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Airlines announce anti-fatigue program

The nation's major airlines launched an anti-fatigue campaign Wednesday, which includes educational materials for workers and a new advisory panel to research ways to reduce tiredness on the job.

"This is a key safety-enhancing initiative," Carol Hallett, president of the Air Transport Association, said in announcing the project. The ATA represents the nation's biggest airlines.

ATA members also agreed to end the so-called "tail-end ferry flights," where pilots who have used up their legal hours of flying passengers can still be assigned to fly empty planes to where they will be needed the next day.

The ATA research plan was quickly criticized as a "delaying tactic" by Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, a union representing 58,000 pilots.

"We already have seen that voluntary efforts do not solve the problem. Furthermore, we have nearly two dozen studies by NASA and others over the past decade to document the nature and effects of pilot fatigue," he said.

Two die in parachute training accident

YUMA, Ariz. _ An instructor and a student at a military parachute training school were killed during a nighttime jump, authorities said.

The cause of the accident, which happened late Tuesday, wasn't known, said Chuck Wullenjohn, a spokesman for the Army's Yuma Proving Ground. Names of the victims were withheld until relatives could be notified.

Investigators from Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Rucker, Ala., will examine the accident at the Military Freefall School, which teaches advanced parachute techniques to all branches of the military.

The school has been at the Yuma Proving Ground since 1995.

DEPUTY SHOT: A sheriff's deputy in Oregon City, Ore., was killed by a gunshot during a SWAT team drill that was supposed to have been run with dummy ammunition. Clackamas County Deputy Bill Bowman, 36, was killed Tuesday at a mock city constructed at a National Guard training center. "It was a tragic accident, and nothing more than that," Chief Deputy Pat Detloff said.

Suits charge conspiracy to expand Ritalin use

Lawyers involved in class-action lawsuits against the tobacco industry, gunmakers and health maintenance organizations filed two lawsuits Wednesday against another target, the widely used drug Ritalin.

The lawsuits, filed in federal courts in California and New Jersey, charge that Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., the drug's manufacturer, and the American Psychiatric Association, a professional group, conspired to create a market for Ritalin and expand its use.

For more than a decade, Ritalin has been increasingly prescribed for children who have been given a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. That trend has prompted debate among scientists, psychiatrists and government officials over whether children are receiving too much medication or are being given incorrect diagnoses of behavioral disorders.

Officials of both Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Novartis AG, and the American Psychiatric Association said that they had not seen the lawsuits and could not comment on them.

Woman killed in D.C. street sweeper accident

WASHINGTON _ A woman was killed and her 4-year-old daughter was injured Wednesday after they were sucked up by a city street sweeper as they walked home from the grocery store, officials said.

Felisita Sorto, 29, was crossing a street with a hand-pulled grocery cart and her daughter in tow about 12:45 p.m. when she was hit by the Department of Public Works street sweeper, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman.

The child received minor, unspecified injuries. No charges had been filed against the Public Works Department driver.

Elsewhere

JUDGE WITHDRAWS: A judge under fire for sentencing a child molester to home confinement instead of prison said Wednesday she has asked to be removed from all criminal cases for the rest of the month. "Due to the nature of criminal practice and procedure, I have concluded that I should not sit oncriminal cases at this time," Superior Court Judge Maria I. Lopez said in a statement. Superior Court Chief Justice Suzanne DelVecchio approved the request, said a court spokeswoman, Joan Kenney.

MIT SETTLEMENT: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has agreed to pay $4.75-million and endow a scholarship in a settlement with the family of a freshman who drank himself to death at a 1997 fraternity initiation. Scott Krueger's parents, Bob and Darlene Krueger, said they reached the agreement, announced Wednesday, after two days of meetings with MIT President Charles A. Vest.

BIRD DEATHS: A farmer in Fairview Heights, Ill., who spread pesticide across a field and killed 27,000 migratory birds was fined $5,000 and placed on three years' probation. Harvey Culli, 80, pleaded guilty in June to illegally taking migratory birds and misusing a pesticide. The 20,094 red-winged blackbirds, 5,970 brown-headed cowbirds, 887 common grackles and 10 horned larks that died were protected under federal law.

FALCON STOLEN: A thief slashed a wire mesh cage at the Toledo Zoo and stole a falcon valued at $1,000. A zookeeper discovered the 8-inch-long African Pygmy falcon was missing while making rounds at closing time Sunday.

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