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Copyright 2000 The Seattle Times Company  
The Seattle Times

December 15, 2000, Friday Fourth Edition


LENGTH: 589 words

HEADLINE: Across the Nation
Health plans must cover contraceptives, panel rules

WASHINGTON--It is against federal law for employers to exclude contraceptives from their health-insurance plans if they cover other types of preventative products or services, such as weight-loss drugs or blood-pressure medicine, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said.

The interpretation by the EEOC, announced Wednesday night, addressed complaints filed with the commission by two women who claimed their employers discriminated against them by not providing health-insurance coverage for contraceptives, but it could affect millions of other women whose employers have refused to cover things such as birth-control pills.

Montana residents go home as gas-spill cleanup continues

HELENA, Mont. -- Cleanup of an estimated 105,000 gallons of gasoline spilled from a Conoco storage tank continued yesterday as about 400 people who had left nearby homes and businesses returned to the area. About 100 workers were involved in the cleanup, said Conoco spokesman John Bennitt.

The spill was first estimated at about 60,000 gallons. It wasn't immediately clear what caused the gasoline to flow from two holes about six feet from the top of the 840,000-gallon tank.

Half-million dollars paid for two Jefferson documents

NEW YORK -- A Manhattan gallery owner paid more than half a million dollars for two Thomas Jefferson manuscripts, one of which was featured on the PBS television program "Antiques Roadshow."

Seth Kaller, of Kaller's America Gallery, paid $280,750 for an 1817 document outlining Jefferson's ideas for a public-school system, and $225,750 for a 1783 handwritten letter and deed sent to Philadelphia historian Ebenezer Hazard.

The documents, auctioned at Sotheby's on Wednesday, were sold by descendants of the original recipients, said Lauren Gioia, a spokeswoman for Sotheby's.

The 1817 15-page letter was sent to Joseph Carrington Cabell, a member of the Virginia Legislature and discussed plans for the University of Virginia.

Hazard was a postmaster general and antiquarian who collected American historical documents. Jefferson sent him a document in which Virginia released claims to the French territory of Illinois--and a personal cover note that was discovered on "Antiques Roadshow" in August 1999.

Winter storm ties up pre-holiday package delivery

An icy winter storm that left thousands without electricity or heat across the central states and contributed to more than a dozen deaths this week is also delaying the delivery of holiday packages, with a shipment backlog stretching from Chicago to Dallas.

FedEx temporarily suspended its money-back-guarantee for deliveries yesterday and a spokesman said it was too early to tell how long the suspension would last.

Bad weather also delayed UPS shipments, said John Manning, a spokesman in Dallas. The UPS money-back guarantee does not apply for weather delays.

The weather has been blamed in more than 10 deaths since Tuesday.

Malaysian pleads guilty in animal-smuggling case

SAN FRANCISCO--A Malaysian accused of acting as the kingpin of an international rare-animal smuggling empire has pleaded guilty to U.S. charges that he arranged the illegal import and sale of Komodo Dragons and other endangered animals.

Keng Liang "Anson" Wong entered a guilty plea to some 40 counts of smuggling, conspiracy, money laundering and violations of U.S. wildlife-protection laws. Wong agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating the international trade of endangered wildlife.

LOAD-DATE: December 16, 2000

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