Thursday, December 12, 2002


Cook County Hospital closing its doors

CHICAGO Cook County Hospital, the sprawling institution that inspired television’s “ER” and provided first-class care under Third World conditions for much of the past century, is shutting its doors.

At 7 a.m. today, patients were scheduled to start moving from the old building into a sleek new one nearby. While the distance between the two can be measured in yards, the difference is immeasurable.

“I’ve been waiting for this since the day I arrived,” said Dr. John Barrett, director of trauma services, waving at his pristine new trauma unit. “This is as good as it gets.”


Infant, taken with car, found unharmed

OMAHA An infant who disappeared when her grandmother’s vehicle was stolen was found unharmed hours later yesterday after police received an anonymous tip, authorities said.

Authorities were questioning a man taken into custody near where the girl was found. His name was not released, and police gave no further details.

Nine-month-old Brodjinique Dunn of Omaha was in a sport utility vehicle that was taken from a gas station in Council Bluffs, Iowa, yesterday morning while her grandmother, Kimberly Lewis, was paying for gas, Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Jerry Mann said.


Operator cited in mine accident

TUSCALOOSA Federal mining officials cited a coal mine operator yesterday for safety violations that contributed to an accident last year in which 13 miners died, the worst mine accident in the nation since 1984.

Dave Lauriski, head of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, said Jim Walter Resources was cited for 27 violations, eight of which contributed to the accident and deaths. A key violation was failure to start evacuating the mine after four men were injured in an initial underground explosion.


Abandoned newborn found washed ashore

LONG BEACH A person picking up litter on a beach lined with million-dollar homes found the body of a newborn girl washed ashore, authorities said.

The body was spotted Tuesday inside a plastic bag floating in the shallow water near a neighborhood where some of Long Beach’s most expensive homes line the sand.

“The baby appears to be in full term and born within the past couple of days,” said Jana Blair, a police spokeswoman.


Female convict faces deportation

DOVER Marie Andre was convicted of child endangerment in the motel drowning death of her nephew, Rudgerry Romain, 9.

He drowned in a swimming pool after he was left unsupervised July 13. Andre, 32, of Smyrna testified that Rudgerry promised to stay in the motel room while she was shopping.

Her conviction means she must be deported to her native Haiti upon release from custody.


Students raise money for Christmas wish

WAVERLY Some Wartburg College students have a Christmas wish this year for high school youths halfway around the world: college entrance exams.

About 12 Wartburg students are raising money so youngsters in the West Bank city of Nablus can take tests required for high school graduation and entrance to college.

The project is called Leading Education And Relief for Nablus, or LEARN. It was organized by Ibrahim Khader, a Wartburg student and Palestinian.

The tests cost about $26, but last year only 45 percent of students could afford to pay for the exam, Mr. Khader said.

So far, the group has collected about $1,000.


Judge dismisses charges against Patton

FRANKFORT A judge yesterday dismissed most of a lawsuit filed by the owner of a nursing home who said Gov. Paul E. Patton started a regulatory crackdown after she ended their two-year affair.

Circuit Court Judge Roger Crittenden dismissed the state government as a defendant and threw out the charges that Mr. Patton sexually harassed Tina Conner and wasted state resources during their affair.

Left intact are Mrs. Conner’s claims that Mr. Patton caused her emotional distress and acted outrageously.


Girl, 4, brings teacher a gift of marijuana

HOLYOKE The Department of Social Services is looking into a potential case of child abuse after a 4-year-old girl brought her teacher a small bag of marijuana as a gift.

When Head Start Early Childhood Center teacher Iris Galvez asked where she got the gift Monday, the girl said she got it “from her mommy,” according to a police report obtained by the Union-News of Springfield.

The girl’s mother, Shelin Colon, 32, said she doesn’t have any drugs in the house and doesn’t know where the girl might have obtained the marijuana, police said.

No charges have been filed.


Priest convicted of molesting altar boy

FLEMINGTON A priest described as having a pattern of sexually inappropriate behavior toward minors dating back 30 years was convicted yesterday of molesting an altar boy.

The Rev. John Banko was the first New Jersey priest to be charged criminally in a sex case since the Roman Catholic Church became embroiled in a national scandal this year.

After less than two days of deliberations, jurors convicted Father Banko of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment.


Court to decide whether 9/11 was one event

NEW YORK An appeals court agreed yesterday to hear the issue of whether the two planes that brought down the World Trade Center towers represented separate attacks, a critical point that could double the multibillion-dollar insurance payout.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it would consider the matter because there was “substantial ground for difference of opinion” as to whether the plane crashes each represented a separate “occurrence” for insurance purposes.

A trial in the case set for November was delayed until the spring after a ruling by U.S. District Judge John Martin that September 11 was one event.


Tornado heroes receive awards

VAN WERT The National Weather Service gave awards to a movie theater manager and three local government officials who helped save lives when a tornado hit on Nov. 10.

Scott Schaffer herded customers into restrooms and a hallway as the storm ripped away part of the roof and tossed three cars into Van Wert Cinemas. No one was seriously hurt.

Two persons in Van Wert County died in the storm.


Jetliner lands safely with odor of smoke

PORTLAND A Hawaiian Airlines jetliner carrying 285 persons to Honolulu returned to Portland shortly after takeoff yesterday after people smelled smoke in the cockpit, an airport official said.

The DC-10 returned to Portland about 45 minutes after takeoff, said Steve Johnson, an airport spokesman. He said no one was hurt and it wasn’t clear what caused the smell.


School start pushed to Labor Day

COLUMBIA Under pressure from South Carolina’s tourism industry, the state Board of Education approved a plan yesterday to end early-August school openings that cut short the summer tourist season.

Under the plan approved by a 9-8 vote, the state’s public schools, many of which start in early August to give students more instruction time before standardized tests in the spring, would have a uniform start date around Labor Day in 2004.

South Carolina’s $14.7 billion-a-year tourism industry says its revenues and the state’s economy have been hurt since schools began opening in early August. A later start date means that restaurants, hotels and other tourism-related businesses may keep their student employees a little longer.


Lawmakers seek to impeach judge

HOUSTON Two state lawmakers are seeking to impeach a judge who was videotaped using racial slurs and profanity while arraigning inmates.

Rep. Ron Wilson said Tuesday that he and Rep. Harold Dutton, both Democrats, have asked the Texas Legislative Council to draft articles of impeachment against Judge Matt Zepeda.

Judge Zepeda, a Republican, has acknowledged he did wrong and apologized, but said he shouldn’t be penalized for one mistake.


Settlement reached in pipeline blast case

SEATTLE Two companies have agreed to pay tens of millions of dollars to settle criminal charges over a 1999 pipeline blast that killed three persons.

The agreement requires Olympic Pipe Line Co. and Shell Pipeline LP, the successor company to Equilon Pipeline Co. LLC, to plead no contest to at least one felony charge each for violating pipeline-safety law.

The Seattle Times reported yesterday that Olympic would pay about $25 million and Shell about $75 million.


Health care sector boosts economy

HUNTINGTON While employment in traditional sectors like manufacturing, mining and transportation continues to dwindle in West Virginia, health care remains a growing local economic force. Health care officials say the national technology boom and poorer general health among West Virginians have contributed to increases.


Firefighters find $10,000 in furniture

MILWAUKEE Talk about dropping some change between the couch cushions.

North Shore firefighters found $10,000 stashed in a piece of furniture they picked up from a curbside and used for a training exercise, authorities said.

The money was turned over to Brown Deer police after the Nov. 29 training exercise.

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