Nation digest 07/08/03

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Mom accused of throwing twins into river is charged

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A mother was charged Monday with murder and attempted murder for allegedly throwing her twin sons into the Mississippi River on the Fourth of July. One toddler died; the other was rescued.

Naomi Gaines, 24, also jumped into the river, shouting, "Freedom!" on the way down, according to authorities. She was rescued, taken to a hospital and later arrested.

Gaines was charged with murder in the death of her 14-month-old son, Sincere Understanding Allah, and with attempted murder of his twin brother, Supreme Knowledge Allah, who survived the 75-foot fall and was rescued from the water by an onlooker.

Two murderers escape maximum-security prison

ELMIRA, N.Y. -- Two murderers escaped from a maximum-security prison Monday by breaking a hole in the concrete ceiling of their cell and lowering themselves down the side of the building on bedsheets, officials said.

Guards at the Elmira Correctional Facility discovered the inmates were missing during a routine count at 6:30 a.m., said Jim Flateau, a spokesman for the state Department of Correctional Services. Guards later found tied-together sheets that led down an outside wall of the four-story cellblock.

Timothy Vail, 35, was serving 49 years to life for the 1988 rape and murder of a pregnant secretary. Timothy Morgan, 26, was serving 25 years to life for the 1998 murder of a cab driver.

Body of last of seven drowning victims found

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- The body of the last of seven swimmers who drowned along a rough, three-mile stretch of the Lake Michigan shoreline on the Fourth of July was found Monday.

The swimmers got into trouble during a three-hour period after thunderstorms created strong riptides and an undercurrent.

The seventh body was recovered off Bethany Beach. The other victims disappeared at Warren Dunes State Park and Harbert Beach.

R.I. governor signs tougher fire regulations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Gov. Don Carcieri signed tough new fire regulations Monday, including a ban on pyrotechnics in nightclubs like the one that went up in flames earlier this year in a disaster that killed 100 people.

The nightclub blaze, which was started by pyrotechnics, prompted lawmakers to draft changes they said will give Rhode Island the strictest fire safety rules in the nation.

The legislation requires sprinklers in more nightclubs and other businesses, bans pyrotechnics in all but the largest venues and increases the authority of fire inspectors.

Judge OKs $750 million WorldCom settlement

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge on Monday approved a $750 million settlement between federal regulators and WorldCom Inc., saying a heavier fine for a corporate accounting fraud scandal would "unfairly penalize" the company's 50,000 employees.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of Manhattan said that driving the telecommunications company out of business was not the goal.

WorldCom's problems came to light last year, and the company filed for bankruptcy in July 2002, citing massive accounting irregularities. WorldCom misstated billions of dollars in regular operating expenses as capital expenditures, allowing them to grossly overstate earnings.

-- From wire reports

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