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Paramount faces second court test; this time topic is accounting practices

Paramount Pictures, found guilty last month of breach of contract for basing its hit movie Coming to America on a screenplay by columnist Art Buchwald, could face punitive damages if improprieties are found in its accounting practices during a second phase of the trial. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Harvey Schneider ruled Thursday against punitive damages in the first trial phase, but in a statement said, "The possibility exists that Paramount's accounting practices may make the imposition of tort damages appropriate." Paramount says Schneider's ruling meant it owed Buchwald $250,000 and 19 percent of net profits of Coming to America. But Paramount has said the movie, which grossed more than $300-million at the box office, has not made a net profit.Jet radiation risk miscalculated

The risk of fatal cancer from radiation in airliners is 17 times greater than reported last week in a government study, the Department of Transportation has acknowledged after other scientists found errors. The new estimates predict that for people who fly the most vulnerable routes _ such as the routes at higher altitudes and those over the poles _ for 20 years, the cancer death rate would be about 1 percent. While new figures predict 1,000 cancers in 100,000 adults, the old report predicted 59. Radiation bombards the Earth from the sun and sources in space, but for people on the ground it is largely blocked by the atmosphere. The significance of the study is uncertain, since the estimates are based on mathematical models, the numbers of cancer cases have not been counted and levels of radiation in planes have not been systematically measured.

Sewage washes up on California beaches

LOS ANGELES _ Southern California's beaches, hit by a 400,000-gallon oil spill two weeks ago, are now being deluged by sewage. Eighteen miles of beach north of Los Angeles County remained closed Monday after nearly 8-million gallons of sewage spewed into the Santa Monica Bay over the weekend. An additional 20 miles of beach in Orange County were closed indefinitely after the American Trader tanker spill. The sewage deluge was caused by a weekend winter storm that swept over the West Coast, bringing three inches of rain to Los Angeles. An official at a Los Angeles sewage treatment plant said 7.6-million tons of partly treated sewage was deliberately released into a creek leading to the Pacific to prevent it from flooding onto the streets.

Heart-liver recipient to get another liver

PITTSBURGH _ Stormie Jones, the recipient of the world's first heart-liver transplant in 1984, will undergo a second liver transplant because hepatitis has damaged the first liver. A spokeswoman for Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh said Stormie, 12, and her mother, Lois Purcell, arrived here from their home at White Settlement, Texas, at 6:45 p.m. Monday and a team of surgeons was on hand. The operation was expected to begin during the evening and last 12 to 16 hours.

"Atlantis' countdown advances

CAPE CANAVERAL _ A clandestine countdown advanced smoothly Monday toward a liftoff Thursday of space shuttle Atlantis with five military astronauts and a spy satellite. "The count picked up right on time without a hitch Sunday night, and we've had no problems," said NASA spokeswoman Lisa Malone. Shuttle forecasters said the weather outlook was 60 percent favorable for a launch Thursday. Because of the classified nature of the mission, Officials have said only that the launch will take place between midnight and 4 a.m., but sources close to the program report Atlantis is to take off at 1 a.m. The flight is expected to last four days.

Cocaine smuggling trial resumes

LAFAYETTE, La. _ Trial resumes today for five men, including two

Florida men, accused of plotting with confessed smuggler Steven Kalish to import 2,200 pounds of cocaine into Shreveport and an equal amount into Texas. Almost all of the testimony so far has dealt with Cesar Cura of Medellin, Colombia, who is accused of providing the cocaine. Other defendants are Roger Dale Collins of Valrico; Jim Bourgeois of Lake Wales; Carl Tangredi of Beaumont, Texas; and Richard Bruce Goldberg of Manhattan Beach, Calif. Kalish, a Tampa resident who has talked of his close ties to Manuel Noriega, said last week that Cura offered to provide as many planeloads of cocaine as Kalish's organization could fly out of Colombia. Kalish is testifying as part of a plea agreement.