Nation briefs 02/10/03
Waco survivors continue to pursue lawsuit claims
NEW ORLEANS --Nearly 10 years after the fire that ended the Waco, Texas, standoff and killed Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh and scores of his disciples, survivors and their families are still pushing claims against the federal government.
Today, they're scheduled to make a last-ditch effort before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here, seeking to have the judge removed from their wrongful-death lawsuit and asking for a new trial.
In September 2000 in Waco, U.S. District Judge Walter Smith dismissed the lawsuit, backing the federal contention that agents had not used excessive force in their tear-gas assault on the cult compound. Smith found that the Davidians themselves set the fire that killed nearly 80 men, women and children.
On Feb. 28, 1993, federal agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound looking for stockpiled automatic weapons and hand grenades. Four federal agents and three Davidians were killed in the clash.
For 51 days, the government attempted to get the cult followers to come out. On April 19, agents fired tear-gas rounds into the compound and fire consumed it.
Gasoline prices rise close to 11 cents nationwide
CAMARILLO, Calif. -- Gasoline prices jumped nearly 11 cents per gallon over the past two weeks, an industry analyst said Sunday.
The average weighted price for gasoline nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was about $1.63 per gallon Friday, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations nationwide.
Gasoline cost about $1.52 a gallon on Jan. 24, the date of the last survey.
Shooting suspect kills himself during standoff
CHICAGO -- An 18-year-old man wanted for questioning in the shooting deaths of his father and five other people killed himself after a standoff with police early Sunday, authorities said.
Immanuel Phillips shot himself in the head about 7:30 a.m. in a South Side hotel room, after defying police for about six hours, officers said.
Hours later, police said they had identified a second suspect in four of the slayings, which occurred in a house next to Phillips' home.
Police had been talking to Phillips by telephone, Police superintendent Terry Hillard said.
Phillips, who was wearing body armor, broke off contact with police shortly before shooting himself. Hillard said officers did not storm the room before the shooting.
Major performers' unions approve proposed merger
LOS ANGELES -- The national directors for Hollywood's two major performers' unions voted for a proposed merger that they said would give them more bargaining power with entertainment conglomerates.
At a joint meeting, the national boards of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Saturday approved principles of consolidation that are the first step in forming a new union.
Supporters said consolidation would maximize their strength and resolve jurisdiction fights, such as who represents actors in digital productions.
All 69 SAG directors voted in favor of the merger proposal. AFTRA approved the plan 72-3. The two unions represent about 130,000 performers.
The combined organization would consist of separate affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists that would have autonomy over bargaining, strikes and other issues.
Members of each affiliate would elect a president. The head of the umbrella union would be selected by a convention of delegates.
-- From wire reports