Nation briefs 08/15/02

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Discount retailer Ames plans to close all stores

ROCKY HILL, Conn. -- A year after seeking bankruptcy protection, Ames Department Stores announced Wednesday it would close all 327 stores in the chain and wind down business.

Ames, which bought Hills Stores Co. of Massachusetts in 1998, was the nation's fourth-largest discount retail chain behind Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target. Its stores, mostly in the East and Midwest, employ about 22,000 people.

Economic analysts have said the Hills-related debt created financial troubles for Ames.

The company said stores are expected to remain open for approximately 10 weeks.

Ames filed for bankruptcy last August. It had hoped to emerge from bankruptcy protection by the end of the second quarter. The discount chain already has gone through four rounds of store closings in the last several months.

Chinese 12-year-old will seek asylum in U.S.

AMHERST, Mass. -- A 12-year-old Chinese girl who disappeared after arriving in San Francisco with a tour group and reappeared with relatives in Amherst will seek asylum in America, her lawyer says.

Yukun Jia arrived in Amherst on Aug. 1 and joined her father, who has been in this country since 2000.

Their reunion was part of a family plan that went amiss because Yukun's mother was unable to leave China as planned and is in hiding, lawyer Shen-Shin Lu said.

Yukun's mother, Hong Jia, and her husband hoped to seek asylum together on the grounds that Hong was forced to have two abortions under China's "one child" population control policy, Lu said.

Yukun and her father, Bing Jia, are expected to apply for asylum as early as Friday, but that could be complicated by the fact that the father is in this country illegally. The Immigration and Naturalization Service ordered him deported last week after it learned he was in the country.

Lu said he hopes to avoid deportation by seeking asylum.

An INS spokeswoman wouldn't comment Wednesday on the father. Amy Otten at the INS office in Burlington, Vt., said the girl's visitor's visa is good for six months.

Trailways bus crashes on New York highway

CORNWALL, N.Y. -- A bus carrying 35 people crashed on the New York State Thruway early Wednesday and at least two dozen people, including the driver, were taken to hospitals, authorities said.

The Adirondack Trailways bus, en route from Montreal to New York City, rolled over on its side off the highway's shoulder about 50 miles north of New York City, according to the Thruway Authority.

Police believe the bus went out of control after striking the rear of a slow-moving tractor-trailer rig, which had only minor damage, said state police Sgt. James Whittel.

Traffic on the Thruway was backed up for at least five miles.

The injured were taken to several hospitals in the area. Three, including the bus driver, were reported in serious condition, Whittel said.

Guatemalan twins improving, doctors say

LOS ANGELES -- One of the conjoined Guatemalan twins separated last week in a lengthy operation has started breathing on her own, and the other is increasingly alert, doctors said Wednesday.

Maria de Jesus had her breathing tube removed while her sister, Maria Teresa Quiej Alvarez, remained on a respirator, according to a statement from Mattel Children's Hospital at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Both sisters remained in critical but stable condition.-- From wire reports

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