- The Washington Times - Friday, April 2, 2004

Continental Airlines to give rights training

The government announced a settlement yesterday with Continental Airlines over charges the carrier discriminated after the September 11 terror attacks against travelers believed to have been of Arab, Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian descent.

Continental agreed to provide civil rights training over the next two years to its pilots and cabin crew. As part of the settlement, that training must cost the company no less than $500,000.

The Transportation Department started getting complaints about a number of Continental flights, including from four passengers who said they were removed from flights because of their ethnic background or national origin.

Continental maintained no wrongdoing. A company statement said the airline “believes strongly that the incidents at issue in this investigation were not the result of discrimination.”

Student’s abduction believed to be hoax

MADISON, Wis. — Police strongly suggested yesterday that a college student’s tale of being kidnapped at knifepoint was a hoax, saying she researched places to hide and bought a knife, rope and duct tape to make her disappearance look like an abduction.

“We do not believe there is a suspect at large, period,” Assistant Police Chief Noble Wray said.

University of Wisconsin sophomore Audrey Seiler, 20, was found cold and dehydrated but otherwise unharmed Wednesday in a marsh, four days after she disappeared. She told police she had been abducted from outside her apartment about two miles away, but surveillance video showed her walking out of the apartment wearing only sweats.

Chief Wray declined to speculate on Miss Seiler’s motivation or her mental state, and he said it was too soon to say whether she could face charges. Authorities are trying to construct a timeline of her movements, he said.

Colombian arrested in weapons case

Federal agents in Florida have arrested a Colombian national on charges of attempting to exchange cash and cocaine for more than 8,000 machine guns, assault rifles, grenades, grenade launchers and pistols for a terrorist organization in his country known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC.

Carlos Gamarra-Murillo, 53, of Bucaramanga, Colombia, was taken into custody Thursday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Tampa, Fla.

ICE agent Steven J. Trent, who heads the agency’s Tampa office, said Gamarra-Murillo was arrested after he traveled from Colombia to the United States to meet in Tampa with ICE investigators posing as arms dealers. Mr. Trent estimated the value of the weapons to be brokered at $4 million.

The leftist FARC guerilla organization was founded in 1966, bringing together communist militants and peasant self-defense groups. It is Colombia’s largest and best-equipped rebel organization.

Publisher cancels Cheney book reissue

NEW YORK — A publisher has canceled plans to reissue a racy novel by Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, after she said the book did not represent her “best work.”

New American Library, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), was going to reprint “Sisters,” a historical romance published in 1981 that includes brothels, attempted rapes and a lesbian love affair.

“We felt interest was growing because it was an election year and we decided it could be a timely book,” Liz Perl, executive director of publicity at New American Library, told the Associated Press yesterday.

But according to Mrs. Cheney’s attorney, Robert Barnett, she did not even know about the reissue until receiving calls last week from the media. Mr. Barnett then contacted the publisher, which agreed this week to pull the novel.

Mrs. Cheney has been active in publishing over the past couple of years, releasing the best-selling children’s book “America: A Patriotic Primer,” and sponsoring a literary prize, the James Madison Book Award, for the best history written for young people. She was a featured speaker in February at the Association of American Publishers’ annual meeting.

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