- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2007

Tropical storm forms in Gulf

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Barry formed in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday — the first day of the hurricane season — and the National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for a stretch of Florida’s west coast.

The storm was centered about 320 miles southwest of Tampa and about 235 miles west of Key West at 8 p.m. It had sustained winds near 50 mph and was moving north at nearly 12 mph. Forecasters expected Barry to gradually turn north-northeast and increase in speed over the next day, though no significant change in strength was anticipated before possible landfall.

“We’re not looking for a hurricane,” said Dave Roberts, a hurricane specialist at the Hurricane Center.

The tropical weather wasn’t expected to ease drought conditions much in Florida, which is facing one of its driest years on record.

New rules eyed for student loans

The Department of Education yesterday proposed about 200 pages of new regulations for the federal student loan programs in the wake of a nationwide scandal involving conflicts of interest between colleges and lenders.

The rules would, among other things, ban lenders from offering points, payments or other benefits to schools in order to have more loans steered their way. It also would ban lenders from giving school officials trips, lodging, entertainment or other perks.

Schools could still use preferred-lender lists, which recommend certain lenders to students, but the school must list a minimum of three lenders and must explain why these lenders are preferred over others. Under the newly proposed rules, if a lender tries to offer the school a payment or other benefit to be placed on the list, the lender would be banned from the list.

Recent investigations found numerous instances of cozy lender-school relationships and lenders’ essentially trying to buy their way onto the preferred-lender lists, which currently aren’t regulated.

Scouts’ lease in jeopardy

PHILADELPHIA — The city may require the Boy Scouts of America’s Cradle of Liberty Council to affirm that it will not discriminate against openly homosexual people or lose its rent-free headquarters.

The City Council passed a resolution Thursday that City Solicitor Romulo L. Diaz Jr. said was a last step needed to end the Scouts’ lease under a 1928 ordinance that leased the land to them in perpetuity.

Mr. Diaz and Councilman Darrell L. Clarke, whose district includes the building, said they hoped the resolution would prompt the two sides to resolve the dispute so the Scouts could continue to use the building at a nominal rent.

Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for the Cradle of Liberty Council, said any decision probably would involve the leadership of the Scout’s National Council, and he did not know how national officials would react.

Several hurt in building collapse

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Part of the third floor of a building under construction collapsed yesterday, sending wet concrete and workers crashing to the floor below, injuring nine workers and trapping a man for nearly an hour.

The man who was trapped had been conducting inspections on the second floor when the floor above him collapsed. He was bleeding profusely, and emergency medical personnel had to use a tourniquet to stop the flow.

Firefighters and uninjured construction workers freed the man in about 45 minutes, working in space less than 3 feet high with “hundreds of thousand of pounds of concrete” above them, rescuer Cory Kissling said.

The man was airlifted to North Memorial, where he remained in serious condition last night, a hospital spokeswoman said. Three others were in serious condition, and five had been treated and released.

The building is to be a new headquarters for Great River Energy, a wholesale power supplier.

Traffic stop finds cargo of pot

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Two men hauling more than 40,000 pounds of Jawbreaker candies also had some not-so-sweet freight, the Highway Patrol said: nearly 11/2 tons of marijuana.

Luis Rene Avila and Juan Carlos appeared in federal court Thursday on charges of intent to distribute marijuana.

A search using a drug-sniffing dog turned up the load during a traffic stop Tuesday near St. Paul. The 41 boxes of marijuana were surrounded by 28 pallets of boxes containing the hard candy, authorities said.

The truck was thought to have originated in Texas, but authorities said the men wouldn’t say where it was headed or for whom they were carrying the load, according to court documents.

Mr. Carlos of Mexico faces deportation, authorities said. His attorney, Arthur Martinez, said Mr. Carlos was an unwitting passenger who had hitched a ride from Mr. Avila at a truck stop.

Caroline Durham, a public defender for Mr. Avila, did not return a call yesterday seeking comment.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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