GAO: Base closings saved $16.7 billion

GAO: Base closingssaved $16.7 billion
WASHINGTON -- Base closings have saved the military about $16.7 billion already and are expected to generate more than $6 billion a year in future savings, government auditors said Friday.
As substantial as they are, those net savings accrued from the first four rounds of military base closings -- in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995 -- even take into account the costs of environmental cleanups, according to the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative branch.
Doubts about savings, and the potential harm to communities, have made closing bases so contentious in Congress that a stalemate over it delayed approval of a crucial defense spending bill last year even as the war on terror raged.
Ultimately, lawmakers approved another round of closings in 2005, two years later than President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wanted.
The $16.7 billion was saved through last Sept. 30, the end of fiscal year 2001. The Defense Department anticipates reaping another $6.6 billion a year in the future from those four rounds, which closed or realigned 451 installations, including 97 major ones.
Forecaster predicts7 hurricanes this year
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A top hurricane forecaster Friday predicted a busier-than-average season this year, with 12 named storms, seven of which will develop into hurricanes, three of them major.
Typically during the June-through-October hurricane season, there are about 10 named storms, with six hurricanes, two major. A major hurricane has sustained winds of 111 mph or more.
William Gray, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, also told the 2002 National Hurricane Conference that the season will be quieter than he first forecast because of a strengthening El Nino system in the eastern Pacific.
There is a 75 percent chance that a major hurricane will hit the U.S. coast, Gray said.
The period of 1995 through 2001 was the most active seven consecutive years on record, with the Atlantic witnessing 94 named storms, 58 hurricanes and 27 major hurricanes. But only three of the 27 major hurricanes crossed the U.S. coastline.
Man pleads guiltyto role in prize scam
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The man who masterminded the theft of $24 million in winning McDonald's game tickets pleaded guilty Friday and was ordered to repay at least $13.4 million.
Jerome Jacobson, 59, of Lawrenceville, Ga., could get up to 15 years in prison for conspiracy and mail fraud. No sentencing date was set.
He was among 51 people indicted in the scam that went undetected for a dozen years and involved McDonald's games such as Monopoly and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? No McDonald's employees were involved.
Jacobson was director of security for Simon Marketing Inc., which had been hired by the fast-food chain to run its popular Monopoly games. Prosecutors said Jacobson stole winning game pieces worth up to $1 million and distributed them to others, who then redeemed the prizes.
They either kicked back a portion of their winnings to Jacobson or paid him cash up front.
Asked why Jacobson did it, defense attorney Ed Garland said outside court: "He has reflected long and hard on it, and the only thing he could come up with was utter stupidity on his part."
Twenty-nine people have pleaded guilty so far. No one has been sentenced.
Cloning report
WASHINGTON -- Scientists, ethicists and politicians around the world became caught up in a flurry of electronic chatter Friday triggered by an unconfirmed report that an Italian fertility doctor had helped a woman become pregnant with the world's first human clone.
The doctor, Severino Antinori, a renowned medical maverick and director of a human reproduction research center in Rome, could not be reached to comment on the report, which appeared in Gulf News, a Middle Eastern newspaper. The paper quoted Antinori as saying that a woman in a human cloning program he had started was eight weeks pregnant.
A woman who answered the telephone at Antinori's clinic Friday said the doctor was unavailable and would not be releasing any further information. "Science needs silence, or science will not get done," said the woman, who did not identify herself.
The high incidence of miscarriages, malformed newborns and premature deaths among the few mammals that have been cloned has led most experts to conclude that human cloning is dangerous and unethical.
Combined dispatches

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