April 6, 2004 – News at glance

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Interview: Canadian refugee return policy
Last week, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, including Montpelier-based Vermont Refugee Assistance, filed a formal request with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to declare the Canadian refugee policy of “direct return” illegal. Mitch Wertlieb talks with Patrick Giantonio, the director of Vermont Refugee Assistance, about the policy and the protest. (VPR)

Prescription drug abuse – Part II
Prescription drug abuse is increasing dramatically. Eighteen people died in Vermont from overdoses of Oxycodone alone, the active ingredient in Oxycontin. In the second of a two-part series on prescription drug abuse, VPR’s Nina Keck reports on a new collaborative effort in Rutland that has doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement personnel working together to fight the problem. (VPR)

Pollina may run in Democratic primary
Progressive Anthony Pollina says he’s considering running for lieutenant governor – but as a Democrat. Pollina says it’s clear to him that incumbent Republican Brian Dubie will win re-election if there are Democratic and Progressive candidates in the race. (VPR)

VELCO proposes Duxbury-Stowe transmission line
The company that owns Vermont’s bulk electric transmission system wants to build a new high-voltage power line from Duxbury to Stowe. (VPR)

MVP may take over Mutual of Omaha policies
MVP Health Care has proposed a plan to offer health insurance to Vermont customers of Mutual of Omaha. (AP)

Municipal airports get federal grants
Airports in six Vermont towns are getting over one million dollars in federal money from the Federal Aviation Administration. (AP)

Worker’s compensation
A Senate panel is wrapping up work on legislation aimed at reforming Vermont’s worker’s compensation laws. The Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee spent Monday debating a version of the bill that some critics say will do little to lower insurance rates – and may actually increase them. (AP)

Blackout report
Vermont officials are praising a report on last summer’s blackout that darkened parts or all of eight states and Canada. The report, penned by a joint U.S.-Canada task force, said the power industry’s disregard for rules intended to ensure the reliable flow of electricity contributed to the outage. (AP)

Dean warns against Nader
Howard Dean is calling on voters to reject independent presidential hopeful Ralph Nader. Nader held rallies in Seattle and Portland, Oregon on Monday. In an interview with the Associated Press, Dean warned that “a vote for Ralph Nader is the same as a vote for George Bush.” (AP)

Government offshoring
Connecticut officials want Governor John Rowland to investigate whether any state contractors are sending work overseas, and to suspend contracts with those companies. Connecticut was one of a handful of northeastern states – including Vermont – that signed a deal that resulted in U.S. jobs being shipped to India. (AP)

Springfield elementary closed
An elementary school in Springfield has been closed so the Department of Health can test for mold. Students missed classes Thursday and Friday. This week, classes are being held at other elementary schools, a church, and a U.S. Army National Guard Armory. (AP)

Supermarket opens in Middlebury
A Hannaford’s supermarket scheduled to open in Middlebury in June will ultimately employ around 150 full- and part-time workers. Hannaford spokeswoman Caren Epstein says the supermarket will start hiring next month. (AP)

Turnbaugh trial
Jurors in the trial of Isaac Turnbaugh are due to hear closing arguments today. Turnbaugh, who is 20, is accused of first-degree murder in the killing of 24-year-old Declan Lyons in April 2002. The two men were co-workers at American Flatbread in Waitsfield. (AP)

Drive charged in deputy’s death
The truck driver involved in the crash that killed an Essex County sheriff’s deputy is facing criminal charges. Thirty-one-year-old Israel Clark of Bristol is charged with negligent operation as a result of the November collision that killed 54-year-old Ruby Rainault of Guildhall. (AP)

Assault charges
A 29-year-old man from Virginia pleaded innocent to sexual assault charges on Monday in Rutland. Police say the man, Duy Thong Ma, arranged to meet a 15-year-old girl over the Internet at the Holiday Inn in Rutland last weekend. He’s charged with sexually assaulting a minor. He was released on $1,000 bail and ordered to stay away from the girl. (AP)

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