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  • Accounts differ in fatal crash
  • Civic duty may bring deportation
  • Around the state
  • Bush pushes controversial civil service changes

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

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    Around the state

    By Times staff and wire reports

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 2001

    Foes of 'Choose Life' plate ask court to recall 13,000

    TALLAHASSEE -- Abortion rights advocates asked a judge Thursday to recall a "Choose Life" auto tag, saying the state has issued a tag with a biblical message quoted by anti-abortion activists.

    The bright yellow license plates went on sale in August, and 13,000 are on cars, making the plate the 22nd-best seller among the state's 51 specialty tags.

    The National Organization for Women, a Palm Beach County synagogue and three other plaintiffs argued before Circuit Judge Nikki Ann Clark that the plate violates constitutional provisions to keep government and religion separate. They asked her to recall those plates that are already on cars.

    The group that pushed the Legislature to pass the plate in 1999 argued that "Choose Life" is a message meant to encourage adoption.

    Jim Dean, the lawyer for the D epartment of Highway Safety, said it's wrong to conclude that whatever ideas are espoused by specialty plates represent a state position. "It's the message of an individual motorist," Dean said. "No one is required to have 'Choose Life' on their car."

    Clark didn't indicate when she would rule.

    Arsonist sets 21 Brevard wildfires; reward offered

    GRANT -- An arsonist set at least 21 fires in Brevard County Thursday, including a blaze near Interstate 95, fire officials said.

    The fires, all set in a 10-mile radius, burned at least 100 acres.

    Officials offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arsonist's arrest, Division of Forestry spokesman Mac Brown said.

    "When you get somebody like this, they're jeopardizing my life, and the rest of the firefighters, and the homeowners," Brown said.

    No roads were closed and no homes were in danger, fire officials said.

    Man indicted in killing of cancer-stricken ex-wife

    NAPLES -- A Fort Myers man accused of fatally shooting his cancer-stricken ex-wife outside a clinic was indicted on first-degree murder charges Wednesday.

    Joseph Anthony Lasco Sr., 62, allegedly shot Sylvia Lasco, also 62, last month.

    Assistant State Attorney Mike Provost said he has not decided whether to seek the death penalty. If he does not, Lasco faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

    Police reports said Lasco hid a .38-caliber revolver in his trousers waistband before going into a meeting at the cancer clinic Feb. 1 with his ex-wife and her doctor.

    After hearing expected bad news during the meeting, the Fort Myers Beach barber hugged his former wife in the hallway outside the office, told her not to worry and shot her, the report said.

    Official rejects union's call for suspension of FCAT

    TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's teachers union wants the state to suspend use of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Florida's top education official said that's not going to happen.

    "Teachers, parents and students are extremely concerned about what this test has become," Maureen Dinnen, president of the Florida Education Association, told reporters. She said the state has repeatedly changed the rules on the FCAT, including a recent decision to disregard answers on the essay questions in grade schools.

    Education Commissioner Charlie Crist said the FCAT would "absolutely" not be suspended. "We need to continue to improve it and we will, but suspending it would just be wrong," Crist said.

    TV stations will carry legislative updates

    Capitol Update, a half-hour television news program on highlights of each day's activities of the Florida Legislature, again will air on public television this year.

    Capitol Update, distributed by the Sunshine Network, will premiere on Tuesday, after the first day of the 2001 Legislature, and will be presented on weekdays throughout the session, concluding on the last day, May 4.

    Stations WUSF-Ch. 16 and WEDU-Ch. 3 in Tampa will carry the program, WUSF at 5:30 p.m. starting Tuesday and WEDU at 6 p.m. beginning April 2.

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    From the Times state desk