Private equity firm looks likely

to acquire Chrysler, paper says

DETROIT - Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm that already has ties to the auto industry, emerged over the weekend as the frontrunner to buy the Chrysler Group, the Detroit Free Press has learned.

If Cerberus is named the final bidder, which could happen as soon as today, it would be a spectacular triumph for a private equity firm to take control of one of Detroit's automakers and a giant blow to Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc.

It also could mark the beginning of an even more difficult time for organized labor, which has been vocal about its opposition to private equity firms getting involved in the auto business.

Magna, the world's third-largest auto supplier, had enjoyed the perceived frontrunner position in recent weeks, locking up endorsements of crucial labor leaders who could have the influence to make such a deal work.

Nudist camps barely getting by,

aren't attracting the younger set

WOODSTOCK, Conn. - Here's the naked truth about nude recreation: The people who practice it aren't getting any younger.

To draw 20- and 30-somethings, nudist groups and camps are trying everything from deep discounts on membership fees to a young ambassador program that encourages college and graduate students to talk to their peers about having fun in the buff.

"We don't want the place to turn into a gated assisted-living facility," said Gordon Adams, membership director at Solair Recreation League, a nudist camp in northeastern Connecticut that recently invited students from dozens of New England schools to a college day in hopes of piquing their interest.

The median age is 55 at Solair, where a yearly membership is $500 for people older than 40, $300 for people younger than 40 and $150 for college students.

The Kissimee, Fla.-based American Association for Nude Recreation, which represents about 270 clubs and resorts in North America, estimates that more than 90 percent of its 50,000 members are older than 35.

Chi school board sued because

class saw 'Brokeback Mountain'

CHICAGO - A girl and her grandparents have sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated film "Brokeback Mountain" in class.

The lawsuit claims that Jessica Turner, 12, suffered psychological distress after viewing the movie in her eighth-grade class at Ashburn Community Elementary School last year.

The film, which won three Oscars, depicts two cowboys who conceal their homosexual affair.

Turner and her grandparents, Kenneth and LaVerne Richardson, are seeking around $500,000 in damages.

"It is very important to me that my children not be exposed to this," said Kenneth Richardson, Turner's guardian. "The teacher knew she was not supposed to do this."

It's not a drill, kids were told -

but it was, and parents are angry

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.

Parents of the sixth-grade students were outraged. Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation "involved poor judgment."

Hundreds in Fla. waiting to return

to houses threatened by wildfires

LAKE CITY, Fla. - Authorities briefly reopened two highways crossing north Florida into Georgia yesterday before dense wildfire smoke forced them to again halt traffic, while hundreds of Florida residents waited to return to their threatened homes.

Officials said yesterday that the wildfire that had raced through the Okefenokee Swamp in southeast Georgia and into Florida had charred more than 233,700 acres - or about 365 square miles - since it was started by lightning a week ago.

Officials warned that storms in the forecast yesterday could bring either much-needed rain or lightning.

2 cents more to mail a letter

WASHINGTON - For a first-class card or letter, the rate taking effect today is 41 cents for the first ounce, a 2-cent increase. But the cost for each additional ounce drops to 17 cents, so heavier letters will be cheaper than before. The post office is also introducing extra charges for large or odd-shaped mail and altering a wide variety of its charges. Info: or 1-800-275-8777. *

- Daily News wire services