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News Briefs

Three Dead in Office Shootings


A former FBI agent working as an insurance-company vice president summoned two employees into his midtown office Monday and fired 15 shots, killing them both before turning one of his three guns on himself, authorities said.

Police said John Harrison, 53, of Mount Holly, N.J., called the man, a manager, and the woman, a fraud investigator, into his 15-by-15-foot glass-walled corner office full of law-enforcement memorabilia at 8:20 a.m.

After a brief confrontation, he emptied all 10 rounds from a 9-mm handgun and shot at least five bullets from a .45-caliber handgun, hitting both the man and woman several times and then shooting himself through the mouth, police said.

Panicked employees, who had been temporarily relocated to the building last fall after fleeing their former offices in One World Trade Center, called 911.

Harrison, Isabel Munoz, 36, and Vincent LaBianca, 34, all of whom worked in the Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield anti-fraud unit, were pronounced dead at the scene.

LaBianca, of Old Bridge, N.J., was a manager working for Harrison, and Munoz, a single mother who lived in Valley Stream, N.Y., worked for LaBianca, sources said.

Ukrainian Protesters Urge Ouster of President


Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets around Ukraine Monday, demanding President Leonid Kuchma’s resignation in the largest show of strength by opposition forces to date as they move to consolidate their efforts against the government.

Chanting “Kuchma away” and “Kuchma to prison,” disenchanted Ukrainians ranging from unreconstructed communists to Western-style businessmen put aside differences to take over the center of the capital and other cities in defiance of government orders to stay away. A boisterous rally then led to a round-the-clock siege as rain-soaked protesters set up tents around Kuchma’s headquarters, vowing not to leave until he does.

“The most beautiful sons of Ukraine came to this square because they’re tired of slavery,” Yulia Tymoshenko, a former deputy prime minister who has become one of the best-known opposition leaders, cried out to the crowd that filled European Square in downtown Kiev. “This is what we want to see our Ukraine look like.”

Bush’s Timber Proposal Runs Counter to Forest Service’s Records


The Bush administration’s timber-cutting prescription for the West’s wildfire epidemic runs counter to the record of the last half century, when large forest fires erupted on the heels of the heaviest logging ever conducted by the U.S. Forest Service.

In an initiative that could come up for a Senate vote soon, the administration is seeking to waive environmental reviews to speed up tree-cutting on up to 10 million acres of federal land at high risk of wildfire.

While administration officials say the work is urgently needed to thin out forests jammed with fire-hungry, dense growth, the Forest Service’s own statistics show that the modern era of big burns began not in the 1990s, during a period of declining logging, but in the 1980s, when trucks groaning with public timber headed for the mills.

In 1950, when about 3 billion board feet were logged, a quarter of a million acres of federal forest burned. Nearly six times that amount went up in flames in 1988, when the harvest had climbed to nearly 12 billion board feet.