News BriefsWhistleblower Gets $1.7 Million Settlement LOS ANGELES TIMES -- FRESNO, Calif.
California has agreed to pay $1.7 million to whistleblower Richard Caruso, a former guard at Corcoran State Prison who broke the code of silence and exposed a pattern of deadly shootings of inmates, only to lose his career.
The settlement came together late Wednesday after months of negotiation in which top officials, including Gov. Gray Davis, had urged a resolution to Caruso’s five-year ordeal.
“The nightmare is finally over,” Caruso said. “Now I can take care of my family.”
Caruso, 35, had sued the state, alleging that prison officials created a hostile work environment and effectively forced him to retire. He said they did this after he and another officer went to the FBI with evidence of set up fights and shootings at the San Joaquin Valley prison near Fresno.
Caruso and Lt. Steve Rigg were vilified as rats by the prison guard union and investigated by top corrections officials when they went public with their allegations in 1996.
With Wednesday’s settlement, California taxpayers have now paid nearly $5 million in damage awards for abuses at Corcoran, where 50 inmates were wounded or killed by guards firing assault rifles to stop inmate fights.
Hastert Abandons Effort to Forge Common GOP Position on Gun THE WASHINGTON POST -- washington
Under pressure from all sides, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., Thursday abandoned his efforts to forge a common GOP position on gun legislation and said he would leave it up to the House to “work its will” on the politically volatile subject when it comes up for a vote next week.
While Hastert has been trying hard this week to reassert his leadership over the fractious GOP caucus, he said Thursday that the party was so divided on the wisdom of further gun controls that his leadership team would not take an official position and “whip” members into line.
“Everybody has their points of view on this and I think they will be able to work their will in the House,” said Hastert, who personally favors background checks at gun shows and other proposals to keep weapons from children. “I think even within our conference there are two or three different points of view, and legitimately so.”
Hastert’s announcement amounted to a reversion to a more laissez-faire leadership style that came under criticism when the House reached impasses over spending policy and the Kosovo conflict. Only three days ago, Hastert adopted a more assertive posture, warning GOP colleagues that they needed to rally together behind a common agenda or risk losing control of the House next year necessarily,” Watts said. “There’s a lot of different dynamics to this thing.”
The House Rules Committee will begin taking testimony Monday afternoon on what is expected to be a lengthy list of amendments, and the measures should reach the House floor by Wednesday. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., predicted the final bill would be “a patchwork quilt of ideological axes being ground.”
Ape’s Confinement Sparks A Gorilla Action by Protesters LOS ANGELES TIMES -- miami
King is scheduled for three shows a day, every day. But even after 20 years, he’s not much of a performer. So as visitors gather in front of his steel-barred cage, King often sits in the corner while a trainer pleads with him to move. “This is voluntary play time. He is not forced,” says a Monkey Jungle guide. “Sometimes he is in a lazy mood. Or he’s tired, or it’s too hot.”
King, who is 29, is the last of his kind in the United States: an adult gorilla caged in solitary confinement at a remote private zoo.
And a coalition of animal experts wants him freed. “His situation is unacceptable,” said Dan Wharton, director of New York’s Central Park Zoo. Wharton has joined officials of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, renowned primatologist Jane Goodall and other animal rights activists in asking King’s owners to send the 450-pound silver-back male to Zoo Atlanta, where he could live in an outdoor, naturalistic environment and be introduced to others of his species.
So far, Monkey Jungle President Sharon Dumond, whose family opened the park as a tourist attraction in rural Miami-Dade county 64 years ago, has spurned efforts to move King, saying he is content in the 30-foot-by-40-foot concrete cage in which he has lived since 1979. But Dumond has acknowledged that King deserves a new habitat.
“His enclosure is woefully inadequate,” said attorney Frank A. Rubino, to whom Monkey Jungle staffers steer calls about King. “But our solution to the problem is to build King a better habitat here.”
Body of Missing Doctor Found in Virginia THE WASHINGTON POST -- washington
Henry Wieman, a Washington-area physician missing since June 3, was found dead near Goshen Pass, Va., authorities said Thursday. His death by shotgun was labeled a suicide.
Known for his homespun wisdom and gentle sense of humor, Wieman, 52, was director of geriatrics at the Fort Lincoln Family Medicine Clinic in Prince George’s County, in suburban Maryland. He came to the clinic in 1997 from a practice in Worcester, Mass., where he also had been an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Wieman was featured in a May 30 Washington Post story on geriatric medicine.