Nation digest 12/03/02

West Virginia joins in Microsoft appeal

WASHINGTON -- West Virginia on Monday decided to continue the courtroom antitrust battle against Microsoft Corp., joining Massachusetts to ask a U.S. appeals court to reconsider tougher sanctions against the world's largest software company.

West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw Jr. said he will assign his sole antitrust lawyer, Doug Davis, to work on the high-profile appeal.

In a statement, McGraw accused U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of siding with Microsoft by failing to impose adequate sanctions for the company's illegal actions. He said the state shouldn't let its financial situation affect its responsibilities.

Massachusetts last week also announced it would not accept the landmark antitrust settlement reached by Microsoft and the Bush administration.

Property tax in NYC goes up 18.5 percent

NEW YORK -- New York City enacted the biggest increase in property taxes in its history Monday -- an immediate 18.5 percent rise -- to deal with its worst fiscal crisis since the city nearly went bankrupt in the 1970s.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the increase after the city council approved it Nov. 25 on a 41-6 vote.

Officials said the higher taxes are necessary to bridge a $1.1 billion budget gap in the current fiscal year, and to reduce a projected $6.4 billion deficit for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The city also has made $3.5 billion in budget cuts over the past year.

The tax is expected to bring in an extra $837 million this fiscal year and will be reflected in bills being mailed to homeowners beginning Thursday.

Nursing home in Kentucky scandal can be closed

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A federal bankruptcy judge gave state regulators permission Monday to shut down a debt-ridden nursing home owned by Gov. Paul Patton's onetime mistress.

Judge David Stosberg said there had been "gross mismanagement" at Birchtree Healthcare and cleared the way for license revocation. Birchtree's license expires Dec. 31.

The home's owner, Tina Conner, is suing Patton for sexual harassment and claims the governor started a regulatory crackdown after she ended their two-year affair. Patton has acknowledged the affair but denied doing anything to assist or damage Conner's business.

The 116-bed facility had just 13 patients Monday, according to an employee.

Law enforcement killings highest since 1997

WASHINGTON -- The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks produced the single deadliest day in the history of U.S. law enforcement yet almost as many died in nonterrorist incidents during 2001 as violence against police rose to a four-year high.

The collapse of the World Trade Center in New York after the twin towers were struck by hijacked airliners accounted for 71 of last year's 142 law enforcement killings, the FBI reported Monday. The 72nd victim was a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer who died when a plane commandeered by terrorists crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

Overshadowed by the enormity of those numbers is another statistic: 70 other law enforcement officers were killed by criminals around the country in 2001, the highest number since 1997 and a 37 percent increase over the 51 slain in 2000.

Still, the nonterrorism deaths are far below those recorded in the 1970s, when it was common for more than 200 officers to die violently or in accidents every year, said Craig Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington.

-- From wire reports