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Nation in brief

First-class fliers approved for knives

By Wire services
Published September 20, 2003

ATLANTA - Stainless steel knives are reappearing in first-class airline sections.

At least two major air carriers will reintroduce metal knives as part of their meal service, after a government decision to relax a post-9/11 ban.

Northwest Airlines started using metal knives this week, and Continental Airlines plans to follow suit Nov. 1. Both have reserved the cutlery for first-class service.

"Customers have indicated they would prefer to use a real knife," Northwest spokeswoman Mary Stanik said.

After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the government ordered airlines to remove metal knives from planes. Since then, first-class passengers have used metal spoons and forks and plastic knives.

The Transportation Security Administration clarified its rules on silverware Sept. 8, TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said. It now allows airlines to use rounded stainless-steel butter knives without serrated edges, she said.

"Even though it's stainless steel, it has rounded edges and the chances of it actually being used to bring down an aircraft are probably minimal," Clark said.

Prisoner accused of killing priest yells in court

WORCESTER, Mass. - An inmate accused of slaying former priest John J. Geoghan in prison pleaded innocent to murder Friday, then exited his arraignment screaming, "Let's keep the kids safe!" and "Hold pedophiles accountable for their actions!"

Joseph L. Druce allegedly beat and strangled Geoghan in the defrocked priest's cell at Souza-Baronowski Correctional Institute in Shirley on Aug. 23.

Geoghan, 68, was serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy and was accused of molesting nearly 150 boys over three decades.

VA: Former POWs should check up on benefits

WASHINGTON - Veterans Affairs wants former prisoners of war who are not getting disability compensation, health care and other benefits to contact the department. The agency said Friday an estimated 11,000 former POWs are not getting benefits to which they are entitled.

VA said it is hard to find many former POWs because they served during World War II, before Social Security numbers were used as military service numbers. VA is asking anyone who knows of former POWs who are not enrolled for benefits or who did not receive a letter to call toll-free 1-800-827-1000. More information is available at www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Benefits/POW

Also ...

YALE STAFFERS BACK TO WORK MONDAY: Two Yale University labor unions approved new contracts Friday, ending a three-week strike marked by vocal protests and more than 200 arrests. Members of Locals 34 and 35 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union return to work Monday.

COCAINE KINGPIN PLEADS GUILTY: A man who was one of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives until his capture in Venezuela last year has pleaded guilty to running a cocaine smuggling operation. James S. Springette, 43, could face 10 years to life in prison.

BEEF POISONING CASE: A former Michigan supermarket employee, Randy Jay Bertram, 39, who poisoned more than 100 people by mixing insecticide into 250 pounds of beef in one of the nation's largest food-tampering cases, was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison.


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