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News Briefs

New York Houses of Worship To Honor Sept. 11 Victims


Some are planning a full day of events, others are devoting only an hour for remembrance, but no matter how small the service, houses of worship across the city plan to honor the victims of Sept. 11.

The mayor and governor have asked houses of worship to stay open throughout the day on Sept. 11 and lower Manhattan’s Trinity Church will answer the mayor’s call by hosting one of the largest events of the day.

An eight-hour event named “A day of hope and healing” at the Episcopal church will include a mass led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, and the presentation of a commemorative church bell given by the Lord Mayor of London, Michael Oliver.

Britons have connected with New Yorkers after Sept. 11 because both have been scarred by foreign attacks, explained Trinity Church spokesman John Allen.

“The city of London is expressing their solidarity with us as well as their gratitude for New York’s support for them when London was being bombed” during World War II, Allen said.

The service begins at 8 a.m. and the bell presentation along with the Mass led by Carey will start at 11 a.m. The day will conclude with songs and prayer.

D.C. Court Hears Mayor’s Attempt To Get on Primary Ballot


The District of Columbia’s Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could keep Washington Mayor Anthony Williams off the Democratic primary ballot.

The case involves a decision by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to reject Williams’ re-election petitions as being tainted by fraud. Needing 2,000 signatures to qualify for the Sept. 10 primary ballot, the Williams campaign turned in petitions containing 10,102.

But many were clearly fraudulent -- the names included U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan SM ’72 and actor Kelsey Grammer, neither of whom is a registered voter in Washington -- while other signatures appeared to be forgeries, written on page after page in the same handwriting.

The city’s registrar of voters determined that 2,235 of the signatures were valid, but the board overturned that ruling. If upheld, the board’s decision means that the first-term mayor -- hailed as a reformer when he came to office four years ago, replacing the combative Marion Barry -- would have to launch a write-in campaign.

Public May Have Been Exposed to Contaminated Cheesecakes


Cheesecake Factory Inc. said Tuesday that its cheesecakes contaminated with the potentially deadly listeria bacteria may have been served to Olive Garden customers at 19 restaurants in the Midwest and the South.

The chain’s admission that consumers may have eaten the white chocolate raspberry cheesecakes sold to Olive Garden came just a day after Cheesecake Factory said it was confident nobody had eaten the contaminated products.

A serious case of listeriosis takes one to six weeks to develop, according to the Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies. An estimated 500 people annually die from it, with the elderly, pregnant women, children and those with weakened immune systems most at risk. Serious infections can also result in meningitis and miscarriages.

On Monday, Cheesecake Factory announced it had recalled a batch of contaminated cheesecakes that were sold to Olive Garden as well as all of its baked goods made from July 18-21 as a precautionary measure. The company, which said it has been working with the FDA and Olive Garden since the discovery of the problem, said the tainted batch was shipped because of “human error.”

None of the contaminated cakes was sent to Cheesecake Factory or any other wholesaler, the company said. There have been no reports of illness due to the contaminated cakes.

Closing Remarks Made In Van Dam Murder Trial


On the same day President Bush said the kidnapping and murder of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam is part of a “wave of horrible violence” against the U.S. children, the prosecutor and defense attorney began closing arguments here Tuesday in the case of her accused killer.

Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dusek told jurors that David Westerfield, 50, a self-employed design engineer, killed Danielle to satisfy “primal needs” for sex with young girls and then tried to “hide, destroy, conceal (and) wash the evidence.”

Defense lawyer Steven Feldman repeated his assertion that her parents’ lifestyle -- which included smoking marijuana and “swapping” partners with other couples -- endangered Danielle by bringing disreputable people into the family home.

Dusek, however, told jurors that the parents’ lifestyle was irrelevant to the case: “All of the drugs, all of the alcohol, all of the sex, that has nothing to do with it.”

The deputy district attorney reminded jurors that criminalists and other experts testified that Danielle’s blood, hair and fingerprints were found in Westerfield’s home and his recreational vehicle, which he drove to Coronado beach and then to the desert on the morning that the van Dams discovered Danielle was missing.

Westerfield’s defense is that he could not be killer because the girl’s body was dumped along the rural road days after he was under 24-hour surveillance by the police and media, Feldman told the jury.

If convicted, Westerfield faces a possible death penalty.