- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Panel plays Grinch for female Santa

LOUISVILLE, Ky. A discrimination complaint filed against Wal-Mart for barring a female employee from playing Santa Claus was thrown out yesterday by a state panel that said the woman wasn't convincing.
Customer service representative Marta Brown volunteered for the role in 1995, dressing in traditional Santa garb. Managers at the Morganfield store elected to go with a male Santa after a customer said her child had asked about Santa's breasts.
The company feared complaints about a female Santa would hurt Wal-Mart's reputation and hurt Christmas sales. Wal-Mart also argued that Miss Brown wasn't convincing as Santa, and the Commission on Human Rights agreed.
Miss Brown, who quit her job, wanted $67,000 to cover lost wages and pain and suffering.

Gusty wind delays Discovery liftoff

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Gusty wind forced NASA to call off last night's launch of space shuttle Discovery on a space station construction mission.
The flight was already four days late because of mechanical problems, which were resolved over the weekend. Launch managers said they would try again today, even though windy weather still could be a problem.
High wind prevented technicians from moving a vent hood into position over the external fuel tank yesterday morning, part of the preparation before the fuel tank can be filled. The wind limit is 48 mph, and gusts reached more than 51 mph, NASA said.

Long-jailed aliens can seek release

MIAMI Immigrant criminals who are being held while awaiting deportation can petition a judge for release, a federal appeals court ruled.
About 18,000 criminal aliens targeted for deportation by the Immigration and Naturalization Service have been jailed for years. In 1996, Congress eliminated a requirement that the INS release anyone who could not be deported within six months.
Some deportation delays are caused by the refusal of the immigrants' native countries to accept them. Other cases have been blamed on bureaucracy.

Small dog kills 6-week-old girl

LOS ANGELES A small Pomeranian dog killed a 6-week-old baby while the infant's caretaker briefly left the child unattended to warm a bottle of milk, authorities said.
The relative, who was caring for the infant, found her head buried in the dog's mouth, sheriff's Deputy Cruz Solis said. The girl died of head trauma.
The baby's name was withheld because her parents were out of the country and had not been notified, Deputy Solis said. The relative has not been charged. Animal control officers took the dog.

Officials say synagogue was victim of arson

HARRISBURG, Pa. An arson blaze gutted two stories of a building at a synagogue on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
The fire began around 4 a.m. yesterday in Temple Ohev Sholom's three-story school building. No one was injured, and the main sanctuary was not damaged.
Officials quickly ruled out an accidental fire because the building was under construction and had no electrical system and no heat-producing sources. No suspects have been identified.

Washington state sues teachers union

SEATTLE Washington state yesterday sued the 70,000-member Washington Education Association teachers union for improperly using nonmembers' fees for political purposes.
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation filed a complaint against the WEA with the state Public Disclosure Commission, which sent the case to the attorney general.
The WEA has admitted the violations, citing administrative errors, and could be fined up to $10,000 per incident.
Some 4,400 workers, including custodians, cooks and bus drivers, have opted not to join the union, meaning the WEA must get permission to spend their dues on political activities.

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