Nation digest 02/24/04

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Education chief calls NEA 'terrorist organization'

WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" Monday. Paige's comments about the 2.7-million-member National Education Association, made to the nation's governors at a private meeting, were denounced by union president Reg Weaver as well as prominent Democrats. "As one who grew up on the receiving end of insensitive remarks, I should have chosen my words better," said Paige, the first black education secretary. He said he had made clear to the governors that he was referring to the Washington-based union organization, not the teachers it represents.

Poll: Many cutting doses to counter drug costs

WASHINGTON -- Almost a third of Americans say paying for prescription drugs is a problem in their families, and many are cutting dosages to deal with the crunch, according to a poll by The Associated Press. The poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs found most Americans either take prescription drugs or someone in their family does. Of those, 33 percent said their families have trouble paying at times. Of those with such trouble, three-fourths say the solution often is to cut back on the dosage.

Bird flu found at Texas farm; flock destroyed

SAN ANTONIO -- A strain of avian influenza found on a Texas chicken farm is far more dangerous to poultry than originally thought and has spread to live bird markets in Houston, federal officials said Monday. However, the flu is not the same strain that has killed at least 22 people in Asia. The farm's flock was destroyed over the weekend but birds from that flock already had been sent to two live bird markets in Houston, officials said.

Banker removed from recalled jet freed on bond

BANGOR, Maine -- A Chicago investment banker accused of making up a story about being carjacked, taken across the country and then forced to board a Morocco-bound flight was released Monday on $50,000 bond. Zubair Ali Ghias, 27, admitted the hoax after his Thursday flight was diverted to Bangor, where he was removed and questioned. He said it stemmed from a squabble with his wife, authorities said. If convicted of making false statements to the FBI, Ghias faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Army crews blow up Virginia dam to help fish

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Army divers set off 600 pounds of plastic explosives Monday and breached a 94-year-old dam on the Rappahannock River. The $10 million project calls for the 22-foot-high dam to be removed by February 2006. The demolition should open up hundreds of miles of river to migratory fish for the first time since 1854, when a wooden crib dam was built to power mills. The Embrey Dam has not produced power since the 1960s.

-- From wire reports

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