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Family sues MIT over woman's suicide



Published: Tue, January 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Family sues MITover woman's suicide

QUINCY, Mass. -- Elizabeth Shin had tried to kill herself with pills and later by cutting her arms and wrists. Two years ago, she succeeded, setting herself on fire in one of the nation's best universities.

Her parents say the Massachusetts Institute of Technology failed to properly deal with obvious signs of Shin's mental illness and filed a $27 million lawsuit Monday accusing the school of negligence.

The school has denied any wrongdoing.

Shin, 19, a biology major from Livingston, N.J., died in April 2000. She had received treatment through MIT's counseling and support services for more than a year before her death, and had repeatedly threatened to commit suicide.

"If they made even one phone call to warn us what was going on, Elizabeth would be with us now," said her mother, Kisuk Shin.

The family's lawyer, David DeLuca, said MIT officials explained they did not contact Shin's parents because of confidentiality laws, specifically the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that protects the privacy of a student's education records.

Kenneth Campbell, a spokesman for the university, refused to comment on DeLuca's claim.

Death toll rises to 600in Nigeria explosion

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Nigeria's president declared a national tragedy today, saying a series of explosions at an army weapons depot in Lagos left 600 dead, many of them women and children who drowned in a canal while trying to run away.

In a radio broadcast, President Olusegun Obasanjo said "over 600 bodies have been recovered," including many from the Oke Afa canal in the northern Isolo neighborhood of this city of 12 million. He said the dead were mostly women and children.

"What happened in Lagos was a monumental tragedy," Obasanjo said.

Lagos Gov. Bola Ahmed Tinubu put blame for the deaths on military negligence, the radio stations said.

One Nigerian newspaper, Lagos' daily Vanguard estimated that more than 2,000 people were killed, and state television cited unidentifed witnesses as saying between 750-1,000 bodies had been recovered. The reports could not be independently confirmed.

Hundreds of bodies were pulled out of the canal in Nigeria's largest city Monday after they drowned Sunday night while trying to flee the explosions.

Israeli army raidsPalestinian village

ARTAS, West Bank -- Israeli troops backed by tanks raided this Palestinian village in the West Bank early today, arresting three suspected militants. Six Palestinians were hurt in clashes, officials and witnesses said.

The Israeli troops entered Artas, south of Bethlehem, and arrested a senior figure in the militant Islamic Jihad movement, one of the groups that has carried out suicide bomb attacks in Israeli cities, the army said.

The wounded Palestinians including four with bullet wounds, but their lives were not in danger, a Palestinian hospital official said. One was a pregnant woman who was hit in the leg while she was sleeping, but the baby was unharmed, said Dr. Peter Qumri, director of the hospital in nearby Beit-Jalla. The army said its soldiers opened fire when fired upon.

Eight cars were crushed flat by the tanks, and soldiers threw a grenade into one house, burning furniture and smashing all the windows in the room. The soldiers searched houses and questioned residents, before withdrawing after about three hours, residents said.

Capital cover-up

WASHINGTON -- It's a Washington cover-up of a different sort.

The Justice Department spent $8,000 on blue drapes that hide two giant, partially nude statues in the Great Hall of the agency's headquarters, said spokesman Shane Hix.

The drapes were occasionally hung in front of the aluminum Art Deco statues before formal events, "for aesthetics," Hix said. The department used to rent the drapes, but has now purchased them and left them hanging.

The drapes provide a nice background for television cameras, Hix said.

ABC News reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft, a religious and conservative man, ordered the statues covered because he didn't like being photographed in front of them.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Ashcroft has been photographed several times in front of the female statue that represents the Spirit of Justice. The 10- to 12-foot statue has its arms raised and a toga draped over its body, but a single breast is completely exposed.

The other statue, of a man with a cloth covering his midsection, is called the Majesty of Law.

Associated Press




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