- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2003

Senator says troops are ready for war
Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican and a Vietnam veteran, says he does not believe that U.S. troops in the Middle East have lost any of their edge waiting for war to begin with Iraq.
"There's no question that the longer you hold men and women at a high state of readiness with a sharp edge to maintain, it is more and more difficult," Mr. Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday on CNN's "The Novak Zone" with Robert Novak.
Mr. Hagel stressed that soldiers can't wait "indefinitely" and be expected to be at peak military performance.
Man found guilty of killing rival
CLEARWATER, Fla. A New Jersey bus-company owner was convicted of first-degree murder yesterday in his third trial in the slaying in 1996 of a business rival whose body has never been found.
A Florida jury deliberated for two days before finding Alan Mackerley guilty in the death of Frank Black, a competitor for decades on school-bus-route contracts in northern New Jersey.
Mackerley, 59, faces life in prison. He showed no emotion as the verdict was read, but Mr. Black's two daughters wept.
Prosecutors argued that Mackerley and his girlfriend, Lisa Costello, used a phony business deal to lure Mr. Black to Mackerley's home in Stuart. They said Mackerley shot Mr. Black in the head and dumped his body in the Atlantic Ocean. Neither the body nor a murder weapon was found.

Father gets maximum for son's death
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. A man who believed his regimen of strict discipline and diet of herbal supplements would bring his large family closer to God was sentenced to more that 16 years in prison for letting one of his children starve to death.
Winnfred Wright, 46, was sentenced Friday to the maximum sentence of 16 years and eight months in prison for felony child abuse in a plea deal.
Marin County Judge Terrence Boren concluded that Wright's lifestyle was not only unconventional, but resulted in the starvation death of his 19-month-old son.

Three family members killed in plane crash
ASHEVILLE, N.C. A small plane crashed in a heavily wooded area of the North Carolina mountains, killing a couple and their daughter, authorities said yesterday.
The plane left Asheville Regional Airport under cloudy skies just after noon Friday. Flight instructor Guy Maher said the pilot, James Davis, 63, was licensed to fly only in clear weather.
Mr. Davis, of Setauket, N.Y., his wife, Francie, and daughter, Amanda, were killed when the Cessna 177 crashed near Old Fort Mountain in McDowell County, said Maj. Jeff Willis of the Civil Air Patrol.
The Davises had been on a book tour for Amanda Davis' first novel, "Wonder When You'll Miss Me." Miss Davis, an author and teacher from Oakland, Calif., was at an Asheville book store Thursday night for a book signing.
A search for the plane began Friday evening after it didn't land as scheduled. A pilot searching from his plane found the crash site yesterday morning.

Audit says government is lax with meat safety
The Agriculture Department has been lax in guarding the food supply from potentially unsafe imported meat, an internal audit says.
From 1999 to 2001, the agency allowed in 823,632 pounds of meat from foreign plants that might have been prohibited from trading, said the report by the USDA's inspector general released this week.
Of that, 66,299 pounds were from processors not approved for shipping products to the United States, the report said.
Auditors said they were not certain whether the remaining meat was safe and came from approved exporters because the department did not turn in enough records.

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