News Briefs

January 23, 1996
Web posted at: 10:20 p.m. EST

Possible Michelangelo work found on public display


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Art experts believe they've stumbled on a long-lost work by Michelangelo in New York.

Professor Kathleen Brandt of New York University's Institute of Fine Arts says a delicate 3-foot-tall marble statue of Cupid compares with known early works by the Italian Renaissance master.

She noticed the statue during an exhibition at a 5th Avenue mansion that houses the work. It had been sitting in plain view since the building was completed in 1908.

Tornado tears through homes in Shreveport, Louisiana


SHREVEPORT, Louisiana (CNN) -- A tornado tore through parts of Shreveport Tuesday, destroying mobile homes, ripping roofs off houses, flipping cars, causing gas leaks, and forcing the evacuation of two nursing homes and a daycare center.

About 30 people were injured, none seriously. Most of the injuries were said to be caused by flying glass and debris.

Emergency workers said about 200 houses and trailer homes were damaged or destroyed.

Two retirement homes, one that had most of its roof ripped off, were evacuated, with residents suffering cuts from flying glass or bruises. A daycare center for children workers at a drug company was evacuated with no injuries.

Several natural gas leaks were reported and hundreds of residents lost power.

U.S. has too many doctors, institute says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Warning of a "significant oversupply of physicians," the Institute of Medicine is urging that the number of medical students in the U.S. be reduced.

The IOM is an independent organization providing health policy advice to the U.S. government.

In a report on the physician work force, the IOM concludes that medical schools should freeze their class sizes and that no new medical schools should be opened. It also recommends that the government reduce the number of medical residency positions it funds.

The 12 scholars who prepared the report concluded that there is no benefit from having too many doctors and said the phenomenon might drive up medical costs.

In the last 20 years, the IOM notes, the number of doctors has grown at 1.5 times the rate of the general population, partly because of the large number of doctors who've come to the United States from overseas for training.

There are more than 22,000 medical graduates from other countries here now, versus about 17,500 U.S. graduates in residency training.

Foul weather delays refloating of grounded oil barge

SOUTH KINGSTON, Rhode Island (CNN) -- Weather may delay the removal of the barge that ran aground 150 yards off Matunuck State Beach Friday, leaking more than 800,000 gallons of heating oil.

The U.S. Coast Guard had planned to attempt to refloat the barge Tuesday, but because of high winds and predicted stormy conditions, it decided instead to pump the remaining oil from the "North Cape" into other barges, according to Capt. Barney Turlo of the Marine Safety Office in Providence.

The spill has resulted in extensive wildlife damage. Some 20,000 lobsters and 95 sea birds were reported dead.

A fishing ban covering 180 miles of the affected area was in effect, and federal, state, and other officials were conducting an assessment of the damage.

Judge awards custody of Alzheimer's patient to his son


PETOSKEY, Michigan (CNN) -- The son of an Alzheimer's patient won temporary custody of his 69-year-old father Tuesday after expressing fears that his mother and siblings were arranging for his father to kill himself.

Chip Klooster said he learned last summer that his mother, Ruth, had joined the Hemlock Society, which supports physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill people who want it, and that she had spoken with Jack Kevorkian.

In a statement to the Emmett County probate court, Ruth Klooster said she had no intention of helping her husband, Gerald, commit suicide.

Kevorkian's lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, said last week that Kevorkian had talked to the Kloosters but would not have gotten involved in their case.

Kevorkian has been present at 26 deaths and is a prominent advocate for doctor-assisted suicides.

Friend says George Burns is ill, but not near death


LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- George Burns' manager and longtime friend denied reports that the 100-year-old comic is gravely ill, saying Tuesday that Burns is eating and wants to go to the office.

Irving Fein disputed reports that Burns couldn't recognize old friend Barry Merkin, a guest at Burns' birthday party.

New York Post columnist Cindy Adams reported Tuesday that Burns is too weak to eat and near death and that the gravity of his condition was being hushed up.

Burns, who now uses a wheelchair, stopped performing after he was injured in a bathtub fall in 1994.

Military releases data on chemical weapons

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon is making information about U.S. chemical weapons stockpiles open to the public.

"The information has been classified until recently for national security reasons," said Army Maj. Gen. George Friel. But he said "the stockpile that we are currently preparing to destroy is no longer considered part of the national stockpile that we would use for war. Therefore, it is no longer of national security interest."

The United States plans to spend at least $12 billion to destroy more than 30,000 tons of "unitary" or "single agent" chemical weapons by 2005, Friel and Maj. Gen. Robert Orton said.

It's an effort to rid "our country and the world of the threat of chemical weapons," Friel said.

So far, the Army has destroyed only about 3 percent of its stockpile, Orton said.

Army general to lead U.S. anti-drug efforts


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton Tuesday night named Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey as the new federal drug policy director, Pentagon and White House sources say.

McCaffrey, a four-star general, has a reputation as a "can-do" leader. As leader of the Southern Command, he has assisted law enforcement officials in the battle against drug rings in Central America and South America. During the Persian Gulf War, he commanded the troops that swept into Iraq west of Kuwait, outflanking entrenched Iraqi forces.

Default rate declines for national student loans

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More people are paying back their student loans, thereby lowering costs for the national program, Department of Education says.

The default rate for the National Student Loan Program dropped to 11.6 percent in fiscal 1993, the last year figures were available, education officials said Monday. That's the lowest rate since 1988, when officials began tracking the default rate.

The default rate has steadily declined since 1990, when it peaked at 22.4 percent. Increased collections, combined with the lower default rate, reduced the net cost of defaults from $1.7 billion in fiscal 1992 to $400 million in 1995.

"These numbers reflect real and substantial progress," Education Secretary Richard Riley said. "They are the product of several aggressive management decisions that were intended to get the default problem under control."



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