Nation briefs 11/28/02

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Wild turkey terrorizes bankers, townspeople

PLAINFIELD, Conn. -- A wild turkey gave some bankers and townspeople a run for their money two days before Thanksgiving.

The hen turkey, weighing 15-20 pounds, staked out some turf at the Jewett City Savings Bank Tuesday and cornered customers as they tried to enter.

The bird first charged Dianne Beaulac, a customer service representative at the bank.

"I got out of my car and he just came after me. I threw my keys at it, my hair clip," she said. "It chased me around my car. It was hysterical. Then the police came."

It took hours before town employees, crawling along the building's roof and chasing the bird around the parking lot, cornered it.

Donald Tetreault, a highway employee who raises geese and chickens, finally caught the bird.

"I just grabbed hold of her wings and when she tried to fly away I got a better grip."

Animal control officials took the turkey to a state forest.

Bush to order smallpox vaccine for some workers

WASHINGTON -- President Bush is expected to order smallpox vaccinations for 500,000 U.S. military personnel and just as many civilian medical workers as a precaution against a biological terrorist attack, White House officials said Wednesday.

Eventually, the vaccine will be made available as an option for all Americans, though they will not be encouraged to get it, acccording to senior administration officials.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Bush does not plan to announce his policy for at least a week and details could change before he finalizes it. Barring a change of plans, Bush plans to order vaccines for a half-million military personnel, the officials said. On the civilian side, where Bush's thinking is less certain, he is inclined to accept recommendations to order vaccines for 510,000 medical workers, the sources said.

Cuban teenager allowed to stay in United States

MIAMI -- A 14-year-old Cuban boy found in a boat off the Florida coast will be allowed to stay in the United States because he may end up testifying against his accused smugglers, officials said.

The 21-foot boat ran out of fuel Monday off Key West. The Coast Guard towed it to shore, unaware that the boy, his father and four other Cubans were hiding inside.

After the rescue, the adults scampered onto a dock while the boy remained on board. Under government policy, Cubans who make it to shore are generally allowed to stay in the United States, while those who don't are sent back to their communist homeland.

The teenager will be allowed to stay because the Justice Department is treating him as a material witness in a smuggling case against two men on the boat, said Jackie Becerra, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami.

Bush opens U.S. roads to Mexican trucks, buses

WASHINGTON -- President Bush gave the go-ahead Wednesday for Mexican trucks to travel U.S. roads beyond commercial border zones where they have been restricted while inspection sites and new regulations were put in place.

The decision comes nearly a year after Bush had said he wanted to allow Mexican trucks on U.S. roads, in compliance with a provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The trucks and buses won't be on U.S. highways until the Department of Transportation can review applications from carriers. It must then grant qualifying carriers provisional operating authority, the DOT said in a statement.

Boy Scouts to require background checks

WASHINGTON -- The Boy Scouts of America will require criminal background checks of new adult volunteers beginning next year, it announced Wednesday.

Spokesman Gregg Shields said the checks will be based on application forms in which the applicant gives permission for the checks. The forms must be filled out by adult volunteers for scouting's varied arms, including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Explorer. Those who aren't cleared won't be allowed to join, he said.

-- From wire reports

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