Nation digest 02/15/03

Woman fined $500 in beating caught on tape

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A woman caught on a department store security video hitting her 4-year-old daughter in the parking lot pleaded guilty Friday and was given a year of probation and fined $500.

Madelyne Toogood, 26, could have gotten up to three years in prison for battery.

The case drew nationwide attention in September after the surveillance camera videotape from the Mishawaka store was played on television and showed Toogood repeatedly hitting and shaking her daughter, now 5.

The girl had misbehaved in the store, taking toys out of packages and wandering away, and employees had to page Toogood twice.

Toogood's daughter is living with her maternal grandmother while Toogood works to regain custody.

U.S. industrial production turns around in January

WASHINGTON -- Big industry broke out of the doldrums in January, turning in its strongest performance in six months, and businesses boosted stockpiles in December to satisfy consumers' appetites.

Production at the nation's factories, mines and utilities, which had been mired in a funk, shot up by 0.7 percent last month, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. That was a turnaround from the steep drop of 0.4 percent registered in December and marked the best showing since July.

The industrial sector, hardest hit by the 2001 recession, has been the biggest drag on the economy's struggle to get back to full throttle.

Bus, other vehicles crash in Texas, killing seven

HEWITT, Texas -- A bus carrying a church group swerved to avoid a crash, then hit another vehicle and rolled over on a rain-soaked interstate Friday morning, killing seven people, authorities said.

Five of those killed were on the bus and two were in a sport utility vehicle hit head-on as the bus swerved into oncoming traffic, said Tom Vinger, a Department of Public Safety spokesman. The bus carried 33 people, and many of them were injured.

Eighteen victims were treated at Providence Health Center in Waco for injuries that were not life-threatening, a hospital spokeswoman said. Authorities said other victims were taken to Hillcrest Health System in Waco, but calls to the hospital were not immediately returned.

Man gets house arrest for wounding priest

BALTIMORE -- A man acquitted of trying to kill the priest who allegedly abused him as a boy was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest Friday on gun charges.

Dontee Stokes, 26, was cleared Dec. 16 of attempted murder, reckless endangerment and assault for shooting and wounding the Rev. Maurice Blackwell outside the priest's home.

Stokes admitted shooting Blackwell but claimed temporary insanity, saying he blacked out while confronting him about the sexual abuse when he was an altar boy.

Bats responsible for most U.S. rabies deaths

ATLANTA -- Bats -- not dogs -- cause most of the few rabies deaths in the United States, and the species of bats that are usually to blame are rare, federal officials said Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that most of the 35 U.S. rabies deaths since 1990 can be traced to two species: the reclusive silver-haired bat and the eastern pipistrelle bat. Both are found in wooded areas of the Southeast and Northwest.

Because of vaccinations, rabies in dogs has dropped dramatically in the last century in the United States, but rabid dogs kill as many as 50,000 people around the world each year, the CDC said.

Bat rabies caused three U.S. deaths last year.

-- From wire reports