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Shorts II

Hoffa Calls for Special Prosecutor In Teamsters Election

The Washington Post

James P. Hoffa Sunday called for an independent special prosecutor to investigate the financial dealings of the Teamsters union in support of president Ron Carey's re-election last year.

"Today I'm calling for a special prosecutor, an independent prosecutor," said Hoffa, who was narrowly defeated by Carey last year in government supervised elections.

Carey quickly agreed to Hoffa's proposal. "I have absolutely no problem. I would encourage it," said Carey, who appeared with Hoffa on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press."

Hoffa first issued the call for an independent prosecutor on "Fox Sunday News" and then repeated it on "Meet the Press" and ABC-TV's "This Week." At each stop on the television dial Hoffa essentially delivered the same message.

The federal government on Friday ordered a new election for Carey and all the national union officers elected on his slate, citing "a complex network of schemes" used to finance their elections. The report by Barbara Zack Quindel, the court-appointed officer overseeing the elections, outlined a series of schemes involving both money from the union's general treasury and money from its political action fund which was used to help finance the Carey re-election campaign.

American Crocodile Makes a Comeback

Los Angeles Times

Toothy, tough and terrifying, the crocodile is one of Earth's dogged survivors, and one of mankind's worst nightmares.

"They are right up there with sharks, snakes and spiders, one of the few species that commands almost a reflexive fear," said biologist Frank Mazzotti. "On seeing a crocodile, most people think, This animal wants to eat me."'

In Florida, home of the only crocodile native to the United States, that fear helped push the 200 million-year-old reptile to the brink of extinction, even though the American crocodile is not much of a threat to humans.

As recently as 1978, three years after being declared an endangered species, estimates of the U.S. population of the American crocodile fell to 200, and a U.S. Park Service report estimated that fewer than 20 females had nested the previous spring.

Now the beast is back.

Although the American crocodile remains the rarest reptile in North America, "today we have more crocodiles in more places in Florida than we did 20 years ago," said Mazzotti, a University of Florida professor, who puts the current number of adults at between 400 and 500. "In terms of recovery, I think we can get the population back to what it was before we started altering the habitat, maybe 2,000 to 3,000 animals. I'm cautiously optimistic."

Study Says Domestic Violence Seriously Under-Reported'

Los Angeles Times

Asserting that domestic violence is "seriously under-reported," the Justice Department released a study Sunday that found that a quarter of a million people were treated for injuries inflicted by an intimate partner in 1994 - four times more than previously estimated.

The study, by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, is likely to refocus national attention on an issue that had fallen out of the spotlight in the wake of an otherwise dramatic drop in violent crime in the nation over the past four years.

The new estimate of domestic violence, which is notoriously difficult to measure, was compiled by examining emergency hospital admissions rather than the more common but less precise practice of surveying police records or interviewing victims of violence.

Of the 1.4 million people treated for nonfatal injuries stemming from willful or suspected intentional acts of violence in 1994, almost half were injured by someone they knew. And about 243,000, or 17 percent, were treated for injuries inflicted by someone with whom they had had an intimate relationship - a spouse, former spouse or current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.

The 243,000 injuries were four times higher than the number reported in the Department's National Crime Victimization Survey - an annual study that is the largest government survey after the national census.

Invasion of Argentine Ants Irritates Californians

Los Angeles Times

Self-centered species that we are, Californians tend to look at ants and think only of the trouble they're causing us: our kitchen, our picnics, our bird feeders.

But now two researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have found evidence that the annoyance to humans caused by the California invasion of Argentine ants may be small cheese compared to the damage being inflicted on small mammals and lizards.

"The results could be disastrous to an entire ecosystem," said researcher Andrew Suarez, a doctoral student in conservation biology.

The most seriously imperiled species could be the coastal horned lizard, possibly being pushed closer to extinction by waves of Argentine ants. Even before the insects arrived, the horned lizard was listed as a "species of special concern," the first step toward becoming threatened, endangered and then kaput.

The ants (Linepithema humile) are established firmly from the San Francisco Bay Area to the rivers and streams near Sacramento and also along the Southern California coast. In recent years, they have become public pest No. 1 in California, surpassing even fleas and roaches.