S.C. sex offender found not guilty

of kidnapping, raping teen girls

DARLINGTON, S.C. - A jury acquitted a convicted sex offender yesterday of raping two teenage girls who police say escaped after they were left to die in an underground bunker he had built.

Kenneth Glenn Hinson, 48, appeared to cry after the jury read its verdict, which followed about four hours of deliberations over two days. "I think the verdict says it all," he said as he was escorted from the courtroom.

Authorities accused Hinson of snatching the 17-year-old girls from their bedroom last year and dragging them one at a time to the underground room, raping them and binding them with duct tape.

Hinson testified that the girls had consensual sex with him. He said they made up the story so they would be able to take drugs from the bunker.

Attorney general says he'll stay as long as president wants him

WASHINGTON - Bolstered by a fresh show of support from President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sought yesterday to move beyond calls for his resignation and lingering questions about his credibility after the firings of federal prosecutors.

"As long as I think that I can be effective and the president believes that I should continue to be at the head of the Department of Justice, I'll continue serving as the attorney general," Gonzales said, speaking at a news conference about identity theft.

He added: "Obviously, we'll be working with Congress to reassure them that we've identified that mistakes have been made here and we're taking steps to address them. But I can't just be focused on the U.S. attorneys situation."

Social Security, Medicare funds will last a little bit longer

WASHINGTON - Fewer benefits, more taxes and some accounting magic will buy an extra year of life for Social Security and Medicare, trustees of the government's two largest benefit programs said yesterday.

The oncoming crush of 78 million retiring baby boomers still will crash the Medicare trust fund by 2019 and the Social Security trust fund by 2041 unless Congress and the White House can agree on a way to save the programs, the officials said.

"Today's report reinforces the need for Congress to address runaway entitlement spending that will bankrupt future generations of Americans," said House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.

Study: Fat workers cost more

in injury claims, lost workdays

CHICAGO - Overweight workers cost their bosses more in injury claims than their lean colleagues, suggests a study that found the heaviest employees had twice the rate of workers' compensation claims as their fit co-workers.

Duke University researchers also found that the fattest workers had 13 times more lost workdays due to work-related injuries, and their medical claims for those injuries were seven times higher than their fit co-workers.

Overweight workers were more likely to have claims involving injuries to the back, wrist, arm, neck, shoulder, hip, knee and foot. The findings were based on eight years of data from 11,728 employees of Duke and its health system.

The last e-mail he'll ever send

HOUSTON - A man facing eviction from a luxury apartment complex shot and killed the manager and then himself, police said. The gunman, identified as David Howard Thurm, 48, sent a long e-mail to friends before the shootings: "I'm very sorry to inform you that David Howard Thurm passed away (died) on 4/23/07. This is not a joke." *

- Associated Press