Senate privatizes dining services

WASHINGTON - Year after year, decade upon decade, the U.S. Senate's network of restaurants has lost staggering amounts of money - more than $18 million since 1993, according to one report, and an estimated $2 million this year alone, according to another.

The financial condition of the world's most exclusive dining hall and its affiliated Capitol Hill restaurants, cafeterias and coffee shops has become so dire that, without a $250,000 subsidy from taxpayers, the Senate won't make payroll next month.

Last week, in a late-night voice vote, the Senate agreed to privatize the operation of its food service, a decision that would, for the first time, put it under the control of a contractor and all but guarantee lower wages and benefits for the outfit's new hires.

- Washington Post

Study evaluates teen-driving rules

WASHINGTON - An insurance industry study being released today that looked at whether teens are ignoring restrictions contends enforcement and parental influence are just as important as new laws.

"Cell-phone bans for teen drivers are difficult to enforce," said Anne McCartt, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's senior vice president for research and an author of the study. "Drivers with phones to their ears aren't hard to spot, but it's nearly impossible for police officers to see hands-free devices or correctly guess how old drivers are."

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, according to the government's auto safety agency, and teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.

- AP

Coast Guard finds 5 missing sailors

GALVESTON, Texas - Four college students and a safety officer floated for more than a day in choppy seas, sharing four life vests after their 38-foot sailboat capsized during a regatta on the Gulf of Mexico, authorities said yesterday. A sixth competitor remained missing.

The safety officer kept the group together in the water and used a flashlight to signal Coast Guard searchers, said R. Bowen Loftin, chief executive officer of Texas A&M at Galveston, which three of the students attended.

The boat, which lost communication around midnight Friday, was competing in a race that covers hundreds of miles from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico. Coast Guard officials said the keel of the overturned vessel was ripped off, indicating the sailboat might have hit something in the water, according to the school.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Two Airbus A330

jetliners clipped wings on the ground yesterday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as one of them was taxiing to the gate area, an airport official said.

A medical helicopter

on its way to a Houston hospital crashed in a national forest near Huntsville, Texas, yesterday, killing all four people aboard, authorities said.

About 3,500

uniformed New York City police sergeants and other supervisors on patrol duty will begin carrying Taser stun guns on their holster belts this week.