Originally created 06/29/02

Across the Southeast



Slavery conviction lauded by rights group

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -The conviction of three citrus contractors on federal slavery charges could help end the violence and farmworker mistreatment that has plagued the industry, a human rights group said Friday.

"It's time now that the agriculture industry take a look at itself and decide that it's not going to operate under the rules of the past and continue beating and holding workers by force," said Laura Germino, a representative with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Brothers Ramiro and Juan Ramos and their cousin, Jose Ramos, were convicted Thursday in U.S. District Court in Fort Pierce on charges of conspiring to hold hundreds of workers as slaves, threatening them with violence and holding them hostage over alleged $1,000 debts.

Americans are divided on giving up freedoms

RICHMOND, Va. -Nearly half of Americans are willing to give up personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution if doing so would help protect the country, a survey suggests.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation survey, released Friday, also found that most respondents considered affordable health care and the right to an education more important to them personally than the First Amendment.

Teen is responsible for giant tire fire

SALEM, Va. -A 15-year-old boy was found guilty Friday of setting a brush fire that spread to 4 million tires at a huge illegal dump.

The boy, whose name was not released, could be held in a juvenile prison until he turns 21. He will be sentenced next month.

The fire broke out in March and lasted 25 days, spreading over 1,000 acres and sending oily smoke wafting through rural Roanoke County.

Health officials ask for radiation pills

RALEIGH, N.C. -State health officials said Friday they have requested enough potassium iodide tablets for people living within the 10-mile emergency zone of four nuclear power plants.

Potassium iodide is a nonprescription compound, most commonly found in table salt, to help maintain thyroid function. In the event of radiation exposure, the compound taken at the proper dosage and time can reduce the thyroid gland's uptake of radioactive iodine and reduce the risk of thyroid cancer.