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Judge Nominee Says He Didn’t Leak FBI Files in Hill Case

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Judge Terry L. Wooten, a former Senate staffer who has been nominated to become a U.S. district judge, denied under oath Monday that he had leaked confidential FBI files nearly a decade ago for a book that would discredit Anita Hill, the woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

“That allegation is absolutely 100 percent untrue,” Wooten told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I don’t even remember seeing those files. I would not discuss that material with anyone” outside the committee, he added.

Wooten is a federal magistrate in Florence, S.C. At the recommendation of Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., President Bush nominated Wooten to be a U.S. district judge there.

But late last week, author David Brock pointed to Wooten as the person who gave him the FBI files that he quoted in his 1993 book, “The Real Anita Hill.”

In 1991, Wooten was the chief Republican counsel for the Judiciary Committee, and he played a key behind-the-scenes role in the battle over Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court.

Study of Centenarians and Their Siblings Hints at a Longevity Gene

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Researchers are focusing in on the first human gene ever shown to increase longevity -- a gene that might be able to add two decades to a healthy life span.

The researchers have been searching for the gene by analyzing DNA from families in which at least one sibling is 98 or older and another is in his or her 90s. They don’t know how the hypothetical gene would work, but because nearly all of the centenarians on which they have based their conclusions are quite healthy, they believe the gene might act to suppress or delay diseases associated with aging.

“We’re not trying to find the fountain of youth,” said Dr. Thomas Perls, one of the leaders of the research team based at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “If anything, we are trying to find the fountain of aging well.”

The research stems from a simple observation: Many centenarians have elderly brothers and sisters. Indeed, that is one of the few similarities among people of advanced age, according to Perls, who has been studying centenarians since 1993.

Many of the families also have cousins and other relatives who are quite old.

Shareholder Sues US Airways to Halt Severance to Executives

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

A shareholder of US Airways Group Inc. has sued its board of directors, seeking to overturn a provision that would award $45 million in severance benefits to the airline’s top three executives if they decided to resign.

The provision was part of the airline’s failed plan to merge with United Airlines. Although the merger failed, shareholder approval of the $12.3 billion deal triggered the executives’ right to quit and receive the benefits up to 30 days after the first anniversary of the vote, according to the lawsuit filed in Delaware Chancery Court by Steven Rosenberg. US Airways’ shareholders approved the United merger on Oct. 12, 2000.

In his lawsuit, made public Monday, Rosenberg called the severance “unconscionable” and “grossly imprudent and injurious” to the airline.

The lawsuit alleges the money that would be divided among US Airways Chairman Steven Wolf, Chief Executive Rakesh Gangwal and General Counsel Lawrence Nagin only encourages the three executives to resign. According to the court papers, Wolf would receive about $16 million, Gangwal about $21 million and Nagin about $8 million. The suit said the money amounts to about three times each executive’s salary and bonus.

“The company is strapped for cash to such a degree that the company is embarking upon a massive restructuring, so the potential payout to the executives is particularly burdensome,” Rosenberg said. US Airways, the nation’s No. 6 airline, lost about $195 million during the first six months of the year and is expected to lose more than $160 million in its third quarter.

Singer, Actress Aaliyah Dies, R&B Albums Topped Charts

THE WASHINGTON POST

U.S. singer and actress Aaliyah, whose 1994 solo debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number,” sold more than a million copies and catapulted her to fame, was killed in a plane crash Aug. 25 on an island in the Bahamas. She was 22.

Eight others aboard the twin-engine Cessna, all U.S. citizens, were killed when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff at Marsh Harbour International Airport, on the island of Abaco, authorities said. There were no survivors, and the cause of the crash remains under investigation, said Sgt. Ernest Rahming, of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

Her meteoric rise from a 15-year-old talent to new artist-to-watch was built on her sultry voice, sexy attitude and movie star looks. Two singles on her first album went gold: “Back and Forth,” which rose to No. 1 on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues chart, and “At Your Best (You are Love),” which reached No. 2 on the R&B chart and the Top 10 on the pop chart.

Her early career became mired in scandal, however, amid media reports that she secretly married her producer, R. Kelly. Aaliyah, who was 15 at the time, denied the reports and dropped out of the limelight before reemerging in 1996 with her second album, “One in a Million,” which went double-platinum and featured cameos by rap artists Treach and Slick Rick.