- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2001

Workplace slayings shock two states

EAST GREENVILLE, Pa. A man who opened fire at a furniture plant where he worked, killing a manager, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound yesterday.
Michael J. Tompkins, 23, was found dead in his car parked off a state highway a couple of miles from the Knoll Inc. plant, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office said.
The shooting Wednesday appeared to have followed a workplace dispute, police said.
In North Carolina, a man recently fired from PPG Industries ambushed employees at the plant's parking lot Wednesday evening, fatally shooting one man and injuring another, police said.
The suspect, Brandon Eugene Smith, 20, was shot by police who chased him after spotting his truck late Wednesday, police said. He was in critical condition yesterday with a head wound.

Lyme cases jumped during late 1990s

ATLANTA Lyme disease soared in the late 1990s as Americans built more homes in the woods, bringing people into contact with ticks, the government reported yesterday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it recorded nearly 17,000 cases of Lyme in 1998 and more than 16,000 in 1999, with the vast majority concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest.
The United States averaged about 11,000 cases a year in the first eight years of the decade.

Clinton-pardon probe seen as escalating

The ranking Democrat on a House committee probing President Clinton's last-minute clemency orders yesterday accused Republican investigators of stepping up rather than winding down the inquiry.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California told House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, the inquiry should be closed in favor of a review by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York.
Mr. Waxman said Republicans had requested new interviews and new subpoenas on the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. He said the probe is "escalating and moving beyond the Marc Rich matter to other pardons President Clinton issued."

Report says tax returns vulnerable to hackers

Government investigators were able to hack into the Internal Revenue Service computer system last year and access Social Security numbers and other sensitive information from electronically filed tax returns, a congressional report said yesterday.
"We demonstrated that unauthorized individuals, both internal and external to IRS, could have gained access to IRS' electronic filing systems and viewed and modified taxpayer data contained in those systems during the 2000 tax filing season," the General Accounting Office report stated.

Bush backs increasing military death benefits

The Bush administration endorsed legislation yesterday to increase by $50,000, to $250,000, maximum death benefits for families of military personnel killed in a series of recent military disasters.
The legislation would make the survivor benefit increase which had been scheduled to take effect April 1 retroactive to Oct. 1.
That would allow the additional benefits to go to the families of the 17 American sailors killed in the Oct. 12 terrorist bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, and to families of the five Americans killed earlier this week in Kuwait.

Sen. Warner seeks bigger defense budget

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner said next year's defense budget should be $333 billion, $8.5 billion more than the amount sought by President Bush.
"My analysis shows that current readiness is in jeopardy both now and in the future because of aging, overused equipment, rapidly increasing costs and shortages of spare parts and operational funding," the Virginia Republican wrote yesterday to the Senate Budget Committee.

Ford shuts plant due to disease

CLEVELAND A Ford Motor Co. worker who died last week had Legionnaire's disease, bringing to four the number of cases confirmed among workers at an engine-casting plant.

The Cleveland Casting Plant, which employs 2,500, was closed Wednesday at least through the weekend after the third case was confirmed.

Donald Tafoya, 61, a 27-year Ford employee, died March 9 with pneumonia symptoms. Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Timothy Horgan said test results on Mr. Tafoya were positive for the Legionnaire's bacteria.

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