- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2001

First family shops for antiques

FREDERICK, Md. The president and first lady, days after their purchase of a $2.85 million home in the District of Columbia, shopped for antiques yesterday afternoon before returning to Camp David for New Year's Eve.

The Clintons visited antique stores specializing in furniture and other household items on a trip beginning about 2 p.m. in Frederick's historic downtown.

They were joined by their daughter, Chelsea; Hillary Clinton's mother, Dorothy Rodham; Hollywood-producer friends Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason; and Molly Clinton, the wife of President Clinton's brother, Roger.

They shopped for about an hour, first at Frederick's Best, where Hillary Clinton purchased a dough box. Next stop was Embassy Antiques, which specializes in French furniture. When asked if they were buying any furniture, the president responded, "A little bit."

Oscar-winning writer of "Casablanca" dies

LOS ANGELES Screenwriter Julius Epstein, who co-wrote the screenplay for one of cinema's classics, "Casablanca," died Saturday at age 91, hospital officials said yesterday.

A highly visible and well-respected figure in the Hollywood writing community, Mr. Epstein died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and is survived by his son, James, his wife, Ann, and daughter Elizabeth Schwartz.

The Oscar-winning writer was born the son of a livery stable owner on Manhattan's Lower East Side on Aug. 22, 1909. Mr. Epstein turned out 50 produced screenplays, with his twin brother, Philip, who died in 1952, and by himself during a career that spanned 60 years.

"Casablanca" brought the brothers and Howard Koch a shared Oscar for the screenplay. The 1942 Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman romantic drama also won the Oscar for best picture.

"Casablanca" has achieved cult status due largely to the Epsteins' unforgettable dialogue, which includes such gems as "Here's looking at you, kid," "We'll always have Paris," and "Round up the usual suspects."

Study finds greater quake risk

LOS ANGELES A new picture of the ground beneath Southern California shows one of its most populous areas could be at greater risk of earthquake damage than previously realized.

A basin of soft sediment beneath the San Gabriel Valley, just east of downtown Los Angeles, is about 3 miles deep 1 and 1/2 times deeper than previously estimated. That could lead to more surface shaking during an earthquake, according to a study appearing in January's issue of Geology, the journal of the Geological Society of America.

Such basins shake "like big bowls of Jell-O," said Gary Fuis, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park and who was the study's lead author.

"The potential damage threat is greater because we've found that the basin is deeper," but specifics will have to await computer modeling of the new data, Mr. Fuis said.

The study also suggests the presence of an immense, ramp-like crack stretching under the San Gabriel Mountains that could be the deep generator of earthquakes along several Southern California faults.

Rare winter fire scorches Alaska tundra

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Diminished winds and high humidity Saturday slowed the spread of a rare 15,000-acre fire on frozen tundra near the village of Kotlik in southwest Alaska's Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

Alaska's wildfire season is usually over by December.

"I haven't heard of anything like it," said Andy Williams, spokesman for the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Larry Vanderlinden, fire management coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said fire crews would be brought in only if residents or structures were threatened by the blaze, which was first spotted Wednesday. Two major rivers and some smaller streams and lakes stand between the village and the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Mr. Vanderlinden said it may have been caused by a snowmobile backfiring.

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