February 26, 2004 – News at a glance

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GMO opponents plan march on the Statehouse
Activists opposed to genetically modified crops want Vermont to become the first state to impose a moratorium on their use. Supporters of the moratorium plan to march on the Statehouse on Thursday. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Interview: Gay marriage amendment
President Bush’s support of a federal constitutional amendment that would effectively ban same-sex marriage is drawing sharp responses from gay and lesbian communities throughout the country, and Vermont – the first state to adopt civil union legislation – is no exception. Mitch Wertlieb talks with Christopher Kauffman, executive director of Vermont’s gay community center “R.U.1.2”? (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

School choice bill
The head of the House Education Committee says his panel will not be voting on a school choice bill this session because a majority of members oppose the legislation. However, the governor is hoping to keep school choice alive. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Mental health care
A group of hospital psychiatric care providers says the state needs to reassess the entire mental health care system in order to improve patient care. They say the current system is fragmented, with patients falling through the cracks. They say there’s a critical need to improve coordination between care providers, state agencies and the courts. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Sanders calls for Greenspan’s removal
Congressman Bernie Sanders has asked President Bush to remove Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. (VPR)

Energy efficiency bill
Vermont’s two largest utilities have launched an all-out lobbying push to kill legislation calling on state officials to advocate greater regional support for energy efficiency. The provision was included in a bill that won preliminary approval in the Senate on Wednesday. (AP)

Same-sex marriage
State officials are trying to assess whether a proposed federal constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage might also nullify Vermont’s first-in-the-nation civil unions law. The text of the proposal does not specifically mention civil unions. But some Vermont officials say there is a possibility that the amendment might be used to overturn the Vermont law. (AP)

IBM settlement
A federal judge is asking IBM and workers suing the company in a landmark pension case for more information on how much the company should have to pay in damages. Illinois Judge Patrick Murphy says he hopes to finish by summer a case that could affect many IBM workers in Vermont. (AP)

No charges in underage party
Vermont state and local police routinely issue citations to young people caught at underage drinking parties. But when police broke up such a party involving ten to twelve teenagers at the home of a state police lieutenant last month, no one was charged. Lieutenant David Stanton – head of the state police homeland security unit – was said to be out of town when his daughter had some friends over. (AP)

Check fraud
A federal grand jury has indicted a Rutland man on charges of defrauding his employer. Thirty-five-year-old Doyt Charles Grasse is charged with cashing checks he stole from the contractor and applying for a credit card using the contractor’s name and social security number. (AP)

Kimmick arraigned
The man being charged with killing his ex-wife in Bethel last month has appeared in federal court in Guam. William Kimmick was arraigned on a federal charge of being a fugitive from justice. (AP)

Guilty plea in drug charges
A Dutch man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for running an international drug ring. Thirty-six-year-old George Lammers of Amsterdam was sentenced in federal court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to the charges in April. (AP)

Two deaths ruled drug-related
Police in Barre say they believe drugs are to blame in the deaths of a couple who died less than 24 hours apart this past weekend. Forty-six-year-old Erwin Lupien died Saturday at Central Vermont Medical Center of an apparent drug overdose. Thirty-nine-year-old Penny Lupien died a day later. She was found in the bathtub in a friend’s apartment. (AP)

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