the increase in jobs, not the Fed's actions, that will have the biggest influence on the economy during the remainder of 2004 and beyond.

"The fact that the job market is back really counters the negative impact of rising interest rates," Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says. "Nothing is more important to consumers than the job market."

Rates still low

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and his colleagues' decision to raise interest rates was a vote of confidence in the economy.

The Fed's action suggests the economy is finally strong enough that consumers and businesses don't need the prop of decades-low interest rates.

"The economy that doesn't need emergency stimulus from the Fed is a healthier economy," J.P. Morgan senior economist Jim Glassman says.

It's important to keep in mind that while the Fed's action Wednesday will certainly not be its last this year, rates are starting at the lowest level in a generation, and the Fed is expected to move gradually.

"A year from now, (interest rates) still are going to be very low," says Richard DeKaser, chief economist at National City in Cleveland. "People would have drooled over these rates even five years ago."

DeKaser is part of a panel of economists sponsored by the American Bankers Association that predicted last week that interest rates would top out at about 4% sometime in 2006. That's far below the 6.5% recent peak hit in 2000.

Those who are fretting about higher interest rates point to the Fed's actions a decade ago, when the U.S. central bank doubled rates from 3% to 6%. That jump, which took place in the space of a year in 1994 and 1995, jarred consumers and businesses who were caught off guard by the aggressive moves.

But today's economy is far different from the one the Fed dealt with a decade ago. The inflation rate in 1994 was about twice the rate seen today.

With confidence in the Fed's ability to fight inflation strong, U.S. central bankers can afford to move more slowly.

"There's no reason to think that interest rates are going to rocket upward," says Lyle Gramley, a former Fed governor who is now with Schwab Soundview Capital Markets. "I don't think another 1994 is in the cards."

CONSUMERS

Although many people fret that consumers will be paying more for variable-rate loans when interest rates rise, David Kelly, economic adviser at Putnam Investments in Boston, notes Americans make more money in interest than they pay in interest.

According to Commerce Department data, in 2002 Americans earned $596 billion in interest, while they paid $557 billion.

"The rising interest rates do not directly hurt consumer spending at all," Kelly says.

Economists closely watch consumer spending because it accounts for more than two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity. Some areas to watch as interest rates rise:

Housing

The National Association of Realtors expects existing home sales to top 2003's record of 6.1 million and prices to increase 5.4%. That assumes the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reaches 6.9% by the end of the year, up from the current 6.25%. Rates have increased from well below 6% in recent weeks in anticipation of higher rates from the Fed, which influence mortgage rates.

But sales in the first half of the year are expected to outweigh sales in the second half. Economists expect the housing sector to cool but not collapse.

Sandra Holtzman, 53, is hoping for a cooling off. She's been looking to buy an apartment in New York City but has been frustrated by escalating prices. "I'd rather pay higher interest and have something more substantial," says Holtzman, who owns an advertising agency.

Some local Realtors have already seen some leveling off from May's record sales, which were driven in part by rising mortgage rates.

Margie Linville, sales executive at Northwood Realty Services in the Pittsburgh area, says sales in May were the best in five years. Although sales are still "pretty good," they're running about 70% of May's pace, she says.

Home builders are more sanguine.

"To say that (rising rates) are not going to have an impact would be foolish," says Derrick Hall, spokesman at KB Home, one of the nation's larger home builders. "We hope that it will be minimal because of the variety of mortgage options" available to buyers.

Cars

Don't expect interest-free car loans to go away, even though it will cost automakers potentially tens of millions a year to keep offering them. Zero-percent financing, which automakers have used to lure buyers and clear slow-selling models since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is a costly incentive to which consumers have become addicted. Such deals will keep car buyers in showrooms, leading to little change in auto sales.

But GM and other automakers are already dreaming up alternatives to costly no-interest loans, such as a program that would offer buyers of a GM sedan free use of an SUV loaner at least one weekend a year. Leasing is also expected to come back strong as rates rise.

Deposits

The rate increase is welcome news for savers, especially older Americans who tend to favor insured bank deposits over riskier investments. Americans have $5.5 trillion in deposits, including savings accounts and money market funds, according to the Fed — about a third of the amount households have in real estate assets.

"They'll be cheering in the streets of Florida," says Kelly of Putnam. "A lot of older retired people are just waiting for the day their CD rates go up."

In 2000, the average rate on one-year certificates of deposit nationally was 5.5%. At the end of March, that rate had fallen to 1.1%. Even before the Fed took action, rates had started to perk up. Nationally, the average rate on a one-year CD is 1.51%, according to Bankrate.com.

Vivian Adrian, 73, of Milwaukee is happy. "I definitely am for higher interest rates," says Adrian, who bought CDs and other investments when she sold her condo and moved into assisted living three years ago. "I didn't think they would stay this low for such a long time."

Credit cards

The prevalence of fixed-rate credit cards will help shield card holders from the sting of higher rates. Five years ago, about 70% of cards were variable rate, according to industry tracker CardWeb.com. Today, that has fallen to about 50%.

Most issuers change variable rates on a monthly basis, so a rate increase could start to show up on July statements. The quarter-percentage-point increase in interest rates will add an estimated $900 million in extra interest costs for consumers over the next year, says Robert McKinley, CEO of CardWeb.

A family with $6,300 in credit card debt would pay an extra $15.75 in interest payments over the next year because of the quarter-point-rate rise, according to Greg McBride at Bankrate.com.

If the Fed continues to increase rates through the summer, credit card issuers with fixed-rate pricing will probably start to migrate to variable pricing, McKinley says.

MARKETS

Stocks

Jim Margard, chief investment officer at Rainier Investment Management, says the Federal Reserve will have little effect on the markets because the stock market moves based on expectations. The Fed has warned for so long that rates will rise that it's old news.

"The anticipated rise in rates is already discounted into stocks," he says.

Other issues, particularly the outcome of the presidential election, will likely outweigh the Fed's influence on the market in coming months.

"There are enough uncertainties in the marketplace and the world to keep us in a holding pattern," Margard says.

Bonds

Just as most stock investors have already priced in the risk of higher interest rates, so have bond investors, says Bill Hornbarger, fixed-income strategist at A.G. Edwards in St. Louis. He says the yield on the benchmark 10-year note will work its way up slightly to 5% by the end of 2004 from 4.59% Wednesday.

Longer term, Hornbarger says, long-term bond rates will continue to rise.

Does that mean investors should avoid bonds for years? Not at all, Hornbarger says. In the short term, investors are wise to only buy bonds with short maturities that will be less affected. But he thinks most of the major jumps in the long-term bond yield will be done after one or two rate increases. Then it will be safer to buy bonds.

Dollar

Rising interest rates are not expected to have much more of an impact on the value of the dollar, which has already increased in recent months in anticipation of Fed moves. Rising interest rates are generally supportive of the dollar because foreigners and U.S. investors are more apt to invest where the returns are higher.

"The next few months, I think we're going to move sideways as the market makes up its mind about the trend of Fed tightening," says Jay Bryson, global economist at Wachovia in Charlotte.

The dollar is important for the economy. When the value of the dollar increases, it makes U.S. exports more expensive and imports relatively cheaper.

BUSINESS

Rising interest rates are not expected to have much of an impact on business borrowing and investment, two parts of the economy that are finally recovering after plunging in the recession.

Pent-up demand for new, productivity-enhancing technology and rising demand from customers will likely keep business spending strong. Business spending accounts for a tenth of U.S. economic activity.

"I don't think the cost of money will be an issue," says Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo in Minneapolis.

Plus, as J.P. Morgan economist Jim Glassman points out, companies have been enjoying sky-high profits in recent months and have been able to pay down a substantial amount of debt. That means they will be in a better position to finance investments.

With competition in the financial sector fierce, Bill Zadrozny, CEO of Siemens Financial Services in Iselin, N.J., predicts that only 60% to 75% of the increase in interest rates will actually be passed along to customers. "In the financial marketplace, pricing power is definitely not back," he says.

But Zadrozny is not worried. He has seen an increase in business borrowing, particularly in the high-tech and health care industries, as well as for factory automation equipment.

Although lenders might have to eat some of the interest rate gains, rising demand will support the industry.

"We're not going to party like 1999, but I'll take it," he says.

Sue Kirchhoff, Christine Dugas, Matt Krantz and David Kiley contributed to this report.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Cassini spacecraft enters orbit around Saturn


PASADENA, Calif. — After seven years of hurtling through space to the outer solar system, the U.S.-European Cassini spacecraft squeezed through a gap in Saturn's shimmering rings, fired its brakes and settled into a near-perfect orbit around the giant planet.

Mission scientists and engineers watched tensely at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory late Wednesday as a signal indicated first that Cassini had safely passed through the ring plane and then performed a crucial engine firing.

"I can tell you it feels awfully good to be in orbit around the lord of the rings," JPL Director and Cassini radar team member Charles Elachi said afterward.

The first images from Cassini's close encounter with the rings were expected sometime Thursday morning, along with data on the spacecraft's performance.

Putting the first spacecraft into orbit around Saturn marked another major success this year for NASA, which has had two rovers operating on Mars since January and has a spacecraft heading home with samples from a comet encounter.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, in a call from Washington, D.C. Wednesday, called the orbit insertion an "amazing victory" and part of a "double header," following a successful spacewalk by the international space station crew earlier in the evening.

A carefully choreographed maneuver allowed Cassini to be captured by Saturn's gravity as it arced within 12,500 miles of the giant planet's cloud tops.

Using its big radio dish as a shield against small particles, the spacecraft ascended through a gap between two of the rings, then spun around and fired its engine for more than 1½ hours to slow its acceleration.

The craft then rotated again to place its shielding antenna in front as it descended back through the gap.

The maneuver had to be carried out automatically because Earth and Saturn are currently more than 900 million miles apart and radio signals take more than 80 minutes to travel each way.

Navigation team chief Jeremy Jones said initial analysis showed the orbit to be so good that a "cleanup" maneuver planned for Saturday would be very small.

The orbital insertion came after two decades of work by scientists in the United States and 17 nations. The $3.3 billion mission was funded by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

David Southwood, director of space science for the European Space Agency, called it a "world mission" but said the orbital insertion was "America doing it right."

Cassini will now go on at least a four-year tour of Saturn and some of its 31 known moons. Cassini was scheduled to make 76 orbits and repeated fly-bys of the moons.

Scientists hope the mission will provide important clues about how the planets formed. Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun and the second-largest, intrigues scientists because it is like a model of the early solar system, when the sun was surrounded by a disk of gas and dust.

Cassini and the Huygens probe it carries are named for 17th century astronomers Jean Dominique Cassini and Christiaan Huygens.

The probe will be sent into the atmosphere of Saturn's big moon Titan in January. The moon, blanketed by a thick atmosphere of nitrogen and methane, is believed to have organic compounds resembling those on Earth billions of years before life appeared.


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Saddam arrives at Iraq court


Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was brought to court Thursday for an appearance before an Iraqi judge to face charges that could include genocide and war crimes, news reports said.

The hearing gives the former dictator his first chance since his capture seven months ago to speak in public.

Television networks reported Saddam was in the courthouse around 6:30 a.m. ET, or 2:30 p.m. in Baghdad. Citing "American sources," two Arab networks said the former leader was then appearing before a judge.

Saddam was led from an armored bus escorted by two Iraqi prison guards and ushered through a door guarded by six more Iraqi policemen, according to CNN, which had a pool reporter monitoring the hearing. The bus was escorted by four humvees and an ambulance.

Salem Chalabi, the director of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, said beforehand that Saddam would face a single judge in Thursday's session, which is expected to take place in or around Baghdad International Airport.

He said Saddam and his lieutenants are in good health.

"He looks fine, he's seen by a doctor on a daily basis and looks fine, he's thinner and his hair is a bit wavy but otherwise, he's OK," Chalabi told AP Radio.

The charges were expected to include war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. A formal indictment with specific charges is expected later, Chalabi said. The trial isn't expected until 2005.

------------------------------------------------------
Alleged crimes

A glance of some of the major crimes allegedly committed during Saddam Hussein's rule:

July 16, 1979: Shortly after Saddam seizes power, 15 top party leaders who allegedly conspired against him are executed by firing squad.

1980: Iraqi forces invade neighboring Iran on Sept. 22, sparking eight-year war that leaves an estimated 1 million dead. Chemical attacks against Iran kill as many as 5,000.

1983: Government launches campaign against members of Kurdish Barzani tribe for helping Iran launch offensive in northern Iraq. Estimated 8,000 killed, many buried in mass graves.

1986-88: Scorched-earth offensive known as "Anfal" that includes chemical attacks on Kurds. Estimated 180,000 Kurds killed, many buried in mass graves in south.

1988: Chemical weapon attack against Kurdish town of Halabja kills an estimated 5,000 civilians on March 28.

1990: Saddam orders invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2; Iraqi forces fire Scud missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia; Iraqi soldiers allegedly torture, summarily execute hundreds of Kuwaitis and set Kuwaiti oil wells ablaze.

1991: Some 60,000 people are believed killed when Saddam violently crushes rebellions by Shiite Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north at close of Gulf War.

1992: Draining of marshes in southern Iraq, driving population known as Marsh Arabs from homes and wiping out way of life. Tens of thousands killed.

1996: Two of Saddam's sons-in-law are killed Feb. 20 after they return from Jordan, where they fled in Jordan and exposed the campaign to hide banned weapons from the United Nations.

Sources: The Associated Press, Human Rights Watch
------------------------------------------------------

"The next legal step would be that the investigations start proper with investigative judges and investigators beginning the process of gathering evidence," he said. "Down the line, there will be an indictment, if there is enough evidence — obviously, and a time table starts with respect to a trial date."

Saddam and the other 11 suspects were transferred to Iraqi custody Wednesday. He and the others are no longer prisoners of war but are still locked up with U.S. forces as their jailers.

"They were surprised that they were told they're in Iraqi custody," Chalabi told AP Radio.

President Ghazi al-Yawer told an Arab newspaper that Iraq's new government has decided to reinstate the death penalty, suspended during the U.S. occupation.

U.S. and Iraqi officials hope the trial will lay bare the atrocities of his regime and help push the country toward normalcy after years of tyranny, the U.S.-led invasion and the insurgency that has blossomed in its aftermath.

But the trial could have the opposite effect, possibly widening the chasm among Iraq's disparate groups — Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis.

"It's going to be the trial of the century," National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie told Associated Press Television News. "Everybody is going to watch this trial, and we are going to demonstrate to the outside world that we in the new Iraq are going to be an example of what the new Iraq is all about."

Wednesday's transfer of legal custody took place in secret. Chalabi said the defendants were brought one by one into a room at an undisclosed location and informed of the change in their status to criminal suspects. They were told that they will appear in court within 24 hours to hear charges, he said.

According to Chalabi, the 67-year-old Saddam said "good morning" as he entered the room, listened to the official explanation, and was told he could respond to the complaints Thursday. He was then hustled away.

"Some of them looked very worried," Chalabi said of the other defendants. They include former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, the regime's best-known spokesman in the West; Ali Hasan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali;" and former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan.

The initial proceedings are taking place under a blanket of secrecy because of fears that insurgents, many of them Saddam supporters, might exact revenge on those taking part.

U.S. and Iraqi officials refused to say where Thursday's hearing would take place or release the name of the presiding judge. No pictures will be allowed of any of the Iraqi participants — except for the defendants — to protect them from attack. Only a few journalists will be allowed to attend.

Issam Ghazawi, a member of Saddam's defense team, said he received threats in a telephone call Wednesday from someone who claimed to be a minister of justice who promised that anyone who tried to defend Saddam would be "chopped to pieces."

U.S. officials had hoped to delay proceedings against Saddam until the Iraqis set up a special court and trained a legal team. But Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, whose government regained sovereignty Monday, insisted publicly on taking legal custody of Saddam quickly. The Americans agreed on condition they keep him under U.S. lock and key.

Trying Saddam and top regime figures presents a major challenge to the Iraqis and their American backers.

Allawi's government is due to leave office after elections in January, and a second national ballot is to be held by December 2005. That raises the possibility that national policy on the prosecution of Saddam and his backers could change depending on the makeup of the government.

Most of Iraq's 25 million people were overjoyed when Saddam's regime collapsed, and many are looking forward to the day he will be punished.

"Everyone all over the world agrees that Saddam Hussein should be put on trial in front of the Iraqi people," said Baghdad resident Ahmad al-Lami.

However, the turmoil of the past 14 months has led to a longing for the stability and order of the ousted dictatorship, at least among Sunni Arab Muslims who now feel threatened by the possibility of a Shiite-dominated government.

Nostalgia for Saddam — a Sunni — is strongest in Sunni-dominated parts of the country most heavily involved in the insurgency.

"Saddam Hussein was a national hero and better than the traitors in the new government," a resident of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit told APTN, refusing to give his name.

In Fallujah, an insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, resident Ammar Mohammed suggested the Americans should be put on trial first, because they "killed thousands if Iraqis in one year of occupation."


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



S-B-A To Provide Money to Replace School Roofs


(Associated Press) The state School Building Authority is providing money to repair schools roofs across the state. Yesterday, the authority agreed to release more than six million dollars to replace roofs on 40 schools over the next four years. S-B-A chief for architectural services David Sneed says the agency allocated the money because counties didn't have the money in their budgets to finance the projects.

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



City Fee OK, Says Circuit Judge
(Associated Press) A Kanawha County circuit judge is upholding Charleston's one-dollar-a-week user fee, ruling that the fee is not a tax because its primary purpose is to pay for services instead of funding government. The fee, which is withheld from the paychecks of all employees who work in the city, was adopted last September to finance police protection and road repair.

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Consumer confidence hits two-year high in June
Consumers were more optimistic in June than at any time in the last two years, as the jobs picture continued to improve and gasoline prices eased after hitting record highs, a report said Tuesday.

The Conference Board, a private forecasting body, said its index of consumer confidence rose to 101.9 in June from 93.1 in May, way above analysts' expectations of a reading of 95.0 this month and the highest since June 2002.

Economists closely track consumer confidence because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity.

"These numbers in confidence are very good if they are translated into retail sales numbers," said Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Banc of America Capital Management in St. Louis.

However, chain store reports Tuesday predicted weak sales in June and followed lower sales forecasts from retailing giants Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT) because of cool, wet weather. In addition, a warning from General Motors (GM) hinted at a broader spending slowdown.

Mark Vitner, economist at Wachovia, suspects that higher gasoline prices also dampened spending, but he said he believes the blip is "only temporary."

"If gasoline prices keep coming down over the summer, then the damage is limited," he said. If gas prices don't continue to decrease, Vitner believes there will be an impact on consumer spending in 2005.

Nevertheless, Vitner feels encouraged by consumer's opinion of current business conditions. "Things are clearly getting better," he said.

Consumers' assessment of current business conditions improved considerably in June.

Those saying conditions are "good" rose to 25.6%, up from 22.2%. Those saying conditions have worsened fell to 17.5% from 21.6%. Consumers saying jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 26.5% from 30.3%. Those saying jobs are "plentiful" rose to 18.0% from 16.6%.

Consumers are also more optimistic about the short-term future.

Those expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months rose to 23.4% from 22.8%. Consumers expecting conditions to worsen declined to 9.2% from 10.1%.

The employment outlook remained upbeat. Those anticipating more jobs to become available increased to 19.7% from 18.7%. Those expecting fewer jobs edged down to 17.1% from 17.3%. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes rose to 19.3%, up from 17.1% last month.

The report comes as the Federal Reserve's policy-making Federal Open Market Committee starts a two-day meeting, with a quarter-point increase in the interest rate target expected on Wednesday.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Astros to activate and start LHP Pettitte


The Houston Astros will activate Andy Pettitte from the 15-day disabled list and start the veteran lefthander Tuesday night in the opener of their three-game series against the Chicago Cubs.

Pettitte has already been on the DL twice this season with tightness in his left forearm and a sore elbow.

Pettitte, who turned 32 earlier this month, signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract in December after spending his first nine seasons with the New York Yankees. He is 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA in seven starts this season.

Pettitte was a member of four championship teams with the Yankees and owns a career record of 153-79.

To make room for Pettitte, the Astros will option infielder Eric Bruntlett to Class AAA New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League. Bruntlett hit .231 (3-for-13) with one homer in two RBI in 10 games for Houston.

Houston (39-36) is in fifth-place in the Central Division, 6½ games behind first-place St. Louis and two games behind the second-place Cubs.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Surging Williams, Capriati headed for quarterfinal clash


WIMBLEDON, England — Two-time defending champion Serena Williams served 12 aces — including one clocked at a Wimbledon women's record of 126 mph — and overwhelmed 16-year-old Tatiana Golovin 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday to advance to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Williams crushed the Russian-born French player in 55 minutes on Centre Court to set up a marquee quarterfinal Grand Slam rematch against Jennifer Capriati.

Capriati, who defeated Nadia Petrova 6-4, 6-4 in another fourth-round match, beat Williams in the quarterfinals of the French Open last month. They'll meet in the Wimbledon quarters for the third time in four years.

"I think we definitely have a nice rivalry going on," Williams said. "It's good, I like it."

In the bottom half of the draw, Lindsay Davenport became the first player to reach the semifinals as she swept Karolina Sprem 6-2, 6-2, in 51 minutes.

Davenport, the 1999 champion, reached the semis for the fourth time. Sprem, a 19-year-old Croat who upset former two-time champion Venus Williams in the second round, had 21 unforced errors — 13 more than Davenport.

''This is my 12th year, and to still be successful and still be at the top of the games, is a huge accomplishment,'' said Davenport, a 28-year-old who hasn't won a Grand Slam since the Australian Open in 2000.

Fifth-seeded Davenport will play in the semis against Maria Sharapova, a 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 winner over Ai Sugiyama. Sharapova, 17, reached her first Grand Slam semifinal after making a breakthrough run to the French Open quarterfinals earlier this month.

"I want to win this tournament — I want it really bad," Sharapova said.

Sugiyama was five points from winning the match, holding a break point for 5-4 in the second set, before Sharapova turned things around in emphatic fashion. From 1-1 in the third set, Sharapova took four of the next five games at love and won 20 of the last 22 points to close out the match.

''I never thought I could turn it around, but somehow I did,'' she said.

After Sugiyama's backhand drifted wide on match point, Sharapova threw her arms in the air and blew kisses to the crowd. She finished with 44 winners and nine aces and showed she's not just a baseliner, hitting 10 volley winners and winning 16 points at the net.

Sharapova is the youngest Wimbledon semifinalist since Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova made it to the final four in 1997 at 16. Hingis beat Kournikova in the semis and won the title that year.

Sharapova, a 6-foot blonde with a modeling contract, has been compared to Kournikova. But while Kournikova has never won a tour singles title, Sharapova has won three, including the Wimbledon warmup tournament in Birmingham, England.

''She has a big game,'' Davenport said. ''I'm a huge fan of her game and how she plays. It's going to be a good matchup. We're both baseliners and we both hit pretty hard.''

Also advancing to the quarters in the top half was Amelie Mauresmo, who beat Silvia Farina Elia 7-5, 6-3. The fourth-seeded Frenchwoman, who reached the semifinals here in 2002, served eight aces and had 29 winners to beat the Italian in 1 hour, 27 minutes on Court 2.

Mauresmo will next play Paola Suarez, who downed Rita Grande, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 to reach her first Wimbledon quarterfinal. Suarez lost in the French Open semis last month to Elena Dementieva.

Serena Williams and Capriati have played 15 times, with Williams leading 9-6. Capriati has won the past two, both on clay, including a three-setter at the French Open. At Wimbledon, Capriati won in three sets in the 2001 quarterfinals and Williams prevailed in three sets in the 2003 quarters.

"We always end up in the same side of the draw, playing each other and having good matches," Capriati said. "She respects my game, I respect hers. We're not best of friends, but we're not enemies either."

Top-seeded Williams, who hasn't lost more than four games in any of her matches so far, wasn't happy with her performance Tuesday, but added: "I guess I can't complain too much, huh?"

Golovin, considered one of the most promising young players on the tour, appeared completely outmatched in her first appearance on the biggest stage in the sport.

Williams hit clean winners from the baseline, but was particularly dominant on her serve. She served three aces in three different games and finished off the fifth game of the second set with her 126 mph ace down the middle. As she walked to her chair for the changeover, Williams held up her arms in triumph and smiled at her parents in the players' box.

"I was really excited," she said. "I was like, 'Whoa!' "

The serve broke her sister Venus' Wimbledon record of 125 mph, set in 1998. It fell just short of the fastest ever recorded serve in women's tennis — a 127 mph delivery by Venus, at a tournament in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1998. Serena's previous best was 121 mph.

"I'm feeling like Pete Sampras," she said.

After Williams won the first set in 27 minutes, taking 12 of the last 15 points, Golovin broke in the opening game of the second. But Williams broke right back and won the next six games — including 15 out of 16 points and 19 out of 21 at one stretch — to close out the match.

After Golovin hit a backhand return long on the third match point, Williams twirled and blew kisses to the crowd. She finished with 23 winners and only 13 errors. Golovin had more errors (13) than winners (8) and served four double faults.

Despite the one-sided result, Golovin described it as an "amazing" experience.

"I felt really good out there," she said. "I don't think I played that bad. I could play with her. Just a few more points and the score would be tighter."

Capriati, meanwhile, needed eight break points to go ahead 3-2 in the first set, finally converting when Petrova hit a forehand into the net. At 4-all, Capriati broke again. Serving at 5-4, she double-faulted twice but managed to hold, closing out with a forehand winner that clipped the net cord.

Capriati led throughout the second set after breaking in the opening game. She again served it out, and Petrova hit a forehand wide on the first match point.

The men's quarterfinals are scheduled for Wednesday, including a matchup between the last two Wimbledon champions, Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt. The other pairings: Andy Roddick vs. Sjeng Schalken, Tim Henman vs. Mario Ancic, and Sebastien Grosjean vs. Florian Mayer.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



U.S. expels 2 Iranian guards from Iran's U.N. mission


The U.S. government has expelled two Iranian security guards working at Iran's U.N. mission, citing activities "incompatible with their stated duties" — diplomatic language for spying.

The guards were taking photos of infrastructure, modes of transportation and New York City landmarks, a U.S. official said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. They were the third set of Iranian guards caught taking pictures.

"The other ones were warned. This was the third time, and this time we kicked them out," the U.S. official said.

The two Iranians, who did not have diplomatic passports, left the United States in the last few days, the official said.

Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, confirmed the expulsions but gave no details.

"We asked them to leave because we were very concerned about their activities, which were incompatible with their stated duties," he said.

According to the U.S. official, the first photographing incident took place in June 2002, the second in November 2003, and the third occurred recently, the official said.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in November that two Iranian citizens were questioned while taking video images of the subway tracks on the No. 7 line in Queens.

He said the two men, stopped by a transit officer, claimed diplomatic immunity and were ultimately not charged with any wrongdoing. The commissioner declined to label their behavior suspicious, but called it "unusual."

Iran is one of seven nations branded by the U.S. State Department on its annual list as state supporters of terrorism.

The United States accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell hinted last week that Iran faced the prospect of U.N. economic sanctions if it did not prove to the world it has no nuclear weapons.

Earlier this month, the U.N. nuclear agency rebuked Iran for covering up its nuclear programs and warned it had little time left to disprove the allegations.

The United States broke off ties with Iran in 1979 after militant students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held its staff hostage for 444 days. The students were protesting Washington's refusal to hand over the Shah of Iran for trial.

Hard-liners and reformers in Iran have long been split over whether to resume full ties with the United States.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Tribunal appointed to take three Guantanamo detainees to trial


The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it has formed a five-member military tribunal to try three terrorism suspects held at this U.S. naval base.

The Pentagon's announcement came a day after the Supreme Court issued a ruling that prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay should have access to U.S. civilian courts to appeal their detention — a decision considered a major blow for President Bush's stance that the United States can jail suspects without judicial review.

The trials — of an Australian, a Sudanese and a Yemeni — would be the first of any of the prisoners swept up in the U.S. war on terror and held at Guantanamo. These would be the first military tribunals convened by the United States since World War II.

"This is an important first step," Air Force Maj. John Smith, a lawyer who helped draft commission rules, said in a telephone interview from the Pentagon. "We'd like to have a case tried by the end of the year."

He said the trials would be held at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo, where detainees have been held since January 2002 and now number nearly 600 from 42 countries.

A Pentagon statement said the first to be tried will be David Hicks of Australia, Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al-Bahlul of Yemen and Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi of Sudan. It was unclear which would go first.

The three have been charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes and other offenses. They could face up to life in prison if convicted, the Pentagon has said previously, ruling out death sentences for the three.

Al-Qosi is alleged to have been an al-Qaeda accountant and bin Laden bodyguard, while al-Bahlul, of Yemen, is accused of being a propagandist for bin Laden who produced videos glorifying the killing of Americans, according to an official list of charges released by the Pentagon in February.

The men are alleged to have trained at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, but the Pentagon's list of charges makes no mention of either man carrying out or planning any terrorist attack.

Hicks, 28, a convert to Islam, is accused of training at al-Qaeda camps and taking up arms against U.S.-led forces.

Charges include war crimes conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy. The attempted murder charge relates to claims he was an "illegal combatant."

The presiding officer was identified as Retired Army Col. Peter Brownback III, who is being recalled to active duty. Brownback has 22 years of experience as a judge advocate and nearly 10 years of experience as a military judge, the statement said.

It said the remaining panel members as two U.S. Marine Corps colonels, an Air Force colonel and an Air Force lieutenant colonel, but did not identify them by name.

"The presiding officer will be contacting attorneys in the cases in the near future to set an initial trial schedule," the Pentagon said in its statement.

Defense lawyers have criticized the process as stacked against them, but the military has said tribunals would offer full and fair trials.

Smith said Monday's Supreme Court ruling made no difference to plans for the tribunals, which the military calls commissions.

"The Supreme Court right now doesn't directly affect military commissions at all," he said. "Everyone would like to move this cases forward as quickly as possible."

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Detective: Scott Peterson told how he would dispose of body


Scott Peterson talked to a friend nine years ago about how he would dispose of a body if he killed someone, saying he would weight the body down and dump it in the ocean so the fish would eat it, a detective testified Tuesday.

"He said he would tie a bag around the neck with duct tape," weight the body down and toss it into the ocean and "fish activity would eat away the neck and hands and the body would float up, no fingers, no teeth," making it impossible to identify, Detective Allen Brocchini said.

Brocchini did not elaborate on how he learned of the 1995 conversation.

The testimony could be crucial given that prosecutors allege Peterson, 31, murdered his pregnant wife, Laci, weighted her body down with concrete anchors and dumped her in San Francisco Bay on or around Christmas Eve 2002.

Defense lawyers say he was fishing on the bay when Laci Peterson disappeared, and that someone else abducted her near their Modesto home as she walked the dog. The defense said her abductors held Laci Peterson captive before killing her and dumping her body to frame Peterson.

The remains of Laci Peterson — just her torso — and her fetus washed ashore four months after she vanished just two miles from where Peterson claims to have been fishing.

Defense attorneys have attacked Brocchini's investigation as shoddily executed and designed from the start to implicate Peterson during their four days of questioning.

Brocchini, the first investigator assigned to the report that Laci Peterson had vanished, returned to the stand Tuesday. Defense lawyer Mark Geragos immediately told the judge he was finished questioning Brocchini.

Prosecutor Rick Distaso then asked Brocchini about Peterson's explanation of how he would dispose of a body and about the numerous tips police received in the days after Laci vanished.

"Is it fair to say there were tips coming in that people saw Laci Peterson all over the world?" Distaso asked.

"Yes," Brocchini said.

He added that police did not follow every lead, saying that "sometimes you could tell by the tip it was a crack pot."

In his cross-examination Monday, Geragos accused Brocchini of ignoring important leads, questioning him about several tips police received early in the investigation, including one on Dec. 26, 2002, that she was being held in a storage bin about 30 miles from Modesto.

Brocchini said he knew of it, but did not have much information.

Geragos said police flew over the area with a helicopter equipped with a heat-seeking device and discovered what could have been a sign of life, but officers never searched the area.

Geragos then asked the detective about a report from police in nearby Tracy that a man of Pacific Island descent had tried to kidnap a 15-year-old girl a few days before Laci's disappearance.

Witnesses have said they saw a van with three "dark-skinned" men in the Petersons' neighborhood around the time Laci vanished. It is a detail Geragos has continually brought up in the trial as he works to create doubt and tries to show police ignored any leads that did not point to Peterson.

Brocchini said he never followed up on that tip, despite the man's description as dark-skinned.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



U.N. helicopter crashes in Sierra Leone; 24 killed


A U.N. helicopter crashed in Sierra Leone on Tuesday, killing all 24 peacekeepers, aid workers and others on board, a U.N. spokeswoman in the West African nation said.

The victims aboard the Russian-made Mi-8 included three Russian crew members, U.N. mission spokeswoman Sharon McPherson said. A passenger manifest made available to The Associated Press said passengers included 14 Pakistani peacekeepers and a Pakistani police officer, and travelers from several African countries.

There was no immediate explanation on the cause of the crash. Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency, citing aviation industry officials there, said the wreckage was in flames after the accident.

The United Nations has about 11,800 peacekeepers in Sierra Leone, overseeing the country's peace accord after a vicious 1991-2002 civil war. There have been no known attacks on U.N. officials since the end of fighting.

The helicopter had taken off from Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital, with 21 passengers and three crew members, said Daniel Adekera, another U.N. spokesman.

Passengers included peacekeepers and other U.N. personnel and aid workers and other civilians, Adekera said.

Its final destination was the western city of Kailahun. Ground crew lost radio contact, and sent out a search crew within seven minutes, Adekera said.

The chopper had crashed just southeast of the town of Yengema, near some of the main diamond fields in mineral-rich Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone civil aviation official Mohammed Bangura said.

The wreckage and victims were in a remote, hard-to-reach area of red dirt and brush.

U.N. recovery teams had to go by a second helicopter to reach the hills where the helicopter went down, U.N. associate spokesman Marie Okabe said in New York.

After walking 1 1/2 miles, the searchers found the crash site, with no survivors, Okabe said.

Helicopters are the main method of cross-country transportation in Sierra Leone, where there are few good roads. The white, dual-rotor U.N. helicopters lift off from a helipad at the U.N. mission's headquarters in Freetown, ferrying peacekeepers, relief workers and supplies.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's office said the United Nations had opened an investigation into the crash.

"The secretary-general extends his deep condolences to the families and governments of those who have perished in this tragedy," a statement released by Annan's office said.

"He once again pays tribute to the men and women who have lost their lives in the name of peace in this and other important peacekeeping operations."

ITAR-TASS said the helicopter was flown under contract with the United Nations.

Thirty-one countries have peacekeepers in Sierra Leone, including Britain, the country's former colonial ruler, according to the mission's Web site.

Bangladesh, Pakistan and West African nations are among the top contributors of troops.

The U.N. Security Council approved the U.N. mission in October 1999. Until Tuesday, a total of 137 U.N. personnel had died in Sierra Leone, including many killed in attacks during the war.

Sierra Leone's war pitted government forces against an insurgency fighting to gain control of the government and of diamond fields. Military intervention by neighboring Guinea, Britain and the United Nations helped crush the rebels by 2002.


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Iraqi prime minister: Saddam to be transferred Wednesday


Saddam Hussein will be transferred to Iraqi legal custody and face charges in an Iraqi court this week — but he won't go on trial for months and he will stay in a U.S.-run jail because the country doesn't have a suitable prison, the prime minister said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi promised an open proceeding when Saddam faces war crimes charges, including genocide.

Eleven other "high-value detainees" also are expected to face justice, he said at his first news conference since the U.S.-led coalition handed over sovereignty to his government Monday.

"I know I speak for my fellow countrymen when I say I look forward to the day former regime leaders face justice," he said.

Saddam will be transferred to Iraqi legal custody Wednesday and face arraignment before an Iraqi judge Thursday, Allawi said.

Within hours, Iraqi authorities announced arrest warrants for Saddam and the 11 others, including former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

The list also includes Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as "Chemical Ali"; former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan; and two of Saddam's half-brothers, according to the head of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, Salem Chalabi.

Allawi was asked whether his Cabinet had finalized plans for emergency rule as have been proposed publicly by a number of officials since the interim administration was announced June 1.

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Iraq arrest warrants

The Iraqi Special Tribunal has announced arrest and detention warrants for 12 prominent figures.

1. Saddam Hussein; president; detained Dec. 13.

2. Ali Hasan al-Majid, also known as Chemical Ali for his role in chemical weapons attacks against the Kurds.

3. Aziz Saleh al-Numan; Baath Party Baghdad regional command chairman.

4. Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti; presidential adviser and Saddam's half brother; allegedly the chief organizer of a clandestine group of companies and funds handling Saddam's money.

5. Kamal Mustafa Abdullah al-Tikriti; secretary of the Republican Guard; Saddam's son-in-law.

6. Muhammed Hamza al-Zubaydi; retired revolutionary command council member; a leader of the 1991 suppression of the Shiite rebellion.

7. Sabir Abdul Aziz Al-Douri; governor of Baghdad; head of military intelligence during the 1991 Gulf War.

8. Abid Hamid Mahmoud al-Tikriti, presidential secretary; he oversaw personal security force.

9. Sultan Hashim Ahmad; defense minister.

10. Taha Yassin Ramadan; Iraqi vice president; revolutionary command council member.

11. Tareq Aziz; former deputy prime minister; former foreign minister.

12. Watban Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti; presidential adviser and Saddam's half brother.


Sources: AP
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"We will tell you about those procedures later — maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," he said. "We will tell you about those procedures that were adopted by the Cabinet."

Government officials have not spelled out what measures might be imposed. However, Iraqi media have speculated they might include special rules for searches, detentions and curfews in specific areas of the country where insurgent activity is strong.

On the streets of Baghdad, several Iraqis said they were happy to hear that Saddam would have Iraqi justice, but they urged the court to treat him fairly.

"I hope that he will get a fair trial and not be executed because the people have suffered a lot because of him," said Ahmad Chalub. "I want him to get a life sentence."

Another man, Basil al-Timimi, said Arabs would accept the verdict if the trial takes place in an Iraqi court.

"The main objections of Arab countries about the arrest of Saddam Hussein was that he was arrested by Americans, and not Iraqi people," al-Timimi said. "Now he will be tried in an Iraqi court and he will face Iraqi justice. I don't think it's so complicated to make a judgment on him."

He said he was sure Saddam would face execution.

The trials for Saddam and the 11 others won't occur for months, and Allawi urged the Iraqi people to be patient. He acknowledged that more than 1 million Iraqis are missing as a result of events that occurred during the former regime — and that many Iraqis want justice done.

But he insisted Saddam must receive a "just trial, a fair trial."

"We would like to show the world that the new Iraq government means business and wants to do business and wants to stabilize Iraq and put it on the road toward democracy and peace," Allawi said. "We want to put this bad history behind us and move toward a spirit of national unity and reconciliation in the future."

Allawi said Iraqi leaders requested that coalition forces retain custody of the deposed leader "until correction services are fully capable of providing for their safety and secure detention of the accused."

Saddam, who was captured by U.S. troops Dec. 13, is being kept at an undisclosed location in or near Baghdad and has been interrogated by the CIA and FBI.

The tribunal that will try Saddam has a budget of $75 million. It will rely on a mix of Iraqi criminal law, international regulations such as the Geneva Convention, and experiences of bodies such as the Rwanda war crimes tribunal.

The U.S. Justice Department has been gathering evidence for a war crimes case against Saddam, while other international groups have been sifting through mass graves where U.S. officials say victims of Saddam's regime were buried.

Saddam's military also used chemical weapons against troops and civilians during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s and during a Kurdish uprising.

Allawi said the Iraqi Cabinet is still discussing whether to reinstate the death penalty.

Justice Minister Malik Dohan al-Hassan said Saddam could have foreign lawyer — if an Iraqi lawyers' association agrees.

The Jordanian lawyer claiming to represent Saddam has argued that the ousted leader should be released because handing him over to Iraq's new government would violate international law.

Ziad al-Khasawneh, one of 20 Jordanian and foreign lawyers appointed by Saddam's wife, Sajidah, said the United States has no legal basis to keep prisoners, including the ousted ruler, now that it has transferred authority to an interim Iraqi government.

Saddam was granted prisoner of war status after his capture. Although he is alleged to have committed crimes against his own people, he has not been charged with any offense.

Source: USA TODAY

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3 Marines killed in Iraq blast; U.S. hostage reportedly slain


A roadside bomb killed three U.S. Marines and wounded two others Tuesday in the first fatal attack on American forces since the transfer of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government, U.S. officials said.

In one of his first acts since taking power, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Saddam Hussein will be transferred to Iraqi legal custody and face charges before an Iraqi court this week — but he won't go on trial for months. The ousted former Iraqi leader will remain in a U.S.-run jail for now because his government does not have a suitable prison. (Related story: Saddam to face court)

Meanwhile, Iraqi militants shot to death an American soldier they had held hostage for three months, saying the killing was punishment for U.S. policy in the Mideast nation, Al-Jazeera television said Tuesday.

The Arab-language station reported the slain soldier was Spc. Keith Maupin, but the U.S. military said it could not confirm whether a man shown being shot in a murky videotape was the 20-year-old from Batavia, Ohio, who was taken hostage after an April 9 attack outside Baghdad.

The attack on the Marines occurred at 10 a.m. in east Baghdad, the U.S. command said in a statement.

Despite Monday's formal end of the occupation, about 160,000 soldiers — mostly Americans — remain in Iraq as a multinational force to help the new Iraqi government restore order.

Reporters on Tuesday asked Allawi whether his Cabinet had finalized plans for emergency rule as have been proposed publicly by a number of officials since the interim administration was announced June 1.

"We will tell you about those procedures later — maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," he said. "We will tell you about those procedures that were adopted by the Cabinet."

Allawi promised an open proceeding when Saddam faces war crimes charges, including genocide.

"I know I speak for my fellow countrymen when I say I look forward to the day former regime leaders face justice," he said at his first news conference since the U.S.-led coalition handed over sovereignty to his government on Monday.

Iraqi authorities announced arrest warrants for Saddam and 11 others, including former Deputy Prime Minister Tarek Aziz.

In a separate hostage drama, an Iraqi extremist group freed three Turkish captives on Tuesday, Turkey's foreign minister said. Al-Jazeera reported the group was releasing the hostages "for the sake of their Muslim brothers."

"Our citizens have been released," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told state television. "We've struggled a lot for their release."

Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape showing the three Turkish hostages, believed to have been contractors, kneeling in front of three members of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad movement, as one of the militants read a statement.

"For the sake of you, our brothers, and Muslims of the people of Turkey ... we will release these hostages and send them safely home," the statement said.

Monday's surprise transfer of sovereignty came two days earlier in an apparent attempt to foil the timing of expected attacks by anti-American insurgents intent at undermining the transfer.

There were no major attacks on Monday, but four U.S. soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb attack on their convoy in Tikrit, said Sharon Walker, a spokeswoman for the coalition military press center in Baghdad.

Near midnight, four heavy explosions rang out in central Baghdad, close to the U.S.-held Green Zone — a near daily occurrence in the capital. But the military said there were no injuries in the blasts, which were caused by mortar fire.

Early Tuesday, gunmen attacked a police station in Mahmudiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, killing one officer and one civilian, said policeman Satar al-Ghareri.

In a separate attack, assailants opened fire Tuesday on a U.S. patrol in the Azimiya neighborhood, a Sunni Muslim stronghold of north Baghdad. There were no U.S. casualties, but one Iraqi civilian was killed, according to an Interior Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also Tuesday, a roadside bomb exploded as a senior Kurdish police official was heading to work, killing one of his guards and wounding him and two others, police said.

Maj. Ahmed al-Hamawandi, the head of police in the Kurdish district of Azadi in Kirkuk, suffered minor injuries in the attack that occurred about 8:50 a.m., said police Col. Sarhat Qader.

Sectarian tension has been on the rise in Kirkuk, a city that sits atop vast oil reserves, and Kurdish officials and police have been the frequent target of attacks by gunmen.

President Bush raised no objection to Allawi taking hard-line measures to deal with militants such as al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in the country.

"He may take tough security measures to deal with Zarqawi, but he may have to," Bush said. "Zarqawi is the guy who beheads people on TV. He's the person that orders suiciders to kill women and children."

Al-Jazeera aired a video showing a blindfolded man identified as Maupin sitting on the ground. Al-Jazeera said that in the next scene, gunmen shoot the man in the back of the head, in front of a hole dug in the ground. The station did not broadcast the killing.

Maj. Willie Harris, spokesman for the Army's 88th Regional Readiness Command, said the man in the footage could not be clearly identified but that the videotape is being analyzed by the Department of Defense.

"There is no confirmation at this time, that the tape contains footage of Matt Maupin or any other Army soldier," he said.

Al-Jazeera said a statement was issued with the video in the name of a group calling itself "The Sharp Sword against the Enemies of God and His Prophet."

In the statement, the militants said they killed the soldier because the United States did not change its policies in Iraq and to avenge "martyrs" in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

Maupin was among nine Americans, seven of them contractors, who disappeared after an ambush on a convoy west of Baghdad on April 9.

The bodies of four civilian employees of Kellogg Brown & Root — a subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton — were later found in a shallow grave near the site of the attack. The body of Sgt. Elmer Krause, of Greensboro, N.C., was later found.

One civilian driver, Thomas Hamill of Macon, Miss., was kidnapped but escaped from his captors nearly a month later. The others are missing.

In a separate hostage-taking, the father of a U.S. Marine who was reported kidnapped by militants on Monday issued a plea for his release. The captors of Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun have threatened to behead him.

Hassoun, an American Marine of Lebanese descent, was shown blindfolded, with a sword brandished over his head in a videotape aired on Al-Jazeera on Sunday. The militants threatened to behead him unless all Iraqis "in occupation jails" are freed. They did not set a timeframe.

"I appeal to the kidnappers and to their conscience and faith to release my son," his father, Ali Hassoun, said in an interview with The Associated Press at his house in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli.

"He is not a fighter. I hope that they will respond favorably to my appeal. May God reward them," he said.

Source: USA TODAY

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Army to call up retired, discharged troops


The Army is preparing to notify about 5,600 retired and discharged soldiers who are not members of the National Guard or Reserve that they will be involuntarily recalled to active duty for possible service in Iraq or Afghanistan, Army officials said Tuesday.

It marks the first time the Army has called on the Individual Ready Reserve, as this category of reservists is known, in substantial numbers since the 1991 Gulf War. Several hundred of them have volunteered for active-duty service since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Those who are part of the involuntary call up are likely to be assigned to National Guard or Reserve units that have been mobilized for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to Army officials who discussed some details Tuesday on condition they not be identified because a public announcement was planned for Wednesday.

Members of Congress were being notified of the decision Tuesday, the officials said.

Unlike members of the National Guard and Reserve, the individual reservists do not perform regularly scheduled training. Any former enlisted soldier who did not serve at least eight years on active duty is in the Individual Ready Reserve pool, as are all officers who have not resigned their commission.

The Army has been reviewing its list of 118,000 eligible individual reservists for several weeks in search of qualified people in certain high-priority skill areas like civil affairs.


Source: USA TODAY

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Toll hikes not included in new parkways budget


(Associated Press) The state Parkways Economic Development and Tourism Authority has approved a $32 million budget for the West Virginia Turnpike for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The budget, approved Thursday, does not hike toll fees, but it includes projections that the authority will collect $1.79 million more in tolls, a 3.3 percent increase over the current year, for a total of $56.08 million.

That should leave the authority with a net profit of $10.77 million for the coming budget year, down about $28,000 from the $10.8 million of net revenue for 2003-04.

Sky-high gas prices might have contributed to a slowdown in turnpike traffic in May, but a spike in tractor-trailers traveling the Interstate 64/77 corridor kept toll revenue from showing its first decline of the year.

For the 11 months of the 2003-04 budget year, passenger traffic on the turnpike is up 3.2 percent, while commercial truck traffic is up 3.3 percent, said Greg Barr, general manager of the authority.

There weren't as many cars on the turnpike this May as in 2003, but tractor-trailer traffic grew by 4 percent, offsetting the losses of day-to-day commuters. Overall, traffic on the turnpike in May was up 1.5 percent over the same time last year, according to authority data.

Higher gas prices -- an average gallon of regular unleaded topped $2 in May for the first time in state history -- may have played a role in that decline, Barr said.

"If fuel prices come down, that will help us out,'' he said. "Hopefully, prices are coming down.''

If so, it might help reverse a slide in travel plaza business.

In April, the three turnpike gas stations sold 561,172 gallons of fuel, an 11 percent increase from last April. But that fell to about 508,000 gallons in May, a 3 percent drop from 2003. That decline followed four months of growth.

Parkways operating expenses for 2004-05 are expected to increase 4.9 percent, driven primarily by increases in premiums for health, property and liability insurance, Barr said.

Authority member Ann Bradley said the new budget is "appropriately conservative without being unnecessarily optimistic.''

The budget also projects that revenues, primarily from food and crafts sales, at the Tamarack arts and crafts center will grow 16 percent, or about $1.35 million, to $7.89 million in 2004-05. Parkways opened a $6.5 million conference center addition at Tamarack last summer.

Tamarack operating expenses are projected to grow by 19 percent to $5.6 million. After the $1.24 million debt service on the bonds used to finance construction of the Beckley center, Tamarack is projected to show a net profit of $442,000 for the budget year, down about $53,000 from 2003-04.



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Memorial highway named for Marshall plane crash victims


(Associated Press) More than 33 years after the worst disaster in U.S. sports history, a highway has been dedicated to the 75 Marshall University football players, coaches, administrators and supporters who died in a plane crash near Tri-State Airport.

The Big Green Memorial Highway begins at the intersection of U.S. routes 52 and 60 in Kenova, and passes the site of the Nov. 14, 1970 crash.

Gov. Bob Wise and former Secretary of State Ken Hechler, who was in Congress when the crash occurred, were among numerous dignitaries to speak at the dedication. The designation was proposed in the Legislature by Delegates Rick Thompson and Don Perdue, both D-Wayne.

"This is a community that remembers, and remembering and honoring are important,'' Wise said.

Also in attendance were families and friends of those who died. Parker Ward Jr., who lost his father, Parker Sr., in the crash was touched by the sun-drenched ceremony.

"The people that share this community are honoring, I think, not only those who passed, but the ones that have made great strides for the region and Huntington and Marshall,'' Ward said.

Along with the rional championship team.

"It's a reflection of the Marshall community and how they're inspired to always remember those who died.''

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Reedy buyout touted as success story


(Associated Press) A federal buyout of frequently flooded homes in this Roane County town is being touted as a success story.

On Thursday, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency had a press conference to discuss efforts to address flooding in southern West Virginia, there were posterboards positioned around the room illustrating Reedy and other FEMA "success stories,'' as FEMA spokespeople referred to them.

Geography is against Reedy, a once prosperous town built in a bowl surrounded by hills.

Two creeks converge at one end of town into Reedy Creek, which runs parallel to what was Main Street. When it rains hard, the creeks back up and residents have said water seems to pour from all sides into the town. The water began to get deeper in the late 1980s.

"Reedy has flooded at least 15 times since we did the buyout project in 2000,'' state hazard mitigation officer Barry Macciocca said.

The government kept helping, handing out tax breaks, loans, missed-work pay, even money for a new carpet for the Methodist Church.

"The federal government will come in over and over and over again,'' said FEMA's coordinator for the current flood, Louis Botta. "And yes, we will help people, because that is our responsibility as human beings and as Americans.

"But people can help themselves, too.''

So the government offered Reedy residents $1.3 million for a list of flood-prone houses. Thirty-five owners took the offer in one of the biggest flood buyouts in West Virginia history. All but one stayed in Roane County, according to FEMA.

"The senior center was put up on the hill by the elementary school. We moved the Baptist church, built a new church for them ... We developed that whole ridge,'' Macciocca said.

The new church has a kitchen and classrooms and a big concrete parking pad, amenities the old one did not have, but it is low and square and brick and plain, nothing like the old building, said Sherry Burgess, whose family sold the government land for the church.

"It had stained glass windows,'' she remembered. "It was a beautiful church.''

And now, when Burgess looks out over what was once the main part of Reedy, she sees her neighbors' houses only in her mind. It's all empty lots now.

Some stayed in Reedy, but some simply displaced other Reedy residents who moved away, she said.

As 80-year-resident Virginia Santee will tell you, "There's hardly nothing left of Reedy.''


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Coordinated insurgent strikes kill 89, including 3 Americans


Insurgents launched coordinated attacks Thursday against police and government buildings across Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq less than a week before the handover of sovereignty. The strikes killed 89 people including, three American soldiers, and wounded 318 people, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

Twelve American soldiers were wounded.

Most of the deaths were in Mosul, where 44 people were killed and 216 injured in attacks that included a string of car bombs. Clashes also occurred in Baqouba, Ramadi, Baghdad and other areas. (Related photos: Insurgents strike Thursday)

The extent of the attacks was a clear sign of just how powerful the insurgency remains — and could be the start of a new push to torpedo Wednesday's transfer of sovereignty to an interim transitional government.

Iraqi police, who have been entrusted to take a larger role in security after the handover, appeared outgunned and unable to hold positions in most of the cities under fire. American troops raced to offer support, using aircraft, tanks and helicopters to repel the guerrillas. (Related video: Reaction to the attacks)

Saad al-Amely, an official at the Iraqi Health Ministry, said hospitals were flooded with the wounded.

The military wing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group, the Tawhid and Jihad movement, claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement on an Islamic Web site. The statement said that members of the "martyrs' battalion" had carried out a number of "blessed operations."

President Bush, who is appealing to NATO to help quell the escalating violence, updated members of Congress about the situation in Iraq during an hour-long meeting at the White House.

The heaviest fighting raged in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, where two American soldiers were killed and seven were wounded, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division said.

U.S. aircraft dropped three 500-pound bombs against an insurgent position near the Baqouba soccer stadium, said Maj. Neal E. O'Brien, a U.S. 1st Infantry Division spokesman.

Insurgents roamed the city with rocket launchers and automatic weapons, seized two police stations, and destroyed the home of the police chief of surrounding Diyala province.

In other attacks, a man dressed as an Iraqi policeman detonated a car bomb near a checkpoint manned by Iraqi and American soldiers in the southern Baghdad district of Dora, killing four Iraqi soldiers. Three U.S. soldiers tended a wounded American soldier as he lay on the road, his helmet nearby. Black smoke and flames rose from a burning pickup truck.

Attackers also set off an explosion as a military convoy passed in Baghdad, injuring one soldier.

Also in Baghdad, insurgents attacked four Iraqi police stations using mortars, hand grenades and AK-47s on Wednesday and Thursday. Police fought back, defending the stations with minimal assistance from coalition forces, a U.S. statement said.

At Baqouba's main hospital, doctors standing in pools of blood struggled to deal with a steady stream of wounded. Civilian cars, including pickup trucks, raced to the emergency ward, bringing people with gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

"May God destroy America and all those who cooperate with it!" screamed one man in the corridor. Another who drove up outside the hospital screamed, "Oh God, Abbas is dead." He later carried in the body of a young man with a bullet hole in the back of his head.

The city, which has a mix of Sunni and Shiite Muslims, was almost deserted by late morning. U.S. gunships flew low over the city, some swooping down on suspected rebel hideouts in palm groves. Some motorists flew white flags from atop their cars to ensure their safety. U.S. tanks, some firing their machine-guns, moved into the city center by the afternoon.

There was no sign of police on the streets, but targets attacked by the rebels in the early morning hours — including the governor's office, police headquarters and the coalition's local offices — were heavily guarded by police.

Guerrillas also targeted security forces in the northern city of Mosul, where car bombs rocked the Iraqi Police Academy, two police stations and the al-Jumhuri hospital. Security forces lost control of the Sheikh Fatih police station following a car bombing, but U.S. forces recaptured the station after subduing insurgents firing from a nearby mosque.

One American soldier died in Mosul, U.S. officials said. Mosul's governor imposed a 9 p.m-6 a.m. curfew, and the city television station urged people to stay home for the "general good."

In Baghdad, U.S. officials projected calm. They had been predicting a surge in attacks meant to derail next week's transfer of sovereignty, which marks the formal end of the American-run occupation.

Iraq's interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, said the attacks were an attempt to harm the Iraqi people and "to foil the democratic process." He said the situation was under control.

"We are going to defeat them. We are going to crush them," he said at a ceremony marking the transfer of the final 11 government ministries to Iraqi control. "We expect more escalation in the days ahead."

To the west of Baghdad, explosions and shelling shook Fallujah, believed to be the nexus of the Sunni Muslim rebellion. Armed men ran through the streets, and Iraqi police and insurgents appeared to be working together, witnesses said. U.S. forces clashed sporadically with insurgents at the edges of the city, but did not try to enter the center.

U.S. forces have launched two airstrikes on Fallujah since Saturday against what they said were safehouses for al-Zarqawi, whose group claimed responsibility for beheading American hostage Nicholas Berg and South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il, whose body was found Tuesday.

U.S. Marines besieged Fallujah for three weeks in April after four American civilian contractors working for the Blackwater USA security company were ambushed and killed, and their bodies mutilated.

The city has been relatively calm since Marines announced a deal to end the siege that created the Fallujah Brigade, commanded by officers from Saddam Hussein's army.

Although the Fallujah Brigade patrols the city, hard-line clerics and fighters who held off the Marines are still in control.

Source: USA TODAY

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Wyoming Council Appealing State Insurance Policy Decision


(Associated Press) The Wyoming County based Council on Aging will keep its state insurance policy at least until August First while the agency appeals the cancellation of its policy. Outgoing Administration Secretary Tom Susman said earlier this year that the agency was too risky for the state Board of Risk and Insurance to continue to insure so the state planned to revoke its policy on July First. The council is one of six non-profit organizations that received nonrenewal notices.

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Mine Safety Concerns
(Associated Press) Four coal industry deaths since June First has the United Mine Workers calling for tougher federal mine safety enforcement. Fourteen coal industry workers have died this year, including six in West Virginia - the most of any other state. U-M-W President Cecil Roberts said yesterday that union members have a lot of questions and they want the U-S Mine Safety and Health Administration to start providing answers. He says the deaths are a trend that must be reversed soon.

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Georgia eliminates Arizona, Gamecocks advance in CWS
Georgia's reward for eliminating Arizona from the College World Series is at least one more game with top-seeded Texas.

"We can't even enjoy this for a little bit, huh?" Georgia coach David Perno said after the Bulldogs beat the Wildcats 3-1 on Tuesday. "I guess that's where we have to go next."

Michael Hyle pitched six shutout innings and Marshall Szabo had three hits, including a double and triple, to set up a rematch with the Longhorns. (Related item: Game report)

The Bulldogs (45-22) lost 9-3 to Texas on Sunday and would have to beat the Longhorns twice, on Wednesday and Thursday, to advance to this weekend's best-of-three championship round.

"We're better than we showed Sunday night, and our players want a shot to go out and prove it," Perno said.

Arizona (36-27-1) went 1-2 in its first CWS appearance since 1986, with both its losses coming against Georgia.

Hyle (8-2) scattered six hits, walked two and struck out five before leaving one batter into the seventh inning. Will Startup finished to earn his 12th save of the season and second of the CWS.

Arizona's Kevin Guyette (6-8) gave up two runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings.

"There are a few pitches I wish I could have back," Guyette said. "You have to give the credit to their pitchers. They outpitched us today, and that's what won the game for them today."

Georgia scored twice in the third. Josh Smith led off with a double and scored on Szabo's base hit. Szabo later came home on Joey Side's single.

The Wildcats broke through in the seventh against Startup, who came on after Hyle walked Richard Mercado. John Hardy doubled in Nick Hundley but was stranded at third.

The Bulldogs got that run back in the eighth. Szabo led off with a triple over center fielder Trevor Crowe's head and scored on Bobby Felmy's two-out single.

"Leading off an inning like that, you want to get on base," Szabo said. "He started me with a fastball up, and I put a good swing on it. But the wind actually took it where it needed to go."

Arizona coach Andy Lopez said it broke his team's spirit to have Georgia score right after the Wildcats had manufactured a run in the seventh.

"When you score, you need to hang zero just to keep momentum on your side and the intangibles that really make for championship-type seasons," Arizona coach Andy Lopez said. "That was a big run."

Arizona got only one base runner past second base the first six innings.

"My whole game plan today was what it has been all year, and that's to go out and throw strikes, force contact and let the infielders and outfielders work for me and get outs," Hyle said. "All I have to do is get teams to swing."

Startup retired five in a row, striking out three, to end the game.

The All-Southeastern Conference closer has allowed four hits and one run in six innings of CWS work, and he said he's ready to pitch some more on short rest.

"This is the biggest stage in college baseball, so there's no question I'll be ready to go," he said.

South Carolina ousts Hurricanes

OMAHA — A South Carolina team that has been shut out three times at the College World Series the last three years suddenly is scoring at will. The Gamecocks jumped out to a 12-run lead Tuesday night and then held on for a 15-11 victory that eliminated Miami from the College World Series.(Related item: Game report)

South Carolina (51-16) plays Wednesday against Cal State Fullerton. The Gamecocks would have to beat the Titans twice to reach the best-of-three championship round that starts this weekend.

After losing 2-0 to Fullerton on Saturday — the third straight year they have been shut out in their CWS opener — the Gamecocks beat LSU 15-4 on Monday and then became the first team since LSU in 1991 to score 15 or more runs in consecutive Series games.

"Maybe we were due a little bit," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "In the first game we were goose-egged and have been in our other two trips out here. We're capable of throwing up some runs like these other guys, too. It's very rare you can do it on back to back teams like LSU and Miami."

Bryan Triplett had four hits and Nick Gardiner and Brendan Winn drove in three runs apiece against Miami.

Winn, Steven Tolleson and Steve Pearce each homered and the Gamecocks scored the most runs against Miami since Florida hung 15 on the Hurricanes in last year's NCAA regionals.

Winn scored five times to tie a CWS record.

"They hit the ball as hard as its ever been hit off us," Miami coach Jim Morris said.

South Carolina starter Billy Buckner (7-2) scattered nine hits and struck out 10 in seven innings.

"We knew tonight that Miami would put up some runs," Buckner said. "So getting the early lead gave me the confidence to be more aggressive toward the hitters."

Jon Jay had a three-run homer and a career-high four RBI and Roger Tomas went 4-for-5 to lead Miami (50-13), which scored seven runs in the last two innings in trying to come back from a 15-4 deficit.

The Hurricanes, who lost to Fullerton on Monday, outhit the Gamecocks 17-16 but couldn't avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time this season. They came into the tournament on a 12-game win streak.

"We were the hottest team going into the tournament, and to not come out here and play to our best ability is a disappointment," Miami's Jim Burt said.

South Carolina scored at least two runs in each of the first four innings to build a 12-0 lead. The Gamecocks finished with their most runs since scoring 16 against Delaware State in March. Their season high was 38 against Charleston Southern in the second game of the year.

"There weren't any balls that were hit off the hands or falling in. They were hitting some peas," Morris said. "We gave them some base runners, and every time that happened, they were swinging from their heels like they knew what was coming. They took no bad swings."

Pearce hit a two-run homer, his team-leading 21st, in the first off Miami starter Brandon Camardese (6-3), who lasted just 1 1-3 innings in his shortest outing of the season.

Pearce doubled to start a four-run third inning highlighted by Winn's three-run homer.

Tolleson homered leading off the Gamecocks' four-run fourth.

Miami put a scare into the Gamecocks in the late innings, scoring seven runs on eight hits against reliever Cliff Donald.

"There was no doubt in my mind that there was going to be a run, because that's what great teams do," Tanner said. "They're going to get their share."

Zac McCamie was called on to get the last two outs.

"I'm proud of our guys, the way they made it a little bit of an exciting ending," Morris said. "It could have been a drubbing the way it started out."


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



United shaves $500M from loan request


United Airlines on Tuesday cut by $500 million its request to the panel that last week denied its application for a government loan guarantee. United, in bankruptcy court for 18 months, now seeks approval of a federal guarantee of $1.1 billion in private exit financing, down from $1.6 billion, according to a source briefed on the application.

Members of the three-member Air Transportation Stabilization Board last Thursday denied the higher level of aid. But the Treasury Department, one of three federal agencies represented on the ATSB, indicated after the vote a willingness to consider a revised application. Treasury Undersecretary Brian Roseboro joined Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich in voting against it.

Since the denial, United has been in a feverish bid to win reconsideration.

The guarantee is viewed as essential to $2 billion in proposed loans from Wall Street investment banks needed to get the No. 2 airline out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

But the revised application would leave the airline needing $500 million from private capital secured by equity in the company or from additional borrowing. No specific lender or investor was named in the revised application, the source said.

United declined to comment on details of the revised proposal. "We continue to work with them," United spokesman Rich Nelson said Tuesday of the ATSB.

The revision comes amid a major political struggle. Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, representing Chicago-based United, has been pushing publicly and behind the scenes for reconsideration of last week's denial.

Both Treasury and the speaker's office confirm that Treasury Secretary John Snow and Hastert spoke about United's application last week. Opponents call the contact improper.

Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., in an angry letter to the Treasury inspector general, said the handling of the United application "goes to the integrity and the credibility of the ATSB." Fitzgerald, a critic of United's application, is not seeking re-election. In a brief interview Tuesday, Hastert said, "It's up to UAL and the negotiators."

If Treasury's Roseboro were to vote yes on the revised application, he might be joined by the Department of Transportation representative on ATSB, who voted last week to give United more time. That would reverse the denial.

Even if the ATSB were to approve the revised application, there's no guarantee United can secure $500 million in additional private financing with its current management and business plan intact. A potential lender would face numerous risks. Fighting record-high fuel costs, United is still posting losses. It has growing competition from low-cost carriers at all of its hubs. Its employee pension plans are underfunded by $6 billion.

Traditionally, equity investors that provide capital in exchange for a stake in the company insist on additional cost cutting and install senior managers of their own choosing.


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



U.S. promises new plan to end Korean nuke dispute


The United States promised a new proposal at six-nation talks toward ending a dispute over North Korea's nuclear program Wednesday, while the North said it would give up nuclear weapons in exchange for aid and an end to "hostile" U.S. policy.

But Pyongyang also demanded that Washington withdraw its call for a complete and irreversible dismantling of its atomic program, casting doubt on hopes for a breakthrough in the third round of talks that also include South Korea, Japan and Russia.

U.S. officials had said Monday that Washington and its allies were working on a plan to offer the North aid if it agreed to end its nuclear weapons development. American envoy James Kelly gave no details at the start of the talks Wednesday.

"We are prepared for serious discussion and we have a proposal to offer," Kelly said as the high-level talks on the U.S. demand for the North to give up its nuclear program began.

The North's envoy to the talks, Kim Gye Gwan, said its efforts to possess atomic arms are "intended to protect ourselves" from the threat of U.S. nuclear attack.

"Therefore, if the United States gives up its hostile policy toward us ... we are prepared to give up in a transparent way all plans related to nuclear weapons," he said.

Two previous rounds of high-level talks organized by China failed to produce major progress, and Kelly this week saw "no particular reason to be optimistic."

Kim also said the United States must accept the North's demand for aid in exchange for a nuclear freeze. If Washington agrees to both points, "we are prepared to submit specific proposals concerning freezing the nuclear program," Kim said.

He gave no details, however, of how the secretive North's renunciation of nuclear weapons would be transparent, or whether that might involve international inspections.

Kelly urged the North to seek a resolution, saying that would "open the door to a new relationship" between Washington and Pyongyang. He said there would be "new political, economic and diplomatic possibilities."

The Bush administration has said there should be no reward for abandoning a program North Korea should not have started in the first place. But on Monday, a U.S. official involved in the process said Japan and South Korea would provide aid in stages if North Korea would agree at last to end its nuclear weapons program.

The United States also would join with other nations to assure North Korea it would not be attacked.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Washington was working on a plan for the North to receive aid for three to five months before it starts work on dismantling the program.

The talks that began Wednesday were taking place at a Chinese government guesthouse in a walled compound on Beijing's west side. The first minutes of the opening session, held around a green, hexagonal table, were broadcast live on state television.

The Chinese delegate, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, appealed to the negotiators to show a "flexible attitude."

The dispute erupted in October 2002 when Washington said North Korea admitted operating a secret nuclear program in violation of a 1994 agreement.

In preliminary discussions this week, North Korea denied U.S. claims that it has a nuclear program based on highly enriched uranium, in addition to its declared plutonium-based program, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

The uranium issue could be a key sticking point in the talks because the United States is demanding that the North discard that program as part of any settlement, while Pyongyang says it doesn't exist.


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Iran releases British sailors


Iran released eight British sailors detained for illegally entering Iranian waters two days earlier, but said Wednesday it was keeping their three boats.

"The eight British sailors, including six soldiers and two ranking military officials, have been released," a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told The Associated Press. She said that while they were no longer detained, the sailors had not yet been handed over to British authorities. She gave no further details.

State-run television reported that the sailors would leave Iran without the three military patrol boats and some unspecified equipment.

The men were detained Monday in the Shatt al-Arab waterway that runs along the Iran-Iraq border as they were delivering a patrol boat for the new Iraqi Riverine Patrol Service. The waterway is known in Iran as the Arvand River.

A top military official had said the sailors were being released because their intrusion into Iran's waters was apparently a mistake. Two of the sailors had been shown on Iranian TV on Tuesday, blindfolded and seated cross-legged on the ground.

"My name is Sergeant Thomas Harkins from the British Royal Marines. I do apologize for entering Iranian territorial waters," the one said on Al-Alam, an Arabic-language station.

The broadcast also showed the men standing next to a river and reading from a prepared text. It also showed the three British military patrol boats and weapons it said had been confiscated from the sailors.

Iran had earlier said the men would be prosecuted.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman told AP that Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal played a key role in resolving the minor border incident that had threatened to turn into a major diplomatic crisis.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had phoned Kharrazi on Tuesday to ask for the release of the sailors, who were shown on Iranian television blindfolded and seated cross-legged on the ground.

The waterway, Iraq's main link with the Persian Gulf that divides Iran and Iraq, has long been a source of tension between the neighbors. The 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war broke out after Saddam Hussein claimed the entire waterway.

Iran said the British vessels were about a half-mile inside Iranian territorial waters.

British-Iranian relations have run hot and cold for years. The detentions follow a fresh strain after London helped draft a resolution rebuking Iran for past nuclear cover-ups at last week's meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors.

Iran says its program is aimed only at producing energy, while the United States accuses Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran accused Britain, which it had seen as a partner in the investigation into its nuclear activities, of caving in to U.S. pressure.

Iranians repeatedly demonstrated in front of the British Embassy in Tehran last month, throwing stones at the building to protest the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Britain is America's main coalition partner in Iraq.

Protesters also condemned war damage to Shiite holy shrines in Iraq, demanded the expulsion of the British ambassador to Tehran and called for the embassy to be closed.

British-Iranian ties also were strained in 1989 when the founder of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against British author Salman Rushdie.

In 1998, the Iranian government declared it would not support the fatwa and the two countries exchanged ambassadors in 1999.

In 2002, Iran rejected a British candidate for ambassador, claiming he was a Jewish spy. A year later, shots were fired at the British Embassy in Tehran, after Britain briefly held an Iranian diplomat accused of helping to mastermind the car bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina.

Iran has expressed pleasure over the toppling of Saddam, but has strongly opposed deployment of U.S.-led coalition forces on its borders, citing security concerns.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Fugitive vows to assassinate Iraqi leader


A recording purportedly made by the mastermind of bombings and beheadings in Iraq threatened to assassinate Iraq's interim prime minister and fight the Americans "until Islamic rule is back on Earth."

The audio, found Wednesday on an Islamic Web site, is supposedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the same Jordanian-born terrorist whose group claimed responsibility for the beheading of of American hostage Nicholas Berg and Kim Sun-il, a South Korean whose decapitated body was found Tuesday evening between Baghdad and Fallujah.

South Koreans reacted with sorrow and anger to Kim's beheading Wednesday, with President Roh Moo-hyun calling it a "crime against humanity."

After the slaying, U.S. forces launched an airstrike on what the Americans said was an al-Zarqawi hideout in Fallujah. Three people were killed and nine wounded, said Dr. Loai Ali Zeidan at Fallujah Hospital. It was the second U.S. airstrike on Fallujah since Saturday.

Kim's body was found two days after he appeared on a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, pleading "I don't want to die" and begging his government to pull its soldiers out of Iraq. South Korea refused and said it would go ahead with plans to send another 3,000 troops here by August.

In the audiotape, the speaker thought to be al-Zarqawi told Iraq's interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, that "we will continue the game with you until the end." The speaker said "we will not get bored" until "we make you drink from the same glass" as Izzadine Saleem, the Iraqi governing Council president killed last month in a car-bombing claimed at al-Zarqawi's group.

"We will carry on our jihad against the Western infidel and the Arab apostate until Islamic rule is back on earth," the voice said.

An official with Allawi's office dismissed the threat, saying it would not derail the transfer of sovereignty next week.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb exploded near Baghdad's Kindi Hospital on Wednesday, killing a policeman, a mother and her child, police said. The woman and child were riding in the taxi, said Col. Khubur Saleh of the Iraqi police. The policeman was killed while handling the bomb, another police officer at the scene said.

Another man, his shirt off, was seen being led away in handcuffs.

In Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold 60 miles west of Baghdad, gunmen killed two policemen and wounded a third in a drive-by shooting, witnesses said.

Two American soldiers were killed Tuesday and another was wounded in an attack on a convoy near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The dean of the University of Mosul law school was murdered in another attack against the country's intellectual elite. Gunmen also killed two Iraqi women working as translators for British forces in Basra, Iraqi officials said.

The beheading of Kim, 33, who worked for a South Korean company providing supplies to U.S. forces, stunned South Korea and prompted the Seoul government to order all non-essential civilians to leave Iraq as soon as possible.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, addressing the nation on television Wednesday, condemned Kim's slaying.

"When we think of his desperate appeals for life, our hearts are wrenched with grief," Roh said.

He rejected the kidnappers' claim that the 3,000 new troops his government is sending would pose a threat to Iraqis.

Late Tuesday, the Arabic language satellite television channel Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape of a terrified Kim kneeling, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those issued to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Kim's shoulders were heaving, his mouth open and moving as if he were gulping air and sobbing. Five hooded and armed men stood behind him, one with a big knife slipped in his belt.

One of the masked men read a statement addressed to the Korean people: "This is what your hands have committed. Your army has not come here for the sake of Iraqis, but for cursed America." South Korea is a U.S. ally in Iraq.

Al-Jazeera did not show the actual beheading, saying it was too graphic.

American troops found Kim's body between Baghdad and Fallujah about 5:20 p.m. Iraq time, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said. The body was identified by a photograph sent by e-mail to the South Korean embassy.

The killing and kidnapping was claimed by Al-Zarqawi's group, Monotheism and Jihad.

The grisly killing was reminiscent of the decapitation of Berg and of American helicopter technician Paul M. Johnson Jr., 49, who was beheaded by al-Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia. An al-Qaeda group claiming responsibility posted an Internet message that showed photographs of Johnson's severed head.

President Bush condemned the beheading of Kim as "barbaric" and said he remained confident that South Korea would go ahead with plans to send the troops to Iraq. South Korea will be the third-largest troop contributor after the United States and Britain.

"The free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people," the president said.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Rumsfeld OK'd harsh treatment


WASHINGTON — In an extraordinary disclosure of classified material, the Bush administration released 258 pages of internal documents Tuesday that portray harsh interrogation techniques — including stripping terror suspects and threatening them with dogs — as a necessary response to threats from al-Qaeda terrorists.

The release of lists of interrogation techniques and other documents previously kept secret even from U.S. allies was a bid by the administration to quiet harsh criticism over its handling of prisoners in the war on terror and the conflict in Iraq.

Though some of the memos argued that Bush had the right to approve torture, the administration said it had never done so, and pointed to techniques it said fell far short of torture. In a separate press briefing Tuesday, the Justice Department backed away from a memo written in 2002 that appeared to justify the use of torture in the war on terror. That memo argued that the president's wartime powers superseded anti-torture laws and treaties.

Bush made his most explicit comments yet about the issue Tuesday: "We do not condone torture. I have never ordered torture. I will never order torture," Bush said.

The documents reveal Bush, senior administration officials and hard-pressed commanders in the field grappling with the need to extract information about future terror attacks from suspects skilled at defeating many interrogation techniques. In a Feb. 7, 2002, finding, Bush said the Sept. 11 terror attacks require "new thinking in the law of war." (Related item: White House memo)

Bush said al-Qaeda members and their Taliban allies in Afghanistan were not covered by the protections of the Geneva Conventions. But he ordered U.S. armed forces to treat them "humanely" anyway, and to observe Geneva Conventions standards "to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity."

Just such a necessity arose months later when the first anniversary of Sept. 11 brought new fears of terror attack. Intelligence officers at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, told their superiors that Mohamed al-Kahtani, believed to be the would-be 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 plot, was withholding information about new attacks, Daniel Dell'Orto, the Pentagon's deputy general counsel told reporters at a White House briefing Tuesday.

The alert set in motion a review that culminated with a Nov. 27, 2002, "action memo" in which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included "removal of clothing" and "inducing stress by use of detainee's fears (e.g. dogs)."

Rumsfeld also approved placing detainees in "stress positions," such as standing for up to 4 hours, though he apparently found this approach unimpressive. Rumsfeld, who works at a stand-up desk, scrawled on the memo, "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours? D.R." (Related link: View memo)

Eventually, after military officers raised moral and legal concerns about the techniques and the Pentagon conducted an internal review, Rumsfeld issued revised rules for Guantanamo in April 2003 that omitted the stripping and use of dogs.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Judge certifies big class action in Wal-Mart bias case


A federal judge on Tuesday approved class-action status for a sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) that has become the largest private civil rights case in U.S. history.

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Jenkins certified the class of about 1.6 million women who worked for Wal-Mart's U.S. stores at any time since December 26, 1998, attorneys for the six lead plaintiffs said.

The lawsuit accuses the largest U.S. private-sector employer of discriminating against female employees in pay, promotions and training, and retaliating against those who complained.

No trial date was set. But when the case heads to trial, it is expected to start with the women trying to demonstrate that Wal-Mart has a pattern of paying women lower wages and passing them over for promotions. Wal-Mart would then get a chance to dismantle that theory.

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If a judge or jury finds Wal-Mart did have a pattern of discrimination, a second phase of the trial would let the plaintiffs seek damages.

U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins took nine months to decide whether to expand the lawsuit. His ruling makes the lawsuit the nation's largest class action.

Wal-Mart sought to limit the scope of the lawsuit, filed in San Francisco three years ago.

In anticipation of the ruling, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the company will appeal and is confident in its contention that it does not discriminate against women employees.

Wal-Mart has previously denied a pattern of discrimination and argues that the number of men in management positions reflects the higher number of applications it receives from men.

"Up until now, Wal-Mart has never faced a trial like this," Brad Seligman, lead attorney for the six female plaintiffs, said in a statement. "Lawsuits by individual women had no more effect than a pinprick. Now, however, the playing field has been leveled."

The ruling is pivotal because it gives lawyers for the women tremendous leverage as they pursue punitive damages, back pay and other compensation.

Legal experts have said that settling the case could cost Wal-Mart hundreds of millions of dollars or even billions. Most large class action lawsuits in the United States are settled before they go to trial.

Wal-Mart faces dozens of lawsuits claiming violations of wage-and-hour laws and discrimination, but analysts say this one in particular could prove costly for Wal-Mart.

"The concern is the potential impact on earnings growth," said James Luke, who manages the large-company growth fund for BB&T Asset Management. "Wal-Mart may have to change the way they do business, and ultimately it could add to their cost structure."

Home Depot (HD) settled a sex discrimination case in 1997 for $104 million, and that case covered just 25,000 women. If Wal-Mart were forced to cough up a comparable $4,000 a person, that would be $6.4 billion, although legal experts have said a figure that high was very unlikely.

Betty Dukes, one of the women spearheading the suit, said she was paid just $8.44 an hour during her first nine years working at a variety of positions at Wal-Mart's store in Pittsburg, Calif., while several men holding similar jobs but less seniority earned $9 an hour.

But Wal-Mart's Williams said the ruling has nothing to do with the merits of the case.

"Judge Jenkins is simply saying he thinks it meets the legal requirements necessary to move forward as a class action," Williams said.

In a hearing last September, company attorneys urged Jenkins to allow so-called mini-class action lawsuits targeting each outlet. Wal-Mart contends its stores operate with so much autonomy that they are like independent businesses with different management styles that affect the way women are paid and promoted.

Seligman responded that Wal-Mart stores are "virtually identical in structure and job duties" and that the case would only take a few months to litigate.

"There is a high emphasis on a common culture, which is the glue that holds the company together," he said.

Stung by high-profile lawsuits and negative press about employee treatment, Wal-Mart has recently turned up its public relations efforts with an advertising campaign featuring women and minority managers.

Chief Executive Lee Scott announced earlier this month that he and other top executives would forgo 7.5% of their bonuses this year if Wal-Mart does not meet certain diversity goals.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Large explosions rock Fallujah


The United States launched an airstrike Tuesday in Fallujah on a safehouse used by followers of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — the second strike against the terror network in three days, the U.S. military said.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the U.S.-led coalition's deputy chief of operations, said the strike involved precision weapons to "target and destroy" the safehouse and was based on "multiple confirmations of actionable intelligence."

"Wherever and whenever we find elements of the Zarqawi network, we will attack them," he said.

Large explosions rocked the restive Sunni Muslim city west of Baghdad. Ambulances raced to the area after the 10:30 p.m. blasts. Wounded and dead were being evacuated, said Iraqi Police Col. Mekky Zeidan.

U.S. officials offered no casualty figures, but Al-Jazeera television reported that three people were killed and six were wounded.

An attack in the same area Saturday leveled a building U.S. officials said was a suspected al-Zarqawi safehouse. Fallujah officials claimed the house was owned by an Iraqi family and that no foreign terrorists were there.

Al-Zarqawi, who is thought to have ties to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for a string of car bombs across Iraq, including a blast last week that killed 35 people and wounded 145 at an Iraqi military recruiting center in Baghdad.

His Monotheism and Jihad movement carried through Tuesday on its threat to behead South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il after South Korea refused to withdraw its troops from Iraq.


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



South Korean hostage killed by his captors in Iraq


An Iraqi militant group beheaded its South Korean hostage, officials said Tuesday, just hours after a go-between said the execution had been delayed and there were negotiations for the man's release.

On Tuesday night, the United States launched an airstrike in Fallujah on a safehouse used by followers of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — the second strike against the terror network in three days, the U.S. military said.

Al-Zarqawi's Monotheism and Jihad movement was believed to be behind the beheading of the hostage, Kim Sun-il.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry confirmed that Kim had been killed but did not say he was beheaded. However, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, coalition deputy operations chief, said the body of an Asian male was found west of Baghdad on Tuesday evening.

"It appears that the body had been thrown from a vehicle," Kimmitt said in a statement. "The man had been beheaded, and the head was recovered with the body."

Kimmitt said the strike involved precision weapons to "target and destroy" the safehouse and was based on "multiple confirmations of actionable intelligence."

Large explosions rocked the restive Sunni Muslim city west of Baghdad. Ambulances raced to the area after the 10:30 p.m. blasts. Wounded and dead were being evacuated, said Iraqi Police Col. Mekky Zeidan. Al-Jazeera TV reported that three people were killed and six were wounded.

Kim's body was found by the U.S. military between Baghdad and Fallujah, 22 miles west of the capital, at 5:20 p.m. Iraq time, said South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil.

After news of Kim's death broke, South Korean television showed Kim's distraught family members weeping and rocking back and forth with grief at their home in the southeastern port city of Busan.

"I don't want to die, I don't want to die," Kim pleaded in a first video released by his captors Sunday as he begged his government to end its involvement in Iraq. (Related video: Excerpts of Kim's videotaped plea)

The South Korean embassy in Baghdad confirmed that the body was Kim's by studying a picture of the remains it received by e-mail, Shin said.

"It breaks our heart that we have to announce this unfortunate news," Shin said.

Kim, 33, worked for Gana General Trading Co., a South Korean company supplying the U.S. military in Iraq. He was abducted last week, according to the South Korean government.

The videotape of Kim, apparently made shortly before his death, showed him kneeling, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those issued to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Five hooded men stood behind Kim, one reading a statement and gesturing with his right hand. Another captor had a big knife slipped in his belt.

One of the masked men said the message was intended for the Korean people. "This is what your hands have committed. Your army has not come here for the sake of Iraqis, but for cursed America."

The video as broadcast did not show Kim being executed.

Al-Jazeera said the video claimed the execution was carried out by the al-Qaeda-linked group Monotheism and Jihad.

President Bush condemned the beheading of a South Korean hostage as "barbaric" Tuesday and said he remained confident that South Korea would go ahead with plans to send thousands of troops to Iraq.

"The free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people," the president said.

The grisly killing was reminiscent of the decapitation of American businessman Nicholas Berg, who was beheaded last month on a videotape posted on an al-Qaeda-linked Web site by the same group, which claimed responsibility for Kim's death.

In Saudi Arabia, American helicopter technician Paul M. Johnson Jr., 49, was kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants who followed through on a threat to kill him if the kingdom did not release its al-Qaeda prisoners. An al-Qaeda group claiming responsibility posted an Internet message that showed photographs of Johnson's severed head.

Al-Jazeera did not say when Kim was killed.

Kim's kidnappers had initially threatened to kill him at sundown Monday unless South Korea canceled a troop deployment to Iraq. The Seoul government rejected the demand, standing firm with plans to dispatch 3,000 soldiers starting in August.

Kim Chun-ho, president of Gana General Trading, the company that employed the victim, were traveling to the site to collect the remains, Shin said.

South Korea convened its National Security Council at 2 a.m. to discuss the government's reaction, Shin said. Later, the government reaffirmed it would send troops to Iraq as planned, but ordered all its nonessential civilians to leave Iraq as soon as possible.

NKTS, a South Korean security firm doing business in Iraq, told the AP in Baghdad earlier Tuesday that Kim was still alive and that negotiations for his release continued, with the company president expected to arrive in Baghdad from Seoul by Wednesday.

In a dispatch from Baghdad, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted an "informed source" as saying that negotiations with the kidnappers collapsed over the South Korean government's refusal to drop its plan to send troops.

"As a condition for starting negotiations for Kim's release, the kidnappers demanded that South Korea announce that it would retract its troop dispatch plan," the source was quoted as saying. "This was a condition the South Korean government could not accept. As the talks bogged down, the kidnappers apparently resorted to an extreme measure."

Also Tuesday, gunmen opened fire on a U.S. military convoy north of the capital, killing two American soldiers and wounding a third, the military said.

The convoy was attacked by small arms fire at 12:45 p.m. near Balad, 50 miles from Baghdad, the military said in a statement.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, said they would hand legal custody of Saddam Hussein and an undetermined number of former regime figures to the interim government as soon as Iraqi courts issue warrants for their arrest and request the transfer.

However, the United States will retain physical custody of Saddam and the prisoners, while giving Iraqi prosecutors and defense lawyers access to them, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A car bomb exploded in a Baghdad residential neighborhood near the international airport Tuesday, killing three people, including a 3-year-old girl, and wounding six other Iraqis, said Maj. Phil Smith, a U.S. military spokesman.

U.S. troops sealed off the area after the late afternoon explosion, but neither American nor Iraqi security forces were in the area at the time of the blast, witnesses said. Three cars were burned and several shops were damaged in the Amiriya neighborhood.

On Monday, a mortar attack in Baghdad and two assaults on U.S. forces northeast of the capital killed one soldier and wounded nine others, the military said, as militants showed no sign of easing their attacks ahead of next week's transfer of sovereignty.

The recent abductions and attacks appear aimed at undermining the interim Iraqi government set to take power June 30, when the U.S.-led occupation formally ends.

Coalition spokesman Dan Senor said that by week's end, all Iraqi government ministries would be under full Iraqi control.

The coalition official who briefed reporters about the prisoner custody issue said the Americans will keep Saddam and others under U.S. guard even after the June 30 handover because the Iraqi government does not yet have capacity to hold such prisoners, the official said.

U.S. troops captured Saddam in December near his hometown of Tikrit.

U.S. authorities Tuesday released three busloads of prisoners from the notorious Abu Ghraib detention center, bringing the total number set free in the last two months to more than 2,000. The prison is at the center of a scandal over abuse of inmates by U.S. troops.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



County Looking For "Operation Face Lift" Funding


(Associated Press) The Kanawha County Commission and several towns are joining to apply for a 500-thousand dollar state grant to tear down dilapidated buildings. On Thursday, the commission is expected to approve submitting the grant for "Operation Face Lift" which would include the towns of Belle, Cedar Grove, Clendenin, East Bank, Pratt, and Montgomery. The Small Cities Block Grant Community Development Program would be used inside the municipalities and in unincorporated areas.

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Mingo County Roads to Get Repairs
(Associated Press) The state Division of Highways has awarded nearly 640,000 dollars in contracts to repair Mingo County roads damaged by last month's flooding. The agency has estimated that it will take about two million dollars total to repair more than 40 roads in the county damaged as a result of the thunderstorms that rolled through the area May 30th and May 31st.


©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Scott Sears New Democratic Party Executive Director
(Associated Press) The state Democratic Party has a new executive director. Marion County businessman Scott Sears replaces Steve McElroy, a Charleston political consultant who recently stepped down after working with the party since early 2003. Sears will handel statewide communications for the party and serve as its spokesman. Sears was active in Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Manchin's successful primary campaign.

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Attorneys spar over Bryant jury instructions, consent issues
EAGLE, Colo. — As his accuser's parents watched from the gallery, NBA star Kobe Bryant returned to court Monday for a two-day hearing that included sharp arguments over how to instruct the jurors who will decide whether he is guilty of sexual assault.

Attorneys on both sides also said they could be ready for trial as early as the last week in August, though the judge did not immediately set a trial date.

The issue of consent has emerged as a key battleground between attorneys in the case. The defense wants jurors told they can convict the Los Angeles Lakers star only if prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she did not consent to sex — and that Bryant knew it.

"The jury has to be told that if someone consents, that's not submission against her will," argued defense attorney Hal Haddon, who said it is the first time a Colorado judge has had to consider the issue.

Prosecutors said they are required to prove only that Bryant's actions were enough to cause the woman to submit to sex against her will, making the consent question moot.

"By proving the elements (of sexual assault), you necessarily disprove consent," said Matt Holman, an assistant state attorney general helping with the case.

Scott Robinson, a Denver defense attorney who is following the case, said prosecutors were taking an "extreme position" in suggesting her consent does not matter. "It seems anathema to our traditional view of what constitutes rape," he said.

Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault, saying he had consensual sex with the then-19-year-old resort worker at a Vail-area hotel where he stayed last summer. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison, 20 years to life on probation and a fine of up to $750,000.

The jury instruction debate rests on fundamental questions that could determine whether Bryant is convicted.

During the preliminary hearing, sheriff's detective Doug Winters said the woman flirted and kissed Bryant in his hotel room and was attacked when she turned to leave. Bryant grabbed her by the neck, pulled up her skirt and raped her against a chair, Winters said.

She told investigators she told Bryant "no" at least twice, bursting into tears as the five-minute attack went on. The detective said she told Bryant at one point she wouldn't tell anyone what happened "for fear of — she didn't want him to commit more physical harm to her."

State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle did not immediately rule on the jury instructions.

The judge did reject a defense request to instruct the jury that it could assume certain items not collected from Bryant's hotel room by sheriff's deputies could have proven his innocence.

Haddon has said investigators should have preserved as evidence the chair, carpet samples, and tissues and towels the woman used in the hotel bathroom.

Ruckriegle said state law allows such a jury instruction only if there is proof investigators intended to destroy evidence they knew could be exculpatory. He said the defense can address the crime scene investigation at trial.

The judge also rebuffed a last-ditch prosecution bid to conduct new tests on potentially exculpatory DNA evidence.

Prosecutors said last week they were abandoning their attempt to retest the material after tests by a state laboratory and a defense-hired private lab came up with different results. Deputy prosecutor Dana Easter told the judge Monday the prosecution would still like to retest the material if he schedules the trial in September.

"We are testing it for a truth-seeking function," Easter said.

Ruckriegle denied the request, saying he understood the prosecution's "position with regard to the exculpatory nature" of the defense test results.

"As it stands now, the prosecution is hurt by the DNA results," said Craig Silverman, a Denver defense attorney familiar with the case. "That's why they wanted a retest, but no retest will occur, so they're stuck with a bad result."

Former prosecutor Norm Early, noting that prosecutors had said in court filings the results would be irrelevant, said giving up on retesting would not hurt them.

"In the best of all possible worlds, you answer every question out there, but you have to pick your battles," Early said.

The DNA evidence has not been disclosed in court filings or discussed in court, though Easter said it consists of sperm. Defense attorneys have suggested injuries found on the woman during a hospital examination could have been caused by "multiple" sexual partners.

Those details were expected to be part of a closed-door hearing expected to begin Tuesday on a defense motion to have the woman's sex life in the days surrounding her encounter with Bryant admitted as evidence.

Colorado's rape-shield law generally prevents the defense from using an accuser's sexual history against them at trial. A judge, however, can admit the evidence if it is deemed relevant.

Bryant's season ended last week when the Lakers lost to Detroit in the NBA Finals. He has opted out of his contract with Los Angeles to test the free-agent market.


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Deal to send Francis to Magic near: agent says


ORLANDO — The Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets are apparently on the verge of pulling off a blockbuster trade involving all-stars Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis and several others, according to Francis' agent.

Jeff Fried told the Houston Chronicle on Monday that a deal sending McGrady to Houston and Francis to Orlando was imminent. Because Francis' contract falls under "base-year compensation" rules, the Magic and Rockets might have to involve the expansion Charlotte Bobcats in the deal. Charlotte will take part in the NBA expansion draft Tuesday.

Because the sum of the salaries must come within 15% of one another in NBA trades, Orlando might also acquire Houston guard Cuttino Mobley and center Kelvin Cato in the deal. The Magic would also have to send veteran power forward Juwan Howard, point guard Tyronn Lue and center Andrew DeClercq to the Rockets.

"I spoke to (Houston general manager) Carroll (Dawson) and it was not a done deal," Fried said. "It's close. It's subject to a few contingencies." Francis is scheduled to make $11.3 million in the second year of a six-year, $85 million contract. Cato is due $7.9 million, while Mobley is scheduled to make $5.8 million. McGrady is owed $14.4 million, while Howard ($5.4 million), DeClercq ($2.7 million) and Lue ($1.65 million) were thrown in to balance out the deal.

Fried also told the Chronicle that Francis was none too happy about leaving a Houston team that was in the playoffs this spring and heading to a Magic team coming off a 21-61 season. Orlando had the worst record in the NBA and will pick first in Thursday's NBA Draft.

"Steve's preference is to not go to Orlando," Fried said. "Steve's tasted the playoffs. (The Rockets) got a series under their belts. He was looking forward to going further with the same Rockets team but with another year of experience together. This is certainly not his preference. He loves Houston."

Sources told Florida Today on Friday that McGrady had requested a trade and that a deal would likely come before Thursday's NBA Draft. McGrady had become increasingly disenchanted with the Magic and their inability to improve the talent around him. Even though McGrady blossomed into a four-time all-star in Orlando, the Magic failed to win a playoff series with him, losing three consecutive years.

When reached by phone on Saturday, McGrady said he "didn't want it let out yet," obviously referring to his imminent trade. While he said he had "a great, great meeting" with team owner Rich DeVos on Friday, McGrady suggested that it was the Magic who were primarily pushing for a trade and not him.

Magic general manager John Weisbrod refused to comment Monday night on the possibility of a trade. But two days earlier he said that the Magic were in no hurry to trade McGrady and that they would not rush into a substandard deal. He apparently turned down deals from the Indiana Pacers and Phoenix Suns to take the Rockets' offer.

"From just the (GMs) who send unsolicited faxes and leave unsolicited messages there are enough things out there that will be better than OK in a trade," said Weisbrod, who is in his first off-season as the Magic's general manager. "So I don't think us doing a bad deal is an option. We wouldn't do a bad deal."

Charlotte general manager and coach Bernie Bickerstaff admitted Monday in a conference call that the Bobcats had held in-depth trade talks with the Magic. Charlotte moved from the fourth pick to the second pick Monday by making a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Weisbrod has mentioned repeatedly the possibility of the Magic moving to second in the draft if they could acquire another veteran player. Bickerstaff has stated his affection for shot-swatting power forward Emeka Okafor and would be willing to trade with the Magic. The Magic would then end up with 18 year-old power forward Dwight Howard, a player head coach Johnny Davis raved about Monday afternoon.

"We have been in conversation with the Magic," Bickerstaff said. "We are good listeners and we are good facilitators. I think we have to make a decision, not to do anything that's vindictive, but to do something that we can derive some benefit.

"The conversations we had with Orlando have been very cordial conversations, not necessarily to hold up anything, but to benefit each other."

Coincidentally, Francis' arrival in Houston in 1999 was made possible by the Magic getting involved in a three-team, 11-player deal — at the time the largest in NBA history. He was originally drafted by the then-Vancouver Grizzlies, but balked and was moved on to Houston. The Magic received Michael Smith, Rodrick Rhodes, Lee Mayberry and Makhtar Ndiaye, players they quickly got rid of so that they could sign McGrady and Grant Hill as free agents in the summer of 2000.

It is uncertain whether or not Francis will remain with the Magic or be shipped on to another team. The 6-foot-3 former Co-Rookie of the Year is coming off his worst season as a professional. He averaged a career-worst 16.6 points while shooting just 40.3% from the field and 29.2% from the 3-point line. He led the NBA in technical fouls this season and feuded regularly with head coach Jeff Van Gundy. Francis also irked Van Gundy when he reportedly skipped a flight to Phoenix in order to attend the Super Bowl in Houston. Fried later denied that was the case.

"I'm not crying," Francis told the Chronicle. "I know this is a business. Things like that happen. I'm not mad. I'm not upset. This is what they're trying to do."

McGrady has led the NBA in scoring the past two seasons, averaging 32.1 points in 2002-03 and 28 points this past season. He scored 62 points on March 10 against the Washington Wizards, the most in the NBA in 10 seasons. Of the six 50-point games in the 15-year history of the Magic, McGrady has four of them.

But he has been increasingly frustrated that the Magic were unable to get him some reliable help around him. The Magic's last four draft picks — Steven Hunter, Jeryl Sasser, Ryan Humphrey and Reece Gaines — have contributed very little. Compounding the problem was that the Magic had little salary cap room to sign an impact free agent to replace Hill, who has played just 47 games the past four seasons because of a broken ankle.

"I absolutely don't want to be in a situation like I was this season because that was terrible," McGrady told Florida Today in May. "I love Orlando because it's home and I love the fans. They have been great to me. I don't want to leave and I'm sure a lot of them don't want me to leave either. But if we can't change the team this summer, I just think the best thing would be for me to move on."

Weisbrod said he felt compelled to explore trade options for McGrady because the two-time All-NBA guard can opt out of his contract following next season. McGrady originally signed a seven-year, $93 million deal in July of 2000, but it featured an out clause after four seasons.

If it had waited until McGrady opted out, Orlando feared losing its franchise player without getting anything in return. The franchise is still reeling over losing center Shaquille O'Neal to the Lakers in 1996 without getting compensation.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Martha Stewart wishes company the best


Coming off a year "fraught with real sorrow," Martha Stewart says she hopes her namesake company can function as usual while she prepares for a likely prison sentence.

Speaking to about 100 shareholders at her company's annual meeting on Monday, Stewart said she misses her former job as chief creative officer and a board member of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO). Stewart, who quit in March after a jury found her guilty of lying about a stock sale, remains the majority shareholder.

But Stewart, who now has the title of founding editorial director, said she is still involved in the multimedia company she created.

Stewart declined to talk specifically about her legal problems, given what she described as her "delicate, somewhat fragile" situation.

Stewart, who has asked for a new trial, is scheduled to be sentenced July 8. She is expected to get 10 to 16 months in prison.

Wearing a beige pantsuit, Stewart signed autographs and chatted with shareholders after a meeting that was full of supporters.

"She said her own personal problems shouldn't interfere with the company," said Sadie Penzato, a New Yorker who owns 260 shares. Penzato told reporters after the meeting she would buy hundreds more shares once Stewart's legal woes end.

That view was questioned by some shareholders and analysts, who watched Martha Stewart Living stock lose more than half of its value in just over two years. The company said last month it could face further operating losses and lawsuits because of Stewart's conviction.

"She has very high standards in her cooking techniques — if only she used them in her personal life, we wouldn't be out $3,000," said Suzanne Meeson, a shareholder from Connecticut who owns 150 shares. "Shame on Martha," she added.

The overall advertising and business climate has also been less than forgiving of her legal troubles.

Martha Stewart Living last month reported a wider-than-expected loss for the first quarter.

In a move to distance itself from its troubled founder, the New York-based company reiterated its plans to place greater emphasis on the "Living" in its Martha Stewart Living magazine, starting with the September issue. It also repeated that it is expanding its guaranteed circulation for the Everyday Food magazine to 750,000 from 500,000.

The company announced in May that its floundering Martha Stewart Living television show will be put on hiatus after the current season, eliminating 40 jobs in the television division. The company recently signed a multiyear agreement with The Style Network to air repeat episodes of the show

Struggling with the fallout of Stewart's conviction, the company moved to bolster its management. Shareholders elected four new executives to the board Monday, creating a total of nine directors. They are: Rick Boyko, managing director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Adcenter and former co-president and chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather; Michael Goldstein, former chairman and CEO of Toys R Us; Susan Lyne, former president of ABC Entertainment; and Wenda Harris Millard, chief sales officer of Yahoo.

After the meeting, CEO and president Sharon Patrick declined to speak about any future layoffs or other moves the company was embracing to distance itself from Stewart.

During her address, Patrick said that Martha Stewart Living executives have been speaking with consumers and advertisers, and were not "caught unprepared" by the conviction.

"Consumers remain stalwart," she said, though she conceded that some advertisers won't return until there's a resolution.

"For many advertisers, it isn't over until it is over," she said.

Stewart's faithful shareholders said she could return with fanfare, even if she serves jail time.

"She's going to ride out this whole thing," said Lou Weiss, who bought 100 shares after Stewart's legal troubles began and recommends her branded picture frames. "The company just has to stress that she's coming back."

Contributing: Reuters


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Wind and hail pound Texas Panhandle


Wind gusting to 70 mph and hail the size of baseballs pounded the Texas Panhandle, smashing almost all of the windows on one end of a six-story hospital, where one patient was injured by flying glass.

"It blew out the lobby. The windows are shattered. They blew in on the patients," said Mary Barlow, a spokeswoman for Baptist St. Anthony's Hospital in Amarillo. (Related maps: Thunderstorm outlook; severe weather alerts)

About 30 rooms in the 410-bed hospital were affected by Monday evening's storm in the Amarillo area and about 100 patients had to be moved to other rooms. Barlow said the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit was hit and about a dozen babies had to be moved to the regular newborn nursery.

"One patient had a gash to his leg from flying glass," Barlow said.

Damage estimates were not yet available Tuesday, but were expected to total millions of dollars, authorities said.

Homes and vehicles in the area also were damaged by hail up to baseball size.

"Glass flew everywhere. It looked like Coke bottles, half Coke bottles shooting through our skylights," Amarillo homeowner Faye Essary told the Amarillo Globe-News.

Windows also were smashed on cars on some dealers' lots, and a Wal-Mart Super Center closed because its skylights were shattered.

Heavy rain flooded some underpasses and rural roads, and Hartley County Sheriff Franky Scott said water was up to 4 feet deep in some areas.

"It had the barbed wire fence covered up," Scott said.

Storm spotters reported several twisters in the Amarillo area, including one along Interstate 40.


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Florida woman dies from mad cow disease


A Florida woman believed to have contracted mad cow disease several years ago in England has died — the first such death in the United States, health officials said Monday.

Charlene Singh, 25, was diagnosed two years ago with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of the brain-wasting illness known as mad cow disease.

No deaths related to the disease have been previously reported in the United States, said Llelwyn Grant, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No Americans are known to have contracted the disease in this country, although one case of disease has been reported in a cow.

Singh's father, Patrick Singh, and his ex-wife, Alison, believe their daughter ate contaminated beef sometime before 1992 in England, where the family formerly lived.

The disease has killed more than 140 people in Great Britain and at least 10 others in other parts of the world. Almost all of the cases originated during an outbreak in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and '90s, the CDC says.


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Iran to prosecute British crewmen


Iranian state TV showed eight British sailors blindfolded and seated on the ground Tuesday, as Tehran said it would prosecute them for illegally entering Iran's territorial waters.

The British government said the men were on a "routine mission" in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway that separates Iran and Iraq along their southern border. The Foreign Office summoned Iranian Ambassador Morteza Sarmadi to demand an explanation for the naval officers' arrest.

Also in London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi to ask for the sailors' release.

The eight were detained Monday as they were delivering a patrol boat for the new Iraqi Riverine Patrol Service.

Iran's Arabic language Al-Alam television showed the sailors blindfolded and sitting cross-legged on the ground. Earlier footage showed them sitting silently on chairs and a sofa. Three were in British military uniform; five others wore military trousers and civilian T-shirts.

"They will be prosecuted for illegally entering Iranian territorial waters," Al-Alam television said.

"The vessels were 1,000 meters inside Iranian territorial waters. The crew have also confessed to having entered Iranian waters," the broadcast said. The distance is about a half-mile.

Monday's incident follows a strain in Iranian-British relations after London helped draft a resolution rebuking Iran for past nuclear cover-ups at last week's meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors.

The Foreign Office said it had asked for immediate details about where the men were being detained and had requested immediate access to them.

The waterway, Iraq's main link with the Persian Gulf, divides Iran and Iraq and has long been a source of tension between the neighbors. The 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war broke out after then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein claimed the entire waterway.

Iranian and British diplomats were at odds last week over the nuclear agency's resolution taking Iran to task for cover-ups involving its atomic program.

Iran says its program is aimed only at producing energy, while the United States accuses Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran accused Britain, which it had seen as a partner in the investigation into its nuclear activities, of caving in to U.S. pressure on the resolution.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Monday that Iranian naval guards, "acting upon their legal duty," seized the boats and detained the occupants when they entered Iran's territorial waters, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

The British Defense Ministry said the personnel were from the Royal Navy training team based in southern Iraq. They were delivering a boat from Umm Qasr to Basra, Iraq.

"The boats are unarmed but the crews were carrying their personal weapons," a statement said.

Diplomatic relations between Britain and Iran have been unpredictable for years.

Ties were strained in 1989 when the founder of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against British author Salman Rushdie, who allegedly insulted Islam in his best-selling novel "The Satanic Verses."

In 1998, the Iranian government declared it would not support the fatwa and the two countries exchanged ambassadors a year later.

In 2002, Iran rejected a British candidate for ambassador, claiming he was a Jewish spy. A year later, shots were fired at the British embassy in Tehran, after Britain briefly held an Iranian diplomat accused of helping to mastermind the car bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina.

Britain has pursued a policy of constructive engagement with the regime and last year, with France and Germany, persuaded Tehran to cooperate with international nuclear inspectors.

British diplomats sought to play down a possible link between the draft IAEA resolution and the arrest of the eight crewmen, however, and suggested the arrests had been made by an opportunistic local military commander.

With the July 30 handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi government approaching, the incident may represent Iran marking out its territory in the disputed waterway, one diplomat suggested.

The arrests may also be linked to Iranian hardline anger at damage caused to a Shiite Muslim shrine in Najaf, Iraq.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Russian troops clash with attackers; at least 48 die


Thousands of troops poured into a southern Russian city Tuesday, chasing Chechen rebels who set fire to police and government buildings and killed at least 48 people in brazen overnight attacks.

An official with the Interior Ministry for the province of Ingushetia said 48 people been killed, including 18 police, but the Interfax news agency later quoted President Vladimir Putin's envoy to the region as saying 47 law enforcement officers and an unknown number of civilians died. A U.N. humanitarian worker was among the dead, authorities said.

Three high-ranking regional officials were among the dead in the militants' foray into Ingushetia.

The attacks underscored the Russian military's failure to defeat separatists in neighboring Chechnya after five years of fighting, and raised new fears of spreading violence in southern Russia.

Many Chechen fighters trained and fought with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Russia says many Arabs and other foreigners fight side-by-side with the Chechen rebels.

The Chechen militants also are said to receive support from al-Qaeda and have strong contacts with the Wahhabi Muslim sect of Saudi Arabia, birthplace of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. The deeply fundamental beliefs of Wahhabism are believed to be bin Laden's spiritual foundation.

Putin ordered authorities "to find and destroy" the militants whose raid came amid preparations for an August election to replace Kremlin-backed Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, killed last month in a bombing. Kadyrov's death was seen as a significant blow to Putin's efforts to bring some stability to Chechnya, devastated by two wars since the 1990s.

Shortly before midnight Monday, about 100 fighters armed with grenades and rocket launchers seized the regional Interior Ministry in Nazran, the largest city in Ingushetia and attacked border guard posts there. They also attacked posts in the villages of Karabulak and Yandare, near the border with Chechnya, regional emergency officials said.

Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev told Putin that 15 officers from the Ingush Interior Ministry's central building defended it for nearly six hours in a bid to keep rebels from entering the jail cells and freeing captives, Interfax reported.

Authorities sent in reinforcements shortly after dawn, with a long column of armored personnel carriers, trucks and troops moving into Nazran through the border village of Chermen in neighboring North Ossetia.

By midmorning, most of the militants had fled into forests on the border of Ingushetia and Chechnya, authorities said. Ingush President Murat Zyazikov told Interfax a large number of weapons and ammunition were missing from police depots.

Russian media reported only two militant deaths. An Associated Press reporter also saw the body of one militant near Yandare.

At least one group of rebels was caught by police as they retreated through Galashki, near the Chechen border, and a firefight ensued, said Yakhya Khadziyev, spokesman for Ingushetia's Interior Ministry.

In Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan that borders Chechnya to the north and east, three militants were killed by Russian special forces after an hours-long firefight, regional authorities reported.

Maj. Gen. Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for the Russian forces in Chechnya, blamed Chechen rebels for planning the attacks, but said the raids were carried out by fighters recruited from both Chechnya and Ingushetia.

"The attacks were clearly saber rattling, aimed to demonstrate the rebels' effectiveness to attract funding from foreign terrorist networks," he said, according to the Interfax-Military News Agency.

Earlier, officials noted how some of the fighters shouted "Allahu akhbar" (God is great) — a frequent rallying cry of Chechen rebels as their insurgency increasingly comes under the influence of radical Islam.

Khadziyev said the death toll was at least 48, including at least 18 police officers and 28 civilians.

Vladimir Yakovlev, Putin's envoy in southern Russia, told Interfax the dead included 47 people from the border guards service, the Federal Security Service, the prosecutor's office and the Interior Ministry, which controls the police. He also said there were a number of civilian deaths, but the exact number was still unknown.

Russian TV broadcast image of smoke-charred and burning buildings and burned-out vehicles.

The United Nations office in Russia said humanitarian worker, Magomed Getagazov, was killed when caught in the crossfire while returning home from work in Nazran.

Chechnya's Interior Minister Alu Alkhanov told ITAR-Tass that he believed Shamil Basayev, a Chechen rebel commander blamed for some of the most audacious attacks, was behind the violence. The Kremlin backs Alkhanov in Chechnya's upcoming elections.

Chechnya's separatist President Aslan Maskhadov warned recently that insurgents were preparing to undertake new offensives.

Russia's NTV television showed footage of an encounter with some of the presumed attackers, wearing masks and speaking accented Russian, at a border crossing with North Ossetia. One of the attackers, carrying an automatic weapon, identified the group as "the Martyr's Brigade," NTV reported. The man added, "We have shot everyone here. Go and announce that."

Acting Ingush Interior Minister Abukar Kostoyev, the health minister and a deputy interior minister were killed in the fighting, officials said. ITAR-Tass said Nazran city prosecutor Mukharbek Buzurtanov and Nazran district prosecutor Bilan Oziyev were also killed.

Russian forces withdrew from Chechnya in 1996 after a devastating 20-month war against separatists that left the region with de facto independence. They returned in September 1999, after rebel incursions into a neighboring region and after deadly apartment-building bombings in Moscow and other cities were blamed on the militants.

Although Chechnya is a largely Muslim region in overwhelmingly Christian Russia, the first of Chechnya's two wars was an essentially secular conflict. After Russian troops pulled out when Chechen rebels fought them to a standstill, the separatists increasingly took on a specifically Islamic mantle.

Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



S. Korea to evacuate civilian workers from Iraq


The government said Tuesday it will evacuate all South Koreans working for businesses in Iraq by early next month as the country awaited word on a South Korean man held by militants there.

The Commerce, Industry and Energy Ministry said the move affects the last 22 businessmen still in Iraq. Most of them work for South Korean companies providing supplies to the U.S. military, Minister Lee Hee-beom said.

The man who was abducted, Kim Sun-il, worked for a South Korean supplier to the American military. His captors, purportedly al-Qaeda-linked militants, said they would kill him if the South Korean government did not cancel its plan to send troops to Iraq by early Tuesday.

The deadline passed with the government sticking to its deployment of 3,000 soldiers, with the first dispatch coming in August. By late Tuesday morning there was still no word on whether Kim was still alive.

"We have various intelligence and information on that matter, but we cannot give you a definite answer," Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said.

Shin said South Korea was trying to establish contact with as many countries and organizations as possible that could help win the release of the 33-year-old Kim.

"We are trying our best through all the possible channels," Shin said. He declined to comment on whether South Korea had direct contact with the kidnappers.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited an unnamed Foreign Ministry official as saying sources were providing "a lot of information" and that "it seems that Kim Sun-il is still alive."

The official also said his ministry had "partially" confirmed Kim's safety, but refused to disclose further details, including what he meant by the confirmation being partial.

South Korean government officials have given numerous interviews to Arab media appealing for Kim's release, Shin said.

South Korea on Saturday warned its citizens not to travel to Iraq, saying its decision to send troops to the country might prompt terror attacks on South Koreans.

Companies hoping to do business there must now first win approval from the Commerce, Industry and Energy Ministry, Lee said.

South Korean conglomerates such as Hyundai Corp. and Daewoo International Corp. have also stepped up security at overseas branches and ordered employees to avoid dangerous areas, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

The government plans to send its 3,000 troops to the northern Iraqi city of Irbil. They will be joined by 600 South Korean military medics and engineers who are currently in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. When complete, the deployment will make South Korea the biggest coalition partner after the United States and Britain.

Seoul has portrayed the dispatch as a way of strengthening its alliance with the United States, thereby winning more support from Washington for a peaceful end to a long-running dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons development. But many in South Korea oppose the mission.

In April, seven South Korean missionaries were briefly detained by armed men in Iraq.


Source: USA TODAY

©2003-2004 WVTS News, wvtsam950.com and Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.