- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2007

ALABAMA

Nuke reactor restarts after two decades

BIRMINGHAM — Utility officials restarted a dormant nuclear reactor yesterday, 22 years after it was shut down because of safety concerns at what was once the nation’s largest nuclear power plant.

The restart capped a five-year, $1.8 billion renovation at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant.

Plant spokesman Craig Beasley said no problems were reported. Extensive testing remained to be performed before electricity from the Unit 1 reactor began flowing on transmission lines. The plant’s other two reactors remained at full power.

“Right now, they’re looking at the pressure inside the reactor. They will keep the power very low for several days, and then increase it to 35 percent,” he said.

The entire three-reactor plant was idled in 1985 as worries mounted over plant safety and management. The Unit 2 and 3 reactors were restarted in the 1990s after extensive renovations and upgrades.

KENTUCKY

Fletcher wins GOP nomination

LOUISVILLE — Gov. Ernie Fletcher won the Republican nomination for a second term yesterday, nine months after authorities dismissed charges that he violated hiring laws in a scheme to reward supporters with state jobs.

Mr. Fletcher withstood challenges from former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup of Louisville and millionaire businessman Billy Harper of Paducah.

With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Fletcher had 50 percent of the vote to Mrs. Northup’s 37 percent. Mr. Harper had 13 percent. Mr. Fletcher needed at least 40 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

On the Democratic side, with 85 percent of precincts reporting, former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear had 42 percent of the vote to millionaire businessman Bruce Lunsford’s 21 percent and former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry’s 18 percent.

MISSOURI

100 arrested in raid of illegals

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General agents yesterday arrested more than 100 people said to be in the country illegally as part of an ongoing investigation.

The raid, which targeted suspected identity theft, Social Security fraud and a variety of immigration-related violations, took place at George’s Processing Inc., a poultry-processing plant in Butterfield, Mo.

The illegal aliens were encountered when ICE and SSA-OIG agents executed two federal criminal search warrants as part of an ongoing investigation into identity fraud and employment of illegal aliens. Federal prosecutors previously charged five persons, who have been arrested, convicted or pleaded guilty in separate cases as a result of this investigation.

ICE spokeswoman Kadia H. Koroma said most of those arrested are from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and are being interviewed and processed.

NEW YORK

Columbia fires financial aid director

NEW YORK — Columbia University has dismissed its director of financial aid after the release of documents showing he promoted a student-loan company in which he had a financial stake, according to a report published yesterday.

The New York Times reported that David Charlow sent letters to parents and alumni on three occasions praising the lender, Student Loan Xpress Inc., a unit of CIT Group Inc.

Columbia officials could not be reached for comment. There was no answer yesterday morning at a home telephone number listed for Mr. Charlow.

Officials working with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is investigating the $85 billion student-loan industry, said e-mail messages and other documents provided by Columbia were evidence that the university had failed to supervise its financial aid program, according to the newspaper report.

Mr. Cuomo’s office has called on Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, to “immediately overhaul the operation,” the report said.

Columbia placed Mr. Charlow on paid leave last month, after regulatory filings showed he sold shares in Education Lending Group, the former parent of Student Loan Xpress, for a gain of more than $100,000.

A letter sent to Columbia on Saturday by Benjamin Lawsky, deputy counselor and special assistant to Mr. Cuomo, said Mr. Charlow put Student Loan Xpress on Columbia’s list of preferred lenders after he received the stock, even though the company had not bid for it, according to the New York Times.

NORTH CAROLINA

Penalty for cheating hits Asians at Duke

DURHAM — All of the students expelled in a cheating scandal at the Duke University business school were from Asian countries, while other students were punished less severely, their attorney says.

Many of the students involved in the case at the Fuqua School of Business confessed instead of fighting the charges because of different cultural norms in their countries, Durham lawyer Robert Ekstrand said.

“There is something else going on here, something that needs to be explained before we go forward with this, because it doesn’t look right,” Mr. Ekstrand said yesterday in the News & Observer of Raleigh.

In their home cultures, he said, “a confession or an admission of guilt can be a way to apologize.” He said they sometimes wrote confession letters without understanding the specific accusations.

Officials disclosed last month that 34 business school graduate students were convicted of cheating on an exam and other assignments. Nine were expelled, and 15 were suspended for a year and given a failing grade in the class. The others received failing grades.

OKLAHOMA

Homeless woman dies after Taser stunning

OKLAHOMA CITY — A mentally ill homeless woman died after she was arrested outside a shelter and stunned with a Taser while she was on the ground in handcuffs, authorities and witnesses said.

An autopsy was performed on Milisha Thompson, 35, but her cause of death has not been determined pending toxicology tests, police Sgt. Paco Balderrama said yesterday.

One witness, Edwin Davis, said onlookers began yelling, “You killed her,” as Mrs. Thompson slipped out of consciousness during Saturday’s confrontation outside the City Rescue Mission.

Sgt. Balderrama said Mrs. Thompson repeatedly kicked and attacked officers, even after being stunned with the Taser.

After she lost consciousness, officers administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Mrs. Thompson then was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Two officers involved in the incident were placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

The woman’s husband said she suffered from schizophrenia and might have been having an episode of the illness, causing her to feel threatened. Marvell Thompson said he and his wife were homeless and living at the rescue mission while recovering from drug addictions.

TEXAS

Border Patrol copter crashes in yard

SAN ELIZARIO — A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter crashed in a residential area during a routine patrol along the Mexico border yesterday, critically injuring the pilot and another person onboard.

The helicopter slammed into a yard and hit a pickup truck.

The pilot and passenger, who was a Border Patrol observer monitoring the area for illegal activity, were taken by ambulance to a hospital, senior Border Patrol agent Patrick Berry said. No one on the ground was hurt.

A witness to the crash about 10 miles east of El Paso said the helicopter appeared to be coming from New Mexico when it suddenly started having trouble.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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