Nation briefs 5/30/03

Friday, May 30, 2003

Judge upholds expulsion of girl involved in hazing

CHICAGO -- A federal judge Thursday turned down a last-ditch effort to reverse the expulsion of a high school senior who joined in a videotaped hazing incident at a park earlier this month.

U.S. District Chief Judge Charles P. Kocoras warned an attorney for Liat Gendelman, 18, that going on with the case could damage the student's reputation.

His refusal to grant a temporary restraining order against Northfield Township School District 225 appeared to end Gendelman's legal battle.

The teenager was among 31 students at Glenbrook North High School expelled May 25 after the May 4 hazing incident. Senior girls slugged and pushed junior girls, and showered them with mud, garbage, paint and feces while onlookers, some hoisting beer cups, cheered them on.

Gendelman's attorney, Dolores Ayala, said she would not appeal.

Alaska hotel rejects traveler from Asia

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A hotel trying to keep SARS at bay refused to honor the reservation of a guest who had traveled through Singapore and Hong Kong.

The incident last week came on the first day of an anti-SARS policy adopted at 13 Westmark hotels in Alaska and Canada. The hotels are owned by the Holland America cruise line.

The cruise ship industry adopted a similar policy a month ago, and dozens of passengers have been turned away to try to prevent severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The pneumonia-like disease has killed at least 750 people and infected more than 8,200 since it emerged in November, mostly in China.

Government opens 850,000 jobs for bids

WASHINGTON -- About 850,000 government jobs will be opened to private companies under new rules Thursday that encourage competition to replace federal workers who perform tasks such as giving weather reports to private pilots, fixing computers and taking money and tickets at national parks.

Democrats and labor unions see the Bush administration changes as union-busting and political favoritism.

The procurement rules are among many revisions the administration is undertaking that do not require congressional approval.

Nearly half of the 1.8 million civilian government work force performs tasks that duplicate work in the private sector, the administration says. President Bush wants to let companies bid to provide that work, with at least 15 percent opened to competition by Oct. 31.

Officials have identified examples of work being performed by government employees that they said probably could be done better and more cheaply by private businesses.

For example, 540 Navy workers make eyeglasses.

Autopsy: Peterson baby had tape around neck, cut

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- An autopsy found that Laci Peterson's infant son had plastic tape wrapped around his neck and a significant cut across the shoulders, a source told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The information was first reported by MSNBC, which said it received a portion of the autopsy report done by the Contra Costa County coroner's office. A source close to the case, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the information to the AP.

The autopsy report indicated the baby had 1 1/2 loops of plastic tape around his neck, MSNBC said. The network said it is possible the body was cut shoulder to shoulder and became wrapped in the tape during its long submersion in San Francisco Bay.

Scott Peterson, 30, of Modesto, is accused of killing his wife and unborn son, whom the couple had planned to name Conner, on Dec. 23 or 24 in their home. His 27-year-old wife was eight months pregnant. The bodies washed up on the shore of San Francisco Bay last month.

-- From wire reports

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