December 31, 2003 – News at a glance

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Border Patrol checkpoint
The U.S. Border Patrol has responded to the heightened terror alert by setting up a checkpoint on Interstate 91 just south of White River Junction. (VPR)

Interview: First Night festivities
“First Night” kicks off this evening with events and celebrations throughout Vermont. Mitch Wertlieb talks with the executive director of First Night Rutland. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Democrats outline goals
Senate and House Democratic leaders have unveiled a health care proposal that’s designed to provide coverage for thousands of uninsured Vermonters. The plan also calls for an aggressive program to import prescription drugs from Canada. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

VHAP changes
A Washington-based research group warns that thousands of Vermonters could lose health care coverage because of changes in the state’s public health insurance plan. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Advice for New Year’s party givers
Halifax resident Matt Maranian gained a reputation as the anti-Martha Stewart with his book, “Pad: the Guide to Ultra Living.” His latest book, “Pad Parties,” is a guide to home entertaining. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Education Department bills
The Vermont Board of Education is hoping the Legislature will enact laws to help get bad teachers out of the classroom. Three bills are being drafted by the Vermont Education Department at the request of the state board. (AP)

Dean fundraising
Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is trying to generate a flurry of campaign cash before the primary season begins. (AP)

East Haven Windfarm
The Vermont Public Service Board is scheduled to hold a hearing next month on a proposal to put a wind farm on a mountain in East Haven. (AP)

Tropical bio-dome planned
A group of plant experts is planning a tropical plant conservatory in Bennington for students to see and study the rainforest. (AP)

Dean criticized
Five current and former chairmen of state parties said in a joint statement they believe Howard Dean’s nomination would hurt the party. The leaders are from Republican-leaning states and they have already expressed support for Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. (AP)

Dean endorsed
Michigan Congressman John Conyers has endorsed Howard Dean’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Conyers is the second most-senior member in the House with 35 years of service and he’s also the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus. (AP)

Canadian veal markets
The mad cow scare has prompted Canada to issue a ban on imports of all live cattle from the U.S. Male calves born to Vermont’s dairy industry usually are shipped off to Canada to be turned to veal, but that cross-border calf trade has halted. (AP)

Identity theft
Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell has joined some of his colleagues in raising concerns about identity theft. Sorrell signed a letter with the attorneys general of California and Indiana. They say recent changes in federal laws could roll back identity theft protections and leave consumers without some current safeguards for six months to a year. (AP)

Assisted suicide bill
A key committee chairman in the Vermont Senate says he sees little likelihood that a physician-assisted suicide bill will pass this year. Chittenden County Democrat Jim Leddy says four of the six members of his Health and Welfare Committee are opposed to the bill. (AP)

Fletcher Allen name change
Vermont’s largest hospital may be looking at a name change in 2004. Officials at Burlington’s Fletcher Allen Health Care say the name change would be part of an overall effort to remake the hospital’s image. (AP)

Warshaw dies at 67
Doctor Joseph Warshaw, dean of the University of Vermont College of Medicine for the past three years, has died. The university says 67-year-old Warshaw died Monday from multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer. (AP)

Civil union divorce
An Iowa judge who granted a divorce to a lesbian couple has changed his ruling, declaring instead that the couple’s “civil union” was terminated. Last month District Judge Jeffrey Neary granted a divorce to Kimberly Jean Brown and Jennifer Sue Perez. (AP)

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