Sunday, December 15, 2002

Four boys drown in fall through ice
LAWRENCE, Mass. Six boys plunged through the soft, thin ice of the Merrimack River yesterday, and four who were trapped below for several minutes died.
Two of the boys were merely “cold and wet” after rescuers quickly retrieved them, Deputy Police Chief Joseph Marquis said.
The other four had been trapped under the ice for at least 10 minutes and were unconscious when they were pulled from the river Saturday afternoon, said Lawrence Police Chief John J. Romero.
The boys, from ages 7 to 11, walked out on the one- to two-inch-thick ice about 25 feet from shore.
A seventh boy, who had stayed on shore, ran to a nearby house to call for help after they fell through.
Police formed a human chain and were able to pull out the two children closest to shore even after falling through the ice themselves, Chief Romero said. It was then that they learned four more children were still trapped.

WTC toll drops to 2,792
NEW YORK The tally of people lost in the September 11 attacks has dropped, with three persons reported missing in the World Trade Center being confirmed as alive, city officials said.
Police Inspector Jeremiah Quinlan, who leads the massive missing-persons effort, said Friday that investigators have spoken with the three persons.
The discovery reduces the city’s official count of persons killed or reported missing in the terrorist attack to 2,792.
Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner, identified the three as Jeffrey Montgomery of St. Joseph, Mo.; William Yemele of Gaithersburg, Md.; and Oliva Khemrat of Jersey City, N.J.
But Miss Khemrat’s mother insists her daughter is still missing and said she was not informed of the change to the list. “They can’t just take my child’s name off without telling the family,” Meena Bhiro said.

Scientist convicted in theft of lab materials
SYRACUSE, N.Y. A Cornell University researcher from China has been convicted of stealing biological materials used in a university research project and trying to smuggle them to his home country.
A federal jury found Yin Qingqiang, 38, guilty Friday of theft of property worth more than $5,000 and making a false statement to an FBI agent.
Yin, a former postdoctoral research associate at Cornell, was arrested July 28 at Syracuse Hancock International Airport after security officers found more than 250 vials, test tubes and petri dishes hidden in his luggage as he and his family tried to board a flight to Shanghai.
Prosecutors contended that he stole bacteria and yeast cultures for making an enzyme known as phytase, a livestock feed supplement that scientists think will improve livestock nutrition and reduce phosphorous excretion in animal waste. His goal, they said, was to secure a research job in China.

Big Apple braces for transit shutdown
NEW YORK If city transit workers strike and shut down bus and subway lines Monday as threatened, just about every aspect of New York’s economy would be affected, including florists, restaurants and major department stores.
The effects could ripple through the national economy as well, analysts say.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration has estimated that a transit workers’ walkout would cost the city $100 million to $350 million a day, a figure that includes police overtime, lost productivity, lost retail sales and taxes.
Yesterday afternoon, negotiators were trying to reach a three-year contract agreement for the 34,000 transit union workers. On Friday a judge barred transit workers from carrying out the strike after state officials asked for a preliminary injunction. The order could jail and fine workers who walk off the job.

Judge bans videos of sex at trial
VENTURA, Calif. Attorneys for an heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune will not be allowed to introduce homemade videos of the 38-year-old having sex with a woman he purportedly raped, a judge ruled.
Attorney Roger Jon Diamond had argued that the videotapes proved Andrew Luster, a great-grandson of the cosmetics magnate, was an aspiring pornography producer who taped sexual encounters with consenting women.
The women have said they were drugged and raped at Mr. Luster’s beach house.
In his ruling Friday, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Ken Riley said the videos were not relevant because the “crime charged is not videotaping.”
Opening statements in the case were scheduled to begin Monday.
Prosecutors have charged Mr. Luster with raping three women after rendering them unconscious with the date-rape drug gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB. If convicted, he faces up to 150 years in prison.

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