- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2000

Prosecutors: Cubans were Castro's minions

MIAMI Five men accused of spying for Cuba went on trial yesterday, with a prosecutor charging they served as Fidel Castro's eyes and ears in Florida for years.

The defendants three Cuban intelligence officers and two U.S. citizens used coded computer disks, high-frequency radio transmissions and electronic phone messages to infiltrate U.S. military bases and Cuban exile groups, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Buckner told the federal jury in his opening statement.

Priorities for the spy ring included getting access to the U.S. Southern Command Headquarters after it moved to Miami from Panama in 1996 and discrediting the Cuban-exile group Brothers to the Rescue, Mr. Buckner said.

Plan to clean up air in Houston is approved

AUSTIN, Texas The state's environmental agency yesterday approved an aggressive clean-air plan for the smoggy Houston metropolitan area that includes a 55 mph speed limit and unprecedented reductions in pollution from industrial plants.

Houston, with its refineries and petrochemical plants, is the nation's smoggiest city.

The plan designed to bring the area into compliance with federal clean-air standards by 2007 requires Environmental Protection Agency approval.

Court throws out killer's death sentence

AUSTIN, Texas A Texas appeals court yesterday threw out a killer's death sentence because the jury was shown a photograph of one of the murder victims lying in a casket next to her fetus.

The photo may have caused emotion to override the facts when Raymond Reese was sentenced, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 5-4.

The state's highest criminal appeals court affirmed the murder conviction of Reese in the 1996 shooting deaths of Paula Birdow and her husband, Michael, but ordered that Reese be resentenced.

NASA approves fix for space station wing

SPACE CENTER, Houston Astronauts on space shuttle Endeavour enjoyed some time off yesterday after a 6*-hour spacewalk that completed power connections for the international space station's electricity-producing solar wings.

Meanwhile, mission managers yesterday approved a plan to fix a tension problem on one of the space station's wings.

NASA's plan calls for astronauts Joe Tanner and Carlos Noriega to fix the problem at the start of their third spacewalk today. The astronauts will climb to the top of the truss that holds the solar wings' batteries and electronics and use tools to put two loose cables back into place.

Bill would force count of military ballots

More that 40 members of Congress co-sponsored a bill yesterday that would require Florida to count rejected overseas military ballots.

Rep. Darlene Hooley, Oregon Democrat, was the sole Democratic co-sponsor.

More than 1,000 ballots from U.S. overseas military personnel were thrown out because they did not have postmarks or were not signed, among other defects.

"While the losing side is in court in Florida seeking to count some votes for a third time and fourth time, more than 1,000 ballots from military servicemen and servicewomen have not been counted once," said Rep. Matt Salmon, Arizona Republican.

Sex misconduct forces rabbi out of seminary

CINCINNATI An 11th-generation rabbi has resigned as president of Reform Judaism's leading seminary over accusations that he had inappropriate relationships with women before taking office four years ago.

The Hebrew Union College board accepted Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman's resignation Monday and appointed Provost Norman J. Cohen as acting president.

Mr. Zimmerman, 58, could not be reached for comment yesterday. The school has provided no details of the misconduct, but Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the United American Hebrew Congregations, told the Dallas Morning News that Mr. Zimmerman did not contest the charges.

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